I've run in just about every weather condition we get in Wisconsin this year: snow, sleet, rain, ice, bone-chilling sub-zero cold, wind, hot and humid.
Thankfully the race directors at the Madison Mini Marathon didn't want me to add lightning to the list.That could be scary.
I kid you not, 5 minutes before the starting gun was set to go off, all of the runners who had lined up on Langdon Street for the start of the Madison Mini Marathon Saturday morning were walking back towards me. Apparently there was a nasty storm cell heading our way with heavy rain and lots of lightning. So they wanted us to seek shelter.
So along with 5,000 other runners I sought shelter. I ended up in a small theater on the second floor of the Memorial Union. The key to this location? Air conditioning (thank you UW cop with the bullhorn who tipped us off to this under utilized location).
And that's where I sat. For the next 90 minutes.
I'm not going to lie. All the while I was thinking, if I hadn't come down here today, I'd be almost done with the 15 miles my schedule calls for. Instead I'm waiting out a storm, my bagel I had for breakfast at 5:30 a.m. is gone and who knows when, or if, I'm going to get to run today. But I waited. And hoped that we'd get to run soon.
At 8:15 the cop wielding the bullhorn came into the theater.
"As long as there's no more lighting, we're set to start in 10 minutes."
It was go time.
I met up with Running Diva Mom before the race to get my Refuel With Chocolate Milk gear. I won the entry to the race on her blog to run with the Refuel team and this is the shirt I needed to wear.
The first four miles took us through the east side of campus, around the Capitol square and back into campus passed the Kohl Center and Camp Randall before heading down to the Henry Vilas Zoo area. And I'd say the first 3 miles was run in the rain. It was actually kind of relaxing. I was feeling good. My pace was good. As I entered the zoo area, I passed the 4 mile marker and the sun came out.
We ran around the north side of Lake Wingra and then went into the UW Arboretum.
This is where things started getting interesting.
I run hills. I know I can handle them. But even with the hill intervals I do and all the hills Coach Jim throws into our Saturday long runs, I was expecting what I came across in Miles 5-10. It seemed like constant hills. They weren't all huge, but there were a couple of significant ones. But the worst part? It never seemed like you went downhill. It was always uphill. If it wasn't a steep uphill it was one of long, gradual inclines that never seemed to stop.
Now I felt strong on those hills. I passed runners. I passed people who slowed down to walk. And honestly none of them compared to the monsters I run on a weekly basis. But it was just the constantness. I could feel it in my legs. Somewhere around Mile 8.5 I knew I had to start incorporating a few extra short walk breaks. Up until this point I was just walking through the aid stations.
I exited the Arboretum and when I got to the aid station near Mile 9 I decided it was time to grab a salt tab. It helped a bit. My legs didn't hate me as much. I kept going, but kept sprinkling in a short walk break (about 30 seconds) in every half mile or so.
Not the official shirt, a training shirt I picked up at the expo for $10, but I like how it's got the route on the back.
By this point we're back on campus and about to turn onto the Lakeshore Path - one of my favorite areas of campus - and thankfully flat and shaded. I liked the path. I still felt pretty decent and was passing a few runners every so often.
Before making the last turn onto Langdon Street and the finish chute, there's a little uphill, but I killed it and had a nice strong finish chute kick - passing a few runners - before hitting the finish mat.
Two minutes off my PR. But you know what? I'm totally OK with it. It was a training run. I had to wait around an extra 1.5 hours during a delay. My weekly long run actually started 2.5 hours later than normal. Oh, and those hills. I killed them.
The race bling. Which doubles as a bottle opener. Appropriate for Madison.