Jim and I attended a Friday evening wedding in Chicago and decided to drive up to Appleton for the Fox Cities Marathon on Sunday morning. It seemed like a good way to knock out the state of Wisconsin since we were already so close, and this race had received good reviews.
I’d like to begin by saying that the race organizers did a wonderful job. This was a smaller marathon (Roughly 550 finishers) run in a midsize town. However, the Facebook updates and email communication were top notch. Packet pickup was at the campus of the University of Wisconsin- Fox Valley and was very easy to access. On race morning, there was an option to park downtown and take a shuttle to the start line or park at the start and take a shuttle back from the finish; both ran very smoothly. Jim and I arrived at the morning shuttle at 5:30 as suggested and ended up having an hour + to kill at the start line. Fortunately, the college was open so we could relax inside the gym (and have easy access to restrooms.) The course had plenty of well- manned aid stations as well as numerous planned cheering sections. There were also a ton of spectators out supporting the runners, and everyone was super- nice. The post- race party in Riverside Park was well- organized too. The volunteers were very helpful and friendly and there was a variety of food and drink. It was a really fun atmosphere overall.
My only complaint—and I feel rather guilty saying this as everyone involved with the race was so damn nice—is with the course. I read the reviews on MarathonGuide before registering, and many described it as ‘scenic’ and ‘beautiful.’ In Jim and my opinion, it was neither. The bulk of the marathon was run through subdivisions with some stretches on the highway and some on trails—though the trail running wasn’t really through wooded areas or along the lake. There was precious little shade which made the latter part of the race difficult as this was a hot year. There were a couple of miles towards the end of the course that did take us over bridges and around the water, but by then I was too tired to really care about the scenery. (The Trestle Trail bridge between miles 22 and 23 is pretty cool, though.) It’s a shame because I felt like we were so close to the lakes for the majority of our run, but we couldn’t actually see them very often. I’m also not 100% sure why the start and finish line couldn’t have been in the same location. I loved that the race finished in Riverside park—which was lovely—but it would have been great to start there as well. In a nutshell, I’m writing this a week after running the race and it’s already difficult for me to remember much of the course. It just wasn’t very memorable.
What did make this race a ton of fun for me was my super- awesome pace group. Our pace leader, John Sabatine, was a rockstar and everyone that I ran with was amazingly friendly and talkative. I’ve never run a race without music, but I did the better part of twenty miles with my headphones off this time. It was actually a godsend because I found the course itself to be so boring. Talking to people for 2 ½ hours ended up being a whole lot easier than I thought it would be, and it didn’t detract from my overall time as much as I had anticipated either. John even let us take turns holding the 3:35 pacer sign for a mile each J I feel off from the group at about mile twenty. It was getting hot, and I think that the chatting finally did catch up to me; I only came in two minutes behind them, though. I’ll definitely try to do more of this in future races.
A side note to future Sadie from present- day Sadie: races that start in the mid 50’s and finish in the mid- to- high 60’s are hot. Do not forget this.
** Race Highlights: My pace group was awesome. They made the marathon fun.
** The Downside: This is the most boring course I have run to date. (There really isn’t anything wrong with it…. It just wasn’t interesting.)
Sub 4:00 State #9, BQ State #7
Finish Time: 3:37:02
Overall Place Within My Gender: 12th/ 244 (2nd in my division)
Favorite Race Day Song: “Unstoppable” by Sia
Total Training Miles: 2493.5
Shoe Total: 8