||*Best time in any given state is used for the 50in100 challenge.
Lake Lawn Half Marathon: Sitting in the airport in California on Valentine's Day we submitted an entry to a USRA Half Marathon Series free race contest...and we won! Here's our entry:
"My wife Kristin and I love to run but we LIVE to run together. Five years ago we were a newly married non-running couple. This past weekend we celebrated Valentine's day by running a half marathon in Palm Springs, California: our 28th state together in the past 2 years. We are a bit of an anomaly as we run literally thousands of miles a year side-by-side and step for step with one another. With each stride we are one step closer to achieving our long term goal of running a half marathon in all 50 states in under total 100 hours (we even created a website to track our running/traveling adventurers and progress at www.50in100.com). This May we will be celebrating a half decade of marriage with what else - a half marathon (Indy mini) in our 33rd state! I couldn't be happier to be on this crazy adventure called life with anyone other than my runner partner, best friend and wife. And in case this story isn't sweet enough - our last name of "Kiss" is just icing on the cake :) "
With that, we scored two free entries for the Lake Lawn half marathon! The race was small, but it was fairly close to home so we decided it would be a good long training run. The days leading up to the race I was feeling really good and discussed with Kristin that I may try to "turn it loose" if my legs felt good race morning. Sure enough, even with snow on our car the morning of the race and sleet coming down as we started, my legs did feel good and so I decided to push it. I never would have thought I would wind up leading the race wire-to-wire and winning my first half marathon ever and PR'd by ~4 seconds. I guess the secret to success is to find a small half marathon the weekend of the Boston Marathon (so all the fastees are out of town), order up some terrible weather (so at least some runners re-think leaving their cozy beds) and then run!
Kristin ran really well too, beat her previous best Wisconsin time by 2:30 and was the 3rd overall female (she won her age group too)! Kristin was all smiles as she came through the finish and remarked that she had a great time chatting with another runner for about 11 miles. All in all, it was a pretty enjoyable race, as long as your expectations are in check for a small event with no real crowd support.
Highlights: Enjoying a quick weekend trip and really staying positive for the race. Our race performances and finishing times were truly unexpected, but very encouraging!
Tyranena Beer Run Half Marathon: When you see longer lines of people waiting to pick up a discounted 6-pack pre-race then picking up their race bibs, you know you're in a good place! The run started and finished in the Tyranena brewing parking with a majority of the race around Lake Mills. Although the race had a late start time (11:30am) the temperature was still pretty chilly, but the wind was the real culprit in our goosebumps. In the first mile we jockeyed for position, but couldn't seem to find a comfortable pace. Even though we started about 1/3 of the way in the pack we had several runners pass us in the first 3 miles. The strange thing about being passed in this race was that fellow runners didn't simply catch up and then slowly pass (as is pretty typical) they literally shot out of a cannon and fly by us at ~2 minutes per mile faster pace than we were running. I guess Wisconsin breeds some strong runners - good work! After a few rolling hills around Lake Mills (and suffering through a few miles of what smelled like a backed up sewer) we arrived at the summit of the largest hill on the course (around mile 4) and shortly after that found the "unofficial beer stop" at mile 5. Mile 5 seemed a bit early for a beer, but several runners stopped, chatted and sipped a pretty good amount of beer (no dixie cups of beer here, these were ~8oz glasses). The terrain then changed from roads to crushed limestone for about a mile, which was pretty easy to run on, but the winds were pretty fierce between mile 5 and 6. Just before the 10k marker there is a giant hill straight ahead, but much to our surprise we turned onto a compact dirt trail and then looped back through the hill via a giant tunnel. The path was a bit narrow, and more than once we had to run single file to either pass or be passed (two runners fly by at what looked like a sub-7 minute pace, which prompted me to ask Kristin if I missed the sign-up for the relay), but overall the trail level and enjoyable. With a 5k to go we hit the pavement again and wound through local streets to the finish. The last few miles were very open and very windy - but by that point it was simply mind over matter. All in all the course was challenging, without being over-bearing and the scenery was pretty and very enjoyable.
Highlights: Road-tripping with Josh and Tasha Hermes for their first half marathon! It's always an awesome feeling to see your friends complete a new distance for the first time, and it was great to see Josh and Tasha triumphantly cross the finish line. The post-race beer and lasagna feed (all included with race entry) was pretty awesome too - a huge circus tent served as our cool-down zone and featured 2 full pints and some pretty darn good lasagna. The Hope Whore (Imperial IPA) was outstanding and Headless Man (Amber) was also quite delicious.
Madison Half Marathon: Hilly, hot, humid and hard. The marathon started 30 minutes before the half marathon, which would have been fine except by the time the half marathon started the weather was already getting too hot. A very hilly course with little shade. There was not a cloud in the sky, which made the beating sun feel even hotter. By mile 8 the course went along Lake Monona and the reflection off the water combined with the heat radiating from the blacktop made the run almost unbearable. Unfortunately the heat took it's toll on a lot of runners - we even witnessed a pacer collapse and hand off his pace sign to a fellow runner. The stations had plenty of water and gatorade, but it was just too hot. Somehow we finished in under 2 hours, despite walking for a bit in the last mile - which is mostly up hill. The unfavorable weather conditions forced the race coordinators to cancel the marathon at the 4 hour mark - so the heat wasn't all in our head!
Highlights: Dean's Milk had a booth at the packet pick-up expo where we got an awesome picture with some authentic milk mustaches!
Day 1 (Saturday):
Paisan's Restaurant served up some pretty good lunch sized pizzas. Paisan's has an outside terrace seating with great views of the Lake Monona. We enjoyed the views for about 20 minutes and then we were literally sweating so much that we had to go inside. It was the first day of really high heat for Madison (mid 80's with high humidity) and the reflection from the lake makes it feel even hotter.
Downtown Madison is a nice place to walk around. The capital building (we did not get a chance to go inside) is huge and an impressive building from the outside. It is also worth it to take a stroll along Lake Monona (enter at the Monona Terrace Community Center) if the weather is nice, but watch out for runners and bikers.
Madison's Downtown serves up a really good pre-race meal - spaghetti and meatballs with a side of green beans. The meatballs were super tender and packed full of flavor. To top off the great food and service we got a seat right in front of the big screen tv to watch our Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Highly recommended to anyone looking for a good pre-race option, or just in need of a good draft beer (plenty of options).
Day 2 (Sunday - Race Day):
The World's Largest Bratfest just happened to be the same weekend as the Madison marathon/ half marathon. An insane amount of workers were making brats and there was plenty of beer to go around. Also on hand was the Oscar Mayer Weiner Mobile! There were plenty of activities for people of all ages (music, coloring, beer). Parking was pretty full, but once inside Bratfest was a good time and not overly crowded.
Home of the famous 'Spotted Cow' beer, the New Glarus Brewery Company offers a self-guided tour of the Company's state of the art facility. Four fresh beer samples for a reasonable price. The facility is very impressive and the beer (small beer garden outside) is worth the trip. Spotted Cow is awesome. Note - if you venture to the New Glarus Brewery make sure you are headed to the new factory (2400 state highway 69, New Glarus, WI) as the Company recently moved from an older buidling also on highway 69.
Wisconsin Half Marathon Medals
November 5, 2011: Tyranena Beer Half Marathon
May 30, 2010: Madison Half Marathon