Thirteen.1 Notes on the Mad City Half Marathon
1. The half marathon starts at 7:25 at the state Capitol building - fifteen minutes after the full marathon and twenty minutes before the quarter (and personally I think these subdivisions are getting silly) marathon - and finishes at the Alliant Energy Center maybe three miles away. So I had to get to the finish line a little after six to catch a shuttle to the start, which is why I'm not a big fan of point-to-point courses.
2. I hadn't planned a strategy for this race so when I saw the 1:50 pace guy lining up near me, I decided to stick with him for as long as I could. If I could hang for ten miles, I'd be happy no matter how crappy the last three miles were. Unless my death was literal rather than figurative, of course.
3. I ran this race two years ago in 2:xx:xx on a day when it was 79 degrees and 72% humidity. Today it was more like 63 degrees and 54% humidity, which is one of the reasons I came back. The other is that I like Madison; it's a cool city.
4. The race started promptly and it also started downhill, which is nice on a point-to-point course. It's a moderately hilly route although it does have two long, mostly flat sections: along Lake Mendota around miles six and seven and around Monona Bay and heading towards the back of the Alliant Energy Center, towards the finish. Although they do throw in one last nasty little uphill just before you turn into the parking lot.
5. I wouldn't say the crowd support rivals Boston but I was surprised by how many people were out cheering early in the morning.
6. The first part of the course goes northeast from the Capitol along the isthmus separating Lake Mendota from Lake Monona before turning around and returning to downtown via Johnson and Langdon Streets. So a lot of the downhill in mile one turns into uphill in mile four, I think.
7. The University of Wisconsin section of the course goes along the Temin Lakeshore Path and along some roads on the west side of campus, including past Camp Randall Stadium. Which is fine by me; if they took us through the main part of campus we'd wind up running some hills worth bitching about.
8. I don't remember much about miles eight through eleven but what I do remember is mostly bad - a short out-and-back around Vilas Park, which I hate out-and-backs and wish they'd find a way to eliminate it; running up a pedestrian bridge late in mile nine to get across North Shore Drive; and noticing about halfway through mile nine that I'd already sped up to my "God I want this to be over with!" pace, which isn't a good pace with 4.5 miles still to go.
9. I made it through mile eleven in 1:31:44 (8:20 pace) before cratering and losing contact with the 1:50 people.
10. The last two miles weren't totally horrible, just mostly so. There was some walking but I ran more than I walked.
11. I actually had a quick left after mile thirteen. I guess that was the payoff for dogging it those last two miles.
12. The medals for all the races just say "Mad City Marathon" and are color-coded by race (red for marathon, yellow for half, white for quarter); in addition, the name of the actual race run is printed on the (also color-coded) ribbon. Marathoners sometimes bitch when the shirt or medal doesn't distinguish between the various distances.
13. I grabbed a bottle of water at the finish line, but didn't bother food. I didn't even go all the way through the line - I didn't see anybody carting around anything that looked particularly appealing.