Saturday, August 21, 2010

Day 1196 -- Race Report: Madison Mini-Marathon

No packet pick-up on race day, so the race report begins the day before. Yesterday, we packed up all the Little Joggers (and Hurricane Andrew, the medium Little Jogger's friend) and drove up to Madison. Besides the packet pick-up, we took in the State Historical Museum, walked down State Street, and stopped at the Memorial Union for ice cream. It was a good time.

One thing I love about Madison is all the people. It's a people-watcher's dream. Neckties and tie-dye. Young women with purple hair and young women in hijabs. State legislators on lunch break and families on holiday. Hippies, rastas, emos, steampunks, you name it. It's just fun to hang out there.

One thing I hate about Madison is all the people. It's crowded. Walking up and down State Street with five kids in tow is an adventure. Worse is the traffic. Here in Joggerville, three cars at a red light is considered a traffic jam. In Madison, there are thousands of cars going in random directions, weaving around the inevitable construction projects, and basically making me feel like a small town hick. I was a bit more used to it when we lived there, in the mid nineties, although I was never entirely comfortable. Now, forget it. Madison gets on my nerves.

But other than that, it was a good trip, and the kids were reasonably well-behaved. We had a good time.

This morning, I popped out of bed early and headed back. With a 7:00 start, I wanted to be on the road before 5:00. It was dark and foggy all the way up. That didn't make for very relaxing driving. Of course the traffic was light, which helped.

When I got to Madison, everyone else was getting there, too. There were almost 5000 runners, plus volunteers, and we all wanted to park in the very closest parking ramp to the starting line. I didn't make it, and I ended up in a metered ramp with very prominent signs saying that the meters were enforced all the time. Problem: they were two hour meters. It was over an hour before the start, and I had over two hours to run. So, what to do? I supposed I should have moved to a different ramp, but I elected to ignore the meters. After all, how much could a ticket be?

Walking around before the race was the usual mish-mash. Most everyone there was younger than me or slimmer than me or both. Some were clearly experienced runners, and some were clearly running a big race for the first time. I saw t-shirts from most of the local races I'd been to -- the Madison Marathon, the Fox Cities Marathon, last year's MMM, and of course, plenty of this year's MMM. (Only newbies wear this year's race shirt to actually race.) I did not see anyone with a Team Pikermi t-shirt. Next year, I'll have my own, but right now it's in the mail.

The race itself can be roughly divided into three parts. The first four miles, I was feeling pretty good. I took a couple of walk breaks at the three- and four-mile marks, but even so I was hitting my goal pace. But I was heating up, and feeling tired, and I didn't think it could last.

It didn't. Miles five through about eight were really rough. Between mile five and six, we saw the ambulance come and pick up someone who has succumbed to the heat and the humidity. Not a good sign, when you aren't even halfway through the race. I got very discouraged. I kept taking walk breaks. I'd try to goad myself to run to the next mile marker, but I would stop short. At this point, I mentally quit the Madison Mini-Marathon, and also withdrew from the Lakefront Marathon, and also gave up on pretty much any future run over 5K. And I wasn't too sure about 5K.

Around mile eight or nine, I got my second wind, and, more importantly, got my head together. I was still running slowly, and taking walk breaks, but at least I felt like I was in control. I think I ran from mile seven to mile nine without stopping, and I know I ran from mile nine to mile eleven. It wasn't the greatest athletic performance of all time, but I still feel like I finished strong.

My unofficial finishing time was 2:25:35. I don't seem to have an official finish time. The results are posted on-line, but I can't get them to display me. I guess it's just a glitch in the chip timing. It's not like I need an official time to qualify for the Olympics or something.

Anyway, even though it was my slowest official Pikermi ever, I feel good about my performance. At this point in my life, any race I finish is a good race. And when I got back to the car, I didn't have a ticket.