I finished the 3rd annual Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon, my first Illinois marathon since relocating here for a new job last October and a marathon PR by one minute. Since it was held in Champaign-Urbana, which is about 1.5 hours away, we decided to go the cheap route and drive there the morning of the race instead of staying in a hotel. So my wonderful wife got up with me bright and early at 4 am and we packed our sleepy kids into the van for the short trip northeast. Due to traffic, Krista dropped me off near the race location about 30 min. before the start, which gave me just enough time to hit a porta-john along the way before heading to the starting line. Found out later the rest of the family went off to eat a quick breakfast before coming back to watch the race. As for weather, it was mostly cloudy with winds of 15-25 mph throughout the entire race. At the start, the temperature was 50 dg. and climbed to 60 dg. over the next three hours. With the exception of the winds, it was perfect conditions for a race. From a stage near the starting line, Frank Shorter wished all the runners well and said “let the wind push you all quickly to the finish”, that was cool and I got a bit of an inspiration surge recalling pictures of him running for gold in the Olympics. The gun was fired and the wheelchair division was let out for a one minute lead before the runners. I was really excited for some reason, so I decided to tag along with the 3:10 pace group for a short while so I didn’t blast off. Here are my times at various points in the race:
First 10K – 42:04 (6:47 avg) The first 10K was mostly uneventful. I was feeling good and battling with the wind. I never thought I’d say this, but I was thankful there were plenty of turns.
13.1mi – 1:29:32 (6:50 avg) Had to battle a nasty headwind out in the open for a while, but then entered an older residential section, which provided ample protection from the wind. Almost felt as if the wind was gone completely or we had a tailwind during this part. I did notice that the Garmin showed me running long by about 0.2 mi and that worried me a bit. I don’t know why, because I was working the tangents. Hopefully I can bring that difference down. I took in a GU packet at mile 8.
20mi – 2:17:57 (6:54 avg) The last seven miles were a battle and I knew the party was just getting started. Of course, the winds were still howling and it felt like every time I took a turn a head wind was there to greet me. Let’s just say I winced plenty of choice words every time I took a turn, but really was grateful for the turns at times. I was also still long by 0.2 mi according to the Garmin and my legs were really tired. I was thinking to myself “I didn’t need the extra distance today and why didn’t I do more 20+ miles in training?” Negatives were spinning in my head and some anger was building in my gut. Not good because I should be feeling confident that I can still break 3 hrs. I took in some GU somewhere during this stretch. Krista said they tried to get my attention at mile 15, but I was in a total zone and didn’t see them.
Final 10K – 47:35 (7:40 avg) As usual, I lost my sub-3 during the last 10K. I never saw sub-7 pace the rest of the way as the legs would just not go. I took in another GU, but think I needed a much bigger sugar boost and mentally was still plagued with negative thoughts. A couple younger runners passed me up during this time, but nobody older than me (a small goal I have as I get older!). Actually, I didn't run slower than a 7:30 mile during this last stretch because I ended up running over by 0.2mi. I asked a couple other runners if they came out long for the course and they did as well. Bound to happen since it’s fairly new race, but plan to give the RD a heads up to double check. I would have come in around 3:04 at the finish.
My final placing was:
So I ended up attaining my B goal with a PR and will have to wait for that sub-3. I’m turning 40 this week so I’m glad to be still improving, albeit slowly, and I still have a fire in the gut to improve some more. I was called out as “big guy” several times during the race, which might be a big hint that I need to lose some more weight. Anyway, the race organizers put together a good race and the volunteer support was excellent. I hope they can keep this going since, Lord willing, I plan to run it again.