Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Race Recap: Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay

One of the reasons I joined the Busse Woods Running Club was to expand my running experiences. Since I've gotten involved, I have gone with them for some field trips to local preserves and trails. When they opened up entries for 20 teams for the Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay, I wasn't sure I wanted to sign up. Pettit sounded intriguing, but Holly and I were debating between 2 half marathons for January, Mobile and Callaway Gardens, which was the same weekend as Pettit.

When the president of the club posted that there were only 2 more slots to fill, I made a decision. Knowing that Callaway was hilly and Mobile was flat, I confirmed with Holly that Mobile was a go. I said yes to Pettit. With that, I had my January calendar filled. Having to decide between 2 races? Runner problems!



Local runners might remember the Icebreaker Marathon and Half Marathon that has been held for the past 10 years at the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee. Two years ago, the name was changed to the Pettit Indoor Marathon and Half Marathon. The race is run on an indoor track around an ice oval, where Olympic speedskaters such as Dan Jansen and Bonnie Blair have trained. Marathoners run 95 laps around the track and the race is capped at 130 participants. The marathon relay is capped at 100 teams of runners. Most teams have 4 runners. The Half Marathon is capped at 130 participants and there is a 2:30 hour time limit. There's also a half marathon relay and a 142.3 mile challenge--like Dopey on a track. That race is limited to 40 participants.

Pettit National Ice Center
On Saturday morning, I left my house around 11am to make the 75 mile drive to Milwaukee. Once I arrived, I found my teammates, Praveen, Denise, and Nancy. I had only met Praveen before, but Denise and I are both All Community Events ambassadors. It was great to finally meet her! We set up our area. Praveen brought 2 chairs and Nancy and I brought blankets. We all brought snacks. I knew it was going to be cool in the arena-it is an ice rink--but I underestimated how cold it would feel. I hoped that once we started running, I'd warm up.

L--->R Praveen, me, Denise, Nancy
Praveen also brought a milk crate and a pad. He explained to all of us how we would use this to change the ankle timing chip between laps. By placing both runners' feet on the pad, another one of us would change the chip quickly so we could minimize the time between runners. We were all anxiously excited to start running. Praveen led us off, I was 4th to run.

Nancy switching the timing chip from me to Praveen
We each ran 2 laps, about 886m, before switching runners. There was a clock at the start/finish line that listed our splits as we crossed. My splits were pretty consistent, around 2:16 minutes per lap. I felt like I was going at full effort each time. I wasn't able to get a signal on my Garmin so I have no proof of how fast I was actually going. There were 3 lanes and I did my best to stay in the middle lane as much as I could. The runners in the inside lane were flying! There were a lot of costumed runners and some of the flock (Oiselle) were wearing very skimpy bikinis. There was a group of men with orange t-shirts with their team name "Rolling Thunder" on the front and a warning triangle on the back that said "Caution: Fart loading". I bet they get all the ladies. We made it our goal to beat them.


The time passed quickly between splits and after we each ran our 6th lap, we congratulated ourselves for making it to the halfway point. I felt kind of hungry and I broke out the watermelon I brought and started sipping on Tailwind. As it turns out, that watermelon was the best snack for this race. It was juicy, cool, and sweet. Plus it was easy on my tummy. Several of the other teams around us concurred as I passed the watermelon around. I also brought "cuties", those little oranges, which were also a hit. The pretzels I brought never were opened.


One of my teammates, Denise, was "competing" with her husband's team. We found out that they were one lap ahead of us and I was instructed to push my pace on my last lap. You know I love a good competition and pick up the pace is exactly what I did. I don't know where that last burst of energy came from but I passed their runner on the home stretch. On my last lap, my teammates joined me to the finish line. We found out after I finished that I ran an extra lap--we thought we had to run 96 laps, not 95. No biggie, our official finish time stands on my first pass over the finish line. Our team, BWRC 9, finished in 3:41:34, 63rd overall. Not only did we beat Denise's husband's team, but we also beat Rolling Thunder. The fastest team finished in 2:15:54. That's 5 minute miles, y'all!


The relay is pretty no-frills. There were no medals for the relay participants, but we did get a really nice long sleeve crewneck tech shirt. There are also no after race treats provided. I was fine with all that--the cost of the race was about $35 per relay participant. They did have portapotties inside the arena, but I chose to use the real restrooms in the lobby. It much was warmer there, too!

If I do this race again, I will definitely bring gloves to wear--my hands were really cold and on the drive home, I had trouble gripping the steering wheel. RA problems. I also woke up Sunday morning feeling really achy and tired. I completely underestimated the effort this event would take. It was a lot like speedwork, aka extreme speedwork: 886m x 12 laps. I knew the air would be dry inside the arena but I didn't realize how that would feel. I didn't break a sweat at all! I also developed a cough, which I still had on Sunday. Runners call it "track hack" and there's a hashtag for it: #pettitcough.

Overall, this was a really fun, unique event! Living in the Midwest, winter running is always a crapshoot. There was the F3 Half Marathon in Chicago on Saturday, but call me wimpy--I don't want to run an outdoor half in January in Chicago. The Pettit Indoor Marathon Relay was a great alternative and a challenge in its own right. I would definitely do it again. I'm really grateful to the Busse Woods Running Club for pulling the teams together for the event. I wonder what adventure they'll take me on next!

BWRC--all 80 participants!
Have you ever run an indoor race? An indoor marathon relay? Curious about that cough I developed--if anyone has any insight on it, let me know!

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics! It's my first time linking with them.



38 comments :

  1. I've never done a marathon relay before (although I really want too)! This sounds like it was a lot of fun and I love the team aspect of it.

