Madison Marathon 2017!

13 Nov

Yesterday November 12th was the Madison marathon this was the final race of my 2017 season and I’m glad it’s behind me now! So as every major race ends for me part of my moving on process is to write about the experience and help me process the day, the training, and move on. So that’s why you all get to read my blog post now.

For 10-11 years now, I have run 2-3 marathons per year and when I signed up for Madison marathon 2017 I said this would be my final marathon for one year! So, 2018 will be my first year of no marathon races, I’m going all in for multi-sport and I’m sure run some shorter stuff like a 10 mile or half marathon. I’m really looking forward to the break from the marathon and the work load that goes with training for a marathon. But 2019 I’m sure I’ll be back chasing after that 26.2 mile distance!
Back to Madison marathon, so this is the hardest course I have ever run! I have raced Boston 9 times, New York City, Twin Cities, Chicago, Des Moines, Phoenix AZ, Houston TX lots of races and I would say none of them were this hard! The hills on this course are just relentless and they just keep piling on the hardest of hills late in the race! The hill at mile 22 was just mean, and the finish line is straight up hill so mile 26 was wicked as well! Mix in those hills with 34 degrees and clouds and some light winds that picked up during the race and well it was a tough day for me. (my good friend Krisana now she crushed it and ran an amazing race! But she is wicked tough and ran smart and was well trained and focused so proud of her!) As for me mentally I was not into this race. Why I have no idea? I did not really start training for this race until September after my multi-sport season had ended. My focus in 2017 was the World Championships for Duathlon so from April when I ran Boston marathon until September my longest run was maybe 10 miles? And that only happened a couple of times. So unlike years past my mileage was way down and I had to play catch up quickly. I also had the TC 10 mile in the middle of this shorten training cycle that I wanted to perform well at so I respected some taper and prep for that and then geared up again for the marathon. But mentally I just never really got into this race and I don’t know why? I had no real goals for it, no expectations I was just very relaxed and just wanted to run, feel good and make sure I got a BQ for 2019 should I decide to run Boston again in 2019. I also wanted to break 3 hours but was not looking for any kind of PR or glory or wicked fast time like I have run in the past. Again, just wanted to take what the day gave me and be done with it.
The weather was cold for me, and I would say I had wardrobe malfunction and did not dress warm enough. I would also say I did not properly warm-up for this race and get myself excited and fired up and my breakfast was not what I typically eat for some reason I had these new breakfast cookies and they were not so great. Anyway, no excuses I choose to handle the race this way and so it’s all good. I also did not treat race week like most race weeks, I only took one rest day that was the Sunday before the race and all during my taper as my miles lessened I continued to bike like a maniac on my new Wahoo Kicker. Then race week I typically lay off my red wine and really try to dial in my diet and rest, that went out the window also. Madison marathon weekend was also Iowa vs. Badger football weekend and my wife Shannon birthday. So in Madison Friday and Saturday night dinners had bottle of wine, had some dessert and well spent Saturday out in the cold at a football game! Which all made for a great weekend! Except the football game my Hawkeyes sucked bad and played the worst game they have played in 19 years!
Back to the race, the gun went off and I thought maybe I run with Krisana for a bit but I was going faster than she needed so we quickly split up. I just ran smooth and in control not chasing the leaders just enjoying the miles. I was holding in the 6:14 pace and feeling fine, the course was nice through the arboretum wilderness lots of turkeys and lots of rolling hills! Once we started to exit the arboretum I met up with a couple runners and we started to chit chat a bit and try to work together but the one runner was much fitter than I was and I could tell he wanted to run faster than me so I let him go and the other runner we had caught was dying and so I past him and left him behind and back to lonely no man zone I went. About mile 7-8 I started to lose focus and kind of wanted to quit, I had no real fight in me for some reason and no real desire to suffer and run. But I kept fighting back in my mind to continue on and to try and get tough and race. Race day was the 9 year anniversary of when I buried my father and so that was on my mind as well and I would run and try to talk to my dad and use that as motivation but my motivation was just lacking. Then we hit observatory hill at like the 9 mile mark of the race and holy crap!! That thing is wicked and I got to the top and was like ugh! But then we had a fast downhill after that and I tried to get back into the race. The course kept rolling I swear no long stretches of flat it’s just up and down. Finally, at mile 11 I saw my wife and friend Charlie that gave me a boost and I got the crowd laughing as I yelled at them this course is a motherfucker! Cause it was!! I mean mile 11 of a race I should still be in great spirits and feeling good but the course was already taking its toll on me! From mile 11-16 maybe this was a lonely boring stretch of road mostly industrial like, rolling hills and into headwind.
I really was losing focus during this stretch and kept thinking shit I’m not even half way done! Finally, we turned into a park and I got out of the wind and started trying to rally but then more damn hills! And not small one’s big ones! What helped me at this point of the race was the half marathon runners were with us a bit so I got lots of cheers from them. But then the course split again and I was back to just me and the few marathon runners around me. We entered into some neighborhoods and more hills! I finally had caught the green tank guy I could see for the last several miles and he was dying also. So we started running together and trying to push and motivate each other but really all he did was draft off me and lend no help. That frustrated me. We would turn corners and see the next big hill and both just yell FUCK!! Are you kidding me! My legs were really starting to tire and hurt at this point as we were miles 17,18,19,20 those are tough miles in the marathon if it is flat and these was anything but flat right now.
Then came mile 22 the mother of all hills! There was an aid station on this hill so I took my first walk break through the aid station. I yelled is there any flat areas in Madison? And some guy said sorry to say but you have a lot of big hills left in this course! I wanted to cry! 😊 But I kept fighting and trying to run but I was cold from sweat, and not warm enough clothes and 34 degrees. My legs did not like me and my energy and fight was like ugh! I mean this is my mental state… I got to mile 23 and saw my time and said I can run a 30-minute 5k and finish in under 3 hours! So I was talking myself into doing like 10 minute miles that’s how bad I just wanted to be done and was hurting. But it was so cold that I knew I had to try and keep moving and get to the finish line for warm clothes. So I walked a few aid station between miles 22-26 and then between mile 24-25 I started to get really sick feeling thought I might puke, got dizzy and nauseous and started to wonder if I can finish? So had that talk with myself about just suck it up move at whatever pace and finish! So I shuffled along and then came the finish line hill! This is just so mean the hill they make you run at mile 26 to get to the finish my run was more of a short shuffle like a walk almost moving along at 8:15 pace or something. But finally, I finished! I broke 3 hours with a 2:57:43 and was so happy to be done! My time was nothing special as I’ve run much faster many times before but I was also not mad, sad, disappointed any of that because I really had no idea what kind of shape I was in, and I really was not after any specific time or glory just a finish. So all is good with me and I’m so glad to be done, get some rest and move onto my goals for 2018!

The marathon is unforgiving, it’s a hard race and that is why so many of us love it! The unknown of what can happen out there in 26.2 miles. To have glory so many things have to align and if they don’t then it takes a certain level of mental toughness to fight, keep fighting and overcome the pain and suffering. I love endurance events! I love pushing limits and really training the mind to be strong. Madison my mind was not in the game and therefore I except my results.
I’m so proud of my friend Krisana she had an amazing race! Great splits, and stayed strong throughout. The glory in Madison marathon weekend was the weeks I spent training with Krisana the support of the people we train with and the journey to get us both on the start line! It was the weekend with my amazing wife, and my friends Krisana and Charlie that made the weekend another great memory for me! This is what I live for! Even if I walk really slow today!
Congrats to all the finishers in Madison yesterday! Be proud as that course is no joke!



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