Kelly the Culinarian: 2019 Milwaukee Half Marathon recap

Sunday, May 19, 2019

2019 Milwaukee Half Marathon recap

Six-word race recap: New PR and at a fun race.

I originally signed up for the Milwaukee Marathon. It's the same weekend as my beloved Circular Logic Marathon, which was originally canceled for this year and then just changed hands. Before that, though, I was looking for a race around the same time to substitute in. The Milwaukee Marathon has a storied history of its own (the course came up short two years in a row) and was also sold off to a new company, which moved the race to spring to try and shake the bad rep. The new company was also offering a full marathon for $45, and the frugal side of me couldn't resist a good deal.

Alas, I downgraded to the half later after realizing my optimism might be a little overstated. I've done little more than a few long runs outside of OTF, and I didn't want to risk injuring myself for no good reason. I believe the longest I ran leading up to this was 10 and 8 milers, both on the treadmill. While I'm confident OrangeTheory is awesome cross training, I wasn't ready to say it was enough to run a marathon on (more on that later).

I also paid for on-site packet pick up so we didn't have to pay to stay in Milwaukee the night before. Instead, we stayed with friends and all carpooled up for the day. Packet pick up was easy, and changing my corral was equally easy. I guess I didn't put a projected finish time in and was relegated to the last corral. I ended up getting moved to where the party was at and started the half with Mo, Jess and Alyssa, while Mark and Brent were off for the full.

The race started on time without any issue. I didn't wear my Garmin, and didn't start any timing devices. I didn't want to put any pressure on myself besides finishing, and now I wish I had. Oh well.

I absolutely have to say something about the weather: It was perfect. It was cloudy and cool and there was nothing more than a pleasant, intermittent breeze. I started at a comfortable pace, hoping to finish around two hours. I was listening to a podcast about Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos, so I got pretty engrossed and happily distracted. I would say around two miles in I started to pull away from the group and pick up the pace. I was feeling good and surprised at how good my stomach and body felt. The first few miles ticked by, and I didn't feel any need to stop. I sadly didn't bring nutrition, but just sipped water as I cruised through the plentiful aid stations.

There was exactly one major hill that annoyed the crap out of me, and there were a few out and backs that allowed me to see all my peeps and know we were still trucking. There was a tracking app that we used later to keep in touch with our marathoners that was super accurate and helpful.

We ended up running along the water as well as through Marquette, and there was a decent amount of crowd support too. I had no idea what my pace was, but there were clocks at every mile. With the corral system, I couldn't do the math on the fly. But, I made a game of catching up to and passing pacing groups. I pulled ahead of the 2 hour group early on, then passed the 1:50 and went after the 1:45.

The last two miles were predictably difficult. When you only run for a half hour daily and a little bit longer every now and then, you start to doubt your resolve. I kept reminding myself it was only XX minutes and miles more, and breaking down the distance that way helped psychologically.

Even after I finished, I had no idea my time. I had to wait to look it up online, which was mercifully nearly instantly. I waited in the finishers' chute for Mo, Jess and Alyssa, then we got snacks and water after. We also got medals and a beer. We all had a fantastic day, time and performance wise, with Jess, Alyssa and I all setting new PRs. It's nice to know we all still have it!

We grabbed starbucks and thawed out while we waited for the boys to finish. Brent ran his second-fastest marathon and the furthest he ran was 19 miles ... in November. Turns out this OTF thing might really work.

This is one of the best value races I've run, and it was well executed to boot. For $55 (on-site packet pick up was $10 more), we got a finisher's shirt, a pull over fleece, a beer, snacks and free photos, which were delivered by the afternoon. I know they had to really bring it to offset the previous years' shortcomings (literally) and I believe they delivered. I heard the race even went out and filled potholes the night before and after the winter we had, those potholes had to have been the size of the state of Texas.

Time: 1:47:57
Pros: Cheap race, easy to get to, great value, relatively flat and pleasant course
Cons: It's spring in the Midwest so the weather can be unpredictable, but we lucked out
Cost: $55
Would I do this race again? Yes, it was a great value and I had a good time

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