I'm going to start reviewing races moving forward, for a handful of reasons. First, I think it's good to put my thoughts about the race in "ink" - I won't remember the details 1 year, 2 years, 5 years from now. Second, I hope to think about any lessons I learned and put those thoughts out there. Third, I'd like to give you all my thoughts about the race itself - location, course map, sponsors, etc.
That brings me to the Trailbreaker Marathon/Half-Marathon in Waukesha, WI on Saturday, April 6th.
The race was a Marathon, Half-Marathon, 5K type of race. The Marathon kicked off at 8am, the half at 9:30, and the 5K at 10. I'm sure the marathon'ers appreciated the 5K and Half Marathon runners not running them over.
I arrived at the Waukesha's Schuetze Recreation Center at 7:00. There was plenty of parking either in the two lots or on the street. The volunteers did a great job with traffic through-out the day - especially since it was cooler and people tended to huddle indoors.
The marathon group was small - only 185, so the fan support was minimal. If you're looking for a 'quiet' marathon - this would be it. The Half had 589 participants - also small.
As far as the course, the title "Trailbreaker" is slightly misleading. Once you get out of "downtown" Waukesha, it's an out and back type of race. The whole race is done on the paved Fox River and Glacial Drumlin Trails. I expected an unpaved series of trails, but there wasn't - maybe on the marathon, but I would guess not.
The trails were very nicely maintained, even surfaced, and clear of all debreis. There were 0 hills throughout the race. If you're looking for a flat and fast race, this could be it. They had water stations at the 4, 5.5, 7, 8.5 and 10 mile makers. The volunteers did a great job in being prepared. In an out and back style, I've been burned on the "back" because the volunteers aren't ready for the craziness....not this race.
As far as MY race. My goal was to start at 7:10s for 2 miles, pick it up to sub 7's for 4-6 miles, then judge how much is left in the tank and go from there. I executed that - except a bit faster.
As in any race - it's tough to start out slow and run your own race. I held back, but not enough. Maybe it was the caffeine from the gel 20 minutes before the race, probably the adrenaline; my first mile was 6:55...my legs felt strong. My breathing was calm - my heart rate wasn't rocketing up. I was in a good place. I continued to feel it out in mile 2 - 6:50 - oops. From there, it was "sub-7" time. Well, based on how my body was reacting, I decided to shoot for 6:45's. I nailed the next 5 miles - 6:41 - 6:48's. It was during this stretch I did my first Gel - 30 minutes. I hit the turnaround feeling great. I was tiring, but at over 50% of the race done, I felt like the tank was about half empty - I was confident I could maintain. Then there came Mr Slappy steps. This guy came up on me around mile 7, SLAPPING his forefoot strike. I don't listen to music - I listen to my thoughts and my body when I run...so I was subjected to his SLAP SLAP SLAP SLAP; I had to kick it down to get away from this guy! I went for 6:35's for the next 5 miles and nailed them - and dropped that guy too! I took my 2nd gel at 1 hour. I knew I executed on this race correctly when I got to mile 12. At mile 12 I had to dig down for more. My legs starting to get heavy, my cadence slowed. I kicked into survival mode and beared down, I became a "sniper". I honed in on two people about 1/8 a mile in front of me and focused on catching/beating them. I ignored my Garmin, I ignored my cadence, I focused solely on NOT letting them beat me. My last mile was sub 6:30. As I ran through Waukesha towards the finish, my legs were on fire - my body ached. I maxed out for the first time in 2013 and it felt AWESOME!
I finished 16th Overall, 6th in my AG. 1:28:11 (my watch said 6:44 minute miles). A new PR for me!
Because of how well this race went, I'm interested to see what I can hold down for the Wisconsin Half Marathon coming up in three weeks. My goal is to average between 6:35 - 6:40 miles. Again, since this was such a successful race, I'm excited to see what I'm able to do!
1-10 Scale (1 = bad, 10 = great)
Overall Review: 8
Fan Support: 4
Racer to Volunteer Ratio: 9
Traffic Management: 10 (the police force did a great job)
Water/Aid Stations: 10
Ease of Entry/Registration: 9
Goodie Bag: 8
Finisher Medal: 7
I would definately do Trailbreaker Half Marathon again. I'm not sure if I'd run the marathon though - unless it was just for "fun"...that's sadistic, I know.
I look forwad to writing a few more of these! I hope everyone gleams a bit of knowledge with my race recap/review! It had a blast. Anytime you PR - it's awesome!