Tag Archives: Lakefront Marathon

Lakefront Marathon 2015

I’ve waited a few days to recap my 2015 Lakefront Marathon experience because, well, it did not go as planned. In fact, it was so far off from what I had planned and trained for that I kind of wanted to just forget the whole thing ever happened.

My friend Cindy took this photo and it was the only one in which I somehow did not look like I was dying a slow death out there.

So let’s back up to the beginning. When I first started working with my coach this year, my ultimate goal was to run a 3:20 marathon. My back up goal was to run a PR (sub 3:29). Never once did I thing I would not accomplish a PR. I trained my butt off all summer. I had a couple sketchy long runs in there, but for the most part training went really well. I hit my paces in my speed workouts, remained healthy, and put in the miles. I was ready.

The only limiter I really had throughout this training was my GI system. For some reason, my stomach does not love it when I run fast or long. It was a problem on and off during my workouts, and I knew that it was the only thing that might prevent me from having an awesome race. I never really know when it’s going to feel good or bad, and I make sure not to eat anything different or weird in the days leading up to a long run or race. In the two days before the race, I started limiting my fiber intake in hopes it would help.

Race morning, I could tell my stomach felt a little off before the race even started. I just hoped against all hope that it would hold up for 26.2 miles. The race started at 7:30am, and I went off at a nice comfortable pace. It was pretty crowded which prevented me from starting out too fast. My plan was to ease into the first 4-5 miles at slightly slower than goal pace (7:37 pace is a 3:20 marathon). Then I would pick it up a little, and around mile 10 I would decide if I felt good enough to start hammering a bit faster or hold steady. I hit the first five miles in 7:57, 7:43, 7:32, 7:38, 7:40. Around mile 5.5 I saw some friends cheering that gave me a big boost, and I hit the next five in 7:24, 7:36, 7:37, 7:33, 7:32. Perfect. My stomach had been holding out until this point, but I could tell I would never make it the whole race. During mile 11 I had to stop at a porta pottie. That mile was 8:57 and I was pretty pleased with myself for still running a sub-9 min mile with a bathroom break.

I felt a little better after the stop and I knocked out a couple more sub-8’s in 7:46, 7:53 but my stomach wasn’t having any of it. My pace slowed to the 8:30’s and I hit the halfway mark around 1:42:45. It was all downhill from there. I couldn’t keep any nutrition in me, and started to feel sick and depleted. I ended up making 3 more bathroom stops along the way and almost quit the race multiple times. In fact, I had completely decided that the next time I saw my friends or a race official or anyone that could give me a ride to the finish, I would be done. Problem was, I never saw anyone to give me a ride. I just kept slogging along, jogging when I could and doing a lot of walking along the way. Once there were less than three miles to go I knew that I would just finish the race on my own two feet.

I ended up crossing the finish line in 4:07:21, a mere 47 minutes off of my goal. Ouch. I felt pissed off, disappointed, defeated, you name it. I felt like all of my training went to waste. I quit marathon running in my head and possibly out loud. I picked up my gear bag and put on warm clothes, and soon after I saw Steve. Turns out he didn’t have a great race either. When I started to tell him how horribly wrong things went, I lost it. He tried to comfort me and make me smile, reminding me that it’s just running and it’s just one race. Of course this is true, but I just needed to be sad about it for a little while.

That’s the thing about the marathon. You can train your butt off, show up to race in perfect conditions (seriously, it was in the 50’s with a tailwind), and things can go awry. Things that are out of your control. What could I have done differently to prevent this from happening? I don’t know. I ate the things I normally eat, I took in the same nutrition on race day as I did in training, so who knows why my body picked this day to revolt.

I do know that I am signed up for another marathon on November 1st. I was not planning to run this marathon. I was planning for Lakefront to go well and I was going to drop to the half marathon distance in this other race. Now I have a decision to make. Do I try again? After I finished on Sunday I thought there was no way I wanted to run another marathon. Maybe ever. But of course three days later I have already forgotten some of the hurt, and I am feeling like I may go for it. I am not going to do any more structured “training,” but I may go out there and see what happens. To be continued I suppose…

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2013 Lakefront Marathon (aka Cindy’s First Marathon)

You may recall that last year I coached Cindy to run her first trail half marathon. It was not long after that race that Cindy asked me if I would coach her and run with her in this year’s Lakefront Marathon, her first. Knowing that my big race season would be over after Ironman Wisconsin, I happily agreed. We spent the following year preparing her for the marathon, and as the day approached, I was so excited to get her to the finish line.

Those that know Cindy will tell you that she is one of the most upbeat, friendly, outgoing, kind people on this planet. Her positive attitude is infectious, and her energy knows no bounds. To say that she was excited in the days leading up to the race would be a slight understatement. She kept assuring me that she was not nervous, she trusted her training, and she was just ready and excited to get the show on the road. I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little pressure as her coach to get her to that finish line. I never doubted for a moment that we would do it, I was just hoping for things to go well throughout the day.

We met at Cindy’s house at 5:30am on race morning to get a ride to the start in Grafton. The race is a point to point course from Grafton High School to Veteran’s Park on Milwaukee’s Lakefront, and I was grateful not to have to take the race shuttle (yellow school bus) to the start. We arrived at the school with plenty of time to spare before the 7:30 start. We hung out in the gym doing last minute race prep until it was showtime.

(none of these pictures are mine, so thank you in advance to my Facebook friends from whom I stole them :))

Before we knew it, it was time to head outside to the start line.

