Race Recap: Steve Cullen Healthy Heart 8k

My original plan this past weekend was to run the third edition of the Frozen Feet Half up in the Twin Cities. But impending snow, and the fact that I now live 6.5 hours from the Cities made that a hard sell.

Fortunately, my race team was ramping up for a team race at the Cullen 8k in Milwaukee the same weekend. That alone sounded like a good option. But being able to get a shorter speedier race two weeks before the Cowtown really sold me on this. And reminded me a little bit of my plan of attack going into the Twin Cities Marathon.

So up to Milwaukee I went.

We got lucky in that most of the snow on Thursday and Friday drifted south of Milwaukee. I mean, not good for my every day running in Naperville, since we’ve got a solid 14 inches now. But good for a road race.

With limited parking, the race encourages runners to park at the Wisconsin Lutheran College football field and shuttle over to the start. Super easy process and we got to listen to the shuttle bumping some mid-60s Beach Boys tunes on the way to the start. Wait, that’s not pump up music? Oh well.

The temperatures were right around 10 degrees with more wind than was expected. In other words, it was chilly. So the race having an indoor area for bathrooms and loitering around was clutch.

The starting line was a little jaunt from the shelter, which made for a nice short warm up jog.

A couple of my teammates noted that there were less people than in past years at the Cullen. But with the Pettit Indoor Half Marathon that morning, it made sense. And let’s be real, running in balmy 50 degrees inside vs 10 degrees outside seemed like a good idea.

As we lined up, the front of the pack was made up almost entirely of Performance Running Outfitters Race Team members. We had two teams (mens and mixed) and it was pretty clear we had the bulk of the speed.

And let’s be clear. Some of these dudes are really freaking fast.

The course started out with a lovely slushy downhill. While normally you would hammer that first part, the slush made this a rather treacherous descent.

The first mile of the race was mostly downhill, but again that was tempered a bit by the slush. The first of three turnaround points on the course was where we hit the first mile. It was also where the two guys I was running with decided to take off; leaving me, you guessed it, alone.

Mile two brought us a decent hill, but mostly flat clear road with a tailwind. I did my best to stay in contact with the two in front of me at this point, but they were gradually pulling away.

We stayed on that road for another half mile before ascending a hill, turning around, and heading back. This is where my race started to turn a little bit as we started running smack into the wind. In fact, you can see the change in the Strava charts. Darn wind.

Just before Mile 4, we made another turn onto a different road to hit the mile marker and turn back to the start. I got passed here by another PRO runner. We stayed together for a bit, but again I got dropped at the sharp turnaround. I’m bad at those, guys.

The last mile was almost a re-tread of the first mile. Which meant it was mostly uphill and slushy. Throw in the weaving around the 2 mile runners, and it wasn’t the best final mile. I will admit, that was the nice part about being right behind someone. I could track his moves to where the pavement was the best.

I got the course at a little long (as did a couple others) but we attributed a lot of that to having to weave significantly in the last mile. And I still came away with an 8k PR, so can I really complain?

A few of us ran into town on an extended cool down, which was a nice time to chat with some of the seedier guys on the team.

I would say about 70% of our team ended up picking age group awards, which of course prevented me from getting one. I’m not liking my first year and change in the 25-29 age division. Guess that’s motivation to get faster.

Oh, and then there’s the team competition. We dominated. First place men’s and first place mixed.

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Champs!

Overall it was a great day. And really, most all events put on by the Badgerland Striders are great events.

Onto the Cowtown!

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