This race is always well directed, with a great, flat course and awesome community support. The race start is near Memorial Stadium and State Farm Center (formerly Assembly Hall), and ends on the 50 yard line of Memorial Stadium in the heart of the University of Illinois – Champaign campus. This was the 6th running of the races (there is a youth run and a 5k the Friday before, and wheelchair, 10k, half, and full races on Saturday).
Race morning I got up at 4:30 a.m. and was ready to go by 6:00. We found our way to the parking area and grabbed a decent spot between the stadium finish line and the bar where we were later meeting up with friends for post-race beers. We were prepared with throw-away clothing to stay warm at the start, but quickly realized they wouldn’t be necessary, as it was already approaching 60 degrees. By the time many of the marathoners were finishing it was in the 70s. It was a scorching (by marathon standards) 78 when Carl crossed the finish line. HOT. Brutally hot. Seventy people were treated for heat-related illnesses and ten were hospitalized.
I ran a very strong 10k, but then could feel myself slowing down, and wanting to walk more. I kept a fairly decent run going until about mile 9, where I felt myself really starting to hit the wall. Heavy legs set in. Then I came across the lovely folks who were handing out little cups of ice cold beer and bacon (I skipped the bacon). I relaxed, walked a bit, and very much enjoyed the beer. Then, after belching up the beer for the next half mile, I managed to rally and even started running a little better. Yay, beer! By mile 11 I knew I could make it and that I could finish strong if I paced myself and stayed relaxed.
Boston caveat: The best sign, IMHO, on the race course said “Wicked hahd. But you got this.” Boston may very well be represented at every race forevermore. And I love that so much.
I finished in 2:33:17. It’s not the time I wanted, but I’m happy with the fact that I finished strong after coming off a broken rib earlier this year. I’ve been working hard to get stronger, and it seems I have more work to do, but I did what I could do yesterday, and I’m happy with that. Carl did the full marathon, finishing in 5:38.
When I crossed the finish line I met up with my friends Rachel, who also did the half, and Craig and Karen, who did the 10k, on the field and sat on the ground for a while to recover enough to climb the stadium steps to where the bag check was. We got our bags, and headed to Houlihan’s for beers and food. After a bit, Rachel and I walked back to the stadium to watch for Carl and cheer him across the finish line. Then it was back to the bar (feeling little pain at that point) for another round with the marathoner.
All-in-all, a great day for everyone. Next up for me is the GoGirlRun half marathon May 24 in Columbia. Then, it’s all about NYC.