Milwaukee Running Festival

This was a fun inaugural raced. I thoroughly enjoyed most of the course. It wasn’t an easy course and I maybe should have actually looked closer at the course, but whatever, you have to run the 13.1 miles whether you know when you are turning or not.

The Milwaukee Running Festival weekend started Saturday morning with the Mile Race and Expo. I was working the Ragnar Booth with Mo and Sara. It was a blast to see all the kids come in after running the mile race. I think it’s great how many of them were all smiles. There are now tons of kids running around Milwaukee in Ragnar shirts.

Ragnar, do it.
Ragnar, do it.
Pre-race movie
Pre-race movie

It was a gross cold and rainy day so being stuck inside all day wasn’t terrible except for being stuck by the door that volunteers were holding open for everyone coming to the expo. After 8 hours of hanging out here a group of us went out for a pre-race meal. It was Halloween so I had to stop by home and leave candy out for the kids. I had two friends staying with me so we went home to prepare for race day. Let’s just say some of us are able to pick out our race outfits easier than others. We settled in for a pre-race movie and took it easy. I set my clocks back so we would be all set for morning. Side note: fall back on race morning is awesome.

We woke up, got dressed and headed over to the start. Parking was easy enough. Not thrilled the ICC charged $5, but not bad either. We parked and found everyone else running. I love how many people I know at these races. Milwaukee has a great running community and I love being part of it. There was a lot of excitement at the start. Sara and I found our place among the pace groups with the plan to not go out too fast.

race_1546_photo_27820525The weather was great and I felt good. We did pretty good not going out too fast. Miles 1-4: 8:50, 8:36 (oops), 8:43, 8:51. We knew about the hill at miles 3-4 and had run it several times this summer to just pushed on through. I saw a colleague at the top out cheering. Always fun to see a friendly face. I loved how the course wandered through the East Side. I never ever run over there. Miles 5-8: 8:24, 8:19, 8:28. 8:40. Going up Wisconsin Ave was a longer incline than I realized. We worked hard to get up that hill and enjoyed the crowd support near Marquette. We split from the marathon around mile 9 and headed south over 94. The bridge wasn’t so great. We chose to run on the sidewalk so as to not trip and harm ourselves.  The awesome crowd support basically died as we separated from the marathon.

race_1546_photo_27764504The last several miles of the course were fairly desolate and there was a really weird turn that I feel could have been eliminated with distance added somewhere else. Miles 9-13: 9:00, 8:38, 8:38, 8:23. I did some really bad running math somewhere around mile 12 and was certain we wouldn’t get my PR. Running math is hard. I ran the .1 at a 6:46 pace and finished 20 seconds shy of my PR and my fastest time in almost four years. I almost cried and then desperately dug through old posts to find my PR. I am over the moon with how this race went. As I stated before, it was not an easy course and we ran it hard. A huge thank you to Sara for running it with me.

All smiles
All smiles

We found more friends and several of us stayed at the finish to cheer for the half marathon and marathon finishers. It was super fun to see Tracey come in all smiles! And then Mo not much further behind, smashing her PR and breaking 4:00 hours! All in all I would say it was a great inaugural event. There are things to improve upon, but that is true of all races. I liked the half course. My biggest problem next year will be deciding between this and Tyranena as they are a day apart instead of six days.

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Door County Fall 50

I’ve wanted to run this for a few years and haven’t until this year for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to not living in Wisconsin, travel and injury. 2015 was finally the year. I ran it with the usual suspects: Sara, Jen and Erica

Ready?
Ready?

We left Milwaukee in the early evening on Friday, stopped in Sheboygan for dinner, and collapsed at the hotel in Ephraim. It was an early morning and rainy. We checked in, pinned on our bibs, layered on rain gear and headed back to the start.

Eerily similar to the Ragnar start picture.
Eerily similar to the Ragnar start picture.

The rain wasn’t horrible until Jen had to run. Rain and relays have gone hand in hand for her this year. I had the third leg which was the longest one of the race, 7.3. It was partly sunny and dry when I started. I felt good and it was really nice to run through parts of Door County that Mo and I had run earlier this year. I was surprised how great my legs felt and just kept pushing along. Once I entered Peninsula State Park I felt rain and told myself it was tree rain. It wasn’t. I ended up quite wet, but ended with a sub 9:00 minute pace. I did an awesome front seat clothing change without flashing anyone. I wanted dry clothing on asap so I didn’t get cold. We spent most of the exchanges bundled up in layers and blankets waiting for our runner to come in.

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The saving grace of the day was how pretty it was in Door County

I swapped legs with Erica since she was sick and her second leg was supposed to have the worst hill in it. The hill was a 14% grade. The booklet said it was okay to walk. I took this very seriously. Once we got to this exchange I realized it was where the Door County Triathlon finishes. Funny how that sticks in my head when I ran that in 2008. It was windy and cold when we were right next to the bay. Thankfully the route quickly got onto a road that was protected from the wind. I was cruising along. I felt great. The first three miles were great. I ran 8:45 miles. And then the hill. Leg 8It was beautiful and steep. Really steep. Everyone was walking. I decided to speed walk it. Running it would have been pointless. That miles was 10:19, which I didn’t think was bad considering I walked a bunch of it. It was misting the whole time. Not raining, which wasn’t horrible. When I got to the top of the hill I reached deep and pushed hard and ran an 8:20 mile. I can’t really believe I ran that. But I was done at that point.

Waiting for Sara at the finish line.
Waiting for Sara at the finish line.

We got to the finish line and once again layered up to go stand in the wind while waiting for Sara to get in. We ran across the finish line as a team and giggled as our team name was announced because we are all 15.

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Pretty sweet medal
Pretty sweet medal

The finish line included unlimited pizza and beer. The post race pasty was in two huge tents with music and a dance floor. We didn’t get to take advantage of much as we were heading back to Milwaukee and all wanted to get home. Next year we will be back and will book a room in Sturgeon Bay.

It was a ton of fun and so much less planning and organization than Ragnar. I believe I said it was just like Ragnar except we got to sleep in a bed both nights and there were only four of us. Relays are such a fun part of running. And I have such a fun group of people I get to do these races with. We will be back next year for sure.