Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon - RunMarathon

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Milwaukee, Wisconsin
United States
Milwaukee's Lakefront Marathon
55F / 13C
Total Time = 4h 12m 36s
Overall Rank = 1056/3050
Age Group = 42
Age Group Rank = 116/174
Pre-race routine:

I thought it would be novel to run a marathon without first swimming 2.4 miles and cycling 112 as a warmup. So I signed up for the Milwaukee marathon and, after completing my traditional Memphis in May triathlon in the Spring, dedicated myself exclusively to run training.

At Ironman in 2009, I ran the marathon in 4:59. I really wanted to break 4:00 in this stand alone event. So I picked a BT marathon plan and followed it to the letter, except for some minor setbacks due to muscle pulls, etc. I ran more than I ever have, building to 150 miles/month-- not much for some, but a lot for me. As has been the case in the last couple years, I didn't really drop weight the way I used to or expected to. I weighed about 183 on race day at a shade under 5'10", but at this point in my life-- and as a former weightlifter-- that's just kinda what I weigh. I watch the type of food I eat (don't really eat dessert, pizza, bakery, etc.) , but don't really limit myself on the amount, either. I'm sure it limits my performance, especially for a running event as long as a marathon, but I'm okay with that.

I got up, showered, and had my usual breakfast of OJ and a banana. Then I drove down to the ICC to catch the shuttle bus to the Start at Grafton HS. After my taper week, I felt rested and ready, though I felt a little tightness in my left calf and hammy that I worried would come into play later.

Upon arriving at the Start, I proceeded to "cut some weight" ;) and just hung out and stretched until race time. When the time came, I dropped off my bag at the UPS truck (very easy) and made my way to the starting line to take my place with the 4:05 pace group. There I saw jmwebs, who helped calm my nerves a bit, and before long we were off.

I had great tunes on my iShuffle and we had perfect race conditions (sunny and high-40's at the start) and I set off looking forward to a great race. Little did I know the pain that lay ahead for me.

Event warmup:

Um, I'm about to run 26.2 miles. I'll mark up the first 6 or 7 of those as my "warmup".
  • 4h 12m 36s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 09m 38s  min/mile

The race started according to plan. My legs felt good and my natural pace had me pulling ahead of the 4:05 pace group, so I just went with it. My heart rate stayed well within Z2. Around Mile 6, I also passed the 4:00 pace group, just striding along at my comfortable pace. At Aid Stations, I alternated between drinking infinit solution from my Fuel Belt and the Gatorade supplied on the course.

Somewhere around Mile 7 or 8, I started to develop a painful "hotspot" of numbness on my left foot that I had never before experienced in my training. I thought I may have tied my laces too tight, but didn't want to stop yet to re-tie them. Over the next few miles, the pain and numbness progressed. I tried to "stomp" my foot to get some extra circulation in there, but it didn't help much.

I passed the halfway point at almost exactly the 2:00 mark, which I felt good about as I have never run a two-hour half before. But by then, I had enough pain and numbness in both feet to be concerned and I pulled over to loosen my laces. It was here that the 4:00 pace group passed me. I began running again, but I knew this my foot numbness could become a real problem.

I was right. By Mile 17, I felt like I was running on bloody stumps. The areas on the bottoms of my feet that weren't numb felt bruised and I could detect a couple blisters coming on. Once again, I tried to shake some blood back in, but my efforts didn't help too much or too long. I decided I would just have to compartmentalize the pain and gut it out. It didn't help my feet any to walk so I just kept running. My only goal was to get to the finish so I could take my damn shoes off and get some relief from the excruciating pain.

It was also about this time, I saw my wife and kids drive by in the truck, waving to me and cheering me on. It gave me a moment's respite, but then I went right back into the Pain Cave, realizing I still had eight more miles to go. I also saw some Donks lining the route, most notably Rosshole, who mocked me for my new "Fabio-esque" long hair.

I'd like to say I just kept running but I took some brief walk breaks. I think my fitness and pacing were fine, but my foot pain was nearly intolerable. My heartrate was probably a little high, in the 160's, but I wasn't blowing up. Around Mile 22, I was passed by the 4:05 pace group and knew any hope of achieving a 4-hour finish was long gone. Honestly, I was okay with that, as I had seen nothing in my training that indicated I was truly capable of that time. I was just hoping that the extra rest from my taper and the adrenaline of race day would help me perform better than I ever had before.

The final stretch from Bradford Beach to the finish was just a simple test of will. More than finishing with the fastest possible time, I was driven by the single goal of just wanting to end the pain. By turns, my feet were burning, numb, bruised and pounded. Luckily, I was able to settle in behind a little pace booty (God bless her) and stay within sight nearly all the way to the finish.

Finally, I reached the Finish, hit the grass, ripped off my shoes and felt sweet relief. Almost immediately, I saw jmwebs and we exchanged war stories about our races and hung out. After a bit, I grabbed some grub (which was really lacking, considering how every other aspect of this race was top-notch), a free beer and made the long, painful hobble to the shuttle bus to get back to my car.

What would you do differently?:

I dunno. I'm gonna have to figure out the foot issue, because it was by far my biggest limiter. I don't know if was due to my type of shoe (which I've been running in for years), my body weight, the laces initially being too tight or from doing most of my longer run training on softer crushed gravel or what.
Post race
What limited your ability to perform faster:

My feet, plain and simple. Interestingly, three days after the race I went for a short run and I started to develop the same hotspots toward the end. I don't know what's going on.

Overall, I'm fairly happy with my performance. But I still would like to run a sub-4 marathon someday.

Event comments:

In stark contrast to the Summerfest Half-Mary, this was an extremely well-organized and well-run event. I'm sure it helped that we had perfect conditions on race day. My only knocks on this event were the lackluster post-race activities (no band or decent music) and crappy post-race food (you'd think they could throw in a legitimate picnic lunch.) Other than that, this is a great course and great event.

Last updated: 2011-10-06 12:00 AM
04:12:36 | 26.2 miles | 09m 38s  min/mile
Age Group: 116/174
Overall: 1056/3050
Performance: Good
Course: This is a perfect and generous marathon course. Except for some gentle risers in the first six miles, it's basically a gradual decline from Concordia College to Veteran's Park, running along Lake Shore and Lake Drives.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 4
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Average
Race evaluation [1-5] 5