How Does One Train for the Unknown?

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Garmin Kansas City Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

What do you do when you’re training for a race that in all likelihood will not take place on the date you are preparing for? This is the question I am asking myself (and attempting to prepare for) in regards to the Kansas City Marathon. It has yet to be canceled for this year and is scheduled to take place on October 17. Of course, I am still pessimistically hopeful that the race will be run and have been staying active throughout the spring and summer. And what do I mean by staying active? Maybe you think I just mean running and building up my base miles. Well, yes, I have been doing that although I have remained at a plateau for a few weeks now and hope to break that soon.

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But I’ve decided to change the norm for myself with my training and preparation. I wanted to give my body and overall fitness and athletic overall, if you will. So, in May, I bought myself a bicycle and started riding for the first time in 30+ years. It’s one of the main reasons my weekly running totals have plateaued; I’ve substituted runs for rides and I’m having a blast doing it! It’s a totally different way for me to get in some cardio AND is letting me give my legs and feet a subtle break from the concrete pounding they take on the roads. There have been a couple of weeks where I have matched running miles with biking miles and have added a brick workout per week to my training schedule.

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But that isn’t all that I added to my list of different ways to get my heart pumping and other muscles engaging. At my gym, I’ve used the rowing machine a few times and, when camping, I took my kayak out for a few lengthy paddles. Let me tell you something, you have no idea how exhausting paddling a kayak can be until you’ve done eight miles on a windy day out on Green Bay, lol. But, damn, is it ever a great way to build more cardio endurance.

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And speaking of the gym, I still go there frequently, now that quarantine is over and places have reopened. But I’ve been having a dilemma about my workouts lately. How much is too much? Or, to be more specific, should I be using less weight and more reps to tone my body rather than higher weight with normal rep amounts which may cause unnecessary bulk up? I have been adjusting my lifting sessions to reflect these thoughts and have dropped weight down. I mean, too much muscle isn’t the best when attempting long and grueling runs. So, with my training for this marathon, I have been altering a lot at the gym, also employing my resistance bands more often as well.

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But where does all this leave me? I’m still wanting and hoping to run the Garmin Kansas City Marathon in October so I keep plugging along with runs. And now bike rides. And weight training. And the occasional paddle. Will it all help out for a better end result? Who knows. I just hope I have the chance to see, as far-fetched as that may be right now. Such uncertainty really messes with one’s mind and the ability to focus on the prize. But what a lovely prize it will be if I have the chance to perform.

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Would you like to join me in the waiting game? It isn’t too late. Register for any distance at the Garmin Kansas City Marathon and use code BIBRAVE2020KCM and earn 15% off. And here’s a safety clause for you: should the race be canceled, you will have three options. One, you can defer your entry to 2021. Two, you can participate and run it virtually. Or, three, you can have your entry fee convert your registration fee to a donation to the Greater Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation and receive a charitable contribution receipt as well as 25% savings towards registration for the 2021 Garmin Kansas City MarathonNot bad, eh? Maybe we can run this race together this year or next year. I’d love to see you there!

Please feel free to comment or ask questions below. I’d love to know how any of you out there train for the unexpected or if you have made alterations to your lifestyle during these crazy times.

 

As always, happy running!

Sponsor Review: Raley’s Supermarkets, SPONSOR of the Napa Valley Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a $25 gift card to review Raley’s Supermarkets as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

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Now, that the Napa Valley Marathon is over it is NOT the time to neglect your body and all you did to prepare for that race. It’s been a week since you ran, so you need to make sure you not only rest but keep putting fuel into your body. Specifically, recovery fuel. And, yes, Raley’s can help you in that department as well. Visit their website to see how simple it is to find exactly what you’re looking for and how to spot it in the store. They have every category for you from Clean Label to Gut Health to Organic to Keto-Friendly. And everything in between too!

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Post marathon is an important time for the body. There’s a lot of recovery going on so be sure to take advantage of Raley’s nutrition strategist who provides the necessary tips and information to make your marathon experience not only enjoyable on race day but afterwards as well. I mean, you need to prep for that next marathon!

