Madison Half Marathon Recap 2019

Conquer the Capital Half and Half Challenge Complete

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

It was finally time to go to Madison. On Saturday, after a quick stop to drop off the dogs, Josh and I were on the open road and ready to get our weekend started. The drive was nothing exciting, and that’s why it’s very easy to get to Madison.

We had a full day ahead, so we planned to grab some pizza. We phoned in an order to Glass Nickel Pizza in Fitchburg, and picked up our order on the way to the marathon expo. We couldn’t wait until we stopped, so we snacked on the cheese bread as we navigated the mean streets of Madison.

Since we have been participating in this event for a while, we know that you can find close, on street parking for less. Sure it’s easy to park in the ramp at the Monona Terrace, but we are frugal. We found a spot on the street and made the walk to the expo.

It appears we made a good choice to park on the street as the Terrace was hoppin! There was also an art show in the same space. Even though there were the extra people, we were able to easily find the entrance to the expo.

It was just before noon, and the expo was very busy (or maybe it felt that way as it was in a small space.) We walked straight to the packet pick up area. I told the volunteer my bib number and he asked for my ID. I was then given a reusable bag with 2 shirts, goodies and my bib. I realized after that only challenge participants were given these bags as Josh received a plastic sack. *Josh was also running the challenge, but he was not able to register for it after the fact, so a person will be in touch via email.

I was hesitant when I saw the shirts. They are all long sleeve, gender specific and I really like the blue race shirt as it’s a soft cotton blend, however I read the tag for the gray one and was like, hmmm a cotton shirt? Spoiler alert, I wore the gray shirt after the race and it fit really nice and I will wear it!!

After we got our things, we took a picture or two, walked quickly around the expo and then we met up with fellow BibRave pro Amy.  She was working as a vendor. We stopped and talked for a minute, then needed to be on our way.

It was a quick in and out with the expo, but it is designed that way. It’s easy to grab and go, or take your time – grab a water, explore the brands, races and vendors that are on display. We, however needed to be at our hotel to grab a shuttle at 12:30

We were back to our truck and headed to the hotel. We also had a slice of pizza. (Best decision of the weekend.)

The hotel had no rooms ready, but that was ok, we were able to leave our things with them, and would just check in later. We did need to get moving though as it was approaching 12:30 and we had paid $5 for a shuttle that would take us to the Camp Randall area for the football game. This was a great option as parking is expensive and it’s super congested.

Welp at 1:02 PM we were on the shuttle. As it turns out there was only one shuttle van and every time it made a run to the stadium area it was getting caught in the traffic. The game didn’t start until 3, so we had some time, but it was annoying. The shuttle driver said he would pick us up 1-2 hours after the game by the Union South, I was like that’s a big place, what street? Even more annoying was this woman on the shuttle, having to explain to some kids that it was ok to be a Hawkeye fan, but she really hoped her team won… no one cares your thoughts, just be quiet or talk about the weather. Well, it didn’t stop there, the shuttle driver encountered heavy traffic and she was all, we have to get some tickets at this bar… and she was all amazed her phone wasn’t working and she didn’t know where the bar was. Another person on the shuttle was oh, that place is just up ahead… so the annoying lady was like, just let us out there. Well the shuttle driver was all flustered and was like, ok I will stop there and you can all get out. UM, that is not where I wanted to be dropped off. AHHHHHHHH! I understand his frustrations and running behind, but we all were hurried off, and I had no clue where we were… and because there were so many people my phone wasn’t working, so we followed the mass of people…. I was borderline going to have an anxiety attack. Finally we were somewhere where I recognized a landmark…. and we had found the location we were supposed to be dropped at, the Union South, also the location of the Hawkeye pre-game party.

Anyway that is not why you’re reading this post. We met up with some friends at the huddle, then walked over to the game. I am not sure we need to go into any details, but my team did not win.

