Sunday, April 19, 2009

Curse you, you exuberant 50 yard line guy Illinois Marathon report.

The travel weekend started off swimmingly on Thursday when my plane was loaded up, driven out to the taxi way, and then towed back in for maintenance issues. Nice. I got put on another flight, bumped off that one, and was eventually rerouted through Denver to make it to Chicago about 5 hours later than planned. Sigh. Add in the 2-1/2 hour drive to my brother's place and it would have been midnight before I arrived.

So I decided to drive a while and find a hotel for the night. Then finish driving down Friday morning. I drove, and drove, and tried to calculate what would yield the most sleep and yet allow me to arrive fairly early so we could hit the expo. I ended up stopping only about 1/2 hour away from my brother's place and crashing for the night. Up and at it early Friday morning to get to his place around 9. It was sprinkling and blustery, which I kept hoping would just go away in time for the marathon on Saturday.

We hit the expo to get our shirts and bibs. A little disappointing, as there were no 'goodies' in our goodie bags. Just a bunch of fliers about other races. The shirts were pretty cool tho: navy blue, long sleeve 1/2 zip tech tees. Schweet. We blitzed through the expo and then headed to run some errands, one of which was to grab some more gels. Yeah, I'd be packing 10 of those little suckers for the run. Ugh. A few other errands and then we went back to my brothers place for a little down time before dinner with a big family contingent.

Jeff was coming in at 6:30 so I headed to the Champaign airport to pick him up while everyone else headed for our dinner reservation. I swooped by the airport and then we met everyone at the restaurant where they still hadn't ordered. Nice timing. Had some pretty good pasta, some really good garlic bread, and some decent pizza as a nice carbo load dinner. 

We snagged a hotel about 1/2 mile from the start line which was awesome and after dinner we headed to my brother's place to bring him back into town for the night. On the way I asked Jeff where his carry-on bag was. Um, yeah, he forgot it at the airport. *Sigh* So after Rob packed up his stuff and we helped put the girls to bed, another trip to the airport to retrieve the forgotten bag. Arrived at the hotel and started putting stuff together for the morning. Shorts/pants...check. Shoes...check. Bibs and chips....check. Fuel belts....check. Gloves....check. check. While I had my whole suitcase full of running stuff (ok, not quite full, but close), Rob had forgotten his shirt at home. Back out to the car for another round trip to his house, back up to the hotel room and finish gathering gear. 11:30 or so before we finally hit the sheets. But then, two nights before is the most important night of sleep...or so I'm told.

Up the next morning and out the door by 6:30 to head down to the start. Chilly, for sure. I had decided on tights and a long sleeve shirt and my jacket figuring I'd chuck the jacket at some point. Not so much as it turned out. Over that I had a sweatshirt and sweats. I tried to wait until the last minute to stuff my sweats into the bag and throw my stuff on the gear check van. Soon enough tho we had to head to the start line to meet up with pacer Tom, who we were hoping would guide us to a "just" sub 5 hour run.  

Rob, Me and our Gram in the background :)

A bit of madness at the start line with no real way for anyone to determine where to line up.   The only pace signs were the one's held up by the pacers and they were pretty small.  We eventually found pacer Tom and hung out close to him to listen for pre-race instruction.   Tom was running his 49th marathon.  Wow.  Soon enough someone yelled "3..2...1..Go" and we were off.  No really, that's how it started.  Well, it is the first year of the race.  They'll get a starters gun eventually I'm sure.

The first few miles went by pretty quickly and smoothly.  Somewhere around mile 10 we saw our Aunt and 2 cousins.  Then around mile 13 we saw Susie and Spencer (my SIL and niece). Rob tossed his jacket, but even though it was nice and sunny, it was a bit cool for me and I kept my jacket on all day.  About a mile later we saw Jeff, our grandparents and another aunt.  Not too long after that we saw our cousin who had finished up her leg of the relay.  So, yeah, we saw a lot of family out there which was awesome.  Race support rocked!  Not just the family but the volunteers too were cheering for everyone.  Gotta' give Champaign an A++ for support!

And we were doing a pretty good job of keeping Pacer Tom in sight.  About mile 15 Tom said we had about a minute 'in the bank', so were were headed for a sub-5 hour marathon.  Then about mile 17 or 18 the wheels fell off.  It was getting tougher to stick with Tom.  A quick porta-potty stop and he was in sight, but not reachable.  We just couldn't make up the distance.  And things were starting to ache.  So, from about mile 18 we started a run walk.  Walk until xx.xx miles and then run as we could.  

Approaching the 25 mile marker, we decided we had to run it in the rest of the way.  Less than 1.5 miles.  We could do that.  And we could hear the music coming from Memorial Stadium at the U of I where the finish line was waiting.  The closer we got the more excited I got.  The excitement culminated at the about the 20-yard line where the announcer at the 50-yard line yelled "Bring it home" and all thought disappeared.  My legs just took over and started sprinting toward the finish.  It's not my fault.  Really.  I just lost my head.  I know, I's not nice to leave your running buddy in the dust like that.  I honestly had no control.  I just went.  Here's my official apology to my brother for beating 1 second.  Even tho I still plead temporary insanity.  Actually, it's all that 50-yard line guy's fault!  Yeah, that's it!  Curse your encouragement anyway!

Finish time: 5:14:05

Not the sub-5 we were hoping for but an awesome run none the less.  And a 26 minute PR for me.  That I will take.  Thanks Rob!  Wouldn't have done it without you! :)

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