Illinois Half Marathon 2011

at the finish line of the Illinois Half MarathonWhat a great day! Even with a cold, missing GUs, forgetting my special playlist, nearly missing the start due to traffic and porta-potty lines, and 25 mph winds… I did it!

Official time: 2:34:44, an improvement of about 25 minutes over last year. Yay!

I started out slow, on a slight downhill. The spectators were great and I felt very relaxed. My conservative pace was rewarded, as I was far enough back to see the leader of the full marathon, Jose Muñoz, loop around back to Green Street behind the pace car. He looked amazing, and he won the race. Anywhere from mid-pack back is a big, fun, sweaty party.

Favorite signs/cheers:

  • You do the running, we’ll do the drinking!
  • Run, Bitches!
  • Girl’s sign: “Don’t stop.” Guy’s sign: “That’s what she said.”
  • “It’s all downhill from here!”
  • 6.5 miles to beer

A guy just ahead of me stole Elvis’ sunglasses near the local strip joint, then taunted him to come after him. Ha! (Yes, the course goes past a strip club, yay.) I was passed a lot in the first miles, but at least I could read the back of their shirts. It seemed like many of the people with super-tough stuff written on their shirts were walking later in the race, or being passed. I didn’t have a witty shirt, but I did have a good strategy.

However, despite planning, the unexpected happens. I still have trouble drinking from cups on the run, so I walked some of the later aid stations. I felt good even on “hills” around Stone Creek (with headwind!), but I was really looking forward to the GU at mile 6.5… and then I missed it! I think I was too busy waving at my parents on the other side of the road. (Note to self: bad parent placement.) I looked down to see… empty packets. Ugh! Thanks to passing some friends, I made it through the next mile, but then started feeling “wobbly” as I approached the sunny park trail section of the course. I was running out of fuel, and felt weird enough to contemplate picking up half-finished GU packets, jelly bean packets, etc. When my legs started feeling wobbly, I knew I needed something right away. Thankfully, a volunteer at the medical tent handed me a bottle of Gatorade, and it brought me back. The take-home lesson: always carry an extra GU or something else for energy!

From the park, I just kept going. I remembered how sunny, hot and humid it was last year, how difficult it felt, and how much I walked. I felt good, and wanted to enjoy the experience. I ran up “hills” to get through them quickly, played the “just run until insert point here” game, and ended up running it to the end. My faster miles were toward the end, which is how I usually run. I even kicked it up around the stadium in the last half mile and finished strong.

Feel it, fight it, finish it! I can’t wait for next year. Oh wait, I won’t have to, because I signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon on the day I turn 35. Take that, mid-thirties!

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