It was an early and cold start to the morning in preparation for the Honky Tonk Half Marathon. I woke up to my alarm at 5:45 a.m. tired and so cozy warm in my covers. You know the feeling; the air in your bedroom is cold and the covers are oh, so warm. It’s that amazing feeling where you never want to get up and feel like you could stay in bed for hours. Who are we kidding, I would actually never do that for fear of wasting my day, but sometimes I might spend 30 minutes slowly waking up. Well, hours for me this a.m. meant ten minutes. I checked the Weather Channel hourly forecast in hopes that it hadn’t actually gotten as cold as they’d said it would. It had. I scrolled facebook to see if there was anything super exciting in my news feed, although at 5:45 a.m. that is not usually the case. Then when I’d stalled past the point of leaving on time, I got up, showered, and got dressed for the race I wasn’t feeling so much.
I really wasn’t ready for running in pants, layers, and a headband. You see, it seems it wasn’t so long ago that this was an everyday thing. That’s because last winter lasted FOREVER and EVER, Amen. With snow flurries still flying in early May and a cold, rainy June I am just not ready for winter running yet. Fall is my favorite time of year to run ,but it seems we are already in colder than fall temps. It was 28 degrees when I woke up-not acceptable. But, what can I do. Put on my big girl running tights and suck it up I guess.
Enough complaining already! Or is it. I was in a grouchy mood on the drive to Wisconsin Dells. I pulled off the interstate and realized I was almost out of gas, but really didn’t have time to stop for gas, so I took a chance and pulled into the parking lot with 40 minutes before the race began. Because I’d payed extra money to pick up my packet race morning, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to get my race gear, use the bathroom, and get to the starting line on time.
The race was low key, fairly organized, and there was no waiting in line for restrooms or navigating through crowds. Aside from logistics, I was not really sure how I’d run. I knew I was treating this race like a longish training run, and that I had only run one 8 miler since the Big Cottonwood Marathon 5 weeks earlier. The 8 miler had been awesome, but sometimes one run is great and the next one is terrible.
The race started on time and headed downhill. I remember thinking that uphill finishes are my favorite-NOT. Like I said, I was kind of grouchy. The fall colors were beautiful though. Around mile 1.5 we had gorgeous views of the Wisconsin River and fall colors near the Wisconsin Dells River Walk.
A mile ahead we turned onto the main street of downtown Wisconsin Dells, crossed the Wisconsin River, and then turned down a country road with rolling hills and lined with trees showing their colors for the miles leading up to the half marathon turn around.
At mile two I made a mental note that it seemed there would be a lot of uphills on the way back. Still grumpy! Probably good I was alone at this race. I would have been nobodies cheerleader.
By mile three I was not crabby anymore. Imagine that; running improves your mood. I’m feeling a little sassy as I right this report as I had such a great day doing all things active and fall. There were great views of the water, rocks peeking out of the hillsides, and tree lined roads.
At mile 5 I took my first GU, a new flavor I had never tasted before, Salted Caramel, but had ordered just for my fall races. This may be my favorite GU ever. It might have been the fall flavor, the colorful leaves, and cool temperature. Or it might just be these are awesome. Imagine eating a rich caramel; sweet with a hint of salty. It was divine. Cam from Modern Family would be so proud of my word choice.
Soon we hit the turn around for the half marathon. It is often at this point in a race that I encourage myself to pick up the pace. I also couldn’t believe that we were already half way.
At mile 8 I was hoping for some water, but the water stop was out of cups. I knew I’d survive, but I felt bad for those full marathoners who would hit that water stop at mile 21. If those volunteers didn’t replenish the cups, then their lives might be in danger.
Mile 10 had water AND cups. We climbed the hill and rolled back down (not literally). We then made the turn back down the main street of downtown Wis. Dells before turning back towards the start.
Once I saw the River Walk and the 5k turn around, I knew that I was going to feel good the rest of the way.
Mile 12 was uphill, then a slight downhill, and then uphill before flattening out for the last 100 meters. Poor marathoners. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
This out and back course had rolling hills, with some that were of medium size. I hate to say this to hill haters out there, but I really didn’t notice the hills. Even though I rarely train on hills, I’ve always considered myself a good hill runner. I always pass a large number of people without much of an increase in my perceived effort, and almost never see those runners pass me in future miles. Today was no different. I ate those hills for breakfast!
Speaking of hills, the downhills which I had previously not loved in the past-ain’t no thang! After running down a freakin’ mountain last month, I could really tell how much better I was at running downhills. Either that or my pain tolerance has increased to new levels after the pain cave of an experience I had those last 6-8 miles running the Big Cottonwood Marathon in Utah. Maybe it is some of both. Regardless, hills seem a lot easier than they used to.
I came through the finish, accepted my belt buckle medal, cowboy hat, and banana and water. There was a free beer ticket that came with our race entry, and growing up in Wisconsin I learned that you don’t pass up a free beer even if it is only 9:55 a.m. I’d like to say this is the earliest I’ve ever enjoyed the barley pop, but we all know that’s not the case. I mean some Badger games start at 11:00 a.m. and required tailgating starts long before that. Then there is the Oktoberfest parade that begins at 10:00 a.m. You wouldn’t want to bring beer that went bad to the four hour long parade, so you’d obviously test it ahead of time.
After drinking up my one whole beer and enjoying the live country band for a few, this cowgirl was onto greener pastures. I had plans that involved Pumpkin, Spice, and Latte followed by a hike.
I really enjoyed this race course. The country roads in the fall were scenic and the hills were surprisingly a breeze. I’d recommend the race to anyone who lives near or far. The morning logistics were simple with plenty of parking and a warm place to stay inside with restrooms and food/drinks to purchase. The belt buckle medal is unique and the free cowboy hat a fun touch to fit their theme. I’m not sure where exactly the theme fits the Dells, but yeehaw.
Aside from the race there are so many fun attractions in the area that it is a great race to make a weekend of. With nearby shopping, hiking, and family friendly fun (indoor water parks, Knuckleheads, etc.) there is something for everyone. Literally everyone if you consider Cruisin’ Chubby’s, too. I did’t consider this though.
Honky Tonk Half Marathon (RunKeeper said 13.56 miles)