Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
After running through rain, snow, sleet and winds last spring, I swore that I would NEVER run another April race in Milwaukee again! (read about that adventure here) But then the opportunity to run the Milwaukee Marathon with BibRave came up and I couldn’t say no!
Besides, what better way to keep me running through the winter than another spring half marathon!
There ended up being several ladies from our local MRTT/SRTT Running group heading down for the event, so that added to more of the fun! On Friday afternoon, I headed down with Rebecca and Gini and we were ready to have some fun! Normally we all run a little different race paces, but on trip down to Milwaukee, we decided that we were running this one together! It was all about having fun and enjoying the miles together.
First stop when we go into Milwaukee… packet pick up! All events for the race were happening at or near the newly constructed Fiserv Forum (home of the Milwaukee Bucks). Was really kinda neat to be able to see the new stadium right next to the old Bradley Center, which is currently in the process of being torn down!
Since packet pick up was inside the Forum, all participants were subject to security screening. No backpacks, suitcases etc, all bags subject to search and everyone had to go through metal detectors. Have no fear! It only took us a few minutes to get into the building and through all security!
Then 2 minutes later we had race packets! Not sure if we just timed it that well or the race was just THAT organized but packet pick up was a breeze! Then over to pick up our race shirts! yes, race shirts! All half and full marathon runners not only received the race finishers shirt, but also a 1/4 zip fleece pullover. One of the other ladies asked about exchanging them if we ordered the wrong size (or the sizing just didn’t work for us) and we were told that there was a tent outside where we could exchange them if needed! BONUS! WooHoo!
The “expo” itself was small. Just a few vendors and a few other races had tables set up. The other ladies found a few other races that they might consider adding to their calendar (all thee races are on weekends that I already have stuff booked 🙁 oh well. story of my life! LOL). Our favorite however was the Supernola booth! Locally made healthy, tasty granola bites! We sampled all 4 flavors and each had our favorites, but the best thing they told us was that bags of these tasty treats were going to be AT the finish line! Bonus!!
We opted to stay a little further out of the city Friday night to save ourselves a little money so after we were done at the expo, we headed to find some dinner and then relax at the hotel (hot tub baby!!!!) before heading to bed!
Before we knew it, alarms were going off and it was time to get ready! 4am comes way to early on race day – ALL THE TIME! We opted to give ourselves extra time to stop at Starbucks on the way to the race so wanted to be out the door early… but then we got to the hotel lobby and found coffee. It was GOOD coffee so now we had coffee and 20 extra minutes! A quick trip downtown and before we knew it, we were pulling into the parking ramp!
Parking: easy breezy!! Parking is available in the ramp right next to the Fiserv Forum. Event Parking prices in effect so it was $20 to park, but knowing we were 1 block from the finish line AND on the 1st level, it was worth every penny!
Start Line: Amazing Energy!! Even at 5:45am, the entire block was hopping! The race did an amazing job with keeping everything organized, including gear check! There was plenty of room for all runners to mingle about without feeling crammed into a small space!
Since we were parked so close, we didn’t bother with gear check, but if you are running, keep in mind that you do need to use the bag you received at packet pick up for your gear, or a small drawstring bag. No other bags or backpacks are permitted.
No shortage of port-a-potty’s!! Several banks of them were set up in various places around the area and we never waited for more that about 10 minutes! Thank you MKE Marathon!
RACE TIME: Promptly at 7am, we were on our way! Since we were starting back in Corral E with Rebecca so we could run together, it was about 7:10 by the time we actually started, but it didn’t seem like that long because the energy was never ending. It was also kinda cool having the 5k runners starting to come in as we were finishing (the 5k started at 6:30am)
We set out on our 13.1 mile adventure. As with any race, the first mile or so is a little crowded but by the time we got down towards the lakeshore it thinned out a bit and we were able to fall into a comfortable pace. We walked through the water stops and enjoyed plenty of laughs in between. The next thing we knew we were turning to head up the hill near the hospital on E Water Tower Road. If you are not familial with this hill, think “S” curve that snakes up the side of a mountain. Ok, maybe not a mountain, but definitely the side of the bluff! We hit that hill hard. About half way up, I made the decision that I was NOT going to let the hills beat me. They did 2 weeks ago and it was NOT happening again. I dug deep and ran all the way up and around. When I got to the top, the other 2 were not far behind me! We caught our breath and powered on.
Just after mile 5, Rebecca commented that she was kicking her own ass, thanks to us she was running faster than she thought she would. She then mentioned that at this pace, she thought she might be able to PR, or at least come close to it. Gini and I looked at each other and quickly agreed… we now had a new mission. We were going to get Rebecca that PR! We were not going to let her get that close and not hit it!
We ran, we walked, we laughed we had fun! Those miles just seemed to fly by! Just before we turn off the lake shore I could tell Rebecca was going the math in her head. She said she figured it would be close. I already did the math. Yes, I did math when I was running and I didn’t die this time! At mile 10, I told her that we had 35 minutes for a 5k.
“What? That’s it?? I can do that! Let’s go!”
That was all the motivation she needed! We headed back into the city and into those last few miles with an extra spring in our step!
I can honestly say that the moment I will not forget was at about mile 12, Rebecca came alive! Or maybe she was just getting delirious. She picked up the pace and started yelling to get us moving! Mama was ready to be done and Mama was hungry! There were also some other things in there that I can’t repeat here because I try to keep this more family friendly! LOL All I can say for sure is that she found that motivation that we all needed for that final push.
That last mile was our fastest mile of the day!
Crossing that finish line knowing that Rebecca achieved her goal was amazing! In the end she ended up crushing her PR by just over 3 minutes. Pretty amazing for going into the race just planning on running and finishing!
We made out way through the post race food buffet, got out medals and relished in what just transpired! What an amazing morning spent with great friends!
Overall, the Milwaukee Marathon did not disappoint! So glad that I had the opportunity to run this one! The new race management team is doing some amazing things and I look forward to seeing what they do for next year!
Half #2 for the year
Half #51 total
Finish time: 2:26:50
Next stop for the Crazy Hamster: Earth Day Run Half Marathon in St Cloud 4/20! Stay turned for more race discounts and reviews from the Crazy Hamster as the year progresses! You never know where I might show up next!
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