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 the  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!

2017 Review of My Running

This has been an interesting year for me in my running world. There have been some great highs with amazing experiences to go with them, but there also have been some lows that did take away from how great this year could have been for me. I look back at everything with a slight frown because deep down I know what could have been instead of what it was and that is frustrating to say the least. What follows here will be a brief synapsis of the running adventures I had in 2017.

The first race I participated in was my annual Samson Stomp and Romp Run/Walk 5K at the Milwaukee County Zoo. I love this race and it’s how I’ve started my year off for the last 5 years. The one major reason I sign up for this race (other than getting to run through the zoo because that is awesome!) is that the cost benefits programs the zoo provides for their visitors and kids. 2017 marked one of my best ever 5K times as well in this race (I believe I run faster because typically it is so damn cold at this run) with a time of 23:05. My goal is to get a top 5 age finish so I can take home a cool trophy. (It’s a mini gorilla!)

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Jumping forward to March will also jump us to when my 2017 plans changed ever so slightly. Plans for run streaks or monthly challenges kind of went away during the Lucky Leprechaun 7K race. During this race, I pushed myself (nothing crazy) but more that my legs on that day were ready. The end result was a hamstring that I guess you would have to call strained. It wasn’t a muscle pull in the way it would hurt but it also didn’t go away. It changed my daily workouts for a chunk of the year as I avoided “leg day” all the way until November when I slowly got back into some light weight lifting. But my runs suffered throughout the year. Any short runs or races I was unable to really push to hard because the hamstring would never loosen up. And on the other side, it usually took the first two to three miles in any long run for the pain to subside or at least fade into the nether regions of my mind so I could continue to push the rest of the long distance. This was the lowest point of the year, even though I didn’t really fully know it until each week turned into months into the remainder of the year.

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The middle of April, and by extension due to some email tag, early May, brought me into the world of BibRave and becoming a BibRavePro. I had applied before but hadn’t heard back right way and still continued to engage in the great running conversations that take place 8pm CST on Twitter every Tuesday! I was so happy to become a Pro and be able to offer advice and represent the group at races. The first race I was able to wear my BibRave gear proudly at was the RAM Racing Bigfoot 10K/5K Trail run in Wisconsin and I had a blast. Another part of the program is being able to test out various running related products and then blog about, chat about and compare notes about via all the social media outlets available to you. It’s been such an experience to learn new techniques and ideas about running as well as new products, like the AfterShokz Trekz Titanium headphones which now allow me to listen to music while still hearing my surroundings. This was one of the products I was able to test and it truly was life altering when it came to running outside.

 

After that there were other various runs throughout the spring and summer as well as some new additions to my wardrobe. I had made a giant mistake with my running career concerning sneakers, as in the first real pair of running shoes I had I managed to run…906 total miles in. Yeah, so I wasn’t aware for some idiot reason that that was not a good thing. So the early spring brought me new sneakers as well as late summer. I don’t think I’ve ever bought four pairs of sneakers in the same year, ever. First up were some new Brooks Adrenaline GTS 17’s and a pair of Hoka Bondi’s. In the photo on the left below, the shoe with its tread showing is the 900 miler…I don’t know what I was thinking! The late summer/early fall pickups were a pair of Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18’s and a pair of Brooks PureCadence 6’s. So far, I’d say my impression of the two new fall shoes is a good one but more testing is needed.

 

 

Most of my late summer and early fall, other than the race here or there, was for training for the biggest running event of my life: the Chicago Marathon! I was amazed I as selected and quite intimidated by the training I had to do. There were a lot of long, hard runs in some not-so-pleasant weather but who knew that I would end up helping myself. Race day came and I was prepared as best I could be, especially for the unseasonably warm/humid weather that Chicago experienced that day. My 20 mile training run consisted of 90+ degree temps and some nasty humidity that I trudged through that day. Who knew it would come back to benefit me during the race. My body was ready for it and for that I was proud of myself. I wrote a previous blog about my experience so check that out for more on the run, but I will say that running the Chicago Marathon was an amazing life experience that I’m not sure I can ever repeat. All of it was incredible.

