Sunday, January 22, 2012

We came, we saw, we ran in circles...

Melinda and Mary
Race Report from Mary Gorski...

We came, we saw, we ran in circles.

And then the next day we came, we saw and ran in even more circles!

This was the fourth year of the IceBreaker Indoor Marathon at Milwaukee’s Pettit Center. The Pettit is home to one of the country’s Olympic speed skating training facilities and features a running track around the speed skating oval. In 2009 the main event was the only event – a marathon on the running track. 96 laps for 26.2 miles.

Then organizers decided that if some is good, more must be better, and a half marathon was added. Following the Disney Marathon tradition, a “Goofy-like” category called the “Gold Medal Challenge” was included. Forty runners would be given the “opportunity” to run both the half (on Saturday) and the full marathon on Sunday. I signed up for the marathon, but through a bit of accident and misunderstanding I ended up in the Gold Medal Challenge the first year it was offered. A bit compulsive, I continue to do the duo events.

Now, instead of 96 laps, I and 39 others do about 143 laps for a total of 39.3 miles over the weekend. Some overachievers even toss in a 5K on Friday night. The full IceBreaker weekend now includes two half marathons, a 5K, a marathon relay and the marathon.

I just wanted to be an achiever, not an OVERachiever, so I stayed with the Gold Medal Challenge, sans the 5K.

Joining me in the Gold Medal Challenge this year were several members of our Lapham Peak Trail Runner group, including Melinda Pedersen, Steve Poulter, Hans Wegesser and Troy Malinowski, along with other running buddies such as Kris Hinrichs. Kris was doing her 96th marathon – nice coincidence that she had to do 96 laps to finish it. And no, I didn’t figure that out myself – Kris did somewhere on one of those loops and shared the news with me. Darn nice news to share.

On Saturday it seemed that the LPTRs were segregated: Melinda and I ran in the 7 a.m. race and Troy, Steve and Hans did the 9:30 event. Most of us re-grouped in the evening at the annual LPTR holiday party at Lapham Peak. The next day’s marathon kept us well-behaved. I had just a single beer and Melinda had one rum-spiked cider. We didn’t keep on eye on the boys too well but they were probably doing the same. Probably.

Carbs were plenty, as was everything else. José’s tamales were guaranteed (by José) to give me the “propulsion” that I needed to push through the next day’s run. My apologies to those running behind me this morning but I have to say, José was right on the mark.

In the half marathon we all seemed to take it easy, trying to be prudent with a marathon coming up the next day. This morning we toed the line unsure of what might happen in the laps ahead. Melinda and Hans noted calves that had tightened the day before. I’d been nursing a cranky knee that was taped as tight as 40 pounds of sausage in a 20 pound casing. The knee was on my laundry list of excuses in case I didn’t make the full 96 laps. “My knee hurts, I had been sick, I broke a nail…”

Wah, wah, wah… But in the end our little group of LPTR Gold Medal Challenge runners completed our double-duty weekend. Five out of 39 GMC runners were LPTRs. If there was another one of you in the mix, let me know and I will apologize many times over.

Now, to answer some of the questions that IceBreaker runners hear each year:

Does it get monotonous running all those loops? Are you tempted to slit your wrists out of complete boredom?

For me, it really doesn’t get monotonous until the last miles of the marathon. Runners are constantly cheered by friends, volunteers and even the ice skaters. Speaking of which, it is just f-ing cool to watch those speed skaters striding out. Runners have front seats to watch some of the best skaters in the country do their stuff, some of whom will go on to world competition, including the Olympics. And if their art in motion doesn’t distract you, their snug-fitting skin suits just might.

Is the track brutal on your legs, knees, ankles or other things with which you use to ambulate yourself?

It depends with whom you speak. Personally, I don’t think that I feel any more beat up from the Pettit Center runs than I would after a road marathon. I’m very tired, and a bit sore, but I looked it up on the internet and it seems that these are appropriate responses to two days of running on any surface.

Some have said that their hips bug them after from making the turns. Some have said that their calves seem more strained. That’s not my experience. I have a cranky knee but it was cranky since the beginning of the year. It actually held up much better on the track than I expected.

What is the weather like? Perfect and predictable. No wind. Temps in the 50s. Cold for spectators but excellent for runners. No need to check a weather report pre-race.

And finally, bathroom possibilities? A couple of porta-potties are on each end of the oval. You just have to remember which direction you came from when you finish business. The only wrong turn I ever made on the oval was when I made a potty stop and got spun around post-pee. It was like making a wrong turn onto a one-way street.

Congrats to the repeat winners of the Gold Medal Challenge: Mac McCulley and Mary Flaws. Results for all the races can be found at:

The Li’l Mister has a few photos up at:

And Bill Flaws will have a full weekend’s worth of pics at

Steve, Melinda and Hans

Melinda (Where's Jax?!?!)

Hans and Troy

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