Monday, July 25, 2016

Race Report: Cellcom Green Bay Marathon

Flying into Green Bay
Hours after finishing the Airbnb Brooklyn Half, I was in a subway back to my apartment for a quick shower, and to grab my bag to head to the airport, as I had a 5pm flight from JFK out to Green Bay (via O'Hare) to run the following morning's Green Bay Marathon!  Getting to the airport, though, was anything but easy; My ~30-40 minute trip to the airport got delayed more and more due to train issues heading out toward Jamaica.  Not only did my train go local, signal issues caused it to stop at stations for long periods of time.  I got frustrated enough to get out of the subway and flag down a cab to take me to the airport, never mind it being a $25-30 fare - I just needed to get there!

Welcomed into Wisconsin!
After dodging a bit of Saturday afternoon traffic, I made it to Terminal 8, the American Airlines terminal at JFK Airport.  The flight to O'Hare was uneventful, and I made it to Chicago with a slight delay on the flight to Green Bay because they needed to change out the airplane due to mechanical issues.  I got to Green Bay around 10pm, and was picked up at the tiny Green Bay airport by son of my Airbnb host, who happened to be a 2006 graduate of the University of Michigan (just like me!) but of the Pharmacy school.  He took me to his mother's house, where I would be staying for the night, and I settled in to get some sleep and give my legs the rest they needed since they were about to embark on 26.2 miles in the morning!

Paying homage to the flag during the National Anthem

The startline
I broke out one of my favorite race singlets - the colorful Shipyard Old Port one, with a boat on the front, and wore my floral San Diego trucker hat, with, of course, my signature rainbow sunglasses.  The start line for the race was on the street on the north side of Lambeau Field, and luckily, I had booked an Airbnb that was less than a ten minute walk to that area.  My friends Mike and Lori from Florida, had picked up my bib the day before, and we met up near the Vince Lombardi statue for some pictures with Marathon Maniacs and the 50 States Marathon Club (which I would qualify for, finally, after completing this race, my 10th state.)  After the rousing electric guitar rendition of the Star Spangled Banner (on an absolutely beautiful and warm morning), we set out to our appropriate corrals, and then we were off!

Thankfully, I did poop today.
I felt good as we headed eastward on Lombardi Avenue, turning right onto Bart Starr Road, and then left onto Mike McCarthy Way, all streets named after iconic players and coaches from the Packers franchise. We turned right onto Crary Road, and began to run in the village of Ashwaubenon, a suburb of Green Bay, just to its south, where the Green Bay airport is located, and actually part of Lambeau Field.  I took my first walk break at the 1.5 mile mark, and then continued on, rounding Fort Howard Park, and onto Collette Avenue.  We then turned right onto Broadway, and followed it as it turned into Howard Avenue (into the city of De Pere) for the next three miles, passing the National Railroad Museum, one of the oldest institutions in the United States dedicated to preserving and interpreting the nation's railroad history, several industrial warehouses, and some parks, as we ran alongside the western bank of the Fox River.  Around mile 4, near a gas station, I spotted a lady holding up an "I Pooped Today!" shirt - this would be the first occurrence of seeing her on the route, of FIVE times! Just after the mile 5 mark, we got onto Main Avenue, as we traversed the Claude Allouez Bridge over to the eastern part of De Pere, making our way over the Fox River, and onto North Broadway Street, as we headed northward into more residential territory before turning onto Ridgeway Avenue.  We were greeted by many spectators, including some mobile spectators at mile 6.5, driving by with a sign reading "Hurry Up So We Can Drink" poking out of the vehicle's sunroof.

Heading over the river
Selfie from the bridge looking over the Fox River

Mobile cheering!
Running thru residential De Pere
Over the next couple of miles, we would weave our way through largely residential sections of the city, along N. Winnebago Street and S. Ontario Street, embarking on a nice mile-long downhill section as we turned right onto Merrill Street, past Dickinson Elementary School, De Pere High School, and the De Pere Water Tower at mile 8.  We continued down Lone Oak Road, Ledgeview Road, and Jordan Road, hitting mile 9, before a half mile down O'Keefe Road, eventually emerging out of the residential area into more open surroundings, peppered with a few commercial buildings.  We turned left onto Enterprise Road, and then right onto Heritage Road, finally making our way onto the Fox River Trail, a scenic meandering asphalt-paved trail that we would run on for more than six miles.

