Monday, October 15, 2012

Race Recap: Whistlestop Marathon

Well, the weekend did not exactly get off to the greatest start. We had an incident at home on Friday and I felt so bad leaving without being able to handle the situation. I can be a control freak and I just had to trust in others and know they would be able to take care of things while I was gone. I had a marathon to run the next day and could not give that up.

I loaded up the car and then headed over to pick up Sarah to pile the rest of the car full. We began our journey all the way up to Ironwood, MI to check into our hotel. We then hopped right back into the car for the 35 minute drive east to Ashland, WI for the expo. Let's just say, they should really just call this a packet pickup w/ some merchandise.

Since we would not be getting a shirt at the finish of the race Sarah and I both got shirts to commemorate our First Marathon, we both decided on the same one since it boldly stated what we have accomplished!!

We picked up our packets in no time since this was a small race (under 500 marathoners) and headed over the pasta dinner. Let's just say if we would have known what to expect we would have gone out to a restaurant for some pasta instead. We ate and mowed down our free apple to fill us up and headed back to the hotel. We both needed to finalize our race day outfits and get everything ready for the 5:30am wakup call.

Cool plaques for first place finisher (they also had one for local winners too)
Of course, I slept like crap and 5:30am just came to early. I lounged in bed for a bit and then began to get ready for the day ahead. I walked down to the hotel breakfast with bread from home in hand along with my peanut butter. I stuck with my usual and ate 2 pieces of peanut butter toast and we ventured out back to Ashland. Then we had to hop onto a bus and drive to the start, which was very daunting. That bus ride seemed to take forever and was not exactly thrilled about running that far back to where we would finish.

We got dropped off the bus and huddled in the chalet until shortly before the start. The plan for the day was to breakup the race into 6 mile chunks and the final 2.2 miles.

Part 1 (1-6)
We headed off with some rolling hills for the first mile and I walked for a bit with Sarah when we hit mile 1 as she was not feeling well. I immediately began counting down at every mile marker how far I had left. We then turned onto the trail, which according to the race information was a "crushed limestone" trail. I guess if you consider dirt with some large rocks in it "crushed limestone" then they were right on point. I was hoping this would just be a temporary problem since I was not exactly trained for this kind of surface. We stuck together until mile 2 and I had decided at this point to run as long as I could. I talked to 2 older gentlemen for about 1.5miles, I was coming to pass them and one mentioned what a beautiful morning it was so I decided to run with them until the next aid station when they walked. I kept on rolling through the mist that had been ongoing all morning without issues.

Part 2 (6-12)
I ate my first GU after the 6 mile mark and kept on my merry way. The footing was still the same and it basically kept changing so you had to be very aware of where the packed down lines were an constantly readjust that along the way. I was still running through at this point and was continuing to pass people the entire time, I really enjoyed this section as the rain got worse and then seemed to clear away. I finally felt like I was in a zone and was hoping I could keep it up. I was slowly watching my average pace creep down toward the 10:30/mile mark which was where I wanted to try and stay as long as I could.

Part 3 (12-18)
My 2nd GU was consumed and I just kept on trucking, I knew very soon I would be halfway done with the race and was looking forward to that moment. My legs were starting to feel the wear & tear of the surface and I just wanted to get through this section of the race without having to stop to walk. I was aiming to run until 18 where I would begin a walk/run ratio to finish out the race. My mantra quickly became "Quitting is easy" during this portion. I came up to the aid station right before 16 and what was that I could hear???MUSIC!!! This was literally the first aid station that had speakers and music playing. Everyone was cheering really loud and I could feel the adrenaline surge in my body.......and then it was quickly over and there I was staring at this some old lonely trail. Yep, my nice little bubble I had going popped here and I had to stop to walk for the first time, and my feet instantly were tingling. I kinda freaked out but I kept on walking and it went away. I walked for about .25 miles and began running until mile 18.

Part 4 (18-24)
Time for my 3rd GU and I walked at this point again too. I told myself to start running after .25 miles again and I would run until mile 20. I finally made it to mile 20 and stopped for a walk break again. I almost felt defeated at this point because I was so ready for the race to be over and I knew I still had a solid hour left. Staring down at this trail for the last 3 and a half hours had gotten to me and I just wanted to be off it. At this point I just told myself to run to the next aid station, which were at least every mile at this point, where I would walk for a few minutes and proceed to run again. Everyone around me was basically doing the same thing so there was not a lot of cat and mouse playing going on.

