As a few of you know, my Dad selected the Green Bay Marathon as his second Full. Naturally, I wanted to be there to support him, but get some miles in myself as well.
Originally, I signed up for the Half with the intentions of racing the (mostly) flat course and aiming for a Half PR. However, the lack of any substantial training due to being sick quickly derailed that plan. In fact, it was derailed so much that I wasn’t sure if running the Half would be in the cards at all.
After spending the afternoon of May 2 in the ER, and then not running at all until May 12, I wasn’t sure. But the week of running went well, and I knocked out a good 9 mile on Wednesday to give me the confidence to be able to tackle 13.1; which would be my longest run since the Music City Ultra.
The next question was effort. I knew for a fact a PR effort both wasn’t feasible, nor was it a good idea only one week removed from pneumonia. So Skelly and I came up with a solution. Start with the 1:50 group, and if I felt good, start to move up late in the race; try to stay over 1:45, and for sure over 1:40. Simple.
Race morning brought cool temps (mid-high 40s) and a wicked wind coming off the Bay. After watching the Full get underway, I went back into the Lambeau Field Atrium to await the start of the Half an hour later.
After dropping off my bag at the gear check (housed by the fabulous Lamers Bus Line) I moseyed over to the start and nestled in with the 1:50 pace group. After the National Anthem, we were off down Lombardi Ave.
Miles 1-3 ended up being mostly uneventful. The pace wasn’t exactly consistent from the pacers, but we were staying on 1:50 pace. With the pace being very moderate for me, I was that guy who was the chatterbox of the group. Talking with runners, spectators, and commenting how quickly we got to 23 miles (when we passed that mile marker for the Marathon at about 1.7 in our race).
Around the start of Mile 4, I was chatting with another runner and noticed we, along with another, were starting to pull away from the 1:50 group a little. Earlier than I wanted, but fine by me. I briefly bailed out to hit a porta-pod, then caught back up to my two new friends.
By Mile 5, we had almost completely separated ourselves from the pace group, and our group of three became a group of two. I felt good, but when we cleared Mile 5 in under 8 minute pace, I decided I didn’t really want to keep turning up this early in the race. So I let my fellow runner know at the next Aid Station, and let him go.
I dropped back to find our other friend who had pulled away from the group, but dropped back from us. We chatted for a bit, and commented about why there were so many people with bibs spectating at 6.5 miles; only to realize this was the Half Marathon Relay exchange zone. I asked what her plan was, and she said she’d like to be 1:49. At the time, we were roughly on pace for something in the 1:48 range, and I just replied with a “We’ll get you there then.”
Miles 7 and 8 climb up the largest hill on the course, a hill that’s responsible for the Half having almost as much elevation gain as the Full. My new friend struggled a bit coming up the hill, but it was fine, we still covered those miles a bit faster than we did Mile 6.
With Mile 9 being all down hill, we got that time back with a quick 8:04 mile. Down hill, plus crowd support contributed to that one, and we were still on 1:49 pace.
Around Mile 11, we started to have some problems. My friend started to run out of steam, partly due to the quick Mile 9, and the 1:50 group came and passed us. There was also a short, but steep hill waiting. Needless to say, Mile 11 was a tough one.
To shave a little bit of time at Mile 12, I started running ahead to Aid Stations to grab the both of us water and then running it back. We had slipped into 1:50 pace (with the 1:50 pace group now completely out of sight), but I thought we could gain some precious seconds back with the motivation and crowd support inside Lambeau Field at the last mile.
We did speed up considerably the last 1.1 of the course, despite the fact that we didn’t run around the field, per se. The Packers don’t have the turf in, so we basically ran around a big sandbox. Disappointing.
We ended up cruising into the finish in a 1:50 and some change. It was there where my new friend told me her previous PR was a 2:04, so this was a MONSTER race for her. We chatted a bit about other races, and went our separate ways.
All in all, an excellent day of running. I kept my pace casual, and got to see my Dad knock out Marathon number 2!!
I’m also excited to finally be feeling better, and can realistically turn my training gaze to Chicago.