Today I ran the inaugural Illinois Half Marathon…all 307.12 miles of it. 🙂
The 13.1 for the race today and 294.02 in training miles. As much as this one day means, it would not be possible without the training mileage to get me here.
And I am happy to report I met all of my goals and finished in: 1:57:19!!
So now for the detail….
Rob and I got up at 4am to gear up and pack the car with redundant everything. We hit the road at 5:30am so we would make it to the race before the they starting closing the roads. I had a couple cups of coffee and a peanut butter with natural strawberry jam on whole wheat then followed that with water on the ride there.
There was plenty of parking and we parked further away in hopes leaving would be easier (which it was). With an hour and a half before the race we took the time to use the facilities in the Memorial Stadium, much better than the porta potties, although they had a ton throughout the course. We hung at the car for awhile before making our way to the starting area. We used that time for our quick warm up.
We noticed how under dressed we were in comparison to most runners. The temps during the run were 37-40 degrees, 10mph winds and partly sunny. I knew in a matter of a mile I was going to be warm so I went with shorts, sleeveless shirt and a long sleeved throw away old race t-shirt. I cut the neck of it so that I could rip it open (Hulk style) and then fish my arms out one at a time and then toss it. Rob went with shorts and sleeveless shirt. He was doing the 5K and even had to wait 15 mins after the half/full got going to start their race. Most runners were quite bundled, tights, fleece, hat, gloves. I saw quite a few later in the race holding their hats/gloves and I was glad I didn’t have those items to think about. I only felt the cold at the park, but more on that later. The other outfit item of note was my Gu. I pinned it to the right side of my shorts (2 Gus and a pin for each one). I have never ran with Gu pinned to me and that would have been good to try out beforehand, but oh well. I’m happy to report I had no issues. I didn’t feel it banging on my leg or pulling my shorts. Plus I got to run with nothing in my hands. They were even surprisingly easy to tear off when I needed one.
Oh and the race chips were commemorative and we got to keep them for free! Pretty cool since I’ve seen races charge $39 for the same thing. It was a very nice touch.
So the start. Like most large starts, approximately 5,000 of us trying to get going. They had three sets of mats down and I was able to step on the first two sets, then right in front of me a guy trips on the last mat, it flips over, I step on it and this guy is rolled up in a ball on the ground like roadkill. I’m left just hoping that my chip was captured.
Getting started was the usual weaving in and out of people that feel like they are all over the place and can’t decide what pace they want. I was able to get into cruise control the and the first three miles went by so quickly. I ditch my shirt with no problem and I feel the cold air, but I feel fine.
At some point we come to a water stop I didn’t need any, but I noticed they were passing out FULL Disani water bottles. I remember at the expo when we were volunteering that another volunteer said that the race was stocked with a TON of bottled water that they got from some military thing and it needed to get used before the expiration date. I had my headphones turned up pretty loud to drown out the more chatty people, but I could still hear the community of response of “FULL water bottles? Kind of a waste.” Runners took a couple sips and are chucking these still very full bottles, but what else could they really do with them? I wouldn’t want to run with that. So the amount of water on the ground was amazing, like it had rained heavily. And I thought dodging chucked paper cups was something until I was making sure to not step on water bottles. Kinda funny. I’m sure they will get feedback about that, but knowing the back story it all made sense now.
Time is passing so quickly, next thing I’m taking my Gu at mile 4.5 because we are coming up on a water stop at 5 miles as we enter the park. I had seen the video of the course and knew we were about to enter a park path that would squish us together. What also occurred was another eventful water stop. They set up the tables right at the entrance. Not on the road that was wide open, but on the sidewalk. During a water stop on a road you have more space to decide if you are interested in slowing down and taking some or keep going. This was more a free for all of FULL paper cups with water flying out and we were all forced to slow our pace to manage the park sidewalk and the water. Luckily I already planned to drink here for my Gu so I wasn’t upset my the momentary slower running to get a bit of water. I just found the whole thing pretty funny. We move through the park pretty quickly. I stuck to the sidewalk because the grass area was wet and muddy looking. Plus this was when I felt the brisk chill of the wind because we were in an open area. We were packed like sardines and although I only lost a bit of my pace, it actually went well considering how close together we had to run. Out of the park was mile 6.
10K chip mat (6.2 Miles): 54:27 A new 10K PR!! That’s 6 minutes off of my previous 10K time. I can’t wait to see if I can get this time down again when 10K is all I have to run.
Mile 7 I do remember my watch at 1:01:XX. Everything is feeling good I’m half way. I force myself to take some water (full bottle I think). I really wasn’t very thirsty, but I knew that some water now than when I wished I had it was better.
Then Mile 8 I notice my legs feel heavier than they had. I keep going cause there really is nothing I can do, but the feeling stays with me. We are back in the downtown area and the crowd support throughout the race exceeded my expectations. There were a lot of people out cheering us on. Mile 10 and my left IT Band by my kneed shouts foul! I don’t even flinch, but my pace slows. I’m otherwise in great spirits and want to keep going, heck I want to speed up and my leg was not having it. It was tightening and I was going to have to just manage the situation. So I’m not able to bend my knee as fully as I would want. I had to shorten my steps and push forward. Mile 10.5 the full marathoners split from us, I manage a “Go FULL!” as a few people separate to take the longer road. I’m happy to not be them today, that will take many more training miles to do. We make our way over and under a road and I’m actually relieved for the minor hill because it makes my knee feel better for a moment to have a switch of terrain.
Mile 11 a water stop, wtf?! We are there people, geez! This lady cold stops in front of me in the middle of the road and I shout “Excuse us!!” and she side steps just before I plow her over. Around Mile 12 we are back to the stadium and a woman next to me says “the best thing I’ve seen all day” and I said “I know”. I’m going as fast as my knee will allow. We run past the stadium for a U-turn to line up with the full marathoners entrance point so we would all enter the gate together. We come down a steep slope and then run the football field (it was AstroTurf, I was surprised) and made a turn at the touchdown area then doubled back to around the 50 yard line for the finish. I hear Rob shout “Go Christine!” and my heart just leaped.
I was there, I was done, and I was in one piece. I felt overall pretty great. I only assume the variance on the roads or the many turns or the side walk mile in the park made my knee unhappy. But after all of it my soreness is small and much smaller than last year. I feel so much stronger as a runner and ready to start training for my full.
Since Rob ran the 5K he was able to be in the finishing area. We hug and get water. He set a new PR!! 24:22!! And he even got a medal.
We made our way through the running area and grab some water. My post race snack choice, Hawaiian roll. 🙂
We ran into our friend Curt on the way out who said he made it at 2 hours. We didn’t stick around too long cause we noticed then how chilly it did feel outside.
Overall I think IL Marathon put on a great race. It was well stocked, staffed and had all the amenities of a large city race with somehow a small town feel. I think the small town was that everyone (runners and volunteers) were super nice and everything was easily accessible.
I’m so thankful for my husband’s support and encouragement, the wonderful weather, my health, and just a wonderful day.
Mile 1: 8:44
Mile 2: 8:34
Mile 3: 8:38
Mile 4: 8:31
Mile 5: 8:49 (into the park)
Mile 6: 8:55 (out of the park)
Mile 7: 8:27
Mile 8: 8:41 (heavy leg feeling)
Mile 9: 8:44
Mile 10: 9:09 (left knee unhappy)
Mile 11: 9:25
Mile 12: 9:18
Mile 13: 9:23
Last .1 Mile: 7:57
F 30-34: 60/308