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    1. It was such a fun experience. I would definitely do it again.

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  2. Wow, that sounds like a really cool event! 12 X 866m repeats - phew! I think it's interesting how some snacks hit the spot and some just don't, but you never know which one you'll want ahead of time.

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    1. I have had watermelon at races before and that has definitely hit my sweet spot!

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  3. I’ve never done a relay or an indoor marathon, looks like a lot of fun! I’ve never heard of trackhack but I’ll be asking one of my ER docs tomorrow at work. Curious. 🤔
    Great job!

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  4. I'm still trying to wrap my head around this -- you each run 2 x 886 then pass off to the next runner? And then do it 6 more times? That actually sounds really interesting! I always say I could run fast if I could just have a break between intervals (but obviously not 5 mm!).

    Never done an indoor race, but I did do a half marathon relay once. It was fun!

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    1. You know I love to run fast, so I got my fill of speedwork at this race! It was harder than I expected, but the lengthy rest time between intervals was helpful.

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  5. Our BWRC 2 team came in at just over 4 hours. We started at 2 laps each and then started running 3 laps each, then back down to 2 laps each. I agree, it was much colder in there than I had anticipated. And I was also coughing for a few hours afterwards. But, it was fun!

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    1. I don't think I could have sustained my pace for 3 laps! Nice job!

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  6. This sounds so fun. I would love to run fast and then have a break. Who knows how fast??

    I have never run an indoor race. I did try running on an indoor track but it was 14 loops for one mile. And that's all I lasted - boring!!

    I have run a marathon relay -Vermont twice and it was so fun.

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    1. This was my first indoor race too. I've never done any kind of relay, but now I'm interested in more!

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  7. Congrats on your marathon relay! This looks like such a cool event! I would love to try something like this. And I never would have thought watermelon would be a good racing fuel!

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    1. I had watermelon at a race once-I don't remember where, but I do remember it tasting really good!

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  8. This sounds like such a fun event! I definitely notice a bit of a cough after running on the indoor track from the dry air and crave so fruit and things like Nuun after running on it since I'm usually super thirsty.

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  9. I like the changing time band system, very clever. Congrats on beating both of the teams y'all had your eyes set on!

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    1. Would you have let the Old Farts beat you? I think not...

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  10. We were team 7 and finished just ahead of you in 3:39:48. Had a great time. I loved the cool weather and ran in shorts and a T with gloves. My calves are still sore today. Haven't done a ton of speedwork with it being winter, and I was cranking out 1:45 laps. Had the #trackhack for sure. Was fina after singing at church Sunday morning though (a healing!!) :)

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  11. How fun! I love relay races in general. There is a totally different vibe to be a race with a team and not just for yourself. That is a heck of a lot of speedwork. Nice job!

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  12. I've done a couple Ragnars but never a marathon relay, indoors or outdoors. I love the teamwork aspect and it looks like it was a lot of fun. My only worry would be how my body would take running in circles for all that time. More runners' problems, I guess. Congratulations!

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    1. My SI joint did start talking to me about halfway through. I stretched it out and it was ok after that. Since the oval was a fairly long distance, the laps didn't affect me as much as I thought it would. I think running fast (for me) was more of a factor in feeling sore after!

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  13. Fun! This is a great alternative for the winter months for sure. Good thinking on the crate for swapping the timing chip. When I did my 24 hour relay, I definitely let someone else take it off for me. No way I wanted to bend over and do it! Much faster that way. Good job on being winners!!

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    1. We weren't winners..we finished 63rd out of 100 teams. No matter, it was such a fun day!

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  14. this sounds really fun but HARD, Wendy! Also I would start to go nuts after so many times around the track! I don't know much about indoor track running anyway so I didn't know one could develop a cough from it!

    I did road marathon relays in Milan and Rotterdam. In Milan I was the 4th runner, which turns out to be the best part of the course. In Rotterdam I was the first, so that after my approx 10K I could run over to the subway and get over to the 25KM point to see Ron (it was his first marathon!)

    had you actually run with any of these teammates before?

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    1. I had only met Praveen before. It was a great way to get to know some more of my running club!

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  15. Looks like a fun thing to do in the middle of winter. I've done Ragnar and the Illinois Marathon as part of a relay team but that was outdoors. I have heard about this indoor race and thought about signing up. I saw pictures of the Oiselle girls!!! I wonder if they were cold.

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    1. I can't imagine that they weren't cold. They were barely wearing anything! I read that it was about 50 degrees in there.

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  16. This sounds like it would be so much fun. Congrats to you and your team! There are some indoor races down in Arlington, but I don't know if they have the longer events.

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    1. This was one of the more fun things I've done as a runner. I am so glad I got to participate!!!

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  17. How interesting! I have friends who've done track marathons and I'd have to do the whole thing as I have a "Thing" about doing relays. Nooooo! Well done and I hope the cough faded.

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    1. What is your 'thing'? I don't think I could do a track marathon. 95 laps?

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    2. It's 100 and something I think, not sure why. I don't like letting people down so I will never ever do a relay, even if I'm the fasted person in it (which is frankly unlikely). Can't take it.

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    3. There's no "I" in team--I was worried about letting my team down but you know what? Didn't happen. We were in it together.

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  18. That race sounds really fun!! I don't think I would have ever considered that it would be chilly in there but I guess that makes sense. If it wasn't, it would most definitely be ripe and overwhelmingly warm with all those runner bodies heating things up. I've never run on an indoor track so I have no clue about the cough. I hope it's cleared up!

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    1. I think it's cold for the ice. It was really cold! The cough finally cleared up mid-week. That was the strangest thing ever!

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