After the game, our friends graciously offered to give us a ride back to our hotel. Whew, no more shuttle drama for us. We got back to the hotel and officially checked in around 7 PM. When we were checking in, the guy at the front desk answered the phone, and it sounded like unhappy people still waiting for a shuttle to show up.

We made it to our room and devoured our leftover pizza. Yet, we felt we needed something else, so we bopped on down to the hotel restaurant and enjoyed a salad and soup.

We were back to the room in good time to lay out all the things we needed to run, and luckily were able to get a good night’s sleep.

Gear: Sparkle Athletic skirt, Flipbelt pants, Turtle Gloves, Rabbit Tank, UA t-shirt, Long Sleeve, Rudy glasses, Aftershokz Aeropex, Garmin, Brooks Ghost 12, Big Grove Nike hat, Hawkeye stocking hat, Moving comfort sports bra.


We were awake at 5 AM and brewing coffee in the room. Then by 6 AM we were ready to go to the race start. The best part about this race is you can park on the street, just blocks away from the start for FREE!!! So after we found our spot, we just waited in the warm truck. It was a cloudy day and temps would be topping out at 30 or so.

Around 6:30 I decided to utilize the many port-o-potties that were set up. Then I ventured to the starting area and stumbled upon Amy near gear check. She was meeting with various groups for photos. Since we parked so close there was no need for gear check, but you could use any bag.

There were announcements and the singing of the National Anthem, and around 7 AM the marathon was off. I proceeded to the starting chute and since I really didn’t have a pace goal, just found a spot. I started my music, put my watch to “run.” Then it was time to go.

As you know I have run this event before, so I was ready for what the course had to offer. It’s not my favorite route, it skips many things that Madison is known for, but I knew I had to get to the finish line.

The first few miles are a bit crowded. I found Amy and ran for a while with her. Then as we started to climb a hill, I powered forward. Around mile 5ish, someone thanked me for choosing to run in Madison and we talked for a bit. They saw my Hawkeye hat… this was not the first comment on the hat on the course. I heard many Go Hawks throughout the race. Madison is a great place, just not on game day.

From there those women were back and forth with me through the race. I was also back and forth with the weather, I was super sweaty when we were out of the wind and then I would be cold in the wind, just before mile 8 I lost my long sleeve.

I knew there was a big hill coming up just before mile 9. Ok, Madison has hills, this one is just the steepest climb. I turned the corner and there it was… and so was a guy in costume. Social media can be a fun place, just the day before Steena had run the Indy Monumental Marathon and John had spectated in a Shakespeare costume, holding fun signs…. and here he was on this hill. However, that was not all… Steena was there too. This was just the encouragement I needed at this point. I stopped and took a selfie, congratulated her on her marathon and powered up that hill!

I motored on feeling good until I heard some whoops from a police motorcycle. The lead marathoner was coming through. I was just past mile 11.5. Ah shucks, a goal is to always run my half faster than they can run a full…. but wait – they started 10 minutes before we did. Then it was time for running math, and I am pretty sure he was beating my half time. I was then on the alert for the rest of them, but the second place guy didn’t come through until a mile later maybe.

It was time for the last climb to the finish at the Capital. I kept thanking all the officers at the intersections, turned on State Street and there I was jumping across the finish line. I had a Garmin time of 2:18 or so and 13.25, but I later saw the tracking and it had me at 2:16. I should check the official results, lol.

When I was finished a volunteer placed a medal around my neck and said congratulations. (This is a small gesture, but it’s much appreciated.) I was then handed a bottle of water, and I passed on the mylar blanket. I then waited in a short line to have my finisher picture taken. Then there was the place to redeem your beer ticket for a Michelob Ultra, there was also soda available. I don’t care for that beer, and wanted a Coke. ( I don’t even drink soda and it sounded good.) When I asked for one I was told it was for 21 and younger, I hope no one pregnant received that answer. I also understand they probably have a limited amount.

