I love this race. I ran it for the first time last year. I loved it so much, I made plans to go back. This year, my sister-in-law and her husband also signed up to run the half – their first! – and my mother-in-law, other sister-in-law, and brother-in-law’s wife signed up to walk the 5K.
I knew this wasn’t going to be easy. There was a four-and-a-half week break from running because of the ankle sprain. Coming back from that had been hard – and I was running really slow. The race is hilly, for a Wisconsin course.
I didn’t care.
Goal: finish, upright and smiling.
After getting ready and catching a shuttle to the park, the group of us got our bags and bibs and shirts. We pinned, we peed, we checked gear. We took a lot of photos.
we all have our eyes open and are looking in the general direction of the camera. success!
We headed to the start line. The brother-in-law headed up ahead of me and the sister-in-law. She found a pace group to run with and so did I. I put on my punk rock playlist and settled in for a couple hours of running.
The weather was glorious. It sprinkled just a bit in the first few miles, but I remember this long, flat stretch at mile 9 going into the trees with the sunshine on my back and the wind on my face, thinking, “This is perfect.”
I walked through every water station – and a couple other times. This course has hills, no mistake about it, and I wasn’t trained for that. There were bagpipers again – I stopped to take a photo with one. There was gorgeous scenery – I stopped to take photos of it.
The scenery. This race. It is so perfect. There is no traffic. There are trees, and cliffs, and views of Green Bay, and evergreens, and birches, and a cemetery, and campers. The spectators are loud. So are the birds.
Between miles 10 and 11, a group of spectators had a cooler and were handing out small styrofoam cups of beer. Score! Heck yes, I stopped to grabbed one and thanked them. I wasn’t going to set a land speed record anyway.
Around mile 11, my ankle started to hurt. I’d been afraid that would happen. I took the last couple of miles slow – why wouldn’t I, when I could enjoy the scenery of Nicolet Bay?
When I got close to the chute, I looked for the family, and there they all were, cheering me on. That was so cool. I love that they all come for this race. I crossed the finish with a big smile on my face. Goal: met. It was my slowest half marathon to date, and I didn’t care. A month before that, I wasn’t able to run, and that day, I was able to. That explains this smile.
So, that’s done. My return to racing. The first race I finished since my marathon DNF last fall. It was a long time coming, and it was worth it.
It was also worth the pile of food from Casey’s Smokehouse & BBQ that night.