Pre-race with Cindy and Liz (Quick shout out to Liz, another one of my athletes who absolutely ROCKED this race with a 35 min marathon PR!!)

My plan for the race was simple. Because Cindy’s goal was to finish and she didn’t have a time goal in mind, I wanted to make sure we started very easy and then slowed down as little as possible. I was the only one wearing a Garmin, and I had 5 hours in the back of my head as a feasible goal. Cindy’s friend Greg also decided to run with us, as he was recovering from an injury. So we listened to the National Anthem, and then our little entourage was off.

The first few miles went by quickly. Cindy was so excited to be running, I had to reign her in a little bit. Each time we hit a mile marker she got excited all over again. I was so happy that she was feeling good, and I couldn’t help but laugh every time she yelled out to the spectators that it was her first marathon. Speaking of spectators, I know without a doubt that Cindy had more people out there cheering for her than any other racer, hands down. We never went more than a mile or two without seeing friendly faces. The course is very spectator friendly, so it was easy for people to see us, drive a little bit down the road, and see us again. Greg ran with his video camera and was able to get a ton of footage and pictures throughout the race.

Pretty sure Brian winds the spectating award for this:

It was smooth sailing until around mile 16, when we hit a little bit of a rough spot. Cindy started having some tummy issues, which she has never experienced before in training. I think the nerves and excitement leading up to the race took a toll on her digestive system, and we had to make a few potty stops. I knew she was hurting, and I did my best to talk her through it and manage the situation. As she continued to feel worse every time she would try to put any nutrition into her system, I told her no more gels, just water and salt tabs. Even gatorade was causing problems. I told her that she was going to starting feeling depleted, but it was better than the alternative.

Once we passed mile 20, I knew we were “over the hump,” and even if we had to do a lot of walking, we would finish. Somewhere around mile 21-22, there was a lady standing at the end of her driveway with a bowl of pretzels. Cindy looked at me and asked if she should try eating some, and I said yes. I had a feeling that maybe something solid would help her stomach. She ate one tiny pretzel, and it must have been made of magic, because about 60 seconds later she was back to running strong. She told me she felt better and we pushed ahead. I was so relieved at this moment, and just hoped that she would continue to feel good through the finish.

We took a few walking breaks in the final miles along the Lakefront, and with 3/4 of a mile to go, I told Cindy no more walking, let’s finish this thing!

Coming down the finishing chute was awesome. Cindy got a surge of energy and picked it up to the finish line. The next photo pretty much sums it up.

I wish I could bottle up the joy in that moment. We finished in 5:11:03, and I have no doubt that without the tummy issues, we would have come in under 5 hours. I was so proud and so happy that I played a part in helping Cindy to achieve her goal.

We did it!!

During the race when things got tough, I told Cindy that when we hit mile 22 I would tell her a story to keep her going. The thing is, Cindy tells me all the time that I inspire her, especially when she came to cheer for me at Ironman and saw me dig deep and finish even though I was feeling absolutely terrible. At mile 22, I told Cindy that while I was training for Ironman, there were times during my long runs when I wasn’t feeling the greatest and just wanted to stop, walk home and eat ice cream. During those tough moments, I would often picture Cindy and I running this marathon. I would picture her crossing the finish line, and I would get goosebumps. It never failed to put a spring in my step, and I never quit a long run. So I told her that while I may inspire her, it is also she who inspires me with her enthusiasm and determination to set big goals and live them. While this may not have been close to my fastest marathon, it was one of my favorites, and one that I will never forget. Of all of the finish lines I have crossed, I don’t think anything can top this finish line moment.

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Lakefront marathon day

Today Steve and I were on duty as volunteers at the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon. We reported bright and early at 7am for finish area set up. Our first order of business was setting up tables in the food tent. Then it was time to unload all of the food from a truck.

There were boxes upon boxes of bananas, oatmeal cream pies, nutty bars, twix, granola bars, pita chips, peanut butter crackers, cheeze-its, chocolate milk, and soda. It kind of made me wish I was running just so I could partake in the junk-food buffet.

Our next task was to unload and organize the 3000 runner drop bags.

They had to be sorted and organized in numerical order so the volunteers could easily locate each one after the race. This took forever and I was glad when we were done.

The food tent was a little short on their own volunteers, so we headed over there to help out for a bit before we left.

We set up the beverage tables and then got to work on opening all of the food and dumping it into boxes so they could be grabbed easily and put into the runner bags.

Being on Twix duty made me hungry, and I had to exercise restraint not to stuff some in my pockets. I just had to remind myself it’s for the runners, it’s for the runners…

Finally after 3.5 hours, we were off duty, so we met up with Cara to watch for her husband Mike near the finish line. Before too long we spotted him about to finish strong.

Mike broke 3:30 which was an awesome PR for him. Go Mike!

After hanging out for a while near the finish, we were famished. Luckily the custard stand down the street was open for their last day of the season. We walked over and refueled after our strenuous volunteer duties. I was so hungry you’d think I ran the marathon. I had a delicious veggie burger with avocado.

And a swirl cone, obviously.

Sorry that picture is so creepy. By the time we walked home I was so exhausted I immediately passed out on the couch for an hour. When I woke up it was still so nice out I couldn’t resist going for a short run. I love fall days like this!

Sun + running + custard + fall = love.

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Filed under Food, Friends, Marathon, The run