I was up and ready to tackle the frozen tundra. Too bad it wasn't frozen on the day of the race. Robert was excited and so was I. I was testing out PocketFuel Naturals for the first time at the marathon distance. I hope it works!
Picture of me predicting what the race would be like at the expo the day before.
This is the real picture of what I'd feel like. I guess Robert was going to have a good time though!
The race organizers knew it was going to be a hot day. They had sent out numerous e-mails about the heat leading up to the race. They also added medical personnel, increased the aid stations on the course, and stocked the stations with ice. There were 11 aid stations for the half and 22 for the full.
Before the start I met Henry Rueden, who had run his 799th marathon at Fargo the day before. I read a story about him and hoped I'd get to see him on the course. Little did I know, seeing him at the start wouldn't be the last time I saw him. The link to the story I read about Henry.
After listening to the national anthem and watching the flag wave atop Lambeau Stadium, the factory whistle blew to start the race! Are you fired up? To add to the excitement "Jump Around" by House of Pain was played to set the stage. This is not a song foreign to those in Wisconsin. However, that had to be the first time I've heard this song at an event and I didn't see people jumping around vigorously. I guess everyone was conserving their energy for the race.
Listen to it! I'm typing this blog while listening to it!
Pre-race with Annette while Dan photo bombs it!
Now, for the relaxed picture...Dan!
One last picture before the start with Robert
A fellow Arkansan, Arland, wanted to try a smart pacing strategy. With the conditions we had, this would be a good time to try out something different. Surprisingly, although hot, we ran in the shade for the first couple of miles through residential areas. In addition to cheering, the community was out to support the event armed with their water hoses and sprinklers. We saw the infamous, Dave Mari on the course taking pictures fresh off his Geist Half Marathon the previous day in Indianapolis.
You don't know Dave?
Sue (WONDERWOMAN) came up behind and we chatted for a while. I love meeting Sparkers. She was sporting a nice Half Fanatic singlet. Woohoo! I saw runners on the side suffering from the heat. I was feeling great in terms of pacing. Around mile 10, Arland, told me to go ahead and I said if he happens to see me on the side of the road a few miles up, don't be surprised.
I went on and pushed through, high-fiving and interacting with the spectators. There were a few Marathon Maniacs in the crowd, too. You could tell people were affected by the heat. Race participants couldn't refrain from running through sprinklers. Many were grabbing two cups and ice. One cup was used to hydrate and the other was used to pour on their heads. The sound of ambulances was not music to my ears.
As I made it to the half marathon/marathon split, the number of marathon runners was dwindled. The race organizers sent out an e-mail explaining if one signed up for the full, but didn't feel good at the split, a "game-day decision" could be made without any penalty. Not sure how many did, but I'm sure some cut it short and with good reason. You do want to be safe.
Not far from the halfway point, I got word the course had been closed due to the heat. What? Are you serious? It was at that moment that my ambitions for the race deflated. We were told there would be no aid or medical support on the course. We were to go to the next aid station and there would be a shuttle to take us back.
I thought about it and remembered I had some cash on me. It was the first time I've carried cash during a race. I stopped at a gas station right off the course and picked up a gallon of water. I downed a full container of PocketFuel and said it may not be official, but I did not come to Wisconsin to start a race, but to finish one. I'll walk the rest of the way if I have to.
At each aid station, I continued to hear you have to stop here because the race is over. The volunteers were still out and people were still cheering us on. I had no idea that carrying the water jug would take a toll on me. Oh, it did, and I was reduced to a walk. I eventually had to give up the jug at mile 19.
The community and volunteers were supplying those that continued cold water and ice. Medical personnel were checking on us and police officers seemed to be patrolling the course on motorcycles. No one made them stay, but they did. This is evidence that without volunteers races would fail. I loved seeing their smiling faces and acts of benevolence.
A wall was constructed over Mile 20. After pushing through "The Wall," I was happy with a 10k remaining. There was a big group of people out cheering as I went through. What would happen next was not part of the plan.
I started to feel weak between Mile 21 and 22. Since it didn't matter at what time I finished, I decided to take a seat on a bench and enjoy the view of the water. I got up and started back only to feel like someone had drained the life out of me. What was going on? Was I about to pass out?
I stopped at the next bench and then thought lying down would be better. You won't guess what happened next. Well, 1.5 hours later I woke up. No, not in the hospital. In the same place I was. I felt rejuvenated! I looked around and was happy I didn't stop my Garmin. Hmmm.... I guess I should go ahead and finish, eh? I do find it strange that no one woke me up. Surely there were runners that passed by.
I saw Henry Rueden and Evelyn later and I bet they wondered how come they didn't see me before. I was taking a little nap. Kristin and Chris were on the course giving support to Henry and in turn giving me support, too. I had seen them earlier on the trail, but it wasn't until I saw them the second time that I realized they were out supporting Henry. Their efforts propelled me to my eventual finish.
Apparently, the mile markers were being taken up, so the last one I saw was Mile 24. I should've known something was wrong when I didn't see Henry anymore. I followed the markings on the ground hoping it would get me back. I looked at my Garmin and I was well past Mile 25. I kept going until I saw where Mile 4 was. Uh-oh! I think I'm doing the course again.
I saw a woman in her yard, so I asked her which way was Lambeau Field. "Oh, it's in the opposite direction in which you are going." Thanks! I headed in the "right" direction. When I made it to the finish, I saw Henry and he took me down and showed me where Mile 26 was and we went around. Unlike some, I was able to go through the finish chute. His family was there cheering as if I was him. I was speechless.
They took good care of me. I ate an entire container of watermelon. It was delicious! Recovery starts immediately after the race. #stayhydrated
Which way to Lambeau?
They put the medal around my neck, but as you have probably figured out I did this for me. In the end I ran 28.71 miles according to my Garmin. Last year, the course was a tad long because of measurement issues, but I went out and made it long this time all by myself. What a way to end the race. It was my honor for Henry to bring me in. That would've been his 800th marathon.
The finish line
What did I learn from this race besides to bring a pillow next time? I may need to start doing races with a hydration pack of some kind. Had I had one, I wouldn't have slowed down due to carrying the jug. Also, I probably would've finished before the sun got to me had I had the pack. Never underestimate yourself. Before the course was closed, I was having a great race and the conditions were not optimal. The training is working and I'll continue to run in the heat as preparation for me my future events.
It should also be said that I understand the race director's decision to close the course. There has been much debate about it being unfair that those that were prepared to be punished. I can't put a value on anyone's life. Yes, I traveled from Arkansas to do this race, but signing up for a race is always a risk. There will be other races. At least I survived to run another one. Kudos goes out to the community and volunteers. They made the race a success.
There are no more marathons on my schedule this year until Dallas White Rock. Oh, I'm sorry, they just changed the name today to the Dallas Marathon. That's in December. The 50k is in July and the 50-miler in September. I need to train harder!
I'm supposed to be back in Wisconsin this weekend for the Madison Half. Looks like the temperature is going to be hot and they are thinking about cancelling the full. I'm looking to have fun and if any Sparkers are in the area, please let me know.
We had just as much fun on the way up as we did going back. We even got homemade treats! Absolutely best cheesecake I've ever had. Ummm....!
On to the next adventure...
Just in case you missed part 1