Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Time I Ran The Marathon I Helped Make Happen

I decided not to renew my personal trainer certification in January of this year. After a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the right fit for me. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do next and was kind of floundering around trying to figure things out when my friend Chris contacted me about an interesting opportunity. We met for lunch to discuss a little event he was working on called the Milwaukee Running Festival.  And thus, a partnership was born.

Sitting here now I'm still kind of amazed we pulled it off. Honestly most of the time I felt like I was just making things up as we went along. I had been a part of the crew that organized the Great Milwaukee Race for five years- an event for about 300 hundred participants. I'm not really sure what made Chris think I could do that for a race over ten times that size? I felt a little like a fraud at times with my made up title we created. Social and Marketing Director it reads on my business card. What does that even mean? I have no business giving myself any kind of title. The funny thing is, that title didn't cover half the stuff I ended up doing for the event so I guess I shouldn't sell myself short.

I'm so glad he had confidence in me from the start. Although it made me feel better that I knew he was making things up as he went along too. I mean, if we messed up we would mess up together? But... if we were successful it would be even more fantastic! It would make for a damn good story.

I was surprised at first to hear that many big city marathons actually employ a full time staff. I am not shocked by this anymore. Holy shit there's a lot of work that goes into planning an event that goes through an entire city! The fact that we pulled this off without our teeny tiny little staff is just bonkers looking back on it now. Luckily we had completely awesome people step up to give a hand on many levels of the operation. We also hired an experienced and phenomenal crew that has a number of big city events under their belts and made us look really good. Still, inaugural events are tough any way you cut it. EVERYONE is skeptical of you. Frankly, even some of your supporters probably are. A lot of runners just want to watch to see if the first year is a shitshow first before deciding whether or not they will participate in the future.

People expect you to fail.

I won't get into the nitty gritty politics and other silly little dramas that plagued this event from it's very conception. There's no point to it. Our event was not without it's missteps- nothing ever is- but honestly, we outperformed my wildest expectations.


Oh, and my reward on race day? I actually got to run the marathon course! 3:48:58

I felt a little guilty about being able to run in the race. On one hand I felt like a chump for not having a race day job. On the other hand? I was so completely fried from stress and not sleeping for the last 2 weeks that all I wanted to do was let go and RUN. I wanted to experience every step of what we had been working so hard to put together for the past year.

Viewing it though my eyes is of course going to be different. Everything was super charged and super emotional because of my own connection to the event.  I have literally never felt better in a marathon though. Ever. And the course was not easy! I started out like a crazed banshee at first because I had so much adrenaline, but as I began approaching all the aid stations I helped organize I started slowing to thank everyone who had come out to volunteer. I was just so happy to see everyone out there supporting our event. As I ran the course I kept thinking about every stupid obstacle that came up in our path on the way to this day and the fact that we kicked every obstacle in it's stupid face. My own face hurt from smiling so much.

As always, with great highs come great lows.  After a week of riding the post-event high (and work that came with it) I've been kind of a sloth. We have a few weeks before we have to start kicking things into gear for 2016 so I'm kind of floundering around again with no direction. I need it though. I'm going to hunker down with family for the holidays and come back refreshed and ready to tackle next year's event with renewed excitement. With the first year out of the way it's all easy peasy from here on out, right?


Monday, November 16, 2015

Lakefront Marathon 2015- BQ #2


It's a been over a month since Lakefront Marathon and I'm finally getting around to absorbing it. I had the best intentions of writing a recap the week after the race when I was recovering but I ended up pretty much diving headfirst into preparations for the inaugural Milwaukee Running Festival (which is another story I need to write***.) That whole business was an absolute whirlwind that didn't really settle down until about a week ago- after which I then retreated into a cocoon of crime television, fantasy football strategizing, beer drinking and naps. It's been kind of glorious, actually.

I need to process things in chronological order though. Thus, the Lakefront Marathon recap comes first.

So back to how this entry started:


That's exactly how I felt when I finished Lakefront this year. 3:39:24. Another PR(!), my second Boston qualifier this year(!) yet... still not good enough to make the new Boston cutoff of at least 2 minutes and 30 seconds faster than a qualifying time.  WOMP. I know I run the risk of sounding ungrateful for what I'm able to do, but honestly knowing that another damn 3:39 time will not get me into the actual race really takes the shine off of what was a pretty good race for me.

What went wrong is kind of unimportant at this point. For some reason (I suspect improper fueling/hydration) I started getting really dizzy around mile 18. I felt a little disoriented like I might pass out so I stopped to drink some Gatorade. After stopping a couple more times to get more electrolytes in me I started to feel better but I had already fallen off pace at this point. That's the story. I didn't check all the boxes I needed to check and it cost me in the end.

Yes, I still finished with a smile on my face. I pulled out a sub-3:40 when I thought even that was lost! I'm really proud of myself for not throwing in the towel. But I'm still chasing that feeling. The feeling of getting to that finish line and knowing that I have crushed my goal without a shred of a doubt.  The feeling of knowing I will be able to actually register for the race that I've been trying to qualify for over the past two years. That feeling is something I have yet to experience and it's what drives me still.

*** MRF recap to come and will have a lot more words and feelings to sort through.