The Cold, The Hills and the Miles

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Madison Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!

Back in February, when I decided to run the Madison Marathon, no one could have guessed that the anticipated “cool” fall day would be replaced by “temps about 20 degrees colder than normal”.  But that is exactly what Sunday was!

But before we get into that, we need to back up a bit.

As you may recall, When I originally signed up for this race, it was to run the marathon with a friend of mine.  Then life happened.  Injuries happened.  Reality set in.  Completing a HILLY 26.2 mile course on a foot that gets angry after 6 or 7 miles was just not a reality for this middle of the pack runner.  I made the call a few weeks back to make the switch.  I contacted the race about transferring to the half and they helped make it happen!  The pressure was off.  Well, not really… I still had 13.1 miles to cover and I never know how my foot is going to react to long miles!

I headed to Madison feeling strong and ready for whatever the weekend threw at me!

The Expo:  Most of the time when people here Madison, they think it’s going to be big and crowded.  The Madison Marathon is a bigger city marathon with a true small town feel.  The expo features a variety of booths so you have the opportunity to pick up anything you forgot at home, or need to buy to make your race weekend experience complete.  Friday evening was pretty quiet so if you enjoy shopping and browsing the booths without a large crowd, hit the expo Friday night!

I normally don’t buy a lot at expos (unless I forgot something at home) but the race merchandise called out to me. They had some pretty fun 25th anniversary items and I couldn’t pass up the winter hat! No, this didn’t have the year on it, but I’m ok with that! I know I will be getting some use out of this hat in the upcoming months (or even days!)

Before I got busy working for the weekend myself, I made a quick walk thru and stopped by the Wall! Finding your name on the wall is always fun! No matter the race, the wall is someplace I be sure to stop!

On Saturday night, after the expo finished up for the weekend, I met up with some of the ladies from the Green Bay MRTT/SRTT chapter to find some dinner. Everyone else was looking for pasta and I wanted some good chicken. We ended up heading to Benvenuto’s Italian Grill! Between the appetizers we ordered as well as the basket of of home baked bread, there was no shortage of carbs consumed!

While everyone else was enjoying bowls of baked spaghetti and pasta and meatballs, I was able to enjoy a fabulous platter of Chicken Picatta and Sweet Potato Fries!! I am definitely going to have to remember this place and this chicken next time I am in the area!

Then it was time to head back to the hotel and get some rest before the big morning! By the time Brenda and I figure out what we were wearing for our races (half for me, full for her) we realized that we were going to have to sleep fast… the alarm was going off in less than 6 hours. But with some added layers, Flat Me was ready to go!

I was thankful for fellow BibRave Pro Angie who brought me a long sleeve BibRave tech shirt! I added this under my lightweight BibRave hoodie so I could have an extra layer for the morning! Between the layers and my TutleGloves I was ready to go!

I dropped my bag off at gear check, caught up with runners from the 50 State Half Marathon Club, Half Fanatics as well as Angie and her husband Josh for some pictures! The start finish line was well organized, plenty of port a potties and music playing. Before long it was time to head to the start line! Let’s get moving and try to warm up a little! I ran into my friend Jeff at the start line and we heading out for our 13.1 miles together!

The Course itself is nice, great views of the capitol, some amazing houses in quiet subdivisions and hills. Lots of Hills. This course is basically hills for days! I knew from talking to other people that Madison was hilly, but this was even more than what I expected! Since my calves were a little tight when we started, I used some of the hills near the beginning to walk up and stretch them out a bit. Each time we got to the top of the hill, we got excited to go back down, only to realize that around that next corner we realized that there was another hill to climb!

But the views were pretty awesome!

I knew that there was a possibility that my foot was going to flare up again during the race and I hoped that it waited until later in the race. I told Jeff that it usually wakes up and yells at me around mile 7. As we ran, walked and laughed, I was feeling pretty good. and then it hit. I told Jeff my foot just yelled at me and he looked at me with a look of surprise… “really? just like that?? and so on cue.” We were at mile 6.99. Yup, just like that. We ended up walking a bit more of those last 6 miles than I would have wanted to, but I was grateful for Jeff. If he was not there with me, I would have probably walked even more of those miles. He helped keep me distracted so that I was not thinking about wanting to chop off my foot (or at least my big toe!) . We “enjoyed” the hills and fun conversation and the next thing we knew, we were coming around the corner on State street! Just a warning… virtually EVERY race in Madison (especially near the Capitol) if going to end with a run UP one of the hills. So just be ready for it. It WILL be there! After that last steep climb and subsequent downhill, it was just around the corner to the finish. I surprised Jeff and kicked it into gear for that last few blocks. I was determined to finish strong. He was right there with me.

Aas we made out way through the finishers area, we were greeted with our medals (yes, the well earned bling!) heat sheets (OMG yes, an extra layer to block the wind now that I’m not running and I know I’m gonna be cold in about 2 minutes), water, beer and then (in my opinion) the BEST part… warm food!!!

The Mac & Cheese was amazing, as was the Vegetarian Chili! I was more than disappointed with the brats. These brats, in my opinion, were not a true representation of a Wisconsin Brat. If you were visiting from another state and this was your first time trying a brat, please come back and try then again! They were small, overcooked and very blah in terms of flavor! Yes, I understand they they are making food for several thousand runners but I have had brats at other larger events and they were amazing… so cooking for a crowd was no excuse for these food fails!

Once we got food in our bellies, took some pics around the capitol and put on more layers, Jeff introduces me to (what he says) are the BEST Gyro’s in Madison. So I took his word for it and ordered one to go. I could eat anything more now, but this was going to be my late lunch/early dinner once I needed more food!

I hung around the finish line to wait for the rest of the ladies to come in from their 26.2 miles adventure! Seeing their smiling faces come around the final corner was amazing! They may have been in pain, exhausted and ready to be done, but they finished that marathon like true rockstars!

As great as teh course was, the friends and the food, one of my favorite perks of the Madison Marathon? FREE race pics! and to make it even better? FREE race pics, delivered to your inbox before the next morning!!

In the end, half marathon #63 and my 17th different half marathon in WI was a success. The course was scenic and the aid stations were ample. Post race food was epic and I got to spend the weekend with great friends! I would definitely recommend this race to anyone looking to run Madison!! This will go on the list to potentially come back and run again… I just have no idea when since I’m now trying to run as many DIFFERENT halfs in WI over the next 3 years!

Have you run the Madison Marathon? What is your favorite part?

Until next time, have a fabulous weekend peeps!

Half Marathon – 63
States complete – 28
Different half marathons in WI – 17

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