Illinois 1/2 marathon – 4/28/2012

29 Apr

I would say my trip to Illinois was a great success. Lots of bondi band love was spread and a I have a new 1/2 marathon PR! The Illinois marathon is a top notch event. I would probably say it is one of my favorite races I’ve run besides my Disney races. The community really goes all out to make sure this event is a success, more about that later though.

Thursday and Friday were expo days for me. This was the longest expo I’d ever worked, and this was also the first time I was running the event  after working the expo. I wasn’t sure how my legs would hold up being on my feet so much, but I was determined to give it my best effort after last weekends 1/2 marathon fail.

Luckily Thursday was a short expo day, because I was already tired from driving to Illinois and having to set up before the expo started. I always love talking to other runners, it makes the time go by so quickly. Before I knew it the expo was closed, and I was able to relax at the hotel a little that night. Friday was a Looooooong day. The expo was open for 11 hours, then I had to pack everything up afterwards. Luckily it was super busy all day long, so 11 hours felt a lot shorter. I tried to at least lean on a chair when I got the chance so I could save my legs a little, but it was so busy that I didn’t get much of a chance to rest. Being on my feet wasn’t so bad, but all the squatting and bending over were what really made my legs ache. My legs were definitely tired by the time I got back to the hotel that evening. I finished up a few things at the hotel, then laid out my race stuff and hit the sack because my alarm was set to go off 7 hours later. Of course I tossed and turned for awhile, so I have no idea how much sleep I actually got.

When my alarm went off race morning I felt pretty good. It was raining when I got dressed, so I put on a layer of throw away clothes to wear before the start. Luckily by the time I got to the race the rain had stopped, but it was still a chilly wait in the corrals. One reason I loved this race was the fact that several radio stations had a pre-marathon show broadcasting that morning. It was great since I had a 30ish minute drive to the race, it really helped me to get excited about running! Everything was really organized in the starting line area. There were corrals based on time, and your bib had a letter on it based on what your estimated finish time was. There wasn’t anyone checking to make sure you ended up in the right place, but I didn’t have to weave around anyone after the start, so I think most people stuck to their proper corrals. I decided since I was feeling good to start with the 2:05 pace group. I’d heard the course was flat, but I didn’t know how my legs would feel running. I decided to drop back when I couldn’t hold the pace anymore. Another reason this race was awesome was because there were spectators everywhere. Usually there will be some spectators at the start and finish, maybe a few places in between, but there were people everywhere on this course. Usually I feel like a nuisance for others when I’m in a race because the road is closed and the people waiting to get across seem annoyed to be waiting for all the runners. I didn’t feel like that at all during this race. The community really seemed to embrace the event, and a lot of people were cheering in their front yards, or had signs in front of their house for runners. I stayed with the 2:05 pace group for the first 4 miles, but had to drop them at the second water station when I took a GU. I love the smart pace teams in KC because they stop at water stops so we can get a drink, not so for the pace teams here. There was no stopping, and I haven’t mastered the art of taking a gu while running. I ended up keeping a really good pace on my own. I passed the 10k time mat in less than an hour and was still feeling strong. It helped a lot that the course was super flat. Hills really throw a wrench in my pacing, so not having to slow down  throughout helped me keep a nice steady pace. Around mile 10 my legs started to show signs that they were tired from the expo. To add insult to injury, the GPS function on my watch was being wonky, so I had no idea about my pace for the last 3 miles. I know I slowed down, but at every mile I was doing the math in my head to figure out if I had a chance to PR. At mile 12 I had just over 12 minutes to make it to the finish if I was going to PR. I wanted to run fast, but my legs wouldn’t have it. My feet were barely clearing the ground and I even managed to trip and fall over nothing at mile 12.5. I wish the end was more of a straight shoot because there were so many turns, I started to get discouraged looking at my watch because I didn’t know if I was going to make it in time. I had pushed so hard during the race, I would have been pretty devastated if I missed a PR by a few seconds. When I finally saw the finish, I looked at my watch and it was at 2:09, so I sprinted like my life depended on it. I crossed the finish line exhausted, but on cloud 9 for having pushed so hard and setting a new PR. My official chip time was 2:09:13 which translates to a 9:52 pace. A few minutes after I finished the marathon winner finished as well. We finished inside the U of I stadium, and the spectators and runners went crazy for him, it gave me goosebumps being there, such a neat experience!

After the race the food area had pizza and some other food, but I opted for just the banana. I usually love pizza, but wasn’t feeling it after running so hard. While walking back to my car I passed a tent with the official race gear. I didn’t get a chance to check it out during the expo since I was working, so I glanced quickly before going to my car. They had 4-5 of the race jackets left, and I’d been wanting a new one. Most were XS, but there was exactly one left in my size, so I took that as a sign that I was supposed to buy it. I even got $10 off because I didn’t have exact change, and they didn’t have change.

The race swag was great too. The official shirt was a brooks shirt which came in a nice bag.

I’m out of room on my medal hanger, I’ve had to resort to hanging medals off the letters now.

One final picture because it’s so stinking cute. My nephew wanted to try on one of my bondi bands then asked to wear a medal. He’s definitely a future runner in training.

Illinois definitely a great race, I hope I can run it again next year!

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