First, the stats.
Date: August 20, 2016
Lifetime half: Number 23
State: Wisconsin – Number 13
I had been cussing myself for months for signing up for this one. WHO in their RIGHT MIND signs up for an August race? haha “Just do it,” they said. “It won’t be as hot or humid up here in August,” they said. Yeah well, I still had to run here in the south in the summer to attempt to train for that day. And we all know by now how I tend to slack in the summer. I thought maybe having a late summer race on the calendar would prevent that. NOPE. It just means that I went into yet another race untrained. lol But this event was much more about a weekend with friends in a new state than it was any stupid ol’ number on a clock, so I consider it a success anyway.
My trip started out the Friday morning before the race. It was supposed to have been right at a 9-hour drive and I had plans to make a pit stop in Rockford IL to meet some of my long-time internet friends for lunch. They would be joining me the next day in Madison anyway, but I wanted to make the most of the time I had that weekend. And this way I got to meet their hubbies and furbabies too! It was a great kickoff to the weekend–Shelly, Julia, their husbands Brian and Trey, and I went to a local vegan restaurant/brewery I’d heard them both talk about before, so that was my restaurant of choice that afternoon. If you get the chance to check out Pig Minds Brewing Co., do it. Good food, great beer. I was all about their HappiDaze (a bluberry California golden ale). It did indeed make me very happy. After Shelly got me sufficiently buzzed, she took me home and took advantage of me. LOL She’s a jewelry designer and she took me to her jewelry-makin’ room. I left there with so many pretties! I look at her web site frequently, but photos just don’t ever do jewelry justice. Check out www.lavorodesigns.com to see her work and trust me when I say it’s even more awesome in person.
After hanging out with Shelly and her sweet furbabies for a couple more hours, it was time to head to Madison if I was going to make it to the expo in time. It was only a short walk from my hotel. It was your typical big race expo with all of the typical things. I did get a good giggle out of one thing that happened…when I arrived at the hotel I realized that I had forgotten to pack a pair of socks for my post-race tour d’Madison. And upon walking into the expo, the first thing I saw was a sign for free socks. hahaha I found it rather serendipitous. I was in and out of the expo in no time flat. One of the perks of going in its last hour. I had nothing else to do that evening so I just strolled around downtown a bit in the area between the expo and my hotel. It was really a beautiful evening.
But as beautiful as that evening was, I still didn’t know what the next day was going to bring. I had been stalking the weather like a mad woman all week because of the threat of severe storms. The race director started sending out weather updates mid-week, and as of the time I pulled out of my driveway on Friday morning, I still didn’t even know if the race would be happening. They said that they would make the call based on the conditions at the start time whether to go ahead as planned, delay, or cancel the event. Honestly, had I not already had hotel reservations and plans with my friends, I may not have taken the chance and just taken my loss on my entry fee. I had also forgotten to bring an umbrella, which I knew I’d need after the race with my friends if it was raining, so while I was out walking around after the expo I ducked into a Walgreens and bought an umbrella and one of those $2 poncho thingies for the race itself. I also knew I should probably eat something even though I really wasn’t hungry given our late lunch that afternoon, but I grabbed a veggie sub and made my way back to the Doubletree and turned in for the evening.
When I awoke the next morning, it was to the sound of light rain, but a quick glance at weather.com told me that it looked like the threat of severe weather was going to miss us. I got ready, grabbed my poncho, and hoped for the best.
By the time I got to the start area, it was raining pretty steadily so I was glad I had my poncho, but by the time we actually started I had already taken it off. It was down to just barely a drizzle and that thing was making me sweat like CRAZY. It still looked like the sky cold open up at any minute, so I hung onto it just in case I needed it mid-race. Spoiler: I didn’t.
As I’ve mentioned, this race was solely for fun. I still had a full day ahead of me afterwards as well as a long drive home the next morning, so I didn’t push it one bit. My only regret is not stopping to take pictures. However, if I had, my timing would have been off and I wouldn’t have been at the right place at the right time on the course to have met my new friend Wendy. I ran up behind her somewhere around mile 5ish. She had on a police unity tour bike shirt. I asked her about that, and the rest is history. lol We ran (and walked) the rest of the race together talking about mostly races, traveling, and beer. As it turns out, she’s an ambassador for the Asheville Half Marathon, and we now have a date to do that one together in March. THIS, people. THIS is why I love running so much!
My time was 2:30-something. I could look it up to tell you an exact number, but I don’t even care enough to do that right now. LOL Wendy and I hung out at the landing at the finish long enough to get our free beer and parted ways as we both had plans to meet up with friends, but not before we got our selfie for The Facebook.
And here are some other random photos from the finish area. It was really a cool little spot.
So I made my way back to the hotel and was just finishing getting ready when Shelly and Julia made it in from Rockford. They have another friend, Marie, that lives in Madison, so after FOREVER … lol… Julia and Mr. T finally got us to her house. They fed me a spectacular post-race lunch of tacos and beer. I can’t remember the name of the taco joint, but it was amazing, and they had this beer. It, too, made me happy.
Know what else made me happy? I didn’t need that umbrella I bought the night before. It turned out to be an absolutely glorious, sunshiny (and even COOL later in the afternoon!) day. We walked, we shopped, we took silly photos, we had coffee, we laughed… a LOT. It was just the weekend escape that I’ve been needing! Love these girls so hard!
In the evening, they dropped me back at the hotel. They had to get back on the road home, and I needed to get a good night’s sleep. I was whooped and needed to get up really early to start my long drive to get home at a decent hour.
So just a few final thoughts about the race before I wrap this up. It’s really a great one. It’s big enough that you don’t feel like you’re running alone, but small enough that you’re not tripping over each other. You have some AMAZING scenery throughout the course as you run past the lake and through the arboretum. The aid stations are aplenty and the finish line well organized. I definitely recommend this one to anyone considering it!
Next up… California! Cloverdale Half on 10/23/16!