Despite being sorely undertrained I ventured up to Madison this past weekend to run the Madison Mini Marathon (really a half – why do they have to say it’s ‘mini’?). Here’s my thoughts on the race:
Registration: I wish I could remember – it was so long ago. I do remember thinking it was cheap (compared to Chicago-area halfs). It was on-line so I’m sure it was pretty easy and standard.
Packet Pick-up: I hear the parking was a complete clusterf*ck. Luckily for me one of my fellow racers offered her husband as pick-up lackey. He works in Madison so it wasn’t horrible for him, but he did mention that it took him awhile to find a spot to park. Sadly this meant I missed the expo (because I am an total sucker for expo deals & steals) but if I had to pick up my packet I couldn’t have done this race because I’d have had to take Friday off work and I’m running out of the precious vacation days. They did have a will-call option for race day but I believe that it was extra $$.
Goody-bag: Not much here: a shirt that is OK but huge, and a drawstring bag. I suppose there weas stuff I could have bought at the expo, but again: didn’t go.
Getting to the race area: One of my college buddies offered to host me for Friday night – she lives in Janesville. I drove up using her secret route that kept me off of 90 and away from most of the construction and was actually fairly pleasant.
Dinner: We went to a place in Janesville called the Speakeasy and had an ill-advised pre-race dinner of fried cheese curds (what? You just can’t get them like that at home in Chicago!), a salad, pasta with a cheese sauce and a New Glarus Spotted Cow. Not my finest moment as far as pre-race food goes, but the choices were kind of limited.
Getting to the race: We got up at 5am and each had a piece of peanut-butter toast and some coffee. The coffee ‘worked’ for my friend but not me. Wah, wah. Our ride showed up at 5:40 and we drove to Madison. The same husband who picked up our packets was our driver so he dropped the three of us off near the start and went to find parking. We got there about 6:30. This is where my first bad thing happened. When I got out of the car I shook off my jacket because we weren’t going to gear check. I walked a half block away from the car and realized my iPod shuffle was in my jacket pocket. I hate running distance without music. DOOMED!
Bathroom situation: Not good. Porta-potty lines were LONG, and it seems that Wisconsin racers don’t get the concept of the multiple lines for each bank of porta-potties with each line ‘in-charge’ of two or three porta-potties. So it was one long line for the whole bank. At least people were well behaved and no-one cut in line because my coffee had finally kicked in if you know what I mean – and I think you do.
Start area: I think we were in corrals G, H & I so we all stared in I so we could start together. The corrals weren’t heavily policed (or crowded) so we could have probably started anywhere except right up at the front.
The course: Absolutely beautiful. We ran past the UWM campus, their football stadium, the farmers market, the capital building, through the arboretum and next to the lake. Rolling hills but nothing that was too Alpine. I’d say 75% shaded. Luckily I ran with one my friend’s friend (now after two hours of running, my friend too) and she kept me company, but she also was running a tad bit slower than I could have mustered for the day (2nd bad thing to happen) and then I had to use the porta-potty again on course (3rd bad thing if you’re keeping track). This all equaled a time that was not my best but I’m fine with that – I have several more halves this season and I’m hoping for betting showings in those.
Post-race: Short organized beer line for a large, draft, craft beer in a commemorative cup plus cookies, granola bars, bananas and Bucky Badger popcorn (2 flavors!). The post-race gathering spot was on the UWM terrace (apparently a hot spot in Madison) overlooking Lake Mendota.
I would absolutely do this race again – next weekend if I could. It was that good.