As I have time I will write some race recaps for past races. Before I run a race I like to read about experiences with that race. Hopefully it is helpful to someone out there! This was half marathon #5 for me.
This was the second time that I ran the Madison Mini. Surprisingly, the race is fairly hilly. The elevation changes are all concentrated around 2 areas. The race starts near the UW Madison Union and goes toward the Capitol. It is fairly flat until you reach the Arboretum (around mile 4-6) where there are rolling hills. Mile 10 is a treat, with a long hill. It’s not too steep, just long. The good part is after that it is a nice net downhill. I run most of my long runs on hills now, which is probably the best strategy for training for hills (unless you enjoy hill repeats). I actually enjoy running hills now.
The interesting thing during this race was that there was a section of the race around Mile 11 that went around a parking lot. I saw at least ten people cut across the parking lot, basically short cutting the course! No, they did not make a mistake. The course is clearly marked and the race is crowded enough so that you are always running with other people. You could see a steady stream of people running around the parking lot. It just seems really odd to me that people would do that.
I ran this race in the middle of marathon training, so I expected to do fairly well. At the same time, I wanted to run somewhat conservatively since this was not my goal race. My previous time at this course was 2:07:52. I decided to base my pacing off the Summerfest Rock ‘N Sole Half Marathon that I ran in June (2:06:56). I figured I should at least make that time.
This first time that I ran this race I made the mistake of going out WAY too fast. I was feeling really good and I got a little carried away with the adrenaline and the fast, flat start. I paid for that at the end of the race! I learned my lesson and I don’t make that mistake again. I am actually pretty proud of how I paced this race. It is easily my best paced half marathon to this point. I had two walking water stops and I had two GU gels.
This race is very well organized. There are a good number of spectators and the course has some variety. You run down the streets of downtown Madison, around the UW Madison campus, the Arboretum (which is like a nature preserve) and on the shores of Lake Mendota. The finish party at the UW Madison Terrace is always fun. Plus they give out chocolate milk and cheese popcorn at the finish! The race has a fair number of participants but you never feel crowded. Since it is run in mid-August the weather tends to be on the warmer and more humid side, but to be honest it has never bothered me. And I hate running in hot weather!
I think the only thing that I don’t like about the race is that packet pickup at UW Madison can be a bit inconvenient parking-wise. Last year we were able to park in the structure underneath the building where packet pickup was located but we were not allowed to do that this year. So we parked a bit of a distance away, and you do have to pay for parking. But that is a fairly minor quibble, it’s not like you are paying Chicago parking prices! 🙂
My husband and I come into the town the day before and we have a nice dinner on State Street. We have had ethnic food both years we have run the race, which is probably not recommended. But we like to take advantage of the variety of dining options that Madison offers (in addition to being sans-kids). Luckily we both have strong stomachs! This race is a “partner” race of the Milwaukee Summerfest Rock ‘N Sole. If you finish both half marathons you get an additional medal. Not that I need more medals, but it’s a nice bonus. Plus they are both well-organized, fun races. I think I will be running the Rock ‘N Sole/Madison Mini for a long time!
Mile 1: 9:22
Mile 2: 9:26
Mile 3: 9:29
Mile 4: 9:38
Mile 5: 9:28
Mile 6: 9:27
Mile 7: 9:36
Mile 8: 9:34
Mile 9: 9:37
Mile 10: 9:47 (the long hill, but not too much of a slowdown)
Mile 11: 9:13 (Yay, done with the hills!)
Mile 12: 9:14
Mile 13: 9:24
Finish: 2:04:56 9:32 min/mile
Age Group: 52/188
This is the first half marathon that I finished all categories in “the green”, the top half of all finishers for age group, gender, and overall!