Monday, August 16 marked the final game of the Madison Mallards' baseball season, and I was lucky enough to attend it with a few of my best friends. While I only made it to four or five games this year, this one may have been the best of them all - the weather was perfect, the game was good, I had good company, and we sat in the Duck Blind (a seating section that's all inclusive of food and drink).
Here I am with Dan and Tara - we took this picture at around 6:00pm (the game started at 7:00pm). The sun was setting, the temperature was in the low-70s, and there wasn't a hint of humidity to be found - it was so perfect.
Mark (my friend from work) was due to arrive closer to 7:00pm; he was stuck at work and was slightly delayed (traffic didn't help - seemed as though everyone was trying to get out and about on this nice evening). So, with time to spare, we did a little "shopping" - with the final game of the season, the Mallards sell some of the items from the stadium (namely signage and trinkets). I was able to score two small signs for $15 - I figure I'll find a place to put them in the apartment.
They had a bunch of really great other things available - Dan had his eye on a couple of larger signs but we figured it would be difficult to lug the signs around all night, so he passed. We made our way back to the Duck Blind and waited for the game to start. Mark arrived in the meantime, so the gang was all there. Here's what the field looked like from our seats:
And one last picture - the gang's all here, and obviously enjoying themselves:
In other news, I ran another half-marathon today (Saturday, August 21). It was the second annual Madison Mini Marathon; I saw it last year but didn't register in time to race in it (it has sold out both years), so this year I made sure to register early. They limited registration to 4400 runners - apparently my early registration worked as I received bib #132.
I was nervous about this race as my legs have been absolutely trashed lately - no energy, no stamina, and just sore all of the time. I'd tried everything to help with recovery - extra protein, extra carbs, extra stretching, massage, recovery supplements, but none were doing me any good. I did a long run last weekend and hated every second of it, so the thought of pounding out 13.1 miles had me worried - I figured I'd run the race, hope to finish, and not care about how I placed.
As luck/fate would have it, I saw a few of my "fellow teammates" from the Madison-Chicago 200 race - I ran into them about 5 minutes prior to the start and it was great to catch-up with them, even if it was only for 2-3 minutes.
On a side note, I'm always amazed by how inconsiderate so many people are... prior to running into Heidi, Kim, and Anja, I saw a guy trying to start the race... with his DOG. I mean seriously?! You're going to try to run a half-marathon with your dog in tow? Nevermind that the rules clearly state: "no pets allowed on the course" - let's use some common sense, ok?
A race official tried to kindly remind the gentleman that dogs weren't allowed on the course, and the guy threw a fit. He huffed and puffed about it, and then ran off (probably to his car, and I hope he didn't leave the dog in it) while screaming obscenities at the race official... crikey - the more I encounter people, the more I like animals... I wish the race official would've let the dog run the race without the owner. Holy cats (or dogs).
Well, the race started promptly at 7:00am (on Langdon Street, near the Memorial Union) and I took off, along with 4000 other people.
We ran "up" Langdon, around the capitol, down State Street, past the Kohl Center, through the Arboretum, around the UW-Hospital area, and back to the Memorial Union. Surprisingly, I felt pretty good - at about the 12-mile mark my left knee started to feel a little funky, but it wasn't anything unusual, so I picked-up the pace a bit and tried to finish strong.
My time was a semi-disappointing 1:52:38, for an average pace of 8:32/mile. My last half-marathon time was 1:53:something, so while I improved a bit, it wasn't what I had hoped for. Although, given the condition of my legs prior to the race I guess I can't complain too much.
In the end, my time was good for 773 overall - which put me in the top 20% for finishers. I picked-up my finishers medal, grabbed a bottle of water and then made my way home. The place was a zoo - there was a huge party afterward, complete with the customary "post-race beer" that seems to be so standard here in Wisconsin... beer? after a race? at 9:00am? No thanks.
Upon arriving home, I decided to head over to the pool to soak for a bit, with the hope that the cool water would help my legs recover a bit. So, I went to the pool, gently swam for about 20 minutes, and then went home. The pool water wasn't all that cool, so I fired-up an ice bath at home - ran the tub as cold as it would get and then poured a 20-lb bag of ice into the tub.
(for the squeamish, I was still wearing my swimming suit while in the tub - I figured the suit would help insulate me a bit... it didn't, by the way - it was still incredibly cold)
So, all-in-all, not a bad race... here's my customary "race gear" picture - note the hole that I wore in my favorite Smartwool running socks. :-(
I spent the rest of the afternoon resting on the couch, wearing my compression gear and elevating my feet. I think I'm going to head over to the Sun Prairie Corn Fest for a bit - I was supposed to go with Jed but I just found out that he can't make it, so I'll be flying solo. :-(