Wisconsin (2010 Madison Mini-Marathon)

In February 2010, Leo Garcia and Lindsey Finn got married. It was a small ceremony on Southport, in the decorative private room of Qué Rico. Though small, it was far from quiet. Nearly every guest was handed the microphone, willingly or by force, to deliver an improvised speech inspired by the newlywed couple’s exchange of vows. I was lucky to have both the microphone and an acoustic guitar handed to me by surprise, allowing me to serenade the misfits with an amateur rendition of that late 90’s one-hit wonder, “Save Tonight” by Eagle-Eye Cherry. I didn’t pick the song on the spot. A few weeks earlier, Steph and I found ourselves at an open mic with Leo and Lindsey and their Improv group “Jessica”, where I was thrust on-stage to play and sing whatever songs came to mind. When you’re three or four beers deep, you tend to forget how to play a lot.

But I digress. It was a great time and Leo and Lindsey’s longtime Chicago friend, Ryan Hopker, officiated the wedding, gracing the evening with a charming and humorous tribute.  So, at the risk of sounding like Michael Scott, you could say Ryan and I had the most “screen time” of the wedding if you don’t count the bride and groom. There’s no real relevance or significance to this – just a fun way to segue into the weekend I spent with these three hooligans while running the second annual Madison Mini-Marathon.

Ryan, Lindsey, Leo

After a loquacious drive to the state’s capital and a pit stop at an Olive Garden for some last-minute face-stuffing, we settled in our hotel room. Leo let me know that cots were made illegal in Wisconsin around the same time as Prohibition and as such, I’d have to share a bed with Ryan, whom I had technically just met four hours earlier. But since the conversations in the car ride ranged from nationwide referendums on gay marriage to making fun of the three different waitresses we had at Olive Garden, I’d say the ice had already been confidently broken.

The four of us made it to our start corrals early the next morning, ready for the 7 AM start. The weather cooperated halfway, for while the temperature was hovering at 70, the humidity was – this is an actual, reported figure – 100%.  By mile 2, my sunglasses were so fogged up, that I took them off and held them for the rest of the race.  It also doesn’t take a long walk around Madison to notice the city’s hills. It wasn’t going to be a day for PR’s, but that didn’t stop Leo from booking from the start at a cheetah’s pace. The course starts on Langdon Street, just a few blocks away from the shores of Lake Mendota.  From there it turns onto Wisconsin Avenue and heads straight towards the famous Madison State Capitol. After a dash down the ostensibly more famous State Street, the course begins to take runners away from the University of Wisconsin campus by hooking onto a pedestrian path and eventually a residential neighborhood.  The course would soon reach the marshy shores of Lake Wingra, replacing the urban rush of the city with the serenity of a mountain trail run.

Also, the hills of a mountain trail run.

Any true trail marathoner will laugh at my definition of “hills”, because the vertical gain on this course wasn’t anything to highlight.  However, when you’ve been training in Chicago, the slightest change in slope is a climb. The hills of Arboretum Drive were gradual, fortunately, but by Mile 6, the humidity was starting to weigh me down and my once ambitious pace started to languish.  After rounding out Lake Wingra, the course once again enters the tree-lined streets of Madison neighborhoods.  Water stations were spaced out roughly every two miles and I was worried about the gap between miles 7.5 and 9.5.  Fortunately, a budding philanthropist had a little tray of Gatorade in Dixie cups on his front yard with his parents, looking on the runners with as much curiosity as confusion.  Without his important contribution to my hydration, who knows how much more my pace would have suffered?

Around mile 10, the course re-enters the University of Wisconsin campus via Walnut Street, passing the McClimon Memorial Track, the Nielsen Tennis Stadium and … the Class of 1918 Marsh. I suppose the majority of those graduates will be more likely to remember the end of the First Great War than their honorary swamp. After a brief out-and-back detour, we were back on the shores of Lake Mendota, running on damp gravel for the remaining few miles. Even at mile 12.9, it still looked like we were in the middle of the woods. After a quick, but surprising uphill, the course veers right, shooting runners onto Park Street, where they hug the Memorial Union for the final 0.1 mile sprint. With my finishing time of 1:44:29, I took my medal, drank my complimentary finisher’s beer, and searched out the rest of the party.  Upon getting everyone together, we learned that two of us were bleeding, but I won’t say who or where.

The rest of the weekend was a fun combination of New Glarus beers, Middle Eastern cuisine, 90’s rock anthems and the joys of a meager 1% sales tax. That, and trying to convince Lindsey to run a full marathon. Leo unequivocally says he will never run one, so I’ve decided to coax his wife instead.  We’ll see how that turns out.

As I was finishing up the half marathon plan for 2010, two things were happening. First, I had started preparing for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. Runs were getting longer and mornings earlier.  But the other development was that I had already been planning further adventures in 2011 …

About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

2 Responses to Wisconsin (2010 Madison Mini-Marathon)

  1. Pingback: Race Schedule & Results « Dan's Marathon

  2. Pingback: Race Medals « Dan's Marathon

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