[Note: I started to post this yesterday, and Blogger completely flaked out on me...]
I'm surprised that I haven't run into Jim's Project 50 before. Disdaining state capitols, Jim is trying to get pictures of himself in front of Welcome signs in every state. This sign is actually on the border of Illinois, down by Beloit, rather than over here in Prairie du Chien. Nonetheless, it's a sign. Welcome to Wisconsin.
I wasn't sure we were going to make it. It's about a two and a half hour drive over to Milwaukee, and my friend Sylvia and I agreed that we were not going to risk our lives to get there. We had had a mixture of rain and freezing rain for a couple of days, and freezing rain was going to cancel the trip. There was a little bit of mist, but the temperature stayed high enough that it wasn't a problem. There was some fog that slowed us down, but we still made it in time for the gun.
There were actually two half-marathons Saturday morning. The first, which had a two-hour time limit, ran at 7:00, when Sylvia and I were still on this side of Madison. The second, which had a three-hour time limit, was supposed to run at 9:30. However, some runners in the first run took up to about 2:20, so I don't think that we started until about 10:00.
The run itself was a bit weird. After the first few miles, we got spaced out, as usually happens, but because the track is only a quarter mile oval, the faster people started lapping the slower people pretty quickly. And "slower" was certainly a relative term. There were a bunch of people who I kept passing. So at any given time, you might be trying to pass someone who was running much slower than you, while at the same time, someone much faster was coming past you. On a two-lane track. But everyone was cheerful and polite, and it all worked out.
The other nice thing that they had was a group of volunteers at the water table. We all put our bib numbers on our water bottles, and if you wanted a drink, you just gave one of the volunteers a wave, and the next time around, they'd have your water bottle ready. I chose to carry my bottle around for a lap, then hand it back, so that I never actually had to stop. And I didn't. I ran the whole way. I don't know if I've ever had a thirteen mile run that I didn't even stop for a short drink break.
You may have noted that the picture up above has the old photo of me in my Running Funky tights. That's because I wore them yesterday. The temperature in the ice center is in the mid fifties, so tights were definitely in order. They garnered a lot of comments. In fact, after a while, a group of young men at the water station started yelling, "Go, Mr. Jogger!" I thought one of them must be one of my students. Who else would call me "Mr."? So afterwords, I talked to them and no, they just liked my tights and looked up my name in the program. I guess I'm just old enough to look like a "Mr."
I think I actually ran an extra lap. They had a computer screen where every time around, they would flash your name and the number of laps you had completed. Of course, I was also counting on my fingers. So on my 45th lap -- what I thought was my 45th lap -- I never saw my name. And at the end of the next lap, it told me I had just completed 45. Now, maybe I just lost count. I had already run over 10 miles. I'd really like to get a look at my lap splits, and see if that 45th lap was twice as long as any of the others.
Not that it really matters. I had a decent time, and I still felt strong at the end. It was a very nice race, well-organized, and I'm already thinking about going back next year, maybe for the full marathon.
I have to say one more thing about how great the organizers of this race were. Sylvia had pulled a muscle, and she wasn't able to run very long. She ended up walking more than seven miles. So she wasn't finished in the three hours, or anywhere close to it. Meanwhile, the organizers had to get set for one more race, the marathon relay. (The full marathon was Sunday morning.) Sylvia said they would have been perfectly within their rights to kick her off the track. But they didn't. They took her timing chip, so it wouldn't mess with the timing in the next race, but they let her walk it out, staying well to the outside so as not to interfere with the marathon relay runners. They saved her a medal, and cheered her right into the end. That was a a classy move. I know that she really appreciated it.