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!)

I Signed Up for the Milwaukee Marathon!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Milwaukee 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, I’m  not gonna throw any bunk your way and tell you lies or make you think I’m ignorant. I truly am excited for the Milwaukee Marathon in April, 2019. And the biggest reason I’m excited? It will be my fourth marathon but it will also be my first in the state I now call home. I feel like it should have been the first but, alas, it was not. But here I am now with the opportunity to run this race as a BibRavePro (and I did choose the distance; I could have picked the half or the 5K if I wanted), and I want others to join me and see all that Milwaukee and its surrounding suburbs have to offer to the visiting public. I will also freely admit that I picked this race because it is near where I live and, honestly, it will  be nice to sleep in my own bed the night before a marathon. No surprises, just wake up and head on down to the start line. That’s going to feel real good come race morning. Then there is the fact that I can train in some of the same neighborhood’s where the course takes place. I like knowing what to expect or at least have a general idea of what type of elevation I can expect to encounter out there.

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I plan to keep you updated (and myself accountable) with a training log this time around. I won’t be crazy in depth but will include everything I am doing as the race gets closer and closer. But I won’t be punctual…since training has already started so I owe you two blogs to cover the last two weeks. I will only be getting in 16 weeks of training due to my erred judgment in how much time there was until April 6. Oh well. I am putting more effort and concentration into it this time.

Another reason you should think about joining me for the Milwaukee Marathon on April 6? Well, how about that swag that comes with this race. If you do the half marathon or the full (with me) you will receive a sweet quarter zip fleece and a tech tee! If you do just the 5K, you will receive only the tech tee.

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What about a medal you ask? They have never disappointed in the past and I don’t see that happening this year. It really is a nice one!

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And of course, there will be…..

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The post race party might be what I am looking forward to the most and not because of the free beer you receive at the finish. No, this year the party will be held at the Milwaukee Bucks’ new arena’s, the Fiserv Forum, outdoor gathering place! Screen Shot 2018-12-31 at 10.26.55 PM

So, lots of exciting aspects to the Milwaukee Marathon in Milwaukee on April 6, 2019! And, most importantly, when you sign up for your preferred distance be sure to use code “RUN15” to save 15% on your entry!!! Don’t miss out and be sure to follow my blog not only for my training updates but to see what else the Milwaukee Marathon can offer you!

Happy Running!!

The Unexpected Setback

Injuries. Sometimes they are from overuse of a joint or muscle. Other times they come about from a random accident while out on a run; something that is unavoidable or, maybe, you are trying to avoid something. And then there is the absolute bizarre injury. You know, the one that is embarrassing to share with others. The one that occurs just as you are starting to train for a major race in the future. Yeah, that happened to me recently and it sucks.

This past weekend near the end of a friendly wiffle ball game the freak of nature hit me. It’s the end of the game, I’m pitching and there are two outs. There’s a foul ball. I go to retrieve it. I pick it up and head back to the pitching area (this was front yard wiffle ball action, lol). On the way back, I step down onto where first base is; unfortunately, first base had pushed itself to a section where it covered half walkway and half lower garden area. I step down full body weight while wearing my Birkenstock sandals and, wow, was there pain. There was a sound that came from my ankle/foot area that can be described as twine or rope being stretched across a log. I immediately fell down, writhing in pain. I am positive this would not have been as bad had I simply been wearing some sort of stable footwear. But I wasn’t and now here I am three plus days later not being able to do anything active on this foot. No Sunday morning run. No Tuesday post yoga run. No elliptical machine. And by the end of the day at work, my foot is begging to get out of my shoe and have some ice on it. Sigh.

Patience is not one of my strong suits but I need it now more than ever. I am hopeful that only a couple more days stand in the way of me being able to run again. I hate not being able to run, hell, even walk at a faster pace. Instead, I am gimping along. I know it isn’t some big worldly problem. It’s really minor in scope. But dammit, I have a major marathon to train for and this piddly preventable setback is not good.

OK, that’s all I have to vent. Hopefully all of you are injury free and enjoying the beautiful weather out there to get in some runs or stretching or whatever exercises please you the most.

Happy Running!

The Doldrums of Training

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois 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!

So, I am nearing the end of training for the Illinois Marathon because, gasp!, it’s almost here! I had my last major distance run last weekend with a 20.1 mile run. I would say it was a good run for the most part. I started off too fast though and that remains to be a problem for me. I don’t follow my plan of attack and it costs me. I really need to start listening to my mind and, then later during the run, my body. As I was saying, I started off too fast but strong and that part felt good. My two previous long runs were not good to say the least so this was a nice change in having a solid start and have it stick. The only real drag of this run was the end. I sort of tailed off in the last 2-3 miles and finished a little bit gassed.

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And that has remained a problem with all long runs for the last month. I don’t know what it is. I have not gotten into a positive flow with this training cycle and that has been frustrating. My legs feel tired a lot and I have questions about that too. I’ve recently reengaged my leg workout program, albeit slowly and not has strenuous as it once was before the hamstring injury I suffered in March 2017 but it’s made me happy to get back at it. But is it costing me? I don’t think so and I’m hoping that my return to lifting will help my endurance come April 28.

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I’m also hopeful that my training runs in multiple weather conditions and temperatures will have prepared me for whatever this race has in store for all of us. I’m not the best follower of all the “rules” that many to almost all other runners follow so my training is a little different. I haven’t always worn the same shoe the entire time and not for all the long runs. My feet need the changeup and I think it will benefit me in the long run, no pun intended. It also has allowed the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18’s that I will be wearing for the race to keep some more support as time has gone on.

The bottom line is my training has been going but just not the way I had hoped. There are now 9 days remaining before the gun goes off. I am in the taper mode now. Short run for the most part are on the schedule now. I will take this upcoming weekend and run a half marathon distance and then squeeze in an 8 mile run in the  middle of next week. Like I said, my training is not the most normal but you also have to take care of your feet and legs when they tell you to.

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I’m curious: how do you train for your races? 5K distance? Full marathon? 15K distance? I would love to know the different methods that others use. Feel free to comment below!

Happy running!