Race Recap: Pettit Indoor Half Marathon

Part of one of last weekend’s double header was 13.1 miles around a 445 meter indoor track.

For those of you keeping score at home; that’s a total of 47.5 laps.

If you’re not familiar with the Pettit Center in Milwaukee, it is known for being a world class ice skating arena. It boasts a 400m speed skating oval as well as two international sized ice rinks. It is an official US Olympic Training Center.

For runners, though, it is known for it’s 445 meter three lane track rounding the ice. And the Pettit is a haven for those looking to get some miles in while avoiding the sometimes brutal Milwaukee cold.

Each winter, the Pettit also hosts a race weekend. Formerly known as the Icebreaker and now the Pettit Indoor Marathon, the event has been going for about 10 years. There is a Half Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, Full Marathon Relay, and Full Marathon. Runners can also tackle the 142.3 challenge, which is the Half on Saturday and the Full on Sunday.

In 2017, the race offered a 5k (it no longer does), and after completing that, I said that I didn’t need to do that again.

And yet here I was in 2019 signed up for the Half. And planning to go hard in the Half. And by hard, we’re talking a pace that would’ve been a two minute PR. Bold, risky, and stupid are all words that come to mind.

Unlike many runners I know, I am not a fan of the Half Marathon, which is why I don’t run it a ton. I almost always try to go big in the race, instead of letting the race come to me. Saturday was one of those times.

Knowing that the distance function on my watch would be almost completely worthless at the Pettit, I had it set to laps and total time. I calculated what I needed to hit for laps to stay on a 1:23 pace (that’s a 1:45 per lap) and would go lap by lap.

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We started the race on the back stretch of the track, because of that pesky half lap we needed for the full 13.1. Away we went. While I lapped my watch the first time around after the half lap, I didn’t pay much attention to that split, knowing it was the first 200m of the race.

Coming into the Pettit, I was mentally prepared to take a few laps to settle into the pace I needed. Hitting constant 1:45s wasn’t going to be done right off the bat.

Wrong.

I hit 1:45 dead on the first lap. And again the second lap. And again and again as the first few miles ticked away. No finding the pace, no going too fast or too slow. I was dead on right from the gun. This was going great.

Until it wasn’t.

Around laps 14-15 I was falling off pace just a little, and on 16 took a couple extra seconds to grab my water bottle (we had our own on a table by the track) and get some hydration. After that, I was still tracking a little behind target pace, but was able to rebound a little.

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That didn’t last long, though, as my legs were pretty much cooked by the halfway point. Lap 24 began a remarkably consistent run of hitting 1:58s (a 7:07 per mile) more a majority of the rest of the way.

The only lap where I didn’t hit that pace was lap 33, where again I slowed to give myself some time to grab a water, and try to give my legs a mini break.

At lap 40, pretty much everything hurt. My feet weren’t thrilled about using a different shoe to cover the 13.1 (don’t try new things on race day, I know, I know), my hips were wondering why we were only going left and not running any hills, and my quads were reminding me of those first few laps at a 6:20 mile.

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It wasn’t pretty by any stretch, but I slogged my way to a 1:33 finish. In a vacuum not a bad time, but not remotely close to what I was hoping for. Had I run a smarter pace plan, I probably would have been closer to 1:30, if not a little under.

Do I regret that I went out aggressive to see what I could do? Not at all. Sometimes reaching for a lofty goal and failing miserably is exactly what you need to do.

I actually don’t have another Half on my schedule until mid-October for the Urban Bourbon Half, but I’m sure I’ll throw one in somewhere. And I’m sure I’ll run it just as stupid as I always do.

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