On June 14th, I ran the Summerfest Rock’ N Sole in Milwaukee which was my 4th half marathon. This was a half marathon I signed up for on a whim. I was on a mission to bring down my half marathon time. I tend to be a perfectionist and am always trying to improve myself so it was game on. I felt like I was fairly well trained since the Cellcom Green Bay half marathon was only 4 weeks prior. I kept my training consistent the three weeks before the race so I could perform at my best that day. My dad and daughters decided to take part in the 5k that morning as well. Regardless of how well I did, I was just ecstatic about being able to run in Milwaukee which is one of my favorite places.
I had an early wake-up call that morning as the race started at 7am. I had to be really quiet so I didn’t wake my hubby as he had to work that afternoon and wouldn’t be home until after 11 that night. Being awakened that early would make for a really long day for him. Once I had myself ready, I had to get the kids ready. Have you ever tried to get kids out of bed at 4:30am on a Saturday? Well, I don’t recommend it. Thankfully I had all the race stuff out and the kids were instructed to have their race day clothes ready. Somehow we made it out the door by 4:45am and my hubby never heard a peep! Victory!
It was a chilly morning for the middle of June. We got the car parked and we helped my mom and son get to the finish area. We made our way to the start area and were fortunate that the Italian Community Center was open for runner so we could use a real bathroom with minimal wait times. We had a few photos taken while waiting for the race to start and I left my dad and girls as the half marathon started 20 minutes before the 5k did. I made my way to the corral it was one of the first times I was in the start corrals and wasn’t completely nervous. About 5 minutes before the race started a bird pooped in my hair. It was disgusting but fortunately there was a saint named Margarita who came to my rescue. She had toilet paper in her pouch and I was able to clean myself off. She then kindly cleaned my hair so I didn’t have to smell that the whole race. I was hoping that confident feeling and the bird incident wasn’t an indicator of my race performance.
The gun went off at 7am and it took me about 6 minutes to cross the timing mat of the start mat. I always try to keep a close eye on that because it helps me as I pass the timing clocks along the way to know if I am on track. The first mile was tough and my calves were super tight. I realized I hadn’t used my roller the night before like I normally do and was worried I was going to suffer because of it. I tried to hold a consistent pace for the first part of the race to ensure I wouldn’t run out of steam at the end. The first few miles were uneventful and right around the 5kpoint, we were on the Hoan Bridge. The views from the bridge were amazing and the breeze off the lake felt wonderful. I never realized how long the bridge was because I passed the 4 and 5 miles markers on the bridge. While I was nervous being on that bridge, I took comfort knowing that my father in law was one of the many ironworkers who working on building the bridge. The end of the bridge is where the half marathon and quarter marathon course split. The quarter marathoners were going to be making their way towards the finish.
I was feeling pretty good yet at 5 miles in as we headed towards Lake Park and the east side. This part of Milwaukee is my absolute favorite. One of my first dates with my husband was a trip to Milwaukee with a drive along the lake looking at the beautiful homes along Lake Drive and a stop for a walk at Lake Park. My decision to run this race was decided when I knew I would be running through my favorite part of Milwaukee. I loved running through Lake Park. When I hit about mile 8, some nice volunteer told me I was doing a great job and I was almost there. Bless her heart but with 5.1 miles left, I didn’t really feel like I was almost there.
Normally at the 10 mile mark, I really start to fade. This didn’t happen during this race. I am not sure if it was due to finally figuring out the sweet spot regarding fueling, the moderate temperatures or if my body was just feeling adjusted to this distance. While I was paying close attention to the clocks each mile marker and doing the math in my head, I was trying not to get caught up in it. I was out there trying to run the best race I could that day.
Before I knew it I saw the 12 mile marker and was headed on the backside of the Summerfest grounds along the lake. I saw the clock and knew I had the potential to beat my best half marathon time. What I did now was start to pick out a target ahead of me and get ahead of them. As I was passing one girl she was clearly struggling so I gave her some words of encouragement as I passed her. What was really nice about this course was after the 12 mile mark there were signs letting you know how much you had to go. I found this to be encouraging to see the signs telling me it was only ½ mile to the finish and then ¼. Then I knew after that ¼ mile sign I would be seeing the 13 mile sign. That is my favorite sign in a half marathon. When I reached the ¼ mile to go sign I took my headphones out and tucked them under the strap of my shirt. I like to be able to hear the crowd and music as I approach the finish line. Then I saw the 13 mile sign. I honestly don’t remember if there was a clock on that sign or not. I knew I had a tenth of a mile to go and I was going to push as hard as I could across the finish line. Shortly after the 13 mile mark, I heard my dad cheering me on. I rounded the curve and heard my youngest cheering me on. She is truly my biggest fan. Then I saw them and my dad was running towards them to see me finish. Then I saw the race clock. I knew the PR was mine and I am pretty sure there were tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line.
As I made my way through the finish chute, I collected my medal and gathered some post run treats. I posed for the photographers on my way out and met up with my family. I was so stinking excited at that moment. I tried for one of those jumping shots but it was hard after running 13.1. After the race we headed to my sister’s house to have lunch and most of all get me a shower. I had bird poop to get out of my hair. This race was the first half of the M2 challenge. I will finish the second half of the challenge in August for the Madison Mini. Be good to me Madison, this girl is going for another PR!