Race Review: Illinois Marathon HALF Marathon

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon to run the half marathon distance to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!


I had the opportunity at the end of April to run the half marathon distance at the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon and it was a fabulous event and race! Everything from the expo and packet pickup through the race itself and ending with the post race party was on point. I ran the marathon distance back in 2018 and nothing has changed in that time when it comes to the seamless running of the race. If there is a race you should run just for the finely run machine that it is, it is the Illinois Marathon. The course is nice and simple, perfect for getting that PR you might be striving for (full disclosure: I did not hit a PR in this race, but it is definitely attainable.) The race management and the volunteer staff are top notch and you receive some nice swag with your registration.

Expo Quality: Really nice spacing of the vendor booths with other races promoting themselves, a CPR area, some racing gear vendors and then the official Illinois Marathon vendor area full of some pretty nice merchandise with the race logo on it. Packet pickup was extremely quick and smooth. I was checked in and had my shirt and bib in minutes. Very efficient.

I also had the great opportunity to meet up with a fellow BibRave Pro, Nicki, just as we were leaving the expo after grabbing our packets and perusing the vendors.

Parking/Access: Easy drive into the parking lot on race morning with no problem getting to the start line (and bathroom) before the race start. And at the end of the race and when I was done with the post race party, easy exit back to my hotel.

Course Scenery: It wasn’t as nice as it was in 2018 but that’s because they had to alter the course due to a lack of volunteers and construction going on around the University of Illinois campus so that effected it a little bit. But, how can you not like a race that has you finishing while you cross the 50-yard line of a major college football stadium. It’s awesome! And when you get that PR, don’t forget to ring the heck out of the PR bell that is provided for all runners.

Elevation Difficulty: Minimal and that’s why it makes for a great course to get your PR. There are some minor hills on some of the course but nothing that will kill your racing mojo. Pretty flat for a huge part of it.

Aid Stations: Well stocked and well serviced by volunteers. Plenty of water to grab and on several of the tables, Nuun hydration to replenish the body as you chugged along the course. My only complaint was that the volunteers were doing too good of a job by filling the cups a little too high with water. The first two stations had me inhaling water up my nose as I was running and drinking at the same time.

Also, a fun moment during the race when I saw another fellow BibRave Pro, Lina, running ahead of me. I turned on some jets so I could catch up to her and ran a few miles with her; she was wise and steady-armed enough to grab a selfie of the both of us in motion!

Race Management: EXCELLENT! Constant updates from several months out all the way to the morning of race day. And the last few days they were not shy about sending out info in case of bad weather (which was in the forecast) and about where to go if necessary. Also, what other race do you see the race director get involved with runner directional control? Jan Seeley was out directing runners where to go on certain turns. That’s how much she loves this race and being in charge of how well it is run.

T-Shirts/Swag: An awesome soft cotton t-shirt representing this year’s race and 2020, which was when the cancellations began; a pretty sweet finisher’s medal, a nice nylon string bag that was used as your gear check back but will get many more uses down the road.

Bottom line, choose this race as a destination race if you’re looking for a spring race. You won’t be disappointed and I guarantee you’ll have a good time! and don’t forget the post race party! Tons of food options from pizza to chocolate milk to bananas, Kind bars, rolls, the list goes on and on. And then you go outside and get your free beer where you can also purchase food truck food if you like and get a free quick massage if you like.

Happy running!!

Illinois Marathon, I’m Coming for Ya

Disclaimer: I received a race entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve been training and preparing mentally to run the half marathon in Champaign, Illinois this coming weekend. We’re just a few hours away from the start time and I am ready to go. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a while now for one particular reason: the chance to PR my half marathon time. I ran the full marathon here back in 2018 and, at the time, PRed my marathon time by over 25 minutes!! Now the question will be can I do it?