I hope you take the time to visit Raley’s website and utilize all the free information, tips and advice they offer as well as visit the store and stock your pantry with some great products that fit whatever need you may have in your dietary lifestyle.

Happy running!

Sponsor Review: Raley’s Supermarkets – SPONSOR of the Napa Valley Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a $25 gift card to review Raley’s Supermarkets role as a sponsor for the Napa Valley Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!

OK, raise your hand if you like grocery shopping. There’s never a “good” time to go and do it. There are always so many distractions of foods you need not be buying and then there’s the challenge of finding the right food for you. Throw in that you’re training for a race and need the right nutrition to supplement your hard work and it can be a nightmare! And that’s where a business like Raley’s comes into play. They sponsor the Napa Valley Marathon so they can better help their runners get associated with a healthy diet and the right foods to provide the energy they’ll need to have a successful race experience. So, how do they do it?

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One of the best features the within the store itself offers is what it calls “Shelf Guide Icons” that are located throughout the store. Each of these icons makes it easier (and more time efficient) for you, the shopper, to get in and get out and get what you need. Some of the icons used include: Plant-Based, Organic, Keto Friendly, Clean Label, No Sugar Added, Carb Friendly, High in Protein and Gluten Free. Obviously, this make it easier for you to navigate quickly through the store and acquire the foods you need/want that will assist you in your race preparation.

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Another amazing option provided by Raley’s is their Run Smart! nutritional campaign. They GIVE you the tips and suggestions to have a great race experience and how to properly train for the race, what to do to take care of yourself during the race and, finally, what you need to do at the completion of your race.

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This is how you sponsor a race! Raley’s has it down pat and has your back for the Napa Valley Marathon. And, more importantly, they have your health on their mind. They are there to suggest, to help or just to assist in any way. Screen Shot 2020-02-18 at 8.10.30 PM

I suggest you take a look at some of my Bib Rave Pro friends who have also contributed blogs discussing the benefits of Raley’s Supermarkets and how they work hard to make your race day experience a great one.

https://theswagmama.com/2020/02/01/grocery-shopping-love-it-or-loathe-it/

http://ampdwellness.crazyhamster.run/grocery-shopping-yay-or-nay/?preview=true&_thumbnail_id=6604

http://www.thisoldrunner.com/blog/need-help-eating-right-before-during-and-after-a-race-try-raleys-nutrition-guide

Hope you enjoy their viewpoints and notes!

And, as always, happy running!

 

 

Race Review: Samson Stomp n Romp 5K

It’s a little late but here it is, my review of the Samson Stomp n Romp 5K held at the Milwaukee County Zoo on January 19, 2020.

What can I say about another year of running the Milwaukee County Zoo’s Samson Stomp n Romp 5K? Well, this was the 40th year of the event and it remains one of the most popular events at the zoo even though it takes place in January, in Wisconsin. This year provided some challenges though and that’s why I will review it again. I am giving the race an overall grade of five stars for overcoming weather and construction challenges while still putting on a fun event for adults and kids.

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T-shirt/SWAG: The race always does a long sleeve t-shirt and while that may not seem exciting, this year’s version had a nice touch for the 40 year anniversary. On the back were the temperatures for the every year of the race leading up to this year. Just really cool and fascinating to see how many years have been in single digits and how many were above 30 degrees (not many, lol).

Aid Stations: There is only one station and it always has water but I have to give it at least three stars because the volunteers are out there suffering in the cold to hand out that water.

Course Scenery: Five stars, of course! You get to run through the zoo, checking out the polar bear, elk, macaques, penguins and more. You get to listen to the sea lions barking from their enclosure. And this year, due to construction making a larger hippo exhibit, the course had to be altered and it was a welcome change in my opinion. I loved that the course provided a new way to traverse the race. Great job working with what they had to work with.

Expo Quality: Not really an expo, per se. Just a packet pickup at the zoo. But the staff on hand are nice and friendly and ready to answer any and all questions you may have. Or just banter with you about how cold it will be on race morning, haha.

