Saturday, November 19, 2016
Race Report - Milwaukee Running Festival Marathon - Part 2
Though this race was a disappointment as far as the big error on the course (and having to cover over
29 miles because of that error), I have to be happy with how I ran the actual marathon distance.
I started out with the first mile being right about where I wanted--around a 6:35. I needed to run just a hair under 6:30 per mile if I wanted to PR, and the last thing I wanted to do was go out too fast.
After that first mile, I stayed consistent, running between 6:20 and 6:35 throughout the first half of the race. The halfway point on my Garmin had me right around 1:25--right where I needed to be to have a shot at breaking 2:50.
Around mile 17.5 was where the trouble took place. I had been running off and on with a pack of four other runners, and at the point I was feeling pretty good, so I ended up passing all but one. I was running with that runner when we missed the turnaround. I did see a small spray painted arrow on the course, but I thought for sure that such a critical turnaround would have a course marshal, or at the very least a large sign.
On the bright side, I saw some fans after running off the course. It was super cool seeing Laura and Calvin at what was supposed to be right before mile 20. Fortunately, Laura heard from other runners and volunteers about how the turnaround was not properly marked, so she knew I had run significantly off the course. Since she knew, she didn't have to worry at the finish line when I showed up about an hour and a half later than I was planned.
When I figured out I'd run much farther than I should have, I had a decision to make--I could dial back my pace and try to finish as fast as I could for the rest of the race, or I could keep my pace until I'd run an unofficial marathon distance. I opted on the later, and my unofficial marathon time (I estimated it at 26.46--about what my Garmin would say for a full marathon) according to my Garmin was 2:49:27--an unofficial new PR.
Besides the huge turnaround debacle, the course was pretty nice. It looped through Milwaukee, and it was cool running by Miller Park Stadium, the Miller Brewery, and finishing along Lake Michigan (though at that point I was walking, having already covered 29 miles).
The finish line area was decent. The food wasn't the greatest, but there were food trucks where food was available for purchase, and they gave out one free hard soda and one free beer to the marathon finishers. There were also some activities for spectators--a climbing wall and a bounce house, so that would be cool for spectators who brought their children.
This race has a lot of potential, but next time they definitely need to get their act together. Besides the turnaround error, the course was also mis-measured, and the race issued a statement saying the course was about 0.4 miles too long. Kudos to them for admitted their error (they're also working with the USATF to adjust runners' times accordingly). Though I applaud the race for taking responsibility for their errors, if they plan on making this a premier event, next year they need to be much more careful with their course measurements and markings.
Overall, this race leaves a very bittersweet feeling. I was in shape to run my first sub-2:50 marathon, and while I unofficially did, it would have been an amazing feeling had that time been official. In my next post I'll write about how I'm going to deal with this disappointment.