Friday, May 8, 2015

Wisconsin Marathon - Race Recap

I ran the Wisconsin Marathon last weekend, checking off State #24.  I've enjoyed my races in the Midwest - they're nice and flat!

The race was held in the town of Kenosha, WI, about 45 minutes outside of Milwaukee (just about equidistant from Chicago and Milwaukee), a cute town of about 100K.  Arrival went without a hitch - plane was on time and a nice ride.

As an aside, I'm a huge fan of Southwest Airlines.  Being from Atlanta, I previously flew Delta almost exclusively, but when Southwest announced a companion pass offer for Atlanta residents, I jumped on it!  I have since completed my 3 round trip flights and earned a companion pass for the rest of the year, which will allow my fiance to fly free with me everywhere!

Note:  If you haven't heard about this offer previously, you've probably missed the bandwagon, as the 3 RT flights have to be completed by 5/17.  However, there are tons of blogs I follow that explain how to get the Southwest Companion Pass using credit card offers.  

During our trip we decided to stay close to the MKE airport, since my mom was flying out at a different time - and the hotels in Kenosha were way overpriced due to the race.  We stayed at the Crowne Plaza, taking advantage of Priceline's Express Deals and saving 25% - one of my preferred methods to get hotels now.

We picked up our packets in Kenosha.  The expo was held at the host hotel, right on Lake Michigan.  There were a few vendors there, but it was a fairly small expo.

For food, we tried Captain Mike's Beer and Burger, which had Awesome reviews on Yelp, and lived up to the hype.  Their beer cheese soup was amazing as was the custom designed veggie burger we ordered.

There was a (not insignificant) issue we ran into that mom, would was traveling with me and running the half marathon, lost her bib.  We never were able to figure out where it fell out of her packet...

After racking my brain, I called the race director (unavailable due to the race!), emailed them on FB and finally called the host hotel once I realized packet pick-up was still going on.  They were super helpful and offered to just create a new bib that we could pick up for her on race morning!  Midwestern hospitality.  Loved it.

Slept like a dream in my super comfy bed that night.  It was a beautiful morning for a race - sunny with temperatures starting around 50 degrees and a high of 70.  There wasn't traffic to contend with getting to the race and there was plenty of race parking, either in parking decks or on the streets.  We managed to find street parking.

There were decent sized lines at the porta-potties, but with 30+ minutes to spare, we were fine...definitely always arrive early enough to wait in line for the bathroom!

The race included three race distances: a 5K, half and full marathon.  The half and full started together at 7:30AM, with the 5K starting later.  Much of the course was run right along Lake Michigan - and let me tell you, that cool lake breeze certainly helped as it started to heat up!  The course was run together for the first 12 miles until the full marathon split and continued down the coast.

I ran the first 12 miles with my mom, pushing her pace while tempering mine.  Slowing down had a good affect on me, as I managed to speed up during the 2nd half of the race, and felt GREAT the entire race (super unusual for me!).

It started to feel a little hot by around mile 10, but it wasn't too bad until miles 16-19.5, when we were running without any shade away from the coast.  It was getting tough then, but as soon as we got back to Lake Michigan, that cool breeze cooled me down and cheered me up!

Spectator-wise, there weren't many people out, but the people out were super friendly and supportive.  The two biggest things that need to be improved are:
  1. Need a wave start - there were 3,000 participants in the half and full, and it was one of the most crowded races I've run since there were no wave starts.  The crowding did not thin out after the first mile or two - it was crowded until the half split from the full at mile 12.
  2. Need food on the course!  The only food on the course was PowerGel for the full marathoners at Mile 18!  Half marathoners didn't get anything.  I (only half) joked after the race that when I ate my one PowerGel (which I normally hate!) it was the best thing I had ever tasted since I was so hungry!

Now, for the good part:  the BLING!

Loved our race medal, which was the same for the half and full (different ribbon) and is also a bottle opener!  The shirt was also great - black tech shirt with gender specific sizing (v-neck for the women!) and no sponsor information.  Love it.  

I was very happy with my time, knowing I had pushed the whole way and had a wonderful time.  My chip time was 4:39:17, putting me right in the middle of women and my age group finishers.  It wasn't my best time, but I wasn't expecting to break records.  I just wanted to have a good time, and I did.

For the afterparty there was a sponsoring company giving away tons of awesome cheese and each finisher got a free brat and a free beer (I got 2 free beers since I'm a vegetarian). The weather was amazing and we hung out for a couple of hours listening to the (great) band playing and drinking beer.

This is a good one to do if you're looking to go to Wisconsin!

Overall Rating:  8/10

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