Elevation Difficulty: There was still the tough incline that the race always has but where it once was before you passed the first mile, not it was in between the 2nd and 3rd mile, so a little more challenging at the point in the race. There were also the same two steep declines that the course always has but, similar to the incline, their location in the race was not the same as year’s past.

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Parking: Your bib and race confirmation is your parking pass into the zoo. Easy access and easy departure. No problems.

Race Management: They did a phenomenal job with this race. The overcoming of the construction to create a fun course that still reached the right distance was impressive. But even more impressive was that the city and zoo were hit with a nasty ice and snow storm a day before and the zoo had the entire course cleared off of both. There were very few spots that had ice that was dangerous and there was zero snow on the course itself. Bravo again for the zoo’s maintenance staff for having a safe event. Packet pickup was smooth. And the post race party/spread was just as nice as always. Apples, Gatorade, water, coffee, granola bars, strawberry milk, blueberry milk, a restaurant’s homemade tomato soup and another restaurant’s chicken and rice sample dish were all part of the post race spread that led to the handing out of awards. And, no, I didn’t age place this year. There’s always next year though….

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Happy running!

The Journey to the 2020 Milwaukee Marathon

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Milwaukee Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, let’s start at where I’ve been and then move onto where I’m headed in my running life. Below you’ll see a pic of me just before entering double sports hernia surgery (with a faux fear face) and then a pic of me when it was all finished and I had awoken from the anesthesia. This all came about from over training throughout most of 2019 for various races, the final one taking place in November. Three days after that race, I was under the knife and being repaired.

 

The recovery stage was and has been difficult. I am not a patient man and the main restriction of no running was brutal. All I was allowed to do for the first two weeks was walk on a treadmill with zero incline. After the two weeks, I was allowed to lift weight restrictions (which were to stay under 25 lbs. total, so I didn’t lift at all) and do what was comfortable except when it came to legs. The remaining restrictions included no squats, no lunges, no core work at all and no planking. So I did a lot of upper body work and kept up with the walking on the treadmill and added slow bike riding at the gym.

 

Then after a month and half, I was allowed to run finally. No speed work but at least it was something other than walking. My goodness, was it ever a breath of fresh air to be able to run again. I started simple, on the treadmill and then slowly stretched it to the outdoors where the terrain obviously is less predictable. It was just nice to move the legs again and begin to think about training for specific goals as long as there were no setbacks with this new lifted restriction.

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Now here we are, two plus months from surgery. All restrictions have been lifted for both running and lifting. Yoga is back in my practice as is leg presses, etc. for leg day at the gym. Happiness is not enough of a word to express my feelings towards being back in the groove. It hasn’t been forever, but, I also know that this is just the beginning of a new runner version of me. I need to change my running gait to prevent this from occurring again. I need to build back up my endurance and stamina. The challenge has been presented and I am not ready to tackle it.

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So, how does that relate to the Milwaukee Marathon being held on April 11 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin? I wasn’t sure where I’d be at this point in time but I said if I was ready, I would at least make a go at a half marathon knowing I wouldn’t be ready for a full. So Milwaukee it is! Training has been going well so far as I’ve started to extend my distances in runs from 6 miles to 8 miles to 11 as a high so far. Nothing too strenuous and I haven’t pushed myself too far at this point. I can say I’m excited to be training for this half. I ran the same race last year but did the full marathon and set a personal PR by over twelve minutes! I’m really hoping to improve my half PR this time! I’m excited to race the streets of Milwaukee again at an event that was really topnotch last year. The improvements that the new group running the race implemented were huge in making it a success. Everything from packet pickup to the race to the post race party were ideal. A really great time so I’m looking for round two of fun. And you should join me if you’re looking for a half marathon or a full where you too could PR your time. If I can do it, so can you! Visit the site, pick a distance (they also offer a 5K) and sign up! Use code “RUN15” to save 15% off your entry fee! And you have time because the next price increase isn’t until March 7, 2020. Need another reason to sign up. If you do the half or full distances, here is what you will get:

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A tech t-shirt, an awesome medal, a quarter zip fleece and a beer following the race. Not to mention a great post race party atmosphere that takes place right at the Fiserv Forum, the Milwaukee Bucks new arena. I hope to see you there!

