What happens when you follow up a spring half marathon with 5K and another half marathon (within 10 hours of each other)? Maggie and Adrea found out at the Madison Half Marathon and Twilight 5K.
Twilight 5k: The Race Adrea says: Race logistics get a lot more complicated when you throw a couple kids into the mix, and I hadn’t had a good “reason” to run a 5K in a long while. Six years, to be exact. But what the heck? Here we were on a girls’ weekend in Madison, and there was a Twilight 5K that provided a perfect opportunity to do a shakeout run the night before Sunday’s half marathon.
As we started, I was a bit worried about Maggie, who was running kinda limpy and complaining about her heel/Achilles pain. Until that moment, I had forgotten she was nursing a thousand injuries and realized this shakeout run might be telling for trouble the next day. But we went out relaxed and easy, and after a half-mile, we were both comfortable and grinning from ear to ear. The weather was perfect, the course was nice, and Maggie and I rocked glow bracelets and temporary tattoos. I even got high-fives from some college dudes driving in a car on the other side of the road. Score! The race ended as soon as it began, and I felt pretty darn good.
Maggie says: Last year after our delicious carbo-load dinner, we wandered into the start of the Twilight 10K and then made our way to the finish line. It was rad. What a great idea! So when race organizers added the Twilight 5K this year, signing up was a no-brainer.
When the starting horn blared at 8 p.m., my dinner was still settling, my legs felt heavy, and my newly diagnosed plantar fasciitis was giving me hell. I knew it would be over soon enough, though, so I sucked it up and concentrated on the lovely Madison scenery and the joy of being in stride with Adrea during the first race we’d ever run together in almost 9 years of friendship.
Twilight 5K: What We Learned
Adrea says: Racing at night is awesome! Short races are great! OMG WHY DID WE HAVE RISOTTO FOR DINNER?!? I realized 5Ks are not the enemy I remember. Sure, they hurt when you push hard for the entire 3.1-mile stretch (which I learned while doing speedwork in my Flying Pig training this winter), but it’s over so quickly that you aren’t really any worse for the wear. I might actually like to run a few more of these bad boys this year. BRING ON THE 5Ks.
Maggie says: We had taken full advantage of the glorious weather in Madison that day and probably logged a solid 3-4 miles walking to the expo, around the farmer’s market and down State Street to do some shopping. Yeah, yeah, I know. It would’ve been better to rest up our legs for the 5K that night (and the, ahem, half marathon the next day), but you know what? This trip wasn’t just about the races; it was about getting away for the weekend with friends and enjoying the hell out of it.
Half Marathon: The Race
Adrea says: There are a million things I could complain about in this race recap, but none of them have to do with the race itself. The temperatures were mild, the sun was tucked away, and the light, misting sprinkles throughout the race actually felt nice. The course itself was challenging but beautiful. I was the problem.
I haven’t struggled through a race like this, well, ever. I’ve been unprepared for races before, but I had trained for this one! However, coming off the Flying Pig Half Marathon and the Twilight 5K just 10 hours earlier, my body was not ready for a half marathon. I never got comfortable the entire race. I wasn’t injured, I wasn’t in pain, I was just … struggling. For almost two and a half hours.
To her testament, Maggie stayed with me, or just in front of me, the entire race. She knew when I needed space and happily chatted my ear off when I needed the distraction. She offered both encouragement and tough love at the appropriate times. And by some act of the running gods, I managed to finish this race in one (very exhausted) piece. Thank goodness.
Maggie says: The ol’ race nerves were non-existent for this half marathon, and above all else, I was determined to have fun. Well, that, and to concentrate on the new and improved running form I’ve been working toward in physical therapy over the last month.
My heel bugged me the first couple miles, but it wasn’t nearly as wonky as it had been for the 5K, and my old lady hip felt a little tight, but it was completely manageable. It took a few miles to get into a groove — and to remember how to run hills — and then I was golden.
I also had committed to running with Adrea, no matter the outcome. So when she fell behind and started to struggle, I kept plugging along, waited for her at landmarks or water stops and hopped in next to her again. A couple times, I thought briefly about forging ahead and leaving her, but what would be the point? So I could finish a few minutes faster? In the grand scheme of my life, what would be more important, my finish time or the time spent with my friend? I chose the latter. Another no-brainer.
I finally separated from Adrea for the last .75 miles (“Less than a mile to go, no more walking,” were my parting words of encouragement), and I cruised to the finish with a smile on my face and my head held high. As I gunned it on the final stretch, picking off a half-dozen runners, I felt immensely proud of myself.
Half Marathon: What We Learned
Adrea says: Back-to-back-to-back races are hard. Like, way harder than I anticipated. I felt physically drained and didn’t have the emotional drive I needed to push through it. On top of that frustration, I had the added complication of feeling like a boat anchor. It’s one thing to be annoyed with your own performance, it’s another layer when you’ve got a friend holding back to help you through it. I really wanted Maggie to leave me for dead at more than one point during that half marathon. She wouldn’t let me give up, though, and I thank her for that. I guess sometimes you really do have to get by with a little help from your friends.
Maggie says: Two minutes after I crossed the finish line, I watched Adrea do the same, and I felt immensely proud of her, too. We, she, us, together, we did something that not everyone can do, something that only a few months ago, I couldn’t do. My injury has made me realize just how lucky we are to get to run and race and revel (FINISH LINE BEERS, Y’ALL), no matter how fast or slow we go.
Adrea says: This year’s spring racing season, which culminated with the events in Madison, feels rather anticlimactic for me. Oddly enough, I’m at peace with this. Once I had run The Flying Pig Half Marathon, I felt much differently than I had anticipated about running Madison. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to run, it’s just that I cared less about it. The pressure was completely gone.
This felt especially different when compared to how I felt leading up to the Madison Half Marathon last year, when I had so much more riding on it. This year, we spent more time planning our cheese curd eating strategy than we did planning our race strategy. The focus became more about the weekend as a whole, and since running is one of the things we enjoy doing together, it naturally became a part of the weekend.
I went into Sunday’s race feeling like I was going for a long run with a long-time friend. And, while it wasn’t the best run I’ve had (in fact, it was quite the opposite), it didn’t leave me physically injured or emotionally traumatized. I’m looking forward to the summer running season, and, man, I could really go for another round of cheese curds.
Maggie says: When we reached the 10th mile marker, the clock read 1:46:40. “If this was last year’s race, you’d be at the finish line right now,” Adrea said. I laughed and shook my head. Wow. Like Adrea, last year’s Madison Half Marathon was much, much different for me. I ran my butt off and hit my lofty PR goal and was completely stoked about it. However, I still walked away from this year’s reverse-PR race completely stoked. This was another important milestone in my comeback from injury and a great confidence-booster as I embark on my new challenge as a pacer for summer marathon training. In short, I’ve come a long way, baby.