Fox Cities Half Marathon 2016 – Recap

Fall is a great time to be a runner in WI! There are so many race options that it can be difficult to narrow down which events to register for.  Initially I had not planned on running any of the Fox Cities events being that I had the North Face 50k on Sept 17th, but when a fellow teacher offered his bib up I could not say no.  I was already scheduled to do a back to back long run weekend why not just make the runs races…right?!?!

The transfer part was super simple. Within 5 minutes of visiting the event website I was able to switch the bib over to my name for a minimal fee.  Being that this is right in my backyard (race starts 45 minutes from my house) many local runners were also participating.  A good friend from work offered to grab my bib from the race expo since there was not race day pick up and I would not be back in time from North Face before the expo closed down.  We also planned to drive together as we had done in the past.

The weather race day was predicted to be PERFECT!  60 to start with a high of 70 and no wind.  Predictions are great, but they can be off.  The temps were much higher and peaked at 85 by mid-day.  I’m glad that I had extra salt tabs because I sweat like a beast.  The half marathon course did not have a lot of shade with the exception of the Tressel Trail Bridge.  The aid stations were plentiful and well manned which made things tolerable.  Many of the volunteers were dressed up to match the theme of their station which made for an entertaining experience.

Jeff and I arrived an hour prior to the race, parked at the finish, and climbed on the transfer bus to take us to the start.  This is a point to point event with all distances starting together.  Once we arrived at the stat line we headed to the collection area.  The event organizers had arranged for runners to be able to congregate in the planetarium at Fox Valley Tech School.  Bathrooms were available in the planetarium as well as outside in the port-a-pottie area.  Lines were short in both locations, which was a nice touch.  New to 2106 was a VIP tent for individuals who were members of the pace team or local running group Pacesetters.  It was a Luxemburg school  reunion at the start. Several staff members were running and gathered in the planetarium to warm up before the race. Once the announcer began the countdown to the race start we disbanded and headed outside.

The start line was a bit chaotic. There were no official corrals for runners to stand in and there was confusion if the half and full runners were suppose to start together.  In the end everyone piled onto the road and began together.  After a few announcements and last minute instructions the gun was fired and we were off.  I did not expect much from my legs today.  The hills at North Face had chewed them up and I could feel the fatigue within the 1st mile.  That is the great thing about a point to point…you cannot just quit and walk back to you car, it was miles away at the finish.  Time to suck it up and get moving.  I started my GPS watch to keep an eye on my pace, but had zero expectations on myself other than to finish before Jeff got done with the full marathon.

Mile 1 and 2 zipped by.  I stopped at the aid station between 2 and 3 for water.  Gatorade and I are not friends so I skipped grabbing a cup of it.  My hope was that I would not need it at all.  In the past GU and Gatorade was a recipe for vomiting (Oshkosh Marathon).  Before I knew it we, the group I had settled into, hit mile 5.  My body was still fighting the miles, but my lungs felt great and my head was in the game.  I have come to know that a race no matter the distance will have it’s highs and lows, enjoy the good feelings and be prepared for the awful ones…they all will pass.  Mile 6 was my low.  My feet began to cramp fiercely.  I curled my toes within my shoes to try and get them to relax. It felt like an eternity that the sharp pains persisted, but in honestly it was around 3 minutes before the muscles relaxed.  My hope was that this was a one time occurrence. I was wrong!  The cramping happened every 2 miles or so.  The silver lining though was I was wrapped up in my feet and did not realize my stomach was starting to turn on me.  I, like and idiot, had grabbed a glass of Gatorade at an aid station thinking it was water.  Before I realized my error I was throwing the liquid back and swallowing it.  Why not spit it out you ask? Well again let’s revisit the “I’m an idiot” part. I should have, but didn’t.  I later paid for this mistake at mile 13 (yes the irony is that I had .1 left to go to get to a garbage can) and tossed my cookies between two cars parked in the final stretch of the race.  Running is not glamorous.

I fought back foot cramps throughout the race, but that was it. My legs held up and I felt great throughout.  When I crossed the finish line I took a glance at my watch expecting to see 2:30 or so. Much to my surprise I ran a 2:13.  I was beyond happy with that consider the day before I ran 32 miles on a trail course.  Typically when I travel to races with friends I am the last one to finish.  I have speed demon friends!  Since I ran the half and Jeff was still out on the course I had time to spectate and cheer for other runners.  Coming directly out of the finisher chute the race party was set up for runners to get their shirts and refreshments.  I collected my shirt and headed to the food tent.  I found a spot under a tree to eat and cool off then headed to the last mile area.  It was fun to watch others work and have a good time, I miss that often coming in at the back of the pack.  Before long Jeff crossed the finish line.  He did great!  By the time he finished the sun was out and relentless, plus the temp had jumped to 88 degrees.  So much for a cool fall race:)

After recovering we made our way to the car.  Little did we know the adventure for us today would not be our races but trying to get home.  Jeff put the key in the car door and it did not open!  Luckily he is a crafty guy and we were about to get the trunk open.  The story does not end there though. We both had to climb into the trunk, he pushed the seat down while I sneaked through to unlock the door. Anyone driving by while this went down must have thought we were crazy.  All worked out in the end and we were about to get home unscathed.  It is a race neither of us will ever forget!

#BeHappy #BeKind #BeActive

Date – Sept 18, 2016

Finish Time – 2:13

Gear Used –

  • FitSok F4 Tech Socks – Coming off a 50k the previous day my feet were tender, the cushion in the F4 was key…my feet were dry, cool, and comfortable.
  • Oiselle – Navy Lori shorts, Rose Wazelle short sleeve shirt, and team singlet.
  • Run Gum – I was dragging in the morning and not thrilled to be up at 4am 2 days in a row. The caffeine boost before I headed out the door was a welcome reprieve from by exhaustion. Within 30 minutes I was recharged and ready to go.
  • Trail Toes Cream – My go-to blister fighter. I slather this stuff on before I put my socks on to prevent hot spots.
  • Salt Stick Caps – I was depleted from North Face the day before so my game plan was to start out with 2 tabs at the 1st aid station into the race and repeat every 45 minutes. This plan worked great in addition to the 2 GU packets.
  • GU Energy Gel – I went old school for this race and grabbed 2 gels to use for fuel.  I am a huge fan of the Salted Watermelon flavor, especially if they are cold.  The night before I threw them in the freezer. The hot temps race day and the warmth of my hands as I carried them melted the gel by the time I needed it.  The cool consistency was awesome.
  • Saucony – I have worn Kinvara on and off for several years.  I like the lightness of the shoe and low profile (4mm).  I have found the support to be effective in road races with just enough cushion to absorb the shock from each foot step, but it is not restrictive.

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