Sunday, November 20, 2016

Madison Half-Marathon Race Recap! Urban Race With a Small-Town Feel!

Disclaimer:  I ran the Madison Marathon & Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro.  Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave to review, find and write race reviews.

The Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin is a sight to be seen!  It glows in the moonlight and is just as picturesque in the daylight!   If you're looking for a beautiful urban race but also a small town feel, this race is for you! 

The BibRavePro team before the race!
I just had to stop to take this picture after bib pick-up! It was too beautiful to pass up!

Madison is a busy metropolis.  College kids everywhere, tall buildings, Camp Randall Stadium, quaint neighborhoods, lakes... the list goes on.   Race management does a great job navigating runners through all of the best parts of Madison.  This is definitely a race to add to your bucket list. 

I arrived in Madison on Saturday and checked into my hotel which was about 1 1/2 miles from the starting line; easily walkable along the bike path.  I chose to drive and was pleasantly surprised at the on-street parking for Sunday's big race!  It was FREE and there was a ton of open spots to park - I did arrive one hour before the race start, so depending on when you arrived, the street parking may be sparse.  However, there were plenty of ramps to park in as well.

The expo was small and quiet, but we got individualized attention at each booth if we wanted it.  I thought that was very nice.  When we arrived at 5pm on Saturday night, the expo was wrapping up, so there was a lot of merchandise already purchased , therefore the picking was slim.  That didn't bother me though.  The finisher shirts were awesome so I was very happy with that!  

How cute are these?  I loved the color and the fit was great! 

The pre-race accomodations for this race were fantastic.  The race starts and finishes on Capitol Square so that is an added bonus.  Anyone for a great photo op?  And did I mention.... FREE race photos!  What an amazing perk and so worth it!  I noticed photographers in at least 3 different locations, but looking at my photos I think they were at more places.  Thank you to race management for the photos because in my opinion that sets this race apart from others for sure!

Porta-potties lined one block of Capitol Square and there was no more than about a 5 minute wait.  I have a tendency to visit the bathroom several times before a race.  The last time for me was literally 3 minutes to race start and I made it there and back before the start.  Very convenient and well organized. 

Bag check was handled efficiently.  We could bring our own bag or use the bag we were given at the expo.  My one and only suggestion for this would be for the race to provide cinch bags with a drawstring.  I ended up bringing my own bag so that I could tie it closed.  Really not a make-or-break deal, but just a suggestion. 

The marathon start was at 7:00 am with the half marathon start at 7:10 am.  There were not corrals, but pacers lined up accordingly and you could follow in line from there.  For this race, I chose not to run with pacers and I did just fine.  I stayed fairly consistent with my 8:40 pace and was very happy with the way the finish turned out for me. 

After looking at my splits, I giggled.  My pace was consistent and steady with 8:40/mile except for the hills.  Oh the hills.  Not too many, but a few were a challenge. 

The photo above was taken at about mile 8.  We were running in a beautiful neighborhood, but the hill ahead awaited.  At mile 9 the view was absolutely stunning,  but you had to work to get there.  Be prepared.  The hill is relatively short, but steep.   Trust me....your view at the top is breathtaking!

At the top of mile 9, straight ahead is the capitol on the other side of the lake.  You run amidst some of the most prestigious homes in Madison.  A fantastic down hill puts you in front of the Governor's Mansion, make sure to look out for it, although I don't think you'll miss it.   Miles 8-10 were my favorites of the race for sure! 

Along the way, there were ample water stops, but spectators were sparse.  I prefer to run without music, but this may be a race to bring your headphones.  If you rely on crowd support be sure to bring some distraction with you! 

Just about when you're at the finish line be prepared for one last hill.  It's a longer one and it's placement puts a runner in a bit of a pickle.  At mile 12.5,  I just wanted to be done.   But, I had one last hill to conquer.  The hills made the medal all that sweeter.  I kept telling myself not to quit and made it up and enjoyed a nice downhill after!  Wahoo!   The half marathon overall was not "that" hilly, but the course was definitely not flat either.  I liked the variety. 

The finish line party was great.  There was no shortage of food at the finish line as Panera had bag lunches for everyone with your choice of ham, turkey or veggie sandwiches.  I loved it!  Each finisher received a beer as well.  There was also a post race band playing until 12:00pm. 

To be honest, and I know this seems crazy,  I really loved this race for the post-race photo opportunity.  Pictures by the capitol were just so beautiful.  I took plenty! 

The medal was super cool!  I loved the ribbon color as well!

I even made fellow Bibrave Pro Casey jump with me afterwards!  It's my signature photo after every race and this backdrop didn't dissappoint! 

My finish time was 1:57:30.  I ended up with 8:51/mile.  I have ran 9 half marathons, and this was my 2nd best.  I was extremely happy with this as I had been struggling to break 2 hours in previous races.  The weather was chilly at 34 degrees, but really perfect for running! 

I really enjoyed myself during this race and hope to one day be back to Conquer the Capitol.  


1 comment:

  1. I've run several races in Madison, and I've never been disappointed. Well, ok once, when I ran a 10k and it actually measured 7.3 miles. Oops! But Madison is such a great town and I plan to run there again. Soon.