I have to admit, the cold gets to me, and my bones, and I slow way down in the Wisconsin winter. Hey! I didn’t grow up here, nor have I adapted to living in the frozen tundra. My last marathon, the Madison Marathon, shut me down. So let me explain what happened.
I am not cold adapted. When I left for Xterra Maui back in October, Madison was hanging around the 50°F mark still. When I came back, Madison decided to drop down into the 20s-30s range…but no snow (it’s not worth being out there in the cold without some snow!). I had stupidly decided in a bout of boredom, or if you want to call it post race depression (seriously, I had just come off of both my first Ironman and Xterra World Championships), to sign up for the Madison Marathon, which is held around mid-November each year, thinking the temperatures might go back up. I was wrong on so many levels, including the freezing level.
I’ll write up a short a brief race report here. I had initially planned on heading to balmy SoCal for my friend Alex’s birthday, but finances failed me. I was bummed and pretty sure I lost some respect from my friends since I was planning on going until the last minute. But I signed up for the Madison Marathon. I watched the forecast like someone who watches food commercials after going on a new years day diet. Race day temps started in the low 30s and didn’t really improve after that, being that day was cloudy and there was a chance for ice that day. Luckily it didn’t precipitate period. This was not going to be my race. I stayed positive as I could, being way overtrained and very, very fatigued from all the racing I had done (let’s not forget the 5k and half marathon I did after Ironman), I was still not in a very good position. I wore what I thought would get me through the race comfortably… a long sleeve tech shirt, a pullover, a headband that wrapped around my ears, and capris/compression socks. This was great for the first 13 miles…
But I was NOT cold adapted. I will repeat this so many times. I am very weak to the cold and do much better in hotter races and most everyone I know knows that about me. Heck, my 2nd marathon I wore shorts, BUT I also wore thermal arm sleeves and a tech shirt at 58°F (cloudy still) and never got overheated. I started out the marathon, hands and feet were pretty cold, but that soon changed. I’ll note here that I don’t have issues keeping my hands and feet warm after warming up and this is true down to about 10°F which is the coldest I’ve run in (and in the snow on several occasions).
I started out and maintained an average of 9:45 min/mi pace for the first half of the marathon. The course was not difficult for me, and was pretty flat overall. The course was rather boring to me for the first half, covering a lot of what I’d ran in previous races downtown in Madison (including Ironman and Her Half). I was fine, I was ok-ish warm. I walked through every other aid stations getting my drink in, taking in electrolytes every other aid station I wasn’t drinking water. This system worked well and I never swelled up or got cramps during the race. I should me mindful to remember this.
Then at mile 13, where my husband was supposed to meet me with supplies (since the course got very close to the finish line area), and didn’t meet me, I locked up. Like I was frozen locked up. I could feel every step I took reverberate through my skin and muscles along my IT band and glutes, eventually by mile 15 making it’s way down to my calves. My pace slowed tremendously…down to 11:00 average. I just couldn’t make myself move forward, and I could feel my core body temperature dropping. Every mile it got worse, and I felt slow, although my energy levels were fine, and everything seemed to be working otherwise, I felt like I was being encased in ice.
Nothing really changed, except for the continuation of getting colder and the pounding making my skin hurt and scream, as I ran through the miles, hitting all the major hills, I was able to run up without issues at least. I reached mile 21 and wanted it to be over, I thought in my mind over and over again I just wanted to be off course and in a fire, literally IN a fire. I didn’t care about time, but I fought off the thoughts of a DNF (did not finish) and this was not the time when it was so easy to just continue forward one step at a time even if it was at a walk…I had plenty of time to finish before the 6 hour cut off anyway even if I had walked the rest of the way. But fighting your way mentally out of a dark place when you are in so much avoidable pain is very difficult. I COULD be warm right now, I thought. And I thought about all the times when it has been worse and I’ve made it through. No, if I DNF a race, it won’t be in a marathon, God would literally have to take me down with a broken leg or getting hit by a car…even then, would I stop? Probably not if I were still conscious.
