Race Reflections-My first full marathon…what was I thinking?


Mad City Marathon
May 29th, 2005
Madison, Wisconsin
Time-4 hours 27 minutes 38 seconds

My first full marathon. I can’t clearly remember the moment I decided I would train for a full, though, I know it was sometime halfway into my sophomore year at UW-La Crosse. My roommate Katie and I became best friends with Matt and Nick up on the second floor of Angell Hall. The four of us, and a circulating group of others, would always hang out-play video games, drink, and the like. Matt was a former high school track athlete at neighboring Whitnall High School, and we most likely saw each other at track meets during high school. We grew up ten minutes away from each other and didn’t know we’d become friends during University. Matt got the idea in my head that I could do a full marathon-he made us a training calendar, I signed up for the Mad City Marathon, and there was no turning back.

Training for a marathon obviously requires more mileage than a half. Matt and I would occasionally go on runs together, but we never stuck together, as he was always blocks ahead. We got really good at winding our way through the beautiful city of La Crosse….university trails, the bluffs, down by the Mississippi…I’d even run to Minnesota! (Because I could!) Training for marathons in university worked well because of the class schedules. I remember during this second semester I had three classes on Tuesday and Thursday, all in a row, starting at 1:00 pm. I had more than enough time to get up in the morning and do my running. One thing to note is that I didn’t have any fancy running gear. Probably the same Nike shorts I had in high school. A crappy sports watch from Wal-Mart. Socks with holes in the toes. Crappy cotton tank tops and white beaters. And shoes that I thought were good running shoes, but were really just labelled as running shoes in Kohls Department store.

The race weekend came. My ex-boyfriend Mike and I headed up to Madison the night before and stayed with a friend. I remember not being able to fall asleep that night. I probably slept four hours and got up at sunrise. I met Matt and his dad Steve down by the Capitol in the morning-this was the starting line. I didn’t know what the hell I was getting myself into!
The Mad City marathon course changes slightly year to year, but the basics are always there. You start at the Capitol, run through downtown, out down through some very nice neighborhoods….but the real bitch part occurs when you enter the nature reserve. You can hear crickets. Not just because you are in a nature park, but because there are no people there cheering you on. It is empty. You just wanna scream and be done! This particular year, they also had the nerve to make you run up a swirly cement incline after exiting the nature reserve. You know. One of those cement slides the goes up to an overpass….then we ran over it, to just go down the slide again. Pain. You circle part of the circumference of Lake Mendota and also run by some people having more fun than you trying to hand out beer as a water station.

The race was so quintessential Wisconsin that you ended at Brat Fest. I have now done this race 4 times and never have I ever gotten a bratwurst after, though I always think I will.  I finished with a time of 4:27. Really respectable considering that while I trained, I was clueless. I remember walking around feeling like a rock star after. But then, on the way to the car, I became a drama queen and crashed. I sat on the sidewalk and made mike go get the car to pick me up because I couldn’t walk anymore…..when I took a shower later, I could barely lift my legs over the tub to get in. I felt 100 years old.
Two days ago, my husband Dan and I went on a 4 mile run. He’s starting to get into running, but just shorter distances. 4 miles is his max right now. Anyways, when we were running I made a comment to him that when we were done today, he would have completed the distance he will be doing at the Moonlight Run in Lethbridge on March 9th. His response-“And I’m paying to do that, why?!?”

I bring this up because after he said that, I thought of all the races I’ve paid to do. All the money I’ve paid to run these crazy distances. I paid to run that 26.2 miles in Madison. I felt like glorious garbage after. And I have kept on paying to run more and to feel like even more garbage after. But feeling like garbage after these races can never feel better.

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