Happy running!

Race Review: Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon

What a race, what an event and what a city! OK, I knew the city was badass already before the race but this was my first visit to Las Vegas that wasn’t just for gambling and drinking. This had purpose and, therefore, I needed to behave and not get too involved with the excess that is Vegas. This is a race I’ve been excited to do for a while; a destination race that had been on my bucket list. And it did not disappoint! Running down the Strip with various bands playing all types of music from rock n roll to old Vegas crooners to Elvis classics, all with the bright neon lights brightening up the course was simply magical. The crowds on the Strip were lively with their cheers and the starting line was electric as each wave was released onto the course with a giant fire display pulsing up from the start line overhang.

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EXPO QUALITY: The expo was easy to get to; just had to jump on the monorail and it dropped you off right by the Las Vegas Convention Center. I went on Friday afternoon and there was no line to get my bib so that was really quick. After that, I perused several rows of race merchandise and Brooks shoes too. Bought the special race designed Brooks Launch and a pair of the new Adrenaline GTS 20s since they were 15% off; couldn’t pass that up! I also grabbed a couple of other items in the merchandise area before heading out to the vendors. I need to make a racing list from this point forward as I realized at the expo I had forgotten a couple of items at home, so a new running belt for storage was needed as well as some fuel for the race. The forgetting of the fuel was more frustrating than anything since I had just restocked at home, but, oh well. Lots of vendors to go through, from Honey Stinger to Geico to Knockaround to many others. Lots of photo options as well in front of signs such as #StripatNight and Vegas Strong.

T-shirts/SWAG: A fun race shirt that was made to match whatever distance you were running for the race. The medal for the race was also pretty cool with a Strip design and at the top a spinning wheel that has the date of the race and the distance you competed at.

Parking Access: No parking really. But most people stayed on the Strip or nearby. And if you lived in the area, Uber/Lyft/taxis were suggested to use to get to the start line.

Aid Stations: The volunteers at the aid stations were 1005 awesome! Shouting out cheers and support at every one. Full of enthusiasm. They were one of the best parts of the entire race. Loud enough to know where water was, where Gatorade was, when there were gels or bananas., just so helpful.

Course Scenery: The Strip was awesome to run down and through, and even heading towards downtown Las Vegas was pretty nice, going past wedding chapels and some smaller casinos. There were some quiet parts on the course as well, not well-lit and more residential, but, where they could, the organizers put bands out in those places as well to keep you grooving.

Elevation Difficulty: Moderate if you did ran the marathon, none at all if you ran shorter distances. The marathon was the only distance that had elevation. When you headed away from the Strip the course had you run over the freeway system and circle back a few times so there were a couple of going uphill, but nothing too strenuous.

Race Management: Plenty of communication in the months leading up to the race. A lot of help at the expo answering questions. As I previously stated, the volunteers were amazing and prepped excellently. The starting line was smooth as was the Start Village, where all runners congregated prior to going into the corrals. The finish line was perfect with not every handout right next to one another; they provided space for you to collect yourself and your free items as you walked along to the exit point.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon was a great race, plain and simple. I had a blast and I would highly suggest that this be the race you aim to run in this series if only for the opportunity to run the Strip at night.

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Race Review: bRUNch 5K

This race review is a little late on my part. I just let life get in the way and do its thing so this kept getting put off and put off. But here it is finally, the review for the 5K I ran a few weeks ago in September.

I skipped this race in 2018 because I was suffering from a right hip issue that wasn’t fully healed by race day so I was really excited to run this year. Especially after remembering the fun time and value the race provided when I ran it in 2017. There were some similarities but also some small differences this time around but, as I said, still a fun race with an energetic group running it for a good cause.

