First thing first, let's talk about the goals I had for my second visit to Madison, 2 years after the 2015 Nationals.
- Let's start by the boldest. 2 years ago, I had my sight on the M50-54 American Record of 7:38, a mark which had stood for 33 years! Last year, a few weeks after my stroke, Steve Stowers better it by mere 12 seconds. Although Steve is much faster than me (he made the 100K Team USA), my feeling was that he didn't have a good race last year and I could hope to run faster than 7:38:32.
- Therefore, second goal, set a new PR after my 7:51:08 at Ruth Anderson 2013 (I had missed that goal at MadCity in 2015 with 7:51:08).
- Win my age group for a 9th National Title. For that, all I needed to do is finish because I was the only entrant in the M50-54 bracket...
- Maybe win the Masters division again, depending on what Gary Gellin would do after his attempt to break the 50-mile M45-49 American record (5:39:42).
- Not kill myself before running the Boston Marathon 9 days later.
- Not get another stroke...
- First, I met John Hahn on lap 7 at the top of Manitou Way. From Madison and M45-49, I had lapped him on my 5th loop but we were now down to both alternating walking and jogging and it was great to have someone to speak to when walking. Alternatively, we were motivating the other to resume trotting up to a certain spot on the course and we covered this way 2 more laps together. On my 9th lap, though, I told John he should try to take the pace up to make sure I made the cut-off of 7:30. It was 3 pm, we were covering laps in barely one hour and a half now, and he had 3 more laps to go. I'm super glad he took off then as he managed to finish his first 100K within the allotted time! And very lucky I got to meet him and run a few laps together.
- Another unexpected outcome of my abysmal performance of 11:28 (yes, I managed to finish!), is that I won the Masters division! That was completely unexpected and, sincerely, not derved at all given my finish time. A few facts to explain what happened in our Masters division. First, as I was battling with my own doubts in lap 5, I saw Gary on the side of the finish line who had decided to drop when his legs felt trashed after only 4 laps in the race. Another Master contender named in the IAAF press release, Chad Ricklefs, wasn't at the start. But there was a M40-45 runner who had lapped me around 55K so at least that made me second in the Masters. As I look at the detailed results, I see that it was Barry Thurne who eventually finished in 12:44. He reached 80K 2 minutes before me and he must have stopped at the aid station, which is the reason I didn't realize I passed him (in National Championships we wear a bib with our age group in the back). With that, I won my 2nd crystal vase, which I think is even larger this time (I'm continuing my trip toward Boston in a few days so I shipped the vase back home, hope USPS will take great care of it!).
- Now, another interesting fact is that I was the oldest finisher in the 100K! How young does that make me look or feel now...?! ;-) As a matter of fact John Hendrix, 55, was an amazing gentleman, running with Rachel Hiers and, unfortunately, they didn't make the cut-off and had to drop at 70K.
- With this super shallow field, I even made the Top 10, Top 6 Men actually. Despite being all-chicked, that is ending behind all the female finishers, another first for me!
Still, please give credit to all the participants, and quite some competition at the front. The Men race was won by Jesse Davis, a 2:18 marathoner, in 7:06, making the Team USA right on his 100K debut. Isaiah Janzen took 2nd, 4 minutes later and Mike Bialick was the third and last runner to finish with an average pace under 7 min/mile, with a finish time of 7:12. Close finish! Caroline Boller continuers her stellar career by winning with a time of 7:51. She was already on the 50K National team, she now joins the 100K one! As for 2nd and 3rd place, I hope someone was able to caught a video of that finish as Julie Hamulecki preceded 2014 24-hour World Champion Katalin Nagy by mere 12 seconds!!