On Thanksgiving, over 5 months ago, I decided to sign up for the Illinois Marathon after talking about marathons with my uncle. I then created a plan. There were ups and downs along the journey, but when Saturday came around and I got out of bed, I was excited. I was ready to run after 3 weeks of tapering.
The weather was perfect. It was in the low 40s during the race. I was assigned to start in corral B, which meant that I would be starting 2 or so minutes after the gun went off. My goal was to run a 3:30 (8:00/mile pace), and I thought I wanted to start slow. Mentally, I decided to treat the marathon as 5, 5-mile runs with an extra 1.2 at the end. This would help me focus on small portions of the race instead of it as a whole. Before I knew it, the gun went off and the race started.
Miles 1-5: 7:58, 7:58, 7:58, 7:59, 7:52
I was so happy to start running. We ran by some fraternity houses which provided some quality entertainment. I was shocked that I was able to run a steady pace for the first few miles. From what everyone says, you can tell if it will be a good race or not by mile 6. I kept telling myself that I felt great, and for the most part, I did.
Miles 6-10: 8:02, 8:01, 7:55, 7:58, 7:50
Miles 6 and 7 were windy. We were running on a long street out in the open. It wasn't the most thrilling part of the course, but there were still people all around due to the crowded half marathon. When I saw 8:02 beep on my Garmin, I didn't get anxious. I didn't care at all. I felt good, strong and confident. While we were running through a park, I was lucky enough to get behind two friends who were talking about running etiquette, such as spitting and snot rockets. Just after they finished their thought, one guy blew a snot rocket in my direction. That action propelled me to pass them, and thanking them on my way. They chucked as I left them behind.
Miles 11-15: 7:56, 7:51, 7:46, 7:46, 7:43
After the half marathoners left us at mile 12.5, the field was drastically reduced. I knew this was going to happen and mentally I was prepared for it. I started to feel really good at this point in the race, and my times reflect that. According to the official race results, I ran the first half marathon in 1:44:01.
Miles 16-20: 7:39, 7:33, 7:28, 7:39, 7:40
Then, I started to feel really good. I ran 7:28 for mile 18. What was I thinking? At that point in the race, I knew I would qualify for Boston. I was soooo happy. At mile 18 I took my third and final GU Roctane. I continued to run and feel good. It makes such a difference passing people rather than getting passed at this point in the race. I was running by all guys, passing them one at a time. The crowd, which was fantastic, was cheering for all of the runners. Many of them commented on my neon pink Newton running shoes. I probably had 10 "I like your shoes" comments.
Miles 21-25: 7:47, 7:52, 8:00, 8:12, 8:30
By mile 23 I started to get tired. I thought about the Chicago Marathon and my most recent disaster of a half marathon. I wouldn't give up. I was almost done with my marathon and wanted to soak in every second. I focused on Boston. I tried to tell myself to catch the 3:25 pacer. Or, the guy wearing a flannel shirt ahead of me. (How does a person run a marathon in a flannel shirt?!?! I did end up passing him.) I told myself to be in the moment because this feeling will not last forever. Cherish it while it does.
Mile 26 - 7:43
Last 0.2 (0.22 according to Garmin) - 1:44 (7:22 pace)
Second half marathon: 1:42:39
When I turned the corner and saw the football stadium where the finish was, I was overcome with joy. I was so happy. As I made the last corner and went under the tunnel, which was so neat, and onto the football field, I saw the clock. I knew that I had run even faster than I had even imagined. I sprinted into the finish line and as soon as I crossed it wanted to jump for joy.
I got my medal and some water. I still had energy in my legs to successfully climb up the stadium stairs. I was cold, but the sheer joy radiating inside of me made the cold easy to deal with.
My overall stats:
Overall Place: 191/1891
Gender Place: 29/742
Division Place: 7/131
texted me all of my official information that day. I also feel blessed to have supporters that I've never met but consider friends - my blog friends. I could list what I am most thankful for about every person, I just want to mention one. My friend Scully came to Illinois to run with me this race. She put up with my nervousness before the race and excitement after the race. It made the weekend so much more special.
This race will always hold a special place in my heart.