Victory is having done your best. If you’ve done your best, you have won – Bill Bowerman, Coach
At some point in your life, you will have that one day, one event or one challenge that, for whatever reason, you really wonder how it could have been different if something had happened differently. Sometimes, no matter how well we plan for something, train for it or think we have covered all the possible outcomes, things don’t turn out the way we plan. And we wonder.
This was what happened last year when I ran the Lake Country Half Marathon. I didn’t have a chance to do a full recap of this one last year, but it was mentioned in a previous blog post. To make a long story short, that day (a year ago) started off great, weather was perfect, course scenery was amazing. And I was on course for a personal record. And then Mother Nature happened. The fog lifted and the humidity climbed. By the time I hit mile 10, I knew that a PR was no longer going to happen. It was extremely warm and humid. In the end I finished with a respectable time (only about 5 minutes off my PR) but in the end, I was not happy with my race. I made a promise to myself last year that, at some point, I was going to come back and run this race again. Just to see what I could do, with better weather conditions.
That opportunity came sooner than I thought. Thanks to a silent auction basket that I won last winter, which included a few race entries to any DuTriRun event in the area, I was able to run this race for free this year! Time to see what I could do! Since driving 2 hours on the morning of race day is not something I really want to do, we decided to enjoy the holiday weekend by exploring around Milwaukee!
When race morning arrived, I headed to start line feeling optimistic. I was determined to make the best of it, even if the morning didn’t start out on the right foot – when I pulled in at the parking lot at the race, I realized that I left my running watch sitting on the night stand at the hotel… a half hour away… Not really the way to start the morning, but nothing I could do about it, so I sucked it up and moved on.
This is one of your true small town races. The start/finish line is in the parking lot of the country church a few miles out of town, the church is open so everyone can use the gymnasium to stretch out and gather before/after the race, there are real bathrooms available too! no waiting in lines at the port-a potty before the start! After the race, they have a fabulous buffet of sandwiches, fruit and so much more to help you refuel!
I ran into a friend of mine in the parking lot that I forgot was also running this race, so it was nice to see a familiar face! As Peg and I were then heading to the start line, I also ran into another friend! I forgot that Alisa lives in the area, so this is almost like a hometown race for her. In the running community, you truly never know when or where you will run into friends. I can’t think of the last time that I went to a race (withing a few hour radius of home) and didn’t run into someone I know! Then again, even if I don’t know anyone, I always leave with new friends! (today was no different!)
When the race started, it was a sunny but cool morning. Light breeze and low humidity. Honestly, perfect running conditions. Peg and I settled into a nice pace and headed out… straight up the first hill. Really? a long hill right at the start of the race? Yup. But the thing to remember… we were going to get to run DOWN this same hill on our way back to the finish line! This course is really one of the most beautiful courses I have run in a while. It winds completely around the picturesque Lac La Belle and through historic Oconomowoc before winding back through a quiet residential area, and then back to the church.
After about 2 miles, I told Peg to head on without me. I headed out with her, knowing that she does run at a slighter faster pace than me and I was only going to be able to hang with her for part of the race before I would start to taper off. It was about this time that I ran into a few of the guys that I had talked with in the parking lot before the race. We were all doing a similar run/walk interval, but since our run and walk intervals were opposite, we kept playing leap frog on the course.
When I had hit about mile 6-ish, I was just finishing up one of my walk intervals and one of the guys ended up right behind me. His buddy was a little ways behind us, so we fell into pace with each other and, as any friendly runner does, we started up a casual conversation. Since we were running at a similar pace, we ended up spending the next several miles together. Come to find out Brad and his friend Brad (I felt like I was in a Dr Seuss book but instead of Thing 1 and Thing 2, it was Brad 1 and Brad 2!) were on their quest to run all 50 states and picked this race to be able to check Wisconsin off the list. Best part is, these guys don’t even live in the same state! One lives in Mississippi and the other in Texas! They fly to their selected destination to meet up and run! This race was #22 on their list. The following day they were crossing Iowa off the list with a half marathon there! We spent the next 3 miles comparing races we’ve done in other states, likes, dislikes, and everything in between.
Next thing I knew, we were passing mile 10 and noticed that I was really starting to struggle. Yes, we were still sticking to the 6/2 run/walk interval that Brad had started with, but the sun had come up and the humidity had started to climb. As many of you know, me and the heat/humidity do not always get along. I could tell that I needed to taper back a bit, so I told Brad 1 to go ahead without me and that if Brad 2 caught up to me, I’d pick him up and get him to the finish. I was also still nursing a tender ankle and didn’t’ want to try and push it too hard to far, seeing as I have a few more races to do over the next 8 weeks. So, Brad 1 headed off. Since Brad 2 was only a block or so behind me, it didn’t take him long to catch up. I fell into pace with Brad 2 and it was like running with an old friend – maybe that was because I already knew about so many of the races that he had already run! LOL We both agreed that this humidity was for the birds but we were going to finish. And we were going to finish together. Even if we had to do some walking. There is no shame in walking when you need to!
Finally, we made it back to the top of that long hill that we had to run up earlier. The end was just around the corner and we could hear the finish line festivities. A few minutes later, we could see it. Brad 1 was waiting at the finish line for us, cheering us on as we made that final approach.
We all made it. It was humid and the hills were not fun, but we made it, and we finished with smiles on our faces! Thanks guys for making this one of the most fun half marathons that I have run in a long time. The conditions may not have been ideal, but when you are running friends, it always makes it a little easier! I am honored that I was able to meet you guys today and run with you for most of the morning. You drive and determination is inspiring! I can’t wait to follow along as you continue your 50 state quest! Keep smiling and keep running!
In the end, my time for this year was no better than last year. no records were shattered, no PR’s fell. In fact, I was 2 miles slower this year. Once again, it was a combination of hills and humidity that did me in. The one thing that I did realize about this course, that I failed to notice last year… Although online in the race description, it says it’s mostly shaded, this is only for the 1st half of the course! Once you finish with your run around the lake (the first half of the course) and into town, there is almost no shade on the course. So, although the temps were only in the upper 60’s when we finished, with 81% and not a cloud in the sky, we literally felt like we were baking for the last 3 miles of the course! No matter how much you THINK you are training to run hill and in the heat, do more! I have come to realize that I need to hit the hills more often.
Thank you once again DuTriRun for once again putting on a great race. The crew of volunteers before and after the race are always 1st class! Thank you!
Will I run this one again? Maybe. I know I won’t be running it in 2017 as I know I have a wedding to attend that same weekend up north. After that? Who knows! There are so many other places that these feet need to still see that it might be time to adventure elsewhere!