Wisconsin Half Marathon Race Report 2017

By , May 8, 2017 6:23 am

This was my ninth consecutive year running the Wisconsin Half Marathon, but the first year in several that I wasn’t trying to run it fast. That took a burden off my shoulders and made it stress free. I didn’t even check the weather until race morning (although several people told me it was supposed to be windy).

I ran this race in its inaugural year in 2009, as my first half marathon, and haven’t been able to quit the streak.

I did have a time goal in mind, though. I figured 10:00 minute miles would be an easy pace and wanted to finish around 2:10 overall.

We caravanned to the race (Rachel, Alicia, and Kim spent the night) and I was surprised that our normal parking spot had a “no parking” sign this year! Weird! We quickly found other parking and made our way to the race start.

BRRRR. There was a wind (from the north at 10 mph with 16 mph gusts, it was 14 mph with 20 mph gusts at the finish). And per usual, it was much cooler by the lake front (44° and feels like 37°, 49° and feels like 46° at the finish). We huddled in a tent until race start, and I even started the race with arm warmers on!

Me, Rachel, and Alicia

But with the wind at our back for the start, I quickly warmed up. I took the arm warmers off around mile 1 and tucked them in my belt, in case I wanted them again when we headed back north. I realized why we couldn’t park in our normal spot a few minutes in – that road is now part of the course. The race course changed quite a bit this year. The first half of the course was still in residential and downtown areas, just somewhat different ones (more on my opinions on the new course after the break – I had written way too much about it in the first draft of this, zzzzzzzzzzzz), and the second half still went out and back along the lake.

When I started the race, I had my watch screen showing me overall time, distance, and current pace. In the first few minutes I had already looked at it several times to make sure I wasn’t starting too fast, then thought to myself “What the heck Kim – you’re running this for FUN. You never run with your watch screen showing your pace – just time of day and overall time. Switch over to that.” So I did, and just looked at my pace when my watch beeped at each mile, and looked at my overall time when I got to the mile markers. That works out much better for me than watching current pace all the time.

Unfortunately, I felt bored during the race. I started without music, and wasn’t running with anyone. There weren’t many spectators in the first half of the course, especially in the new parts. I felt physically fine, but mentally bored. I was happy when I saw a friends on a new out and back around mile 4, and when I caught up with a group of friends pushing someone in a racing stroller a little after that. I guess I needed to talk to someone! I saw Bobbi and John around mile 6 and mentioned my boredom and John ran with me and told me some awesome dad jokes. Ha!

Things picked up after I saw Steven around mile 6.5. I talked to another runner for several minutes and that gave me energy. I also decided to put my headphones in around mile 8 to block out the wind. We had been running in to the northern wind on and off since we made the turnaround around mile 3.5, and we were about to go in to the more open (and even windier) lake area. That made a world of difference (even if I got a bit goofy and felt the need to tell Rachel “I just wanted to tell you I am bringing sexy back” when I saw her at the turnaround – any guess what I was listening to?).

I kept the pace going for the last two miles in to the wind, then at the turn around at 10, I had enough energy to finish with my fastest splits! Oh, and that push from the northern wind helped too, ha!

I was happy the part of the course along the lake is now re-paved – it had been full of pot holes the previous eight years. And I was also happy that changing the first half of the course to run more in that area meant we no longer had to pass the finish line then run a mile out and back to get to it – now we just ran right in to the finish!

I didn’t tangent well (13.21) but I finished close to my goal time of 2:10 – 2:10:45! I’m proud of my even-ish splits and faster last three miles!

I was relieved to finish. Even though the race was successful, I took me being bored as a sign I shouldn’t run long distance “for fun” unless it’s with a friend.

Rachel finished five minutes before me and Alicia finished right after me (Kim ran the 5K and placed third overall!). We hung out for a few minutes, and hung out with some Efit people too, then headed home.

Ha, on our way to the car, a guy stopped me and said “You’re a great racer – I was trying to catch you the whole time and couldn’t! Maybe next year!” I thought that was a nice thing to say.

