Cheesehead Half Marathon and camping – the perfect weekend

After weeks of training and anticipation, the weekend of the next Half Marathon was finally here!  We made a weekend adventure out of it.

On Friday, we all took off from work early, packed up the cars and headed to Matt and Molly’s camper!   After getting everything hauled into the camper and unpacked, we headed to Chilton to grab a few things from Walmart and the local Farmers Market with Molly.  We also were waiting for Matt to get to the campground since he had to work later than the rest of us, so why not get some errand done.

John’s Jolly Yellow Banana, as Matt and I relax by the fire

For those of you that might have seen John’s Facebook post last week about the “What is your color run name”, you will appreciate this!  After Molly heard what John’s Color Run name was (Jolly Yellow Banana), she had to have fun with it!  When we were at Walmart Molly had to pick up the special gift just for John, which she then properly labeled before giving it to him!

After grilling some awesome steak and potatoes, we spent Friday evening relaxing around the campfire, having a few beers and watching the Packers Pre-season game.  It was the perfect relaxing evening to get ready for our big run tomorrow.  It was really comforting knowing that we only had a 15 minute drive to get to the starting line for run tomorrow!  Since Molly and John were volunteering with registration and the 5k on Saturday, they had to be there for 6am!  The Half Marathon didn’t start until 7:30 so Matt and I didn’t have to be there quite that early… extra sleep would be a fabulous option!  It’s didn’t take us long to decide that we were taking 2 cars to the run!

After a goodnights sleep, Molly and John headed out around 5:30am to be in Hilbert before 6am, while Matt and I got at least a little more sleep!  Before long tho it was time for us to get up, find breakfast and head to the start line!

Once we got to Hilbert parked the car a few blocks from the start line, we found Molly and John, then made our way to the truck where they had left our race bibs for us before they went to work.  Time was drawing near for the start so we made a trip to the beloved port-a-pots before heading to the start line.  That in itself was an adventure!  After waiting in the long lines we were still there when they did the national anthem… good thing this run was chip timed so it didn’t matter that we were a few minutes late starting.  We finally made our way to the start, stopping to drop off Matt’s bag with his sandals in with with Molly and John.

We were on our way.  We missed the mass start, so the first mile was spent much less stressful than most other runs – we didn’t end up spending time dodging our way around other runners. It also didn’t take me long long to realize that I was glad that I didn’t change my mind and wear my running capri’s and a t-shirt.  This was going to be a warm run – there was no clouds in the sky to protect us from the bright, hot sun.  According to my phone it was only 65 degrees outside, but with the lack of cloud cover, it felt much warmer.  I was feeling good and ready to run!

The sun was going to be the biggest obstacle.  We cruised through the first few miles without any problems but after about mile 3, Matt’s calves started bothering him.  We walked for a bit and he was determined to push through it.  Shortly after mile 4 we had to slow down and walk again for a bit.  Matt told me to just go and run.  I told him we would finish this together and that I was not going to leave him behind.  We pushed through another mile or so and again he told me to just run.  He was going walk for a bit.  I really didn’t want to leave him behind but he would not take no for an answer.  He insisted that he would be ok and wanted me to just run.  Reluctantly, I did get back to my run.  I told him I would see him at the finish line.

This run had definitely turned into a mental challenge for me.  Pushing through the blazing sun was only part of it.  Knowing that Matt was behind me somewhere, kept me wondering if he was doing ok. At the halfway point, I was on track to hitting that 2 1/2 hour goal that I had for myself.  The best part about the second half of the course was that a good portion of it was right along the Fox River Trail, which meant a large amount of tree cover!  YAY!!  Granted it was only 3 miles, but that was 3 miles that I was away from the blazing sun out there in that cloudless sky!  Unfortunately  the tree cover had to come to an end. I had 3 miles left and they were all right back in the sun – the last 3 miles of the course were the same 3 miles that we ran when we started this course.  These last 3 miles were the toughest 3 miles I have run all summer!  The sun was trying to get the best of me.  I actually ended up walking a large portion of these miles, but I was still moving!  Finally, I made the turn just after mile 12 that would take me back into town!

I can honestly say that I truly had to push myself both physically and mentally to get through those last 3 miles.  When I came around that last corner and saw the finish line just two blocks ahead of me, I would have to say that was one of the best things I had seen all day!  I crossed that finish line with a smile on my face, knowing I had just run my new PR.  Official time – 2:35:23  Not quite the 2:30:00 that I was shooting for, but with the sun today, I was not going to complain one bit.  This was almost 7 minutes faster than my time from the Journey’s Half Marathon in May! After collecting a bottle of water and my Cheesehead Medal, John and Molly came and found me right away.  I grabbed a spot in the shade to do a little stretching and cool off a bit.  Molly asked what happened to Matt and when I told her, they both said that made sense then as to why Matt and I’s apps on our phones were giving such different results!

Matt and I approaching the finish line

I asked Molly about where Matt was at on the course.  She said he was at about mile 12.6.  He was back to running 11-12 minute miles so he was not too far behind me! My rest in the shade was done.  I had one thing I needed to do.  A few months ago, when Matt mentioned that he was considering finding another half marathon to run and mentioned this one, I told him that if he wanted company, I would run it with him.  I told him that we would run this event and finish together.  I was not going back on my word.  We were going to cross the finish line together.  I unpinned my bib number and gave it, along with my medal to John, grabbed my bottle of water and started heading back out on the course.   I headed back to the last corners coming back into town to wait for Matt.  Before long, he was coming around the final corners.  I joined him on the road and reminded him that I told him we would finish this run together.  That was just what we were going to do.  We ran the last stretch of the course together.  Molly was cheering at the next corner and John was taking a few pictures.   He finished about 15 minutes behind me, but this was also over 10 minutes faster than is time from the Cellcom Half Marathon back in May.  So proud of him for pushing through, finishing strong and giving this race his all!

It was a tough run but we are still smiling

We came, we ran, we conquered.  This has become the tag line for so many of our races this summer. We have faced many challenges along the way,  we have run many miles together, and pushed each other to do our best each and every time.  I am proud of everything that we have accomplished over the last 6 months!  I look forward to many more races and miles together!  

Now that the run was over, it was time to get back to relaxing and enjoying the rest of the weekend… next mission was to find something to eat.  For the first time after any event, we actually hit the food tent and found a few things to eat to begin  the refueling process!  Since this is the Cheesehead Run, the post race buffet that was available for runners and volunteer was cheese themed!  I was not up for eating much at this point, but I knew that I needed to eat something.  They had some awesome breakfast burritos, filled with eggs, cheese and potatoes that hit the spot!  Those combined with the cheese curd on top mini sliders, 2 bottles of water and a beer, I was good to go!  Time to head back for a shower and relaxing.

The rest of the weekend was spent laughing and having a great time, relaxing with great friends.  It doesn’t get much better than a few challenging board games outside with a campfire crackling 10 feet away, half a case of water, a few beers, the Brewers game on the radio and NASCAR on TV!    Before long, it was Sunday morning and it was time to pack up and head back to reality.  In the end, it was another amazing weekend in this summers adventures.  I can’t wait for the next adventures and where they will take me!

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