Since I just did the recap for the Madison Mini, I felt that it was appropriate to do one for it’s “sister” race, the Rock ‘N Sole. This race is a bit notorious because of it’s first running in 2011 when it was unseasonably hot and humid in Milwaukee for June and they ran out of water at the water stops. The subsequent years have been much better organized. And cooler. 🙂
This was the second time that I ran the Rock ‘N Sole. There is a quarter marathon that starts at the same time. One of the unique things about the Rock ‘N Sole is that the course takes you over the Hoan Bridge. It is a long bridge, almost 2 miles long. You get a great view of the city as you cross it going North. They originally had you cross the bridge twice. Honestly, this was my least favorite part of the course. I enjoy the portion along the lakefront much more. If you were doing the quarter marathon you were basically on the bridge the entire time. Plus there was a bottleneck as you got onto the ramp to the bridge at the very start of the race.
This year the course was changed due to construction on the bridge. The start line location was also changed to the Third Ward and you only crossed the bridge once. I loved this change! Granted, the area that you run in (Walker’s Point) could be nicer. How about Bayview? I guess that would not be Milwaukee. 🙂 To be honest, if the course remained the same (crossing the bridge twice, so you are on the bridge for 4 miles) I would probably not run the Rock ‘N Sole again. I would be on the look-out for another half to try.
The first time I ran the Rock ‘N Sole (2013) my time was 2:08:36. It was my second half marathon. Somehow, this course always feels long. You expect the end to be right near the Summerfest grounds and you expect to see it when you turn the corner and it is not there! The course is fairly flat, the only uphill is the bridge and Lafayette Hill (which is a decent sized hill. Steep.) There is a fun downhill coming back down the lakefront towards the finish. I love that hill. I have trained on that route many times and it is fun to run a race on it.
I think this run has become very well organized. There are a fair number of spectators and things to see on the course. Packet pickup is convenient with free parking. It is a bit crowded but once the quarter marathon splits off (after the Hoan Bridge) the course clears up quite a bit.
This year the weather was perfect. I got up that morning and thought to myself, “Today is a good day to PR.” I felt really good, I had ramped up my mileage and running days over the Winter/Spring. Though training in Wisconsin is difficult for someone that does not like to run when it is icy or dark! Most of my training was done indoors on the treadmill. I followed Higdon’s Intermediate training plan for this race. I started the plan early to account for two 5K races I was also doing, so I was able to get two 14 mile long runs in.
I started back in Corral J. Which was a bit far back for my goal time, but I didn’t really have a problem with it. I tend to start too fast and I figured this would help me to rein myself in. Unfortunately, everyone started fast! At one point I checked my Garmin and I was running close to a 9 minute mile. My goal was about 9:40 minutes/mile. Whoa! I was just keeping up with everyone else but I forced myself to slow down.
For some reason, I also felt really thirsty. My mouth was dry right away. I actually stopped at the first water stop, which is very unusual for me. I stopped for water 4 times, when usually I only stop twice for water in a half marathon. I also walked the water stops. I decided that I was better off doing this so that I could actually get some water in me!
I flew down the downhill at the lakefront! I remember thinking that everyone was going so slow. I knew what to expect at the finish this time, so no disappointments. 🙂 Just a little further and my 4th half marathon was behind me!
Mile 1: 9:32 min/mile
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 9:28
Mile 4: 9:43
Mile 5: 10:04
Mile 6: 9:37
Mile 7: 9:44
Mile 8: 9:50
Mile 9: 10:04
Mile 10: 8:59
Mile 11: 9:27
Mile 12: 9:38
Mile 13: 9:17
Finish: 2:06:57 9:41 min/mile
This was the first race that I finished in the top half of my age group/gender for a half marathon!