Part 5 (24-26.2)
 Is this stinking trail over yet?? I seriously felt like I was in some stupid video game where the background just kept replaying itself over & over again. There was no corners to turn, just one really long straight trail!! I tried to joke around with some other runners about this but nobody wanted to talk. It was a very lonely race as nobody wanted to encourage others on and everyone just kept to themselves. I had been feeling uber bloated since about mile 22 and could not stomach eating another gel so I skipped it. FINALLY we turned off that stinkin trail, onto an asphalt trail and man did my feet hurt! The surface change really was a jolt to my legs and running became so much harder. The last aid station came and I wanted to run the last 1.2 miles to the finish but I just couldn't. I had to take one final walk break halfway there to recover myself a bit. There was little motivation as there was nobody around to really catch at this point as I could only see 2 people ahead of me but we were evenly spaced out and all running the same pace. I rounded the last few corners and made it to the finish!!

I managed to make my B goal by finishing in 4:50:07 (darn you last walk break!!), but I never had to use a porta-potty along the course so I can't blame that either.
Bib #Overall
Age Group
NameCity, StateFinish
21335712318Kons, AliciaNeenah, WI  04:50:07.1    CenturyLink Full Marathon

*I believe there was only about 430 full marathon runners so this was definitely a fast group.This was also my last official race with my old last name, since all the next ones coming up I've signed up for post marriage. At least I should remember when the switchover occurred.

I managed to waddle over to get my mylar blanket, medal...and then they make you walk out of that tent another tenth of a mile to another tent to get our finishers duffle bag. Darn you race directors!! Downside is that the medal and bag were the same for the Half Marathon & Marathon and it doesn't differentiate which race you did. Just kinda annoying since we went through alot more to just get the same thing.

The duffelbag is pretty cool. loaded with pockets!!
 I walked back over to the finish area bleachers to watch for Sarah to finish. I sat down not knowing if I would actually be able to get back up and I could not stop myself from shaking. I decided to trek it back to the tent with the heat to try and get warm. I found a spot where I could see the last turn before the finish, but still could not get warm. I finally had to pee and was not about to use the cold portapotties outside when I knew there was an indoor bathroom. I decided to check and see if I could find out if Sarah got picked up by medical as I hadn't found her yet. They weren't much help so I decided to go back to where I was sitting. I turned into the tent and there was Sarah with her medal and finisher bag. I immediately teared up because I knew just how much of a struggle she was going to have that day feeling under the weather! I was so proud of her for finishing that beast, we had a quick hug and we immediately left the place not wanting to come back.

We warmed up in the car on the way home and shared our experiences on the way back. We had a few other runners in our hotel as well and we were able to discuss the experience with them later when we ventured down to the hot tub. They felt very similar to our complaints about the race so we were happy we weren't the only ones.

Overall, would I do this race again....HELL NO!!

The only positive thing I really have to say about the race is that the aid stations were good, they had Water and Red Powerade at each one (although I carried my own gatorade and just refilled my water) and some decent food was at others scattered throughout the race but I never took them. There was only one aid station that was handing out GU's and it was at mile 18 if I remember correctly.

Right now, I want a break from some of the longer runs but I think I definitely want to do 1 (maybe 2) next year. Anyone have a really good race suggestion?
P.S.I think I want a race with really incredible spectators!!


  1. CONGRATS!! Way to finish that marathon, and meet your goals!! Sorry to hear it wasn't quite what you hoped - always a risk with some of the small races. You have earned a nice long break with lots of R&R! And as far as big crowds - Chicago was a 26 mile parade of spectators. :) Flying Pig in Cincy is pretty heavy on crowds too, depending on the weather!

  2. Okay seriously, why did this not show up in my feed?! I've been waiting for your recap and never saw it until now!!!

    I still will never do this marathon again...but I'm over it all and ready to commit to another marathon next year some time. Not sure which one or when but we will do one :) Hopefully the long runs wont be so daunting to us.

  3. What exactly where your complaints about this race. Since Chicago is a lottery I am now considering this one as my fall marathon. Thanks!

    1. Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. If you are used to trail surfaces go for this one! The hardest part is they advertise it as crushed limestone, in actually it is more like soft dirt. The entire trail was a straight shot essentially too which really didn't help break anything up. Other than that it really was a nice smaller race.


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