T-Shirt/SWAG: This race provides, in my opinion, some of best swag of any race I’ve been a part of. You receive a pretty nice long-sleeve t-shirt, a tasting glass with this year’s race logo on it, a ticket for a free Bloody Mary at a local restaurant, a ticket for a free post race beer and a finisher’s medal that reflects the race theme, this year being breakfast food trucks.

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Aid Stations: There was one water station just before halfway mark on the course, only accessible when running in the one direction.

Course Scenery: Not too much going on here. The course is a county paved trail and heads out and then turns back at the halfway point. It’s nice that it is relatively secluded on the trail but you do go over a pedestrian bridge that is over a main street below so some noise from that. Now, compared to 2017, there was a new starting point/finish point for the race which I much preferred.

Expo Quality: Packet pickup is at a local running store, Performance Running Outfitters, so you do have the opportunity to check out some sweet runner merchandise and shoes if you so desire after getting your bib, etc.

Elevation Difficulty: Pretty much zero elevation other than the slight incline and decline of the pedestrian bridge.

Parking Access: There were two medium size parking lots to use, but if they were full, which they were when I arrived, there was plenty of free street parking.

Race Management: Really great! Lots of communication via email leading up to race day. Also, I enjoyed the change they did with the brunch this year. In 2017, you had to pay up front for a ticket to a brunch that was at a nearby park pavilion; you could buy a ticket day of but it would cost more. This year they had three food trucks, all offering up different items, staged by the race to cater to people. Loved that! Also, the race benefits the SEED foundation which is a local educational foundation for the Shorewood school system.

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All in all, a fun race with sweet swag, an easy 5K course meant for PR’s and some delicious beverages afterwards as well. They also had coffee and cocoa, provided by a local coffee place, at the end of the race (or before the race if you wanted) and water.

Madison Mini Marathon Training Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Madison Mini Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Well, this is going to be the most boring update you could ever possibly read. Ever since the wondrous month of April where I set personal bests in my marathon finish time and in my 5K finish time, I have done almost nothing in the last six weeks. I ran twice in the  month of May, accumulating just over 13 miles for the month and so far zero miles for the month of June. Why? Because of what is likely a sports hernia.

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No, I am not making a self-diagnosis here. I waited those first couple of weeks in May doing nothing and then attempted to run. After having pain and discomfort return almost immediately, I shelved myself again and made a doctor’s appointment. The doc did some tests and said it wasn’t a hernia as far as he could tell but that it was likely a sports hernia. I was also given the card of a hernia specialist if I wanted to be absolutely positive of the diagnosis. So, what have I been doing instead? Well, a lot more lifting with upper body (carefully) and some lower body (even more carefully), some bike riding at the gym and, finally, walking. Lots of walking.

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Lots and lots of walking….

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As you can see, I’ve tried to keep my humor up with these walks but it hasn’t been easy. It has been extremely frustrating and I am close to losing my mind. This is not how I envisioned my Madison Mini Marathon training taking place. I am not in the danger zone yet, but it is getting close to where I will not be prepared by mid-August for this half marathon (where I was greedily hoping to set another personal best.) It is Wednesday, June 12, today and I plan to run or attempt to run before the end of this week. This is mainly to see if I have healed enough. If I have not, then I plan to call the specialist to see what is going on and if I will be healed and ready to race by August. Worst case scenario then would be I could run it but it would be for fun and nothing else. Fingers will be crossed. I’m just really sick of walking at this point. And don’t let the smile fool you, haha.

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If you’ve been running and training out there, maybe you’d like to race the Madison Mini Marathon this August! It isn’t too late to sign up! And if you use code BIBRAVE5 at checkout you will save $5 on your entry! Hopefully we will run this together!

If you have any thoughts or questions, feel free to ask or comment!!

Happy Running (or walking)!!

Race Review: Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K

This would be what I would consider an entry level 5K for beginner runners. Or, as in my case this year, a very good opportunity to PR your 5K time if you’re in the market to do so. The weather this year was quite chilly. How chilly you ask? Low 30s and later that day it snowed. On April 27. Gotta love Wisconsin weather, haha! So here are the details of this year’s Sweet Home Milwaukee 5K!

