Once upon a time I had dreams of running a spring marathon. I figured that the first weekend of May would be the perfect time frame and give me enough time to train. And so I trained and trained. Everything seemed to be going great and then I may have tried to do a little too much and wound up with an achy knee. Once that happened I made sure that the thought of a marathon wouldn't creep back into my head for the spring and committed to the Wisconsin Half Marathon. I figured its a race I haven't done before and had heard good things.
As time wore on I recovered from the achy knee and then got sick and then got shin splits and finally got a sore ankle while running the Ravenswood 5K. At brunch after the 5K I told everyone I had no clue how I would do in the half. It would probably be somewhere between 1:55 and 2:10 given my lack of training mileage. My longest run of the prior 12 weeks had been 8 miles and the next longest was 5.5. I had finally hit a 20 mile week just the week before the race. This wasn't going to be pretty. I was just hoping to be able to enjoy the post race beer and brat by this point.
So I didn't stay near the race site like others did. I got up at 4AM and was on the road by 5AM to head up to Kenosha. I was parked at the high school a little less than a mile from the start line by around 6:25. I organized my race gear and headed towards the start. I used the facilities and then lined up and we were off shortly after. I tried to keep my first mile a bit on the modest side trying to target around a 9:30. A half mile in and my calf and ankle were already bothering me. I thought that I was going to have to drop out at some point if things didn't improve. I hit the first mile marker and was pleasantly surprised to see my watch show 9:00.
My ankle and calf slowly loosened up and I was feeling pretty good. The miles ticked off and I was enjoying the scenery. At the halfway point I was still running really solid and realized I was on pace for 1:55 which would of been my very optimistic upside estimate. I sped up slightly then reigned myself in realizing there was still a long way to go and 13.1 miles is a lot more than the 8 I did in training. I saw Anne looking all colorful after I looped back and gave her a side five.
I soon started to pick up my pace again but this time just went with it. I was feeling really good at this point and didn't feel in danger of legs deciding to quit or anything like that. I knew if I kept it up I could actually beat my optimistic goal. I kept on trucking watching my splits hover just below what I did the first half. As I approached mile 12, which was just before the final turnaround, I told myself that I was really doing this and I had the energy for a strong kick to the finish. Then the turnaround happened and I just got blasted with wind. It was disheartening at first and my pace dropped. I told myself I could still run a 9 minute mile and hit my target. No one would know or care. Then I told myself no, you're doing this and picked things up again. About 1/3 of a mile to the finish we turned out of the wind and I really picked up speed. I finished with my fastest mile of the day and even ran around my 5K pace for the last quarter mile. I wound up finishing in 1:54:02 and my second half was 1:20 faster than the first half.
Post race I wandered over and met up with one of the Reddit r/RunnersInChicago moderators and talked to him for a bit while he waited for his girlfriend to finish. He soon took off so I went over and found Lynton and chatted with him and Kiku while waiting for Anne to come by. He was perfectly stationed so we would catch Anne at around Mile 11.2 and 12.5. We cheered and high fived Anne who was on her way to a PR. After she passed for the 2nd time I headed towards the finish line to meet up with her and Bob and to finally get my victory beer and brat. The brat was tasty, but served in a pita which was a little odd. The beer was a Hazelnut brew from local nano-brewery, Rustic Road. It was fantastic.