I hurt so bad at mile 18, and felt the strain on my IT band worsen, and below my knee was not happy. I was unable to really run down hill at all at this point, babying the knee which I’ve never really had to do. Downhills were my strength. My quads were so cold, I just could not support the action. I almost fell.
Arriving near downtown at mile 23, I knew I only had 5k left. I looked down at my watch, and if I really just pushed it, I really could PR this distance today. That is a weird thought to have at mile 23, when you’re probably at your weakest (and most certainly for me, being so weak from the cold for the past 10 miles). But I had my nutrition down pat for the race, regardless of how I felt. As bad as my muscles felt, and the possibility that I had already injured myself from snapping in the cold, I pushed a faster pace…I also very much wanted to be done. I thought of our fireplace back home and that boiling shower I was going to take and then just sleep the rest of the day…so nice and inviting. MIND OVER MATTER.
My next few miles dropped back down to 10:30 average, which I haven’t managed in any of my marathons so far with probably the exception of Ironman’s marathon (where I just was consistent the whole time). I thought, if I can go 10:30, that’s just over half an hour left on this course, and it will all be over. I didn’t care about injury at this point, knowing how I felt in these temperatures (and a reminder that this is about 35°F out, which is trivial for most runners), because I knew I wasn’t going to be running half the winter, and if I did, I didn’t care how many layers of clothes I’d be wearing compared to everyone else, I WAS NOT EVERYONE ELSE.
I managed a finish of 4:33:54, precisely 2 minutes and 1 or 2 seconds faster than my PR. I am a slow marathoners, but hey, I can go forever, which brings me to my next blog section…what am I going to do now? As for the race itself, it was well run, results were quickly obtained, nice medal, pictures were free and posted post race within 48 hours I believe. Run exactly the way the Twilight 10k and Mad Town Half were run. The finisher shirt and challenge 1/4 zip were very nice, and I really liked those, although the long sleeve was a bit see-through. The only downside was that the challenger medal (if you did the 10k/half/marathon in the same calendar year) was delayed, probably not the fault of the race itself though.
I decided that I was going to throw my name in for the Leadville lottery. I didn’t get it thankfully, because after looking up what you need to do to just finish that race, is more than I have training for right now. Although I will be throwing my name in for next year!
This year is the year of the ultra. I have run exactly one 50k, which ended up being a 50k++, which I didn’t mind in the end because despite the two mountains and stream crossings on course, I could have kept going, and I was under prepared for that race as it was. I will turn 31 this March, and guess what? My birthday is on a Saturday, AND guess what else? 50k is 31 miles! Time to make this happen, it’s fate. I have a race lined up, and will dress appropriately for it, the OPSF5050 down in Indiana. But before that, my boredom got the best of me again, and I will be doing my first marathon of the year at the Surf City Marathon in Long Beach, CA before that, and hopefully another mid-full distance race inbetween to prepare.
After that, I have scheduled myself for the Zion 100, in the 50k distance out in Zion National Park in Utah with some friends from the Milwaukee Area. That’s April 20th. So I won’t be doing the Blue Ridge Marathon this year. I decided not to because 1. I am not prepared to do the Blue Ridge Double Marathon (a goal race probably best saved for 2019), and 2. I PR’ed the course last year and got sub 5 hours on it, a dream I never thought possible AND it was during bad weather (rain and thunderstorms which cause the race to be cancelled 4:47 minutes into the race, I just managed to cross the final timing mat before they called it).
So far, nothing for May, but I’m sure I’ll pick up some smaller races locally. I have signed up for and am racing for team T-Rex for the Ironman 70.3 Wisconsin race, doing the bike portion of the relay. This is great for keeping myself accountable in biking indoors during the winter months and getting in some recovery days after long runs.
