Ever since running my first marathon in June of 2008, I knew I wanted to run another marathon. Despite wanting to run another race, I took some time off to enjoy more free time with friends, family, and myself. Over the course of the winter I decided a spring marathon would be the best way to accomplish marathon number two. I knew I would run into the same challenges as I did training for last year’s race: cold Wisconsin winter weather during training, crazy schedules between school and coaching track, and balancing family, friends,and long runs. I was again up for the challenge.
My birthday always falls around Memorial Day weekend, with my birthday being on the real Memorial Day. I decided that running a marathon on Memorial Day weekend would be a great way tocelebrate my 25th birthday which would take place a few days later. Only an hour and a half away there was a marathon that weekend in Madison, a city I love (the marathon is moving to November in 2013 possibly due to excessive heat over the past years and Brat Fest taking place the same weekend). The Madison Marathon sounded like the perfect second marathon!
I followed a similar training plan, this time adding an additional 20 mile run with the hopes of improving my marathon time. As a training run, I ran the Fitness Festival Marathon Relay (which they no longer offer) as a way to get in another 20 mile run. During the relay, I ran 20 miles and my husband ran 6.5 miles. Interestingly enough, he was the one who threw up at the end. I still tease him about that years later.
Both 20 milers went well and I was running a faster pace than the year before, which built my confidence for the Madison race. Little did I know that there were many more challenges on the way. Two and a half weeks before the marathon I got run down from late nights at the track, peak milage, and trying to organize chaos as the school year grew closer to an end. I got sick, or what I thought was a simple head cold. I still kept running, but was focused on resting and trying to get more sleep.
A week and a half later, one week before the race, while I should have been doing my last taper long run I was in the emergency room getting checked out. I felt terrible and had not gotten any better in the past ten days. They ran tests: no strep, no mono, did chest x-ray, etc. The x-ray came back and they told me I had fluid in my lungs, but not quite enough to call in pneumonia. They told me to rest and come back in a few days if I did not improve.
I was in panic mode. No wonder runs felt harder with fluid in my lungs and my energy level wasn’t improving. I rested and missed most of the runs in the next week. I did manage to complete my easy three mile run the day before the race; I was finally feeling better although not 100 percent. To say I was nervous for the race was an understatement. To make matters worse, the weather forecast showed it would be a warm race with temperature in the 60’s at the start. By the end of the race it would be approaching upper 70’s and lower 80’s. I do not like warm weather running. It makes me mentally weak and physically drained MUCH quicker. I tried to remain nervously optimistic.
After running my short run the day before the race, Ryan and I headed to Madison. We decided to pick up my packet and then eat at Olive Garden before checking into our room at the Sheraton across the street from the start of the race. After dinner we parked our car at the hotel and brought our bags in to check in. At the front desk we were informed rooms were overbooked and given to guests on a first come, first serve basis. It was 8:00 p.m. the night before the race and they had given away all the available rooms. I was furious! I had made a reservation the same night I had signed up for the race months in advance!
In an effort to smooth over the situation we were informed their was a room for us at a hotel downtown near the capital. Neither Ryan and I were very familiar with Madison at the time, so this made us (me) very nervous. I could no longer walk across the street to get to the start. My pre-race morning now included navigating a ten minutes drive on roads I didn’t know, finding parking and walking from wherever I might find a spot, and having to keep the keys for after the race. Ryan would have to take a taxi to the race in order to watch me because he did not want to get up and leave when I was leaving. I was ticked. I tried to stay positive and went to bed shorty after we got to our new hotel. I struggled to sleep as I was overcome with nerves.
The next morning I arrived to the race later than planned because I took a wrong turn and went the wrong way. As soon as I realized my mistake I turned around, then sat in traffic trying to enter the Marathon area. Once I found a parking spot my hope rose only to not be able to find the sweat check. My stress level was high! I had no time to search for sweat drop off any longer. I had sweats on that I did not want to throw out, but I had no choice. I took my sweats off, put them in the bag provided to us at the expo, and set them down next to a tree in the parking lot never expecting to see the bag with my sweats again. I didn’t have much time to think about the sweats though because I needed to hustle to the start. I was in the back of the pack, but made it before the gun.
It was warm outside at the start, but luckily the sun stayed behind the clouds until halfway through and I finished before the worst of it. I felt better than expected considering I was still recovering from being sick, was lacking in sleep, and the amount of stress leading up to the race. Running on the bike path trails, by the lakes, Monona Terrace, and the Capital kept the race interesting and scenic. The last few miles were the least scenic and rough; I really had to push myself to keep going. Wanting to PR helped me keep pushing even when I did not want to. I came through the finish with a new PR in 3:56:40. Considering how sick I was the week before the race, I was pumped. To top it off, I returned to the tree in the parking lot where I had been forced to leave my sweats and they were still there. One week later I was registered for marathon number three, the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in October!