Monday, June 25, 2012

Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon Recap

[A picture-enhanced version of my dailymile post]

What a fantastic run and day. The Summerfest Rock 'n Sole Half Marathon was a real joy and I was happy to celebrate the post-race festivities with pal Reggie Wegner.

The 8 hours before the race were terrible. I got hit with a bout of insomnia and didn't fall asleep until 2:30 a.m. -- my alarm was set for 5. And even when I finally did fall asleep, that sleep wasn't very sound.
I'm not sure why I couldn't sleep. I don't think it was my nerves about the race -- I just wasn't tired enough, I guess.

Heading to Milwaukee's lakefront where the race was to take place was interesting too. Out in Wauwatosa, where I live (about 5 miles west of the lake), the sun was shining and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Driving east on I-94 we could see this wall of clouds at the lakefront. Some sort of lake effect fog had the entire area near the lakefront at zero-visibility. The race announcers kept warning of zero-visibility on the Hoan Bridge where the first aid station (water) was. They didn't want us running into each other like some sort of of freeway pile-up.

And here's where I get really honest...
View from Corral "G"

In my starting corral (G), alone, I got highly emotional. I have no idea why. Just the scene, the fog, the people, the challenge -- it all came together and I welled up with emotion. I didn't exhibit visible tears, but they weren't far from the surface.

Honestly, I have no idea why this feeling arose. I've never felt it before (in this type of environment), but I won't necessarily discourage it from happening again. The only thing that I can attribute it to is just knowing that I am taking part in something special.

To settle down, I looked for the 2:10 timing sign. Friends of mine were the pace-setters: Rochelle Van Hart, Krista Ledbetter, and Matt Jacobson. Alongside them were pals Alicia Hanson. and Eric Benjamin. It was good to see them and they calmed my nerves.

Matt & Rochelle -- The 2:10 pacers (Krista
just barely in view on the left)
The "gun" sounded and we were off.

In my mind I was going to be happy if I finished at 2:10, so I ran with my pack up the Hoan. However, in the heavy runner traffic, I split up from the group and found a comfortable pace. Midway down the Hoan Bridge (about 1.5 miles in) I looked back to the 2:10 sign and was surprised how far ahead of it I was. I thought I'd be a mere handful of yards, but it was more like 100!

Oh well. I was feeling comfortable and was enjoying the pace. No reason to slow up now, right?

I continued to feel great at the 10k marker I began to believe that running a sub 2-hour half was possible. This was a great motivator because it kept me from ever walking a single step -- save water breaks and a short, crowded distance up the steep Lafayette Hill -- for the remainder of the race.

In Lake Park I recognized friend Lindsey Paulsen. Not 100% certain of my identification skills, I said "Lindsey?" Sure enough, she looked right at me and I became positive of her ID. Lindsey had a nice pace going and we chatted for about a mile and a half. I didn't want to disrupt her determined concentration further and I explained that I thought I had a shot at a sub two. At Bradford Beach I pulled ahead, looked back and gave Lindsey a wave. She gave me a return wave and flashed her inimitable smile.

That smile lightened my heart and pushed me ahead for at least the next half mile.

Thanks, Lindsey. I hope you enjoyed that finish line beer!

The final 3 miles I tried to push myself but the fuel tank was nearing E. I didn't have much left. I did manage to catch up to the 2:05 pace team in Lakefront State Park, but by that time, there was less than a mile left to the finish line.
A couple of Sconnies celebrate with sconnies!

The final mile I pushed with everything I had but I still came up short: 2 hours, 2 minutes and 30 seconds.
Only a little disappointing as my initial goal would've been between 2:10 and 2:20. In that respect, I shattered my expectations!

The finish line party was at the Summerfest grounds where I finally met up with Reggie where we proceeded to do the one thing that we do better than run: drink beers!

What a great run, event, and day. I'm pretty sure you can sign me up for next year's tomorrow!

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