I’ve mostly been training in cool to cold weather. The only time it hasn’t been a cold and windy run was a couple of times when the weather was moderate and a bit warmer than 60 degrees and then the few times I ran on the treadmill. There have been some other obstacles during this training period. A small head cold that lingered for way too long, some allergies when that warmer weather hit and some plants started blooming and then a recent pain in my jaw which turned into a root canal. Lucky me, right? But I’ve plowed along the way and got in my runs, even scaling back on weekly mileage while adding some bike riding and swimming to give my body some new experiences while training for a race.

Of course, here we are, just over a day away, and there’s talk of severe weather possibly effecting the start of the race or the entirety of the race itself. Obviously, this does not please me or anyone else for that matter. Very frustrating that Mother Nature may quash everyone’s fun and goals but, of course, that would be out of my control. I will simply look forward to this goal race and hope that it goes off without a hitch.

Happy running! And make sure you go after your goals too!

Race Review: Illinois Marathon

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!!

What to say about my experience at the Illinois Marathon? It started out not so good but that was all on me. I left my house about two hours later than I had intended which made me get stuck into some nasty traffic more than once on the way. What should have been a three and a half hour trip turned into a four hour and forty-five minute trip and left me dangerously close to missing the designated packet pickup time. Thankfully, I got to the on-campus center where the expo was being held to pick up my bib and grab a pic or two. But, as you can see, the expo was really wrapping up and I missed all of the fun and informative stuff. Bummed about that but call it another lesson in traveling to a race, something I am still a relative rookie at doing so far.

I enjoyed what was left of the expo and did have the chance to talk to a few of the race representatives for some other local races in Champaign. It was brief and not as memorable as I would have liked, but, some is better than none. After the expo, I then headed to my hotel to check in and find a place to eat. This was not the best way to start my marathon night experience. By the time I found a place to eat that didn’t have too long of a wait, it was 8:45pm. I had dinner, got back to the hotel and wasn’t falling asleep until close to midnight. Why was I up so late you may ask? Because of being behind all day, I wasn’t even race prepped at all. So I got everything ready to attempt to make the morning run a little smooth.

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But, of course, I then proceeded to sleep like crap. Tossed and turned and woke up once around 3am. Nothing like going into your second ever marathon on a restless night of sleep. Eventually my alarm went off and I was up and getting dressed for the race. Thank goodness for the abundance of parking at the start line area. The line of cars to get in moved smoothly and swiftly. Where for one moment I thought I was going to be late, then there was no worry at all and I had plenty of spare time to check my bag, stretch out some and get into my corral.

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I was in corral F and it took about 20 minutes for us to move up and get into the front of the line. Oddly enough, somehow I ended up at the actual front of our corral; something that never happens. And then we were off! I had a great start. And that was after overcoming the weird feeling of something missing from the start. But that was just me. My only previous marathon experience was the Chicago Marathon and that was crazy noisy and boisterous crowds for miles. I remembered not turning on my music until mile 16. Here, it was amazing how the cheering and yelling at the start line just slowly disappeared about 300 yards down the road. Not completely quiet but definitely a difference. That being said, there was plenty of crowd support with families cheering on the side and students from the University of Illinois as well. There were DJ’s, rock bands, country bands and even a violinist at the split mark for the half and full marathon points. Plenty of aid stations with water and Gatorade. A couple of gel stations were sprinkled in as well with two orange stations. The volunteers were great! So supportive and helpful; they were the cheering section I needed at the end. I loved when running through the residential neighborhoods and there are folks offering up beer to drink; always cracks me up. And I’ll tell you what, I was ready to have one but I was making incredible time on my run and didn’t want to risk botching it up.

As the race went on and mile 6 became mile 13, I was still doing really well. Too well as it would turn out, but that didn’t rear its head until later. I was still averaging 8:33/mile at the 16 mile point which is really good for me. It wasn’t until mile 22 that things slowed down and my right hip started aching a little bit. By the end of the race, my hip was not happy but I muscled up enough energy and power through to the finish line and set a PR for myself. By almost 28 minutes!!! And I was able to break 4 hours too, which was my main goal.