Next stop was the food line. They changed things up this year, which I was very happy about. There were 3 options – chili and cornbread, mac and cheese, or a brat with potato salad. Each came with a cookie. I choose the brat. The chili was vegetarian, but not sure if there was a GF option, and there was no fruit this time. I don’t have allergies or a special diet, but something I observe.

With my hands full, I was able to still talk to Josh on my Aftershokz headphones and we were able to discuss where to meet. I grabbed a chocolate milk  and then found the tent with my half and half medal for the challenge. Also in this space after the finishing chute there was craft beer for purchase, I like this step…. I also wish I had remembered some money as the dollar I found in the parking lot pre-race wasn’t enough.

I met Josh and he gave me my coat. My hand were freezing and it was hard to hold all my things. I stopped at a bench to get my coat on and put things in the giant pockets. I wasn’t sure where Amy was, but sent her a message as we were cold and decided to be on our way.

We stopped to take some post race photos and then we were back at our truck and headed to the hotel. We were back within 3 hours of the race start. Madison is a big place, but if you know the hacks it’s easy peasy on race day.

We didn’t need to late check out, and were out of there just before noon. We went back down to the Capital to take some photos with my medals over the years. I have one more medal to earn so I can finish the series.

Then one last Starbucks stop and we were on the road home. With such a filling post race spread we were not hungry…. well until we got to Dubuque where we stopped at a new brewery, 7 Hills Brewing Company.  It was right off the main road.

After watching the Iowa Field Hockey team win the B1G Championship game in overtime, we made the remainder of the trip home as snow was coming.

I will be back for my 4th medal next year, but I hope there are more Steena’s out there to spice it up. I also hope that the push for craft beer gets closer to being the free beer. Madison is a great place, except on game day. Go Hawks!

*Also race pics were available the next day for FREE

What To Pack For Race Day

What (& How) To Pack For Race Day

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

When traveling, it can be stressful to remember all the things you might need, throw in running and you’ve just increased your chance to forget something. As I travel to my next half marathon, I will highlight some of my tips to make sure you are ready on the starting line.

The first thing I do is to start checking the weather. Then I know what to season of running clothes I should consider.

Next. I start putting together a list in my head. How many days will I be gone? What size of bag will I need to bring? Will I be going out to dinner?

Once I have a general idea, it’s time to make sure everything is clean, do I need to do some laundry?

I then pull out all the things I have thought about and throw them in a pile on my bag. I then group my clothing by day. So I will put together day one running outfit, day one normal day outfit and so on.

Then I make sure to have a pair of running shoes and for good measure I throw in 26 extra pairs of underwear. Ok, maybe an exaggeration, but I tend to over pack that item.

For race day I always pack: running shoes, running pants, a running skirt, sports bra, running shirt (tank, short sleeve) Aftershokz, race belt, running glasses, a hat, compression socks. Weather permitting – a pullover, BUFF(R), hydration pack with supplies.

It’s then time to stuff all the things in my bag and hope the toiletry things fit on top. I always do a twice over of my contact solution, toothpaste, etc. Most hotels are good for these things, but I need my prescription glasses.

This next step is the most crucial – I then open the bag back up and check for everything I can not buy at a big box store. For me that is my running shoes, running shorts and a sports bra. Then I check one more time.

That’s it.

Ok, I lied, when it’s time to leave, and after I have tossed my bag into the car, I then check again to make sure I have all the things I can not buy at a big box store. I am then satisfied and am ready to go.

If you know me or have followed along for a good while, you might know that I once forgot my running shorts. GASP!!! Lucky me, there was a store close by and I ended up with some capris that would work last minute. Believe me, the last thing I want is to wear something new on race day. Chaffing is no joke. When I looked back at that incident, I did not quadruple check my items.

I have already started the mental checklist for Madison. I am in town for 2 days and one day includes sitting outside at a sporting event, and going to the expo. (PS expo is 10-5, maybe I will see you there.) Then there is race day. These things involve a little extra like blankets and heavy coats. One things, for sure, I will be checking that bag a bajillion times.