Steven spectated and was our official photographer. I really appreciate him being there.

Ha, funny story – he said while he was spectating, four ducks managed to cross the street between runners!

This race used to be a lot bigger deal for me than it was this year. We used to have family come to town to spectate, and hang out for hours after the race watching people we know finish the marathon portion. I’m happy it’s become much more low key. Get there 45 minutes before, run, chat a bit, go home. Ha!

We’ll see if I am back next year… I have to go for ten years in a row, right?

Alright, and now, my thoughts on the new course. They’ve pretty much used the same course for the first eight years, so I’d gotten used to it! I knew the tangents and the mile markers, etc.

As I mentioned, the first half of the half course is still downtown and residential, and the second half still does an out and back along the lake (in a park area). They added more distance in the first half this year, so that when you come back from the lake, you go straight to the finish, which I thought was great.

However, I thought the changes on the first half made it boring, somehow. We ran through downtown in the first mile, then were back on quiet residential streets for several miles. We went back to a new-to-the-half-course road, which was shaded (yay!) but had no spectators, and felt narrow – it somewhat created a bottleneck of runners as we did that out-and-back. However, the race did feel less crowded at the start in years past – I am not sure if the new course helped that, or if less people showed up.

After I went through the crowded area, I actually felt like I was running by myself for a couple of miles. Which felt odd – a 10:00 minute mile must be a pretty common pace – I figured there would be more people around me! But I felt like I was the last man running or something. Weird.

Things got better as we went back through downtown to go to the northern half of the course along the lake. This is a several mile out and back so you see people the whole time. And I was familiar with this portion and excited to be hitting higher miles on it and knowing when I left that portion I’d be almost done.

I’ve heard most people say they like the new course, so I bet they’ll keep it! I just thought the quiet residential out and back (seriously, we went on a back road to a little neighborhood and made a loop) was dumb. I’d rather run in town for this race.

When I was on the first half of the course I kept seeing signs for higher mileage for the marathoners – they do the same course as the half and split right around mile 13 and go back south, and go even further south! I’ve heard this full course is really quiet and boring after the half portion, and I believe it. And don’t plan on every running it, ha!

21 Responses to “Wisconsin Half Marathon Race Report 2017”

  1. Anne says:

    I’m sorry you felt bored during the race! I could see how running a half marathon with no music, no buddy and no goal (or no PR goal, at least) could feel a little boring.

    The “back” portion of the out & back up to Carthage was mentally kind of tough when I ran it a couple years ago. I saw EVERYONE on the way out, but since I run at a slower pace, coming back there were very few runners, no spectators, etc. It’s a long stretch! So I think feeling that way for much of the race would definitely be tough.

    Looks like you had a good race though, and negative splits in the last 3 miles to boot! Wanting to be done is really motivational 🙂

    If you want to run truly “just for fun” again next year, I’d run with you 🙂 This is two weeks after my goal HM, so I’d at least be in good shape for it! (or totally over running longer distances ha ha ha)

    • kilax says:

      Yeah, it’s my own fault! At least I had my music with me! I bet I wouldn’t have had as good of finish if I didn’t.

      Yes – a lot of the race did feel like that. And I’ve thought about the Carthage stretch – it’s really discouraging to see people so far ahead of you and know you still have so far to go. It’s a really long out and back!

      Cool! I am sure I will sign up so I can let you know what my race plans are! Did you sign up for the Toledo HM?

  2. Erin says:

    Sorry I didn’t really get to say hi at packet pick-up! It was crazy there for a bit this year. Although, I can answer some of your questions around the number of runners and the course changes.

    Kenosha was supposed to be doing some road construction on parts of the original course so they had to change it…and then the city didn’t start the construction on time! So, they might keep the same course or they might switch it back depending on the city’s construction schedule.

    Also, there were fewer people registered this year. I don’t remember exactly how many fewer, but it was enough that the RD considered it significant. That seems to be the theme with most race directors I’ve talked to so far. Race registration for most races is down overall.