There was a race after that weekend, a 10K, that I competed in and did well considering it was a week post first ever marathon. But that would be the end of the race circuit for me. I had a few more options I had been hemming and hawing on, but ended up not committing to them. I continued running but without purpose and that was difficult. Even when on a short vacation in a warmer climate, I ran but there was nothing there emotionally. I was running for the cardio, for the contrast to eating and drinking not so healthy foods. But with no upcoming race I wasn’t finding a competitive spirit inside…and the hamstring was still bothering me. It took a some time but on December 11, I called it. I ended my running for 2017. Pulled the plug to give the leg and hamstring a break. The pic below shows where I finished for the year in mileage. It’s an improvement over 2016 but well short of the 1,000 mile goal I had set for 2017. I am hopeful that taking these last 3+ weeks off will have helped and maybe did some healing work for my hamstring. 2018 so far has me doing my second marathon in April. I have to be ready. I have to start training in the near future. But I can only hope the leg cooperates with my plans.

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So there is 2017 in a small nutshell. I hope I made the right decisions with shutting down at the end of the year. I hope I didn’t make the wrong choices to continue training and running in preparation for Chicago. The long term might be very very bad. I hope for a better 2018 and I hope to reach my goal, once again 1000 miles, this year. And if I can exceed it, well all the better. 2017 wasn’t a failure by any means. In totality, it was an amazing success with future potential all over it. I’m just harder on myself sometimes, but, hey, that’s what makes us stronger runners, right?

Happy New Year to you all!!

And happy running!!

Please comment or offer up any thoughts if you like!

Come run a marathon with me!

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the 2018 Illinois Marathon 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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Run a marathon? With me? Why, you ask. Well, why not? And what better place to run what, for you may just be another marathon or maybe it’s your first, than the 2018 Illinois Marathon! First, I’ll tell you why I chose to run this race. And, no, it isn’t just because I am a BibRavePro. I ran my first ever marathon this past October at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. So, yes, it was a big one in the overall world of marathon races. But it shares something in common with the Illinois Marathon as well: it’s in Illinois and, therefore, a FLAT course (for the most part). That is a huge plus for me. That many miles of running and the idea of it having very little incline is perfect. Think about it, your first marathon (or not) can be a sweet PR for you to begin your long race career! Another reason I chose this race is because I live in southeastern Wisconsin and this will be an easy drive to and from the race and will not require me to use vacation days. For some, I understand this may not be possible but so many of us live in the Midwest where this is an easy drive. The run is also on a Saturday as opposed to a Sunday, which I like. Just makes that Sunday a nice day of recovery before having to start your work week.

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Now, how do I plan to train? I am still debating that a little bit. The race is April 28, which would tell me that I should begin training in earnest no later than January to give me a solid 16 weeks leading up to it. Some would even say I should be gearing up now, December, to get my body and legs in the right zone. Well…it’s funny you might think that because I am almost considering of shutting myself down for the month to see if I can shake a nagging right hamstring/hip injury that I have been “holding onto” since it showed up last March. Yep, I said March. And I’ve kept running since then. Probably not the best idea but I’m stubborn and haven’t learned the lesson yet. So, I might not start real serious training until mid-January. It shortens up my training cycle but maybe it will work. There is still time to decide since I haven’t committed to hanging up the kicks just yet. Matter of fact, I just ran 10.6 miles yesterday.

But, back to you now! Join me in this marathon! We’ll have fun, trust me! And you can use a code, this one here: 2018bibravebonus to save $5 on your entry. Saving money is always a good thing, right?! And do it quickly so you don’t miss a deadline and have to pay more! Here’s the most current chart:

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Another bonus: all marathoners and half marathoners will receive a drawstring bag too!! So, it’s time for you to run with me and enjoy the sight and sounds of Champaign-Urbana, Illinois.

Check out their website for more info right here.

And check out more of me if you want to!

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If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send me a note!

Happy Running!