Thursday, April 16, 2009

Illinios Half Marathon Race Report and PR!!

On Saturday, April 11th, I ran the Illinois Half Marathon with my sister-in-law Susie. It was an amazing race, definitely one of the most fun I have ever done. I can't wait to run it again next year. I am so pumped to say I set a personal record at this race. I don't know that I can ever beat it, but I finished the half in under 2 hours. So excited! I apologize for the long post, but this was a very memorable race for me for lots of reasons starting with the hotel we stayed at the nigh before until finding out my finish time about 24-hours later. :)

The night before...
I am always nervous he night before a big race, but I think I had so much going on that I didn't have time to think about being nervous this time. I was so busy at work that I worked a half day Friday although I had the whole day off. So, by the time I got to Champaign and got my race packet, it was dinner time. I met up with Susie and we ate at a local pasta place. It took us about 45 minutes to get pasta because it was packed with runners! After the race we went back to the hotel room we shared and I headed up to visit my college roommate Jamie for a bit. The hotel was interesting. Our non-smoking room was definitely a smoking room in it's former life. I cringed every time I had to touch the bedspread as it looked like it had seen some better (or interesting) days. Let's just say I went to Target to buy a pillow at 10pm. As we went to bed, the volume next door seemed to get louder. We still aren't sure if it was a domestic dispute or what, but we heard lots of yelling and slamming of doors. I finally fell asleep around 2:30am only to have my alarm go off at 5:30am.

The morning of...
We headed to the race a little early as Susie was running as an American Cancer Society Charity Runner and wanted to stop by the tent they were hosting for the runners and their family/friends. They had breakfast (tons and tons of food), a private gear check, and private port-a-potties for the Charity Runners. It was amazing. After talking with some different people and showing my interest in being a future participant, I was convinced to run the race as a Charity Runner and continue to fund raise after the race was over. It was crazy. Five minutes before the start, I threw on my Charity Runner singlet and we took off for the start line. I about lost Susie before we even got to the line. There were people everywhere and we heard they finally capped the race at 10,000 runners!

The race...
It took us around 6 minutes to actually get to the start line after the official start. We quickly got started and Susie immediately started pacing us. Her goal for the race was to finish in under 2 hours, which is a 9 min/mile pace or less. I typically run a 9:20-9:30 pace, so this was really pushing it for me, but I decided to try and keep up. It was a little rough, but we settled into a pace and Susie was the task-master at keeping us on track. I was a little more laid back and pointed out the cute kids and puppies along the course. I am more content to finish the race and less competitive about my time. So, while I struggled keeping up, I tried to make it more fun (also so I wouldn't think about a painful right hamstring that had bothered me for a few days before the race).

The course was pretty good - the flattest course I have ever run, which really helps with time! There are a few areas that could be changed or improved, but overall is was a great route. The most amazing thing was the crowd. People were out in full force cheering on the runners, giving high fives, ringing cowbells, handing out water, and even tailgating at one house. Seriously, it rocked! There wasn't much entertainment along the course (although Elvis was pretty funny), but the crowd really kept the runners going. Even in the large races I have run (bigger ones than this), the crowd support has not been this good. This is the first year for the race, too. I can only hope it will get better every year.

Still smiling at mile 7.

My brother Ben met us around mile 7 to say hi and take some pictures. He missed us at mile 3 because we were running too fast, but we were excited to see him at mile 7 and at the finish. :)

We both hit a wall around mile 9. Susie was worried we might not make it in under two hours and I was worried I might not make it at all! But, we both made it through by giving each other pep talks and slowing up the pace a bit. I had a side stitch/cramp that wouldn't go away. I made it to mile 11 before I finally had to stop and stretch it out for a few seconds. Susie ran ahead and while I could see her ahead of me, I never quite caught up to her at the end. The finish was so cool because people were lining the streets and filled Memorial Stadium where the race ended at the 50-yard line.

After the race...
After the race, it was hard to say what my finishing time was. Susie was under 2 hours, but I wasn't sure how far behind her I was and I wasn't even watching the clock as I came it. I was just happy to finish and finish in a decent time. It wasn't until later in that night when they posted the finish times that I got really excited. I came in under 2 hours at 1:59:53. It might not be by much, but there is a big fat 1 in the front! I was excited to say the least!

On being a Charity Runner...
Being a Charity Runner for the ACS was so fun! Not only did they provide the pre-race breakfast and amenities, they also provided a post-race lunch and massages. The staff was so nice and so thankful for the money that was raised, no matter how large or small the amount. During the race, we had other runners and people in the crowd yelling at us and thanking us for running for charity. The ACS had people stationed at different areas to cheer on the runners, too. Such a great experience for a great cause!

Post race we are all smiles (mostly thankful it is over)! :)

If you would like to donate to the ACS through my Charity Runner page, you can do so at All donations are appreciated and they are tax deductible, too!

To see our pictures from race day (thanks to Ben, our personal photog), check out my Picasa page at


Anonymous said...

Congrats, Christan! You inspired me and I already signed up to be a Charity Runner for the October Indy Mini!

Nikki said...

You rock, Christan!! That's awesome to run it in under 2 hours!