    The RD wants to do something for people who’ve run it all 10 years, but he’s having trouble figuring out how to tell who those people are! People’s names and contact information changes so even though they have the registration records it might be difficult to track them all down!

    • kilax says:

      Ahh, interesting that is why they had they change. They advertised it so far in advance I thought it was on purpose!

      Thanks for confirming what I suspected about the amount of racers! I am not surprised there were less. The race market is so saturated.

      They might just have to have people tell him that they have done all ten years when they register, then somehow confirm it!

  3. Congrats on year 9! Interesting about the course changes – I ran it 8 years ago (yikes!) and really liked the course. My family was able to drive to a couple spots to see me (in the full) which I was happy about.

    You have to go back for year 10!!

  4. Zenaida says:

    Wow, 9 years! That is so cool! I’ve only ran it once. 🙂 That was a nice thing that runner told you. For sure you have to do it again next year and get a bigger medal.

  5. Amy says:

    I’m sorry you were bored but I agree that you definitely have to do it at least one more time, to get your ten year streak!

  6. Awesome work hitting that 2:10 just like you hoped to do! I’m sorry you felt bored during the race – that’s especially tough in the first few miles when it seems like you’re going to be out there forever and ever! Maybe if the course stays the same next year, it won’t feel so boring since you’ve been through it before. You should definitely run again next year, though – I know I’d be kicking myself if I missed out on a 10 year streak by that little! And I’m glad to hear the pothole situation has been remedied. I can’t believe it took so long! Imagine how frustrating that must’ve been for people who actually live in Kenosha and have to deal with that all the time!

    • kilax says:

      Thanks! I bet if they keep it that way then it won’t feel as boring too – and I will wear headphones or run with a friend!

      And I am sure I will be back for 10!

      I wonder how long the road was like that!!!! I was so surprised when it was finally fixed! The first year I made a funny comment about it in the survey and Jonathan said “You don’t like a bit of swiss cheese on your course?!” LOL

  7. Maggie says:

    Congrats on hitting your goal! I’ve done a few half marathons for “fun” and I agree, they are boring.

  8. Ian says:

    Kim, great seeing you Friday and Saturday. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the new course. Yes as Erin said construction has been planned for a while especially along 6th Ave in the downtown area hence most of the changes (but the start was delayed) plus courses are at the whim of the RD. Was wondering if the half going into PP would have enough room as I placed those cones down the middle of the road. And many races have lower numbered is past year. There is so much choice now and so many other type of races (ultras, OCR, etc).

    Still can’t believe it has been 9 years. First year I was in the communication tent, then past 8 years course setter. Guess i have seen 4000 cones (500 each year) and seen them twice, ouch. Do I get a medal 🙂

    Well volunteering back in Wisconsin this weekend at the Ice Age Trail 50 miler. Most remember to get the New Glauras beer this time, forgot last week.

    • kilax says:

      It was great seeing you too, Ian! 🙂 Maybe you can use your in to talk to the RD about it being a bit crowded going in to PP 😉 Although, if less people keep signing up, it won’t be an issue 🙁

      Wow! You DO deserve a medal! We all appreciate your hard work! Do you have to take them down too?

      I have a few friends doing the 50M and HM! Have fun! And enjoy that beer!

      • Ian says:

        Put them up, take them down, plus load up the truck Friday and unload Saturday.

        The beer is good as was the 50 miler. Sadly had to collect 10 cones from the road LOL

  9. Kristina says:

    As others have said – WOW, 9 years! That’s so impressive! I did one triathlon 4 years in a row, and even that felt like a commitment. Sounds like you’ve had good experiences at this race, although that’s a bummer that it seemed kind of boring for parts.
    Good luck as you roll into summer running (always plus/minus there)!

    • kilax says:

      I feel like triathlons are even MORE of a commitment to do each year! Part of the reason I haven’t done one is because how much organization goes in to doing one – it seems so exhausting! Ha ha.

      Thank you!!! Yes, we are already getting a taste of the heat this week!

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