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

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

USATF Relaxes Headphone Ban

Thank goodness! Those of us that like to run with music can now do so without being disqualified from races. In December 2008, the USATF officially relaxed their ban on headphones during races. It seems others had the same rant as me and enough complaints got them to reverse their decision for non-competitive runners. Only those competing in a Championship for prize money (i.e., elite athletes, which I am not) are still banned from using headphones during races. Although, the rule does leave it up the the race director to allow or ban headphones from the race, but it appears they will be allowed while being strongly discouraged. The office press release is at:

Now, I am all for safety during races, but I have not had a lot of problems with people who could not be communicated with during a race, which is why I had a problem with their initial ruling. Most people have their headphones on, but at a decent level to still hear things going on around them. At least I know I do and so do others I run with. Personally, I think the start line is more dangerous than running with headphones. I have seen people trampled when the start gun goes off and everyone is trying to get out of the gate. So, while I see the USATF point, I don't necessarily agree with it. There are lots of areas where safety could be approved. I'm just glad to have my music back to keep me moving.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Review: 3M Scotch Fur Fighter

I was skeptical, but willing to try anything at the same time. So, I purchased the Scotch Fur Fighter last time I was at Target to try removing pet hair from furniture at home. I vacuum it often, but for the times in between or for the hard to get places, I have been looking for something to pull pet hair off quickly. This thing is amazing! It really works well and meets my high expectations for a product of this nature. You literally attach a microtrap gripper sheet to a handle and brush across the furniture. It traps all the hairs in the gripper sheet, which you can pull off the handle and throw away. The downside is that the microtrap gripper sheet does fill up with hair quickly. I had just vacuumed the day before, so the hair on the chair I tested this on was fairly light (I guess this depends on your definition of heavy vs. light shedding. My definition changed after Murphy!)

The initial investment includes a handle and five disposable microtrap gripper sheets to attach to the handle. The cost is approximately $10. After that, the refill sheets cost $5. So, it might be somewhat expensive, but I won't use it everyday, just periodically. For more information, see the Fur Fighter website at For a $2 off coupon, go to (I wish I had the coupon, but didn't find it until after my purchase!)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Pizza

We are used to spending Easter with family and friends, but this year due to our schedules and other weekend events, Todd and I ate pizza for Easter dinner. It was weird to not to see our nieces and nephews or have a spread of ham and cheesy potatoes. But, we did enjoy some Papa Del's pizza and watch the Cubs game. A couple of relaxing hours after the busy weekend!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

IU Mini Race Report

I still get nervous every time I run a race, especially a long one. I think about all the whatifs. Like, what if I have to go to the bathroom in the middle of the race, what if I get a side stitch I can't get rid of and have to walk, what if the weather is crappy the day of the race? All sorts of things go through my head and I never sleep well the night before a race. Thankfully, the IU Mini turned out great despite my nerves and lack of sleep.

The weather the day of the race was about as ideal as possible. It was cool, sunny, and clear. Honestly, the weather several days before and the day after were horrible, so the good conditions were a relief. I like this race in that it is pretty small, so even though the course is not the greatest, you aren't weaving through crowds of people or getting stuck beind a line of walkers. However, the hills are killer. They changed the course this year to make it supposedly less hilly. Supposedly is the key term here. I would still rate this a very hilly course and my legs can vouch for this - still sore the day after! But, I had practiced parts of the course, so knew what to expect, which was helpful.

The cool thing this year is that I ran with my friend Mandy. I have run other races with people, but not people I really knew. In fact, all were people that I met the day of the race. Mandy and I had trained on longer runs together, and it was good to run with a friend to motivate each other the entire way. Trust me, long distances are boring and usually happen at a slower pace than when running alone. Headphones keep you going, but finishing with someone is more fun. The funny thing was we actually met a another girl in the port-a-potty line before the race(yes, we were nervous and needed to go one more time). We invited her to run with us and she thought she would be slower than our pace and trained less miles, but we told her to join us anyway. Yeah, she ditched us by before mile 2 and finished 10 minutes ahead of us. Nice.

Overall, it was a great race. We may try to run the Indy Mini or some other long distance race together soon. The hard part will be training in the warmer temps, although that does not appear to be a problem with the snow expected tomorrow. Ugh!

Best Friends or Foes??

The dogs have a love-hate relationship with each other. They are often jealous of each other and fight for attention. But, they also love to be together, too!

After playing in the lake (and general misbehaving when one dog got to retrieve and the other had to wait a turn).

Napping after playtime!