The De Pere water tower
The Fox River Trail
All the while, as we ran through the residential section of De Pere, the sun began to really BLAZE, and I stupidly forgot to apply sunscreen.  At practically every aid station I could find past mile 4 (and there were four!), I would ask if they had any sunscreen, but unfortunately none of them were stocked.  It wasn't until I was on the trail at around mile 10.5 that I finally found a medical tent that actually had sunscreen - and that was only because one of the people manning the tent had brought it with him in his own personal kit!  That would be one thing I'd suggest for the organizers to ensure was handy - it was getting to be quite a sunny day in Wisconsin!

Beautiful views along the Fox River Trail
We continued up the trail, where we ran behind some private homes, but also near some parks that were well supported by people cheering the runners on, and also many beautiful different kinds of trees.  At times we were closer to the water than others, but it was a great way to break up the monotony of running through residential neighborhoods.  We finally emerged off of the trail onto Crooks Street, in downtown Green Bay.  For the next 1.5 miles, we would run eastward on Crooks Street, into one of Green Bay's oldest neighborhoods, Navarino, then run northward along the East River Trail around Joanne's Park and Green Bay East High School.  We then made our way to the City Stadium, a football stadium in on the north side of the school's property. Notably, it was the home of the Green Bay Packers from 1925 through 1956. It was renovated with ornamental fencing and monuments to the history of the field, and downsized in 2008, City Stadium remains the home of East High.  Part of the route involved us doing a loop around the track, before emerging back out in front of the stadium entrance, and back onto the city streets as we made our way westward and back into downtown Green Bay.

Outside of City Stadium, mile 19

The last little bit of the Fox River Trail
After taking Cherry Street westward for one mile, we made our way back onto the Fox River Trail for 1/2 mile, passing underneath Walnut Street and onto the "CityDeck," a promenade flanked on one side by condominiums and shops, and on the other side by fishing piers and observation docks.  We made our way up to Main Street crossing the river over to the west side of town, as it turned into Dousman Street.  We turned left onto Broadway with 5.2 miles left in our race, weaving our way through Green Bay's residential streets to the finish.

The City Deck

The Poop Lady strikes again! LOL
We zigzagged southward to Howard Street, then ran two blocks to Maple Avenue and Charlotte Avenue, before heading westward on 5th Street.  We briefly headed northward to 3rd Street, then curved around the block and took 12th Avenue even further south, all the way to Liberty Street.  We took Liberty for a few short blocks before turning once more onto Gross Avenue, which became Holmgren Way.  We finally had the stadium in our sights, but still had to loop our way along some residential streets- first Borven Avenue, then Morris Avenue (where I actually ended up passing my Airbnb!) before cresting a slight hill and then turning onto Ridge Street, on the road leading up to Lambeau Field with one mile to go.

Running INSIDE Lambeau Field!
While we could see the finish line, the route took us down an offramp to the back end of the stadium, seemingly to a loading dock on the south end. The route actually took us INSIDE the stadium, where we were able to run around the concrete track that lined the field itself!  We emerged, after a few tight sections, back outside, where we had only a couple tenths of a mile to go before we could cross the finish.  I managed my first sub 5-hour full of the year, crossing the finish line in 4:56:04, my third fastest time of 10 marathons! It had gotten considerably hotter - 73ยบ with 41% humidity, 16 degrees warmer than the start.   There was some great post-finish food, and I partook in a delicious Wisconsin beer bratwurst, fitting since yesterday's race finished with an iconic Coney Island Nathan's Hot Dog!  After a little socializing, including a stop to get some fried cheese curds and a beer at the bar inside Lambeau Field, I headed back to my Airbnb to shower and pack up.  My host drove me to the cute little Green Bay Airport for my afternoon flight back to NYC.

Wisconsin beer brat!

Finish photo inside Lambeau Field!

A refreshing porter to celebrate my 10th state for full marathons!
I was very happy with my time, considering that it was my second race of the weekend, following a half marathon, and adding up to a total of 39.3 miles.  Also, with this race being in my 10th state for full marathons, I would be able to officially join the 50 States Marathon Club! Ten states down, forty to go!

My fun new cheese hat.  With mouse!

Victory Headstand!

Green Bay is awesome!

Cheese curds!  Yum!

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