25 May 2008

Madison Marathon Report

For a while I've been thinking about how I should cross the finish line when I finally qualify for Boston. I have continuously told myself there's no "if" about BQing (Nitmos, creative word points?), so I need to plan for the "when." There will be cameras present. I would like to make it memorable. I don't want to just run across the line, looking exhausted.
I've had quite a few ideas. I'll share a couple with you:

How about a Tiger Woods Fist Pump?

Perhaps I pretend to take a jump shot at the finishing mats and hold an MJ follow through...

How about I celebrate womens' soccer style?

While I liked the idea of these, I eventually decided I would "Make it Rain," Pacman Jones Style. Unfortunately, Ellie did not approve. What a scrooge. Anyway, back to the drawing board.

I arrived in Madison on Saturday with no idea how I would end up celebrating my BQ. But I figured I'd have time to brainstorm something during the run to make it memorable.

On Saturday my parents and Ellie and I arrived at the expo at about 4:00, picked up our stuff, and headed to the hotel. I had already scoped out a place to eat: Boston's Pizza. How fitting. The meal wasn't bad, and after a pint of Guinness I was ready for bed.

I told Ellie I wanted to be sleeping at 9:00 pm, and while we managed to be in bed by 8:45, we found the UEFA Champions League final on TV. Man U vs Chelsea. I don't care for soccer all that much, but this was an unbelievable game (it was on ESPN Classic) and I had no idea who won, so we ended up watching it. And its two overtime periods. And its shootout (Man U prevails on penalty kicks). The night got a little later than I had hoped, and I went to bed on a bit of a competitive adrenaline buzz.

I didn't sleep much. Several times I woke up to check the time. Was it too early to get up? My alarm was set for 4:55, but a restless night of sleep had me thinking of getting up at midnight, 1:29 AM, 3:35 AM, and also 4:09. Finally, 4:55 rolled around. I had some Chicken & Stars, water, and a bit of Gatorade and was chomping at the bit to get going.

Finally, at 7:10 the marathon started and I was off. We started right next to the Wisconsin Capitol building in Madison, and this race definitely had a small town feel to it, which I enjoyed. I lined up about 10 feet from last year's winner and runner up.

The first mile is a bit downhill, and with the thrill of the moment, I found myself clocking 6:40ish pace for the first 2 miles. But it felt so good! Still, I knew to keep myself loose and watch my early speed. Seconds gained early are minutes lost late.

During miles 3-6 I noticed my surroundings. Madison was my 12th marathon, and I really think I'm getting the hang of it. In fact, I started noticing the novices' mistakes. For instance, at about mile 4 a guy came blazing past me (I'm running about 7 minute miles) wearing two headbands, Nike Zooms, his iPod, and...the "Marathon Finisher" tshirt for this year's Madison Marathon. You see, I believe whole-heartedly in the etiquitte surrounding an event T-shirt. I believe in the rules surrounding the event tshirt to the point that Ellie points out other people's mistakes to me. You do not wear the shirt before completing the event, let alone DURING the event. Very bad form. Watching him run away from me, I figured I'd be seeing this guy again.

The course has a lot of different surfaces--from very crowned backstreets, to bike trails, to dirt trails along the lakes of Madison. All in all, I enjoyed the course, but the sharp transitions in direction from a trail to a sidewalk or a road were beginning to wear on me. I ended up passing the halfway mark in 1:34:04 and was feeling great. I had eaten a pack of Sport Beans and sipped a bit of Gatorade and Water at every other water station. The thought of a negative split even crossed my mind.

Just beyond the 13.1 mark is a part of the trail where you double back on yourself, leaving a paved bike trail and entering a road. At this point you're able to see the runners several minutes ahead of you. I saw the top 4 women's leaders making their way up a hill. Considering how good I was feeling and the confidence I had heading into "part 2" of the marathon, I set a mini-goal for myself to beat the winning woman.