After that, my first A race of the year: Dances with Dirt Devil’s Lake up in Baraboo, WI. I have previously done the half distance and love the course and feel of the race. I have decided to jump up to the 50 miler, of which I have a cut of pace just over 15:00 mins/mi. This will be a challenge, but I plan to meet it head on. After that, keep the distance up and instead of Leadville, I am thinking about the Habanero Hundred down in Texas, the 100k distance. I really like the heat, so I feel comfortable accepting my fate for this race as my first 100k…has a nice cut off time too! WHAT BETTER WAY TO CELEBRATE HEAT THAN TEXAS IN MID AUGUST?!
After that, things get a little fuzzy. I would very much enjoy heading to the Outer Banks again for their half iron distance race (unbranded) in September, but that depends on budget and time off for the hubby. There is another 50k though that I am interested in doing, which is the Driftless 50k. This may or may not happen as well. Was such a nice environment even though the course was pure trail evil haha.
I am signed up again for Xterra Worlds, so the end of October. I want to come to the course fresh this time, and not fatigued from Ironman and all the other little things I sprinkled in last year preventing full recovery because I’m restless. My other A race, if I get in, is Hellgate 100k out back in Virginia. This would bring a nice close to the year. Of course, this sets me up again for the winter of 2018-2019 to not be cold adapted again, but eh, I’ll figure it out eventually for myself.
In other news, this past weekend, I was in Punta Gorda, Florida for RRCA coach certification classes to pursue my new career choice as being a coach for running and triathlon. Triathlon will come in September when the course is close to me and I have had more experience in tri too. Of course my motto right now is Do as I say, not as I do. I learned this weekend, the only person you cannot coach is yourself. I’m pretty sure this is true. I let myself do all these things to myself, and I know there can be devastating consequences to my actions. I haven’t faced many yet, but I don’t know if anything can deter me from really doing what I do to myself since it is my life and I would rather be taken down by something I enjoy doing.
I’ll end this with my mini report for the Johnny CASA 5k I did in Rocky Mount, VA over Christmas. Each year, I try to do one Christmas season race. There weren’t any lol. I decided to sign up for this little local on. It was supposed to be in the 50s and 60s in Virginia when I was there for Christmas, but NO, the ONE DAY, the ONE RACE, I signed up for, it was going to be 34°F for a high, that’s COLDER than the marathon! But one caveat, was I don’t really start to get bitterly cold until I get about 40 minutes into a run. I can run a 5k way faster than that. BUT I did not bring stuff from home that was that warm, whoops. I went to CVS the night before, bought non-athletic knee high socks, and bought a thermal hat and a santa hat (for fun). Yes I wore the thermal hat under my santa hat. The race start was 29°F, at least it was sunny! The course was downhill to start (This is an out and back course…GREAT!). I took my time with the first mile, and then after 3/4 of a mile in, I blasted the gas. THIS was a hilly course…even for Virginia standards, managed a couple hundred feet of gain in 5k lol. Shoe came untied half way through, but I did NOT stop. Since it was an out and back, I could see everyone in front of me near the half way point. I only caught a glimpse of one other female. I have to push myself now. I was aiming for top three Age group, but I could possibly get top 3 female?! This made climbing the hills brutal from that point on knowing I could not give up my pace. My other mile splits were pretty steady and I finished with not my best time, but managed 3rd place overall female, a first for me! And I did not get a medal, I got a trucker hat that was very large for me, but I appreciated it still, it reminded me of my grandpa now passed…he always loved I did sports. ❤
The buffet and spread post race was one of my top 3 overall. Only probably beaten by the In the Breeze 5k out in San Francisco (but that was a MUCH larger race). There were all fruits, McDonalds had sponsored the event and given a lot of stuff they sell there. There was hot chocolate and coffee, sweet tea and gallons of gatorade for those into that sort of thing. There were home made brownies and cookies too, along with cheese and cracker plates. I was truly impressed. 10/10 race with how it was run.
That should be about it for now! I am working on cleaner eating for myself and learning more about what works for me. Through my experimentation, I hope to pass along useful knowledge and help others. I really enjoy seeing the success of other and helping people to their goals. Feel free to reach out to me! Hope you enjoyed the ride of which is my ramblings here on this page 🙂