Monday, May 22, 2006

Racing for bratwursts on the "Frosty Tundra"

May 21. 2006

The Frosty Tundra of Lambeau Field

I woke up at 4:55 AM to get prepared for the race. I turned on The Weather Channel to see what was going on.

“Frost Advisory???” Oh, my! It was all of 39 degrees with a NW wind that was giving us a wind chill of near freezing. I knew Lambeau was often referred to as the "frozen tundra," but today it might actually be frosty! I was wishing I had brought some gear in addition to my shorts, long-sleeved running shirt, and a light top! Note to self; pack for all kinds of different weather next year.

I went down to the hotel lobby at about 6:00 AM, and it was positively buzzing with runners! Kind of funny to get out of the elevator that early and feel like you are walking into a party. Everybody was getting fired up for the races!

I wandered down to the starting area with nearly 1300 of my closest friends. I did my best to stretch out and warm up, but it was plenty chilly. It was one of those days where it was so cold that your face muscles really didn’t want to cooperate when you were talking to someone!

The Green Bay Boys and Girls Choirs got us going with a beautiful a cappella version of the National Anthem. Soon after that, the starting command was given, and we were on our way.

The race starts right in the heart of the Green Bay Packers’ training facility, makes a lap around Lambeau Field, eventually running through Lambeau Field, and finishes at the start.

It was difficult to get moving because of the crowds and the cold, and my first mile was slow. There is a bit of a hill on Lombardi Avenue in the first half mile, and we were also going right into the wind. The second mile went faster, however. It cut through a residential neighborhood on the south side of the stadium, and there was a nice downhill stretch where I made up some time.

Now for the cool part; As you get past mile 2, you make your way towards Lambeau Field. They route you into the player tunnel, and you get to run a lap around the perimeter of the football field. What a feeling that was to emerge from the tunnel into what is arguably the most historic football field in the NFL, the very same field where “The Gunslinger,” Brett Favre, has pulled off numerous feats of football brilliance. They even allowed spectators into the stands to cheer on the runners. How awesome! I am sure I slowed down a bit in the stadium to savor the moment as best I could.

Once out of the stadium, it was pretty much a straight shot back to the finish, so I pretty much gave it what I had down the homestretch. I crossed the finish line in 22:35. This was not one of my fastest races, but given the slow start I had, as well as taking in the experience of Lambeau Field, I was pleased.

I finished 49th overall, and to my surprise, 3rd in my age group. But the interesting part was that someone in my age group finished 1st overall for the whole race and received the award for that. In order to be fair and balanced, they don’t give two awards to the same person for overall and division, so I ended up getting the 2nd place medal for my age group by default! As Homer Simpson once said, “The two sweetest words in the English language; default! DE-FAULT! DE-FAULT!” :)

Afterward, they had all of the usual food and drink items for the runners; Gatorade, fruit, bagels, etc. But being this is Green Bay, they also had free bratwursts for the runners! So I enjoyed a hot bratwurst while I watched some of the half marathon leaders finish. A run through Lambeau, a medal, and fresh cooked sausage at the finish; how could it possibly get any better?
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