Along miles 14-17 it was a bit windy, but I kept battling. I remember telling myself to watch my pace into the wind and up the hills. I'm not going to qualify for Boston charging up this hill like Teddy Roosevelt leading the Rough Riders up the San Juan Hill, but I can seriously damage my chances of BQing if I'm dumb here. I plugged away, noticing that my fellow runners' conversations had also subsided. Everyone was starting to feel it. Oh yeah, and it was right about here that I passed Marathon Finisher Tshirt Guy.

Mile 18 was the Lake Wingra 10K course I had run about a month ago. My research into the course had shown me that the mile 18 hill was the largest of the marathon. I also knew that a 7:10 pace through 18 miles would equal about 2:10. Crossing mile 18 at 2:10:10 was a big lift. I was still loose, my stride was steady, and my breathing was regular. The fellow runners had been gapping apart in front and behind me for a while, and I found myself alone for the majority of the next 3 miles. Still, I was feeling good and checked my mile splits for 19 and 20. I ran right around a 7:00 pace for those two miles, and my confidence was skyrocketing. During this part of the course I got a text from Ellie saying she finished the half in 1:52 (Woo Hoo! New PR!), and I replied "At 18. I got this."

Ellie and my parents were waiting for me at the finish, and I would update them with my progress so they knew when I was arriving. I wanted them to have their cameras ready for my big celebration. But what would it be?

I exited the Lake Wingra part of the course around mile 21 and was still feeling good. My pace was still under 7:10 consistently, and I had caught all the lead women but the actual leader. She had quite a team cheering her on at different points in the course from the Berkeley Running Company, and that helped me. They'd yell to "Aimee" to catch that next guy, and then as I approached they'd tell me to catch Aimee. That helped quite a bit through miles 22-24, when I finally did catch and pass her. Still feeling okay(ish), I realized I hadn't even thought of how I'd celebrate my finish...

There was also a "Quarter Marathon" event (6.55 miles) held with the half and full, and it shared the same finish line. I passed a "MILE 6" sign and knew I had .55 miles to go! However, into mile 25 I was really getting tired...my breathing was off, there still wasn't much of a crowd to buoy me, and I was beginning to shuffle. I'm always amazed at how quickly the wheels come off in the marathon. I was fatigued but solid at 24, but mile 25 was completely different. And then...it happened.

So...how would I celebrate my BQ? There was one outcome I hadn't considered:

How about by staggering home, vomiting Gatorade all over myself and the finish line? This became a definite possibility when I started dry heaving...and then throwing up. Yep. It happened. Like I mentioned earlier...it's amazing how quickly the wheels come off! The first time I threw up, I went off the course a bit, put my hands on my knees, and let loose. After that, I looked at my watch and thought to myself, "No. This is NOT happening." So from that point on I threw up while runningstumbling, leaning off to one side and launching a lovely Day-Glow Yellowish liquid. Quite a sight, I'm sure. Aimee passed me. A couple male runners passed me, one of which patted me on the back and said something I couldn't decipher. This. Isn't. Happening.

And just like that, it was over. I suddenly felt better. Ahead, I could see the fenced-off finishing chute and hear the announcer and the crowd. Somewhere in that crowd were Ellie and my Mom and Dad, who were as ecstatic for me as anyone despite sacrificing a LOT to get me here. I couldn't let them down!

So I wiped my mouth off. Hey, my NF Jersey is Day-Glow Yellow, too, so nobody would know about my little incident. I collected myself into something that might resemble a Boston-quality runner with a Boston-quality running gait. And I ran. And then, turning into the finishing chute, I sprinted. I'm talking an all-out, 5 minute mile sprint. I had a smile ear to ear, with both fists raised high in the air. I passed Aimee. I passed the pat-me-on-the-back-as-I-puke guy. I passed a bunch of other finishers. I saw Ellie, jumping up and down and smiling. I even weaved around an ambulance parked in the middle of the finishing chute (which I didn't even realize was there until Ellie mentioned it in the car on the way home. WTF was it doing there? Very odd...). I screamed "Boston!" at the top of my lungs. I heard the announcer say "Nic Giebler!" I stormed across the finish line in 3:08:59--with exactly two minutes to spare. I continued to smile from ear to ear. Pat-me-on-the-back guy came up to me and said, "Great finish! Where the hell did THAT come from?!" I didn't have time to respond, though. I got rid of my chip, grabbed some water to get "that taste" out of my mouth, and found Ellie for a huge hug. What a moment. Finally!

