My March Madness started last Friday morning in Indianapolis at the Big 10 Tournament. I left Nashville at 4:30 am and drove north 5 hours to meet my college buddy, Petey, who drives 5 hours south. It’s quite the reunion.
We checked into the Wisconsin Badgers home hotel and quickly sold our afternoon session tickets before noon. I was on a taper for the St. Patty’s Day 4 Miler on Saturday, so after lunch I took a nap. Around 5:00 we saw Bo Ryan’s Badgers off from the Lobby and walked to the arena Minnesota beat down. We stayed for part of Michigan State/Northwestern, but the Iowa fans sitting next to us were a little salty, so we left at halftime.
After the big win we went back to the hotel and rubbed shoulders with all the Wisconsin big shots, including Henry the trainer, several of the player’s parents, legendary Wisconsin band director, Mike Leckrone, and the Emperor, Barry Alvarez. The mood was optimistic, but I couldn’t get the next morning’s 4 Miler out of my head.
The race was at 10 am, and Petey and I dragged our old man legs to Monument Circle around 9:15. I grabbed my bib, then photo bombed a few of my own pictures. (That’s me in the lower left hand corner).
Quite simply, I wasn’t feeling it. Driving so far, staying up late, and losing my juicing rhythm all took away my legs. I still managed a 30:10 four mile run and finished in (what appears to be) the top 3 of my age group and 108th out of 1448 total runners.
After lunch we went to Wisconsin game and they got punked by MSU. It was a bit deflating but as I watched that game I thought Michigan State looked like the best team in the country, and apparently am not alone.
Things weren’t quite as festive back at the hotel, and the team flew back to Madison at 9 o’clock. We cheered them off to the plane, then settled down with big time season ticket holder, G-Dogg.
The Big Ten 5K was looming for me in the morning and I once again missed my bedtime. It was a 10 am race (pretty late starts for both days and likely why I signed up) and the weather had gone from perfect on Saturday to 25 degrees for Sunday’s race.
I checked in, warmed up a little, then took off through the streets of Indianapolis just like I did two years earlier in my first ever 5k. I was hoping for sub 22 minutes, but by mile 2, I knew that was a pipe dream.
The first mile was 7:30, the second 7:10, but then we hit a gale force wind. The kind of wind that makes your eyes water and forces you to lean forward or you won’t move. I could barely keep mile 3 under an 8 minute pace and wound up crossing the tape at 23:21 for 4th in my age group and 83rd out of 592 runners. My pace for the 4 miler and the 5K were almost identical at about 7:30.
I don’t want to say I’m disappointed, but it makes me wonder if an 8 minute pace goal for the run at New Orleans 70.3 is realistic. But, if Wisconsin gets to the Final Four, I’ll guarantee sub 1:45 for the 1/2 marathon.