Saturday, September 12, 2015

Race Report: Madison Mini-Marathon

on Lake Mendota waiting to start
My weekend to Wisconsin began on a direct flight from La Guardia to Milwaukee.  I used a part of Delta's terminal that I had never been to before.  I had thought Delta had the nicest terminals at the airport, but this one was akin to the gross ones over at the Central Terminal; a huge jury assembly-like room with two small gates, calling flights out for passengers to proceed through the small doors out ONTO an awaiting bus that would drive us across the tarmac to the plane.  Where we had to climb stairs to actually get inside.  Alas, the flight left, just a little bit late, and I arrived in Milwaukee at around 6pm.  With the hour and a half drive still to Madison, I texted my family friend Elin, who I was staying with to pick up my bib for me at the UW Memorial Union before it closed at 8pm.

With Nicole!
I arrived at Elin's house in south Madison at around 8:45, and she, her husband Brady, and their son Max welcomed me into their new home, which they had only moved into about a month before.  I hadn't seen Elin or Brady since their wedding nearly 20 years ago, and Max was born the year after I graduated high school, so this was definitely quite the reunion!  We reminisced over some tasty Wisconsin cheese and wine, before having a delicious chicken cacciatore dinner that Elin had made that day.  She's quite the cook, and I had quite a bit to satiate me for the night.  I joined Brady and his brother, who had come over later that night, to watch a little bit of "Mad Max: Fury Road" before I had to retire for the evening since the race was to begin so early the following morning.

Fifty Staters 20 minutes
before the start
I woke up early and got myself dressed and out the door before the sun was up (as per usual), and drove the 20 or so minutes up to the UW campus, where the mini-marathon start was located.  The drive up actually covered part of the end of the route, and mile markers had already been placed alongside the road; aid stations were beginning to be set up as well.  Parking was super easy, and I casually walked over to the start corrals on the closed off Langdon Street, and the startline up at the top of the hill at Frances Street.  I met up with Jann and Mike, who had made their way through Michigan and the Upper Peninsula over the past week before heading down to Madison for this weekend's race.  Jann had thrown together a 50 states sign, and we met up with a few others who had come over for the race, including my perennial racing buddy Nicole.  Soon, everybody started lining up; it wasn't a real "line up by pace time" kind of race, so we just kind of threw ourselves into the mix of people.

When we were off (and gave Bucky the Badger a high five), the course took us up Langdon Street headed northeast toward Wisconsin Avenue. We turned right onto Wisconsin Avenue and immediately had ourselves a majestic view of the Wisconsin Capitol Building.  As we rounded the corner on Mifflin, we ran through the Saturday morning Dane County Farmers' Market, just beginning to set up.  Its the largest produce-only farmers' market in the nation, with nearly 200 local farmers offer home grown produce, and live music every Saturday.  It's near the Capitol over the summer, but is a year round market that moves indoors during the colder months.

As we continued on, we passed the 1-mile mark on State Street, Madison's very happening pedestrian mall that adjoins the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison to downtown.  At this hour of the morning, it was pretty bleak, but nonetheless, it was nice to see one of the more important parts of where the university and city intertwine.  We turned left onto Lake Street and then right onto Dayton, as we passed the Kohl Center, the arena that UW uses for basketball and hockey games, boasting some of the highest attendance in collegiate hockey. We passed the 2-mile mark as we approached Union South on the right and then turned again to make our way on the roads around Camp Randall, UW's football stadium.  Some small hills as we approached this area, but none too difficult to get around.

We hit the 3-mile mark as we passed the south part of the stadium and then continued onward, getting into more residential parts of town.  The 4-mile mark was in front of the city's Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison's small public zoo near Lake Wingra.  These afforded some great views of the lake, as well. We then began a four mile trek through miles 5, 6, and 7 on some pretty treelined pathways weaving through University of Wisconsin's Arboretum.  The elevation gradually rolled through this area, but it was nice to get some shade for a less crowd-supported part of the course.  Wild turkeys roam throughout the arboretum and have been known to make appearances during the mini, but unfortunately I was unable to catch any.

Fun signs!
We finally made our way out of the arboretum at the mile 8 mark, heading northward on Manitou Way with the Nakoma Golf Club to our right and homes on our left.  This continued on as we progressed forward, and then reached Monroe Street at mile 9, where I had seen the aid stations being set up in the morning.  We turned onto Commonwealth Avenue and hit the mile 10 mark, and then weaved through more residential along Allen and Walnut Streets heading northward, with more spectators cheering us on as we headed closer and closer to the finish line.  All throughout this area of the course (but also through parts of the earlier miles), there were some signs that were posted that actually made me chuckle out loud - some of the more inventive, funny, and original signage I've seen on a race course to date.

At mile 11, we went through an underpass underneath Campus Drive, and reentered the university's campus, passing a few science labs along the way.  At Observatory and Walnut, we went around a rotunda that had the University's sign, which I SHOULD have stopped at but decided to just keep going.  Finally, we had reached the shore of Lake Mendota, and followed the trail-like lakeshore path eastward inching closer and closer to the finish.  We reached a bunch of dormitory buildings where the mile 12 mark had come up, but strangely, this did not match up to the GPS in my Garmin.  It wasn't until we exited the pathway past the dorm buildings and back onto asphalt about 1/4 of a mile later that my watch beeped that we had hit the 12 mile mark.  Either way, we got onto Babcock Drive, and then turned onto Linden Drive, where we experienced the first of three hills at the end of the race that I began to curse out at.  We trucked on, made another slight turn onto Charter, and then lo and behold, another damn hill, this time between two buildings.  This last stretch curved and rolled along Lathrop Drive before finally heading downhill toward Park Street, and we could see and hear the crowds at the finish line making raucous noise for all the finishers.  We turned at Park Street, and there was the finish line at Bascom Hill, the main quadrangle that forms the symbolic core of UW's campus!

I crossed in 2:13:51, clearly slowed down by those final hills, but I was happy with my result, as it signaled a return to times I had been used to getting when I was actually training.  I stuck around to wait for Mike and Jann, who had a much better race this weekend, and then we proceeded over to the 14th Mile Post-Race Party, sitting alongside the lake having our celebratory beers and taking some important post-race photos, including my iconic Victory Headstand Photo (Which this time, was slightly dangerous, as I had to balance on wood planks on the pier into the lake, which had many places where both my medal and my phone could fall in!)

Victory Headstand!

The Oscar Mayer truck was there!!

Sponsored by Sassy Cow Creamery.
So Jann and I had to make our sassiest faces.

Almost ran with a cheesehead, but didn't buy one in time...

Bling and Beer!

The Carlsons and I celebrating!
I spent the rest of the day enjoying Madison - getting some beer and cheese, driving out to visit some folk art sculptures, and enjoying the National Mustard Museum.  I headed back to Milwaukee the following morning and headed back to NYC, where i had an uncharacteristically early finish to my weekend!

My hosts for the weekend, the Torviks!

Peace out, Madison!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you enjoyed your time in Madison! So wonderful to see you and catch up!