Expo Quality: Not really an expo per se. You pick up your packet at a local running store, Performance Running Outfitters. They give you your bib and some fillers in your bag along with your t-shirt. The one cool benefit of having packet pickup there is if you need or want to check out some new sneakers, you’ll be set.

Race Management: Lots of contact leading up to the race, even a final email on the Thursday before the race informing runners that a decision would be made early if inclement weather were to arrive sooner than predicted. Great atmosphere at the race with music and the emcee keeping everyone awake and chuckling before the race and after the race.

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Parking/Access: The race is held on the Milwaukee Lakefront at Veterans Park, which has a decent amount of parking spaces and then street parking is also available in the area. I had no trouble getting a spot and it seemed a lot of people had no trouble with the street parking.

Course Scenery: The race runs along the lakefront so you have plenty to gaze out at as you complete the 5K. Also, you’re running through the park so all spectators can cheer you on from all the picnic tables that are spread about.

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Aid Stations: One water station a little beyond the one mile marker point (via your own tracking since there were no actual mile markers on the course). Both sides of the course had tables with volunteers handing out water.

Elevation Difficulty: None. There is zero elevation hence why it makes for a nice starter 5K for someone.

T-Shirts/Swag: You receive a long-sleeve cotton t-shirt and a pretty sweet medal that doubles as a bottle opener. You also receive a free beer ticket which this year got you a brew from local brewery Third Space Brewing. You also get a ticket for a free Bloody Mary at local restaurant Stubby’s Gastropub. At the finish line there was water, a banana and apples.

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Overall: The weather notwithstanding I enjoyed the race. Yes, I have some bias since I set a PR for myself in the 5K distance but the communication was good, the swag was good for the price and course was nice to run on. Also, they had a food drive being put on by the Hunger Task Force that was connected to a raffle. You could donate items of food or a monetary donation. I would definitely consider doing this race next year. The weather has to be better, right? Haha!

 

Hope you have enjoyed this review and happy running!

Race Recap: Milwaukee Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

The 2019 incarnation of the Milwaukee Marathon (under new management and sponsorship) was an a great success in my opinion! After taking 2018 off from the race schedule and retooling a ton, they chose to have the race in April instead of the previous years’ choice of October: smart move since early April is less busy race-wise than October. I ran the full marathon this time (2017 I ran the 10K and 2016 the half) and I really enjoyed myself; more than I expected to with this race. So, let’s get to the meat of this review!

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Expo Quality: Packet pickup was really easy (I arrived around 1:30pm so the crowd was light) and was held the day before the race. It was held at the Fiserv Forum’s (Milwaukee Bucks home, they were also a big sponsor) lobby area. You had to pick up on this day unless you chose to do day-of but that had an extra cost to it. The line was quick and the volunteers seemed to know that there must have been an issue with Wi-Fi and the Q-code since I couldn’t get my e-mail to pop up but they were more than ready to just look up my name and get me on my way. The rest of the expo was kind of blah and I hope that future years have it become bigger and have more vendors. I know this year was kind of a make-good year for the event so hopefully this will change. There were booths for a local running store, Performance Running Outfitters, Supernola (a granola company), and a couple of other local races had booths set up. That was it. And the table for you to pick up your t-shirt (I will cover this in the Swag category). Outside of the Fiserv, there was the opportunity to see where the Gear Check would be located and multiple areas where they had set up tons of Port-o-Potties (always important to know on race day).

 

Parking Access: I found it simple, but more expensive than I liked. You could have signed up ahead of time for the parking lot near the start of the race. I did not do this but I also knew there would be plenty of parking all around the area and had no problem finding a spot.

