Race recap: Oshkosh Half Marathon

19 Apr

I’ve really been enjoying telling people all about my experience and showing off the pictures from the weekend. And I finally will share it all with you!

We planned to wake up about 6 a.m. but we all started to stir about 5:30-5:45 a.m. as the race organizers sound-tested the speakers, microphones, etc. outside and as other runners began to wake up in the rooms around us.

Amy and I ate our breakfast of toast, peanut butter and fruit, got dressed and went to the bathroom about a dozen a few times (Read: nervous!). We complained about the awful weather—pouring rain and gusting wind—and chatted about our race strategy, which quickly went from trying to keep up with the 2:30 pace group to merely finishing and having fun.

We headed downstairs about 7 a.m. and stood around in the hotel lobby with hundreds of other runners as we all tried to stay warm and dry for as long as possible.

HM 2 (Me; Andi, who ran the 5K; Ryan, a friend of Amy and her husband, Brad; and Amy about 20 minutes before the start of the race.)

Amy and I headed to the starting line about 7:25 a.m. and found a spot in the back of the pack. Someone sang the national anthem and an announcer gave the command to start. We took off, crossed the starting line and settled into a comfortable, yet fast pace.

2011-map half

I felt like the first four miles flew by! Were were running fast and soaking in the sights. We kept up with and even passed the 2:30 pace group the whole time (and I breathed and ran my way through a very mild side cramp). We ran through the very quaint downtown area, past some historic homes, through part of the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh campus, around a cemetery and on a wet, muddy trail along the Fox River.

HM 3 (Amy and I looking good at about the 2-mile mark.)

We walked through every water stop as planned. I took in water and/or Gatorade at every station, and I took my first four Honey Stingers (which are the best long-run fuel ever, by the way) at about the 5-mile mark.


I felt pretty decent through the middle four or five miles. We maintained a pretty good pace and kept the 2:30 pace group within our sight through about six or six-and-a-half miles. We also crossed our first bridge across the Fox River, and we endured some pretty high-powered winds and hard, “sideways” rain along the way.

kb_as_bridge (Amy and I crossing the Wisconsin Street bridge at the 5.75-mile mark.)

HM 6 (Amy and I laboring through the cold, hard rain at about the 6.5-mile mark.)

We slowed our pace and lost the 2:30 pace group as we became more and more soaked, cold and tired. I took in more water and Gatorade at the water stations and another four Honey Stingers at the 8-mile mark. I also stretched a little.

I felt my worst in the last four miles. We were being pelted with freezing rain and snow the whole last stretch of the race, and we were getting sore hamstrings and hips. But we continued on.

We ran through a quiet, residential area of the city, saw a few spectators holed up in their garages or parked in their cars and jogged through a small park (where Amy stopped to take a potty break and I stopped to take a nice, long stretching break).

We made our way down a busy street and then down Main Street and through downtown. We  took a couple extra walking breaks in the last couple miles (at my request), but we pressed on for the last mile.

We crossed another bridge over the Fox River and we could see the finish area ahead. We turned the corner, ran through a chute and along the river and onto the Leach Amphitheater grounds. We were about to take the final strides into the finishing chute and Amy turned to me and said, ‘This is it. We got this,’ and I replied, ‘We got this.’


I suddenly got an amazing surge of energy and emotions. I saw the clock, the finish line and our friends. I smiled, threw my arms in the air and kicked it.

HM 8


We crossed the finish line and immediately threw our arms around Andi and Brad. I was so overcome with pride and happiness and shock that I felt like I could have hyperventilated, screamed and cried all at the same time.

Amy and I each grabbed a carton of chocolate milk, made a plate of food and grabbed a beer and made our way to the stage of the amphitheater to eat and cool calm down. We could hardly hold our plates or cups because our fingers were so cold they were almost arthritic.

We took the obligatory post-race medal photo and headed straight to the hotel to warm up.

IMG_0161 (We’re finished. We’re freezing. And we’re fabulous!)

Amy and I promptly stripped down and got under the warm, dry covers. We eventually were able to tweet, text and call the important people in our lives who couldn’t be there with us to tell them about the race. I texted my mom (who was able to keep up with the race via Twitter), and I called Christopher (who was in Ann Arbor for playoffs but also was able to keep up via Twitter). They both told me how proud they were of me, and I nearly sobbed because crossing that finish line meant so much to me. (Note: I’m getting teary typing that right now.)

We showered and got dressed and packed up, checked out of the hotel and met Ryan and Jenna for lunch at The Brooklyn Grill. I don’t think food or beer have ever tasted that good!




All in all, I was so pleased with the race and was so thankful to have had someone to run alongside me, chat with me, laugh with me, commiserate with me and encourage me throughout the whole race.

I don’t think you can begin to understand how important epic this half marathon was for me, but I can try to explain…

I never was much of an athlete, let alone a runner. I struggled with being overweight and suffering from asthma. I loved my smarts, my sense of humor and my compassion, but I hated my body.

I took up running as a way to spend time with Christopher (who loved running), as a means to get healthy, and unknowingly, as a means to gain some intense appreciation of and confidence in myself. I grew to love running, and I wanted to challenge myself.

I signed up to run a half marathon. I trained. I crossed the finish line.

I could not be more proud of myself, more confident in myself and more convinced that I can do and be anything I set my mind to. I feel amazing every time I think about crossing that finish line Saturday morning. Incredible. Simply incredible.

And now, I give you the details:

Distance: 13.1 miles
Duration: 2:46:44 chip time (2:47:54 clock time, 2:46:44 Nike+ time)
Average pace: 12:43 per mile
Mile 1: 10:36
Mile 2: 11:10
Mile 3: 11:16
Mile 4: 12:03
Mile 5: 12:05
Mile 6: 11:51
Mile 7: 12:24
Mile 8: 11:50
Mile 9: 13:15 (Oh hai, snow.)
Mile 10: 13:17
Mile 11: 12:34
Mile 12: 14:15 (OMG slowest mile ever!)
Mile 13: 13:42
.1 Nub: 2:02

Oh, and I ask that you do me one favor: Go to Amy’s blog and watch the video she made. I laughed. 🙂

9 Responses to “Race recap: Oshkosh Half Marathon”

  1. Karin April 19, 2011 at 9:21 pm #


    I cried all over again.

    You’ve always been able to do anything you put your mind to. I couldn’t be prouder but I have to remind you that I wouldn’t be less proud if you didn’t finish. I am so honored to be your mom.


  2. Amy April 19, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    So proud of you honey and so glad I was there with you! It was super fun despite the crappy weather! You did awesome. 🙂

    PS Just sent you the splits.

    PPS That comment from your mom is like the sweetest thing ever.

  3. fitinthemidwest April 19, 2011 at 10:06 pm #

    Congrats Kayla! I enjoyed reading your recap and it inspired me to do well on my 10k in July.

    Thanks for your sweet message the other day. It’s really nice to know that someone else out there can relate to what I am going through. It sounds like we are both passionate about new things and need to figure out what to do about it so we can put that passion to good use in our careers. 🙂

  4. Nadine April 20, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    congratulations to both of you — there is NOTHING like crossing that finish line, except maybe crossing it with a friend! Great recap and the two of you are warriors running in that weather!

  5. Jennifer Followwill April 20, 2011 at 1:07 pm #

    Very cool you two! Your recap inspired me. I almost want to head out for a run. Almost. 😀 You are both rock stars.


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