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I was more than happy with my performance with this race and how manageable the course was for me to navigate and dominate (at least for my level). The post race spread of food was awesome as well. Choices of chips, pizza, pasta with rolls and chocolate milk along with water were all available. And then the Riggs Beer Company beer for runners. I went with their IPL and it was awesome!Screen Shot 2018-05-07 at 11.39.15 PM

All in all, I had a great time with this race. The Illinois Marathon knows how to do it and do it well. They blended the full, the half and the 10K runners into one course at the same time (for the most part) and it was flawless in its operation. Would I run this race again? Hell yes. The full again? Perhaps. The half would be a fun challenge as well I think. You owe it to yourself to give this race a shot and earn yourself a sweet medal and maybe even a PR!

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Did you run this year’s race? Have you run it in the past? I would love to hear your thoughts or respond to any comments or questions you may have about it!

Happy running!!

The Doldrums of Training

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

So, I am nearing the end of training for the Illinois Marathon because, gasp!, it’s almost here! I had my last major distance run last weekend with a 20.1 mile run. I would say it was a good run for the most part. I started off too fast though and that remains to be a problem for me. I don’t follow my plan of attack and it costs me. I really need to start listening to my mind and, then later during the run, my body. As I was saying, I started off too fast but strong and that part felt good. My two previous long runs were not good to say the least so this was a nice change in having a solid start and have it stick. The only real drag of this run was the end. I sort of tailed off in the last 2-3 miles and finished a little bit gassed.

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And that has remained a problem with all long runs for the last month. I don’t know what it is. I have not gotten into a positive flow with this training cycle and that has been frustrating. My legs feel tired a lot and I have questions about that too. I’ve recently reengaged my leg workout program, albeit slowly and not has strenuous as it once was before the hamstring injury I suffered in March 2017 but it’s made me happy to get back at it. But is it costing me? I don’t think so and I’m hoping that my return to lifting will help my endurance come April 28.

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I’m also hopeful that my training runs in multiple weather conditions and temperatures will have prepared me for whatever this race has in store for all of us. I’m not the best follower of all the “rules” that many to almost all other runners follow so my training is a little different. I haven’t always worn the same shoe the entire time and not for all the long runs. My feet need the changeup and I think it will benefit me in the long run, no pun intended. It also has allowed the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18’s that I will be wearing for the race to keep some more support as time has gone on.

The bottom line is my training has been going but just not the way I had hoped. There are now 9 days remaining before the gun goes off. I am in the taper mode now. Short run for the most part are on the schedule now. I will take this upcoming weekend and run a half marathon distance and then squeeze in an 8 mile run in theĀ  middle of next week. Like I said, my training is not the most normal but you also have to take care of your feet and legs when they tell you to.

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I’m curious: how do you train for your races? 5K distance? Full marathon? 15K distance? I would love to know the different methods that others use. Feel free to comment below!

Happy running!

Illinois Marathon Training

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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So, my marathon training has been up and down for the year 2018. It has had the low of needing to take three plus weeks off at the end of January into February which led right into my 15K race in Nashville. Not a good start, but when you have an injury you have to do what you can to heal yourself. Finally after the 15K race, I was able to start really digging in to my marathon training. I am a little nervous since technically I am behind quite a bit from where I would like to be but I am doing what I can to make up for it, all while not pushing myself because I am still nursing my hamstring. Small steps though, right?

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There have been some successful runs so far and I’m definitely happy about the progress I have been able to make in such a short time even though I still have a long way to go. I’ve managed a 13 mile run, an 11 mile run and a 15 mile run so far.

Slow building but it’s something to work of off. And there is still time. I keep telling myself that. There is still time to gain endurance and prepare for my second marathon.

Any thoughts or comments, I would love to hear from you!

Happy running!