Today was my second half marathon, and it couldn't have gone better! Okay, maybe I could have run faster, but overall it was such an incredible experience.
My day started off early...woke up about 4:45, and ate my protein bar and a banana, plus chugged down some water. I got ready to head out, and left the house a little bit before 6:00 am. It was dark and pretty chilly, so I was glad I had thrown on a long-sleeve t-shirt to keep on until close to the start. I had no problem parking, and made my way over to the Race Village. This was the view that greeted me on my way there:
I met up with my great friend Michelle and her awesome sister Bobbi, after getting my gear bag dropped off at Gear Check. That's one of the wonderful things about this race...lots of local friends to keep each other company as we shake off the pre-race jitters. It was so exciting to see all the racers there, getting warmed up and ready to rock!
As we got closer to the start, I ran into Lesley and crew, then Jen found me in the pace lineups. We also saw Pat and Jill, and exchanged "good luck" hugs. It really helped to settle my nerves to see all of them.
The race started at 7:00, but since we were towards the back of the pace groups. Jen and I finally crossed the starting line about 7:17 (not that I was counting...lol). I was able to settle into a great pace as we spread out on Route 31, and felt awesome! I think I started around a 12:30 or 12:45 min/mile, but around mile 2 I fell into a great groove, even through the hills at the Kane County Government Center.
We hit the Fabyan Villa Museum, where we got to get our miles in on the Fox River Trail. This was about mile 4.25, and my husband Chad and the three boys were all there to cheer me on...it's amazing how that support puts an extra boost in your step. I was so happy to see them :-).
At this point I was still running strong, and apparently was just a hair under 12:00 min/mile for that first 5 miles. I still felt great, and kept on running. Around mile 6 or so I did take a short walk break to eat a couple of Shot Bloks, and refuel. It was still a comfortable temperature, so I actually wasn't that thirsty, but those Shot Bloks are awfully gooey haha!
The rest of the miles continued to fly by. There were tons of spectators and incredible volunteers, plus aid stations all along the course. It was the best staffed race I've ever been part of, and while I didn't need them it was comforting to see medical aide in several spots as well. I did slow down some around mile 11, and that last loop through Mount St. Mary's was tough. Not physically, but more mentally - it's hard doing that when you know you are this.close to the finish. The shade was nice at that point, though!
Right about mile 13 I saw Sue (who made the best aid captain EVER!!!!), and we exchanged a hug that seriously gave me that last little bit of energy I needed to finish. I think we were both in tears, so I was kind of crying/grinning/laughing the last 0.1 miles. I also saw my oldest son and brother, and they cheered me on. Let me tell you - this was such an awesome finish!!! I heard them announce my name, and welcome me back. The smiling volunteers at the finish congratulated me, and handed over my medal (or as I call it - my "statement" necklace). I saw Tom with the committee and Dave as well, and I'm pretty sure my grin was splitting my face. My official time is 2:47:07...over 6 minutes faster than my first half!
I reconnected with my family, and loved getting hugs from all of them. Oh, and the ever important chocolate milk...I seriously swear by that for recovery after a long run. And the steak was fabulous, too. I also ran back into Lesley, and we got a picture together:
Now I'm ready to rest the legs for a few days, but my running days are definitely not over! We have the Hot Chocolate 15K coming up in about 7 weeks, so I'll need to get back out there soon. Thank you to everyone for all of your support, and putting up with me going on and on (and on....) about this race, and running in general. It means more to me than you can ever know!