Overall Place: 36/1192
Division Place: 9/115
Gender Place: 36/737
Pace: 7:13
10k: 42:50
Half: 1:34:03
Mile 18: 2:10:40
Chip Time: 3:08:59

I'll add the pictures once they're available. I'm most excited to see my finishing picture...FINISHING PICTURE:


keith said...

Nice race report! Way to...Puke!

You text while running?! Crazy, man!

Nitmos said...

Dude, that is awesome. Great report. I'm excited for you and really, really, hope you have puke drizzle on your finisher's photo. I mean it. You will look back on that day and remember the fortitude and desire, manifesting itself ohysically, it took to accomplish what you accomplished.

Congratulations again!!

Bill Carter said...

Congratulations! Congratulations!
I am so happy for you! The marathon is never easy and is always a way to find out a little bit more about yourself. You found out that you are capable of puking bright yellow stuff.. just kidding. What you really found out that is you can handle the adversity and pressure that is the marathon and trying to qualify for Boston. But you did it and now it is time for what is just the greatest marathon race in the world! In case you can't tell, I'm just a little pumped for you.

Congrats again Nic and I will see you Boston '09.... I've already reserved my room through Marathon Tours and recommend you do the same soon.

Marcy said...

Rollin with the Big Boys now, eh? ;-) Awesome job homie! Duudeee you totally get high fivers for the throw up part! Sweet!

Congrats to the Mrs too! Sweet job on her HM!

Ax said...

Great race, Nic! Congratulations! I'm so happy for you. What an accomplishment. It makes it even more amazing knowing what you overcame to finish the way you did. Great job!

P.O.M. said...

Oh. My. God! Congrats and nice job pushing thru the puke.

Triseverance said...

Awsome report, reminds me vividly of a friends first BQ puked at mile 25.
Very very inspiring, couldn't imagine being more pleased for someone I have never met. :) Have fun in Boston

Jess said...

Wow, congratulations! That is an awesome accomplishment, and I probably would have barfed all over myself as well.

Unknown said...

Congrats, dude. Welcome to Boston! Yay...nice job...even with all the puking and all. Awesome race report.

Jenn said...

Great race report, I felt like I was there (well almost, I didn't feel the need to sidestep some puke) Congrats on the BQ! Right now, I'm just trying to complete Chicago; next goal, BQ!

Jay Edgar said...

What a great account! I really enjoyed it. After finishing my first half-marathon, I also found it inspiring. And, yes, especially running past the puke (apparently everyone is mentioning it here, so I won't stop it now).

And texting IS crazy while running. You were carrying a cell phone? I considered it, and thought it insane. If you can, I might consider it. :)


Aron said...

that is a great report!!! CONGRATS!!! definitely one you will remember :)

Meg said...

Congrats on the BQ! I'm excited to see pictures.

Viv said...

Congratulations on your BQ!!

Great race report! Congrats to the wifey on a killer 1/2 as well!

How the heck can you text while running so fast. I can't even chew a piece of gum and do what i call running. LOL!

KimsRunning said...

Awesome race report! My heart was beating crazily while I read this! Congratulations on BQ. I want to go to Boston someday too, reading your report just makes me want it even more.

Congratulations to Ellie on her half PR....way to go!!!!

Jillian said...

Great race report! Congrats on BQing! Way to go!!

Jay Edgar said...

Hey NWGDC, in case you didn't get the comment I left on my blog for you:

I found your blog by searching http://blogsearch.google.com. I have an example search at the bottom of the post you commented on.

And thanks for the comment--I appreciate it. Thanks also for the idea of the cluster map, which I stole off of your site. ;)

Tri+Umph said...

Great job Nic, I knew you had it in ya!

The BQ, not all those gallons of puke, I mean...

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