 

Course Scenery: The start of the race going through downtown was nice as was the early miles along the lakefront and back into downtown (only drag here was the day was dreary with no sun so a heavy fog was sitting all over the lake, not an exciting view, but there was one hell of an energetic spectator on a bridge cheering/roaring at all runners as they passed both times). After returning into downtown, for the full, you raced through Marquette University’s campus and into the suburbs and neighborhoods of Milwaukee. There were some very quiet moments in this, the largest, stretch of the race but there were also plenty of pleasant surprises. The Washington Park area was full of boisterous people and there were other spots along the course where the neighbors busted out speakers or their cars for blaring music. Good positive energy at the right time. And then the end of the race had you finish back where you started at the Fiserv Forum where a ton of screaming fans and event staff were waiting for you.

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One of the fun parts of this race was competing with other runners. Now, of course, during a marathon you are really only competing with yourself but you also set other runners as markers for how you are doing or as goals to reach. I was nicknamed “Orange” by a couple who were running together and were keeping me in their sites as they went along. I did manage to beat the husband but his wife blew past me around mile 24 1/2 to finish ahead of me. At the end we congratulated each other and she said all she needed to do was make sure “Orange” was within view to be sure she was running the race she wanted.

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Aid Stations: All had water at one end of them and Nuun hydration at the other end, easy to decipher which was which as volunteers were consistently shouting what they had. At some stops there were Honey Stinger gels to consume if need be. I thought the variety of volunteers at the stations was incredible! From Marquette students to kids that looked like they might have been in 3rd or 4th grade and all in between, everyone did a fabulous job!

Elevation Difficulty: There was one major hill in the early part of the race that was a winding path up to an area called the Water Tower along the lakefront. Of course, after going up that, you got to come back down on another hill. That wasn’t so bad at that point. There was a subtle but long hill that took you out of the city (if running the full) that went up Wisconsin Avenue. Positive part of this hill was this is where you were returning for the end of the race, so that was nice. But the killers (for me) were these little up and downs that were consistent for a bunch of the race between miles 17-21. Nothing major but you were going up a little bit, then down a little bit, then back up, etc. My legs were not enjoying that very much. And then as you rounded the last turn of the race to the finish line, you had one more minor incline as you go across a city bridge. That’s near mile 26 and I wasn’t a fan of that, haha.

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T-Shirt/Swag: OK, bear with me on this. So, everyone gets a “Finisher” shirt at pickup (should be handed to you at the end of the race but whatever) and anyone who was running the half or full also received a 1/4 zip fleece. It’s ok, nothing to write home about and not something I would run in. You receive a medal which isn’t too bad, showing a silhouette of the city on part of it and the ribbon around it says what distance you ran. Also, at the finish, there was more water, Nuun, a banana, some Supernola granola, Honey Stinger waffles and you received a free beer too (Miller Lite or Coors Light). Now, something else you received and I must include it is with your medal, you could go into the nearby Good City Brewing spot and order what you wanted and get 20% off your bill. I thought that was pretty cool.

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Race Management: They did a phenomenal job, for the most part. They had a tough crowd to not only impress but convince to come back from the 2017 debacle. So, this race was more a test run than the real deal, I think. I had heard of a lot of people staying away to first see how this “new” race was going to go. Well, they nailed it and hopefully will be back even bigger and better next year. From the gear check (which was quick and well-run with plenty of volunteers) to the pre-race energy to the post race party which had music and Bango (Bucks mascot) riding around taking pics on his Segway, they had stuff figured out.

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The area for pre race/post race was a little cramped but next year there will easily be more space available once the old arena is taken down. I also would have liked to see a PR bell to ring somewhere (if there was one, I didn’t see it or hear it) because many people, including myself, had great races and PR’d their distance. I would have loved this considering I smashed my race out of the park, but there hopefully will be a next time! But overall, they did a great job with pre-race communication and how race day would shake out. They provided a list of 8 or 9 other parking lots to go to aside from the main one they were promoting. This race had a low bar, for sure, to get to due to 2017, but they catapulted themselves well above that bar to a point that this can become a preeminent race for Milwaukee and Wisconsin if they keep up this support and dedication for it. I highly recommend participating in it next year, at any distance. You won’t be disappointed.

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Happy running all!! (Check me out on Instagram @pktirish to read the brief story about the picture above!)