Sunday, March 30, 2014

Southern Illinois Spring Classic – Race Recap

March 29, 2014


Initially this race wasn’t even on my radar.  I didn’t even know that it existed!  But I’ve been re-evaluating my 2014 goals (and looking ahead at 2015) and I’d really like to make it to Earth level with Half Fanatics and to get that done I need to complete 31 Half Marathons within a 365 day period.  As my “tentative” race scheduled currently stands, I am only 4 half marathons away from being able to get that accomplished so I began scouring the Internet looking for races.  I found about this one on the website Running In The USA (I highly recommend it), it fit a weekend that I didn’t have anything scheduled, it would only be a two hour drive and was only $60.  So I sent the request to Half Fanatics to have it added.  Once I got confirmation that it was on the calendar, I signed up. 

Friday, MARCH 28th:  My Mom lives in Terre Haute so I decided to spend the night with her so then my drive race morning would only be an hour.  Plus she would like it that I was spending the night.  I got to her house on Friday around 5:30PM, dropped off my stuff and then drove to Lawrenceville, IL to pick up my packet.  This was a completely frivolous thing to do because I could get my packet race morning but…I like having my all stuff ready the night before (especially if the event shirt would turn out to be something that I wanted to wear during the race) and I knew that I would feel better also knowing WHERE I was going and HOW to get there ahead of time.  And I’ll admit, it also meant that I didn’t have to just sit in my Mom’s house with her for two additional hours.  We don’t have a close Mother/Daughter relationship and I know that she would have driven me crazy while I was there so it was best to be there for as short of a period of time as possible.  There…I said it.  Moving on.

So I called up OnStar, gave them the address and I was on my way.  It was a little over an hour drive to get there.  Packet pickup was inside the gymnasium of the Parkside Elementary School from 6:00PM – 8:00PM. 

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The other note to point out is that Illinois is on Central Time so an hour behind Indiana.  I thought I would have to wait a bit but they must have opened early because I got there at about 5:50PM (local time) and people were coming out with their packets.  The entire process was easy peasy.  Since they would be doing packet pickup race morning as well that meant we had access to indoor bathrooms.  YAY!!  (SIDE NOTE: although this was an elementary school everything in the bathroom seemed “average” size but they did have a few stepstools under the sinks for girls to stand on if they were tall enough.  CUTE!)

Race stuff in hand, I got back in the car and headed back to my Mom’s house.  I saw the sign for this bridge coming over so I stopped on the way out to take a picture.  My husband recently found out that he IS related to Red Skelton.  Red is from Vincennes, IN which is about 11 miles from Lawrenceville just across the Wabash River thus the bridge in his honor.

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By the time I got back to my Mom’s I was so hungry.  So I heated up the pasta that I had brought and ate that while she got my sleeping area together.  I knew this would be something that she would “fuss” over but I bit my tongue and just let her do her thing.  I know that she was just trying to take care of me and – even though I might not sound like it - I do appreciate that.  We watched TV until 10:00PM and then she went to her bedroom and I finished getting my stuff ready.  Since I only had an hour drive and I would gain an hour from the time difference, I didn’t have to set my alarm too early but I set it for 5:45AM just to be on the safe side and to allow for any hiccups in the morning.  And thank goodness for the white app noise on my phone!  I am a very light sleeper and the room that I was in had a clock that ticked AND there were wind chimes outside the window that chimed nonstop all night since it was windy.  AYE YI YI.

Saturday, MARCH 29th:  I actually didn’t sleep too bad and got right up with the alarm.  After a quick shower, my breakfast (banana and peanut butter) and my tea and I was ready to go.  It was raining in Terre Haute and this is what the radar map and hourly forecast looked like for Lawrenceville.  This could make for an interesting day and just hoped that maybe the front would have moved mostly past by the time the race started.

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I got to Parkside around 7:40AM (local time) and went inside to use the bathroom, get my headphones situated and just make sure everything was ready overall .  I decided that there probably wasn’t going to be anything to photograph out on the race course so after finding someone to take a pre-race photo of me, I went back out and put my phone in my car.

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Then it was just hanging out in the gym until it was time to actually start the race.  You could smell the pancakes and syrup coming from the cafeteria.  They were serving breakfast from 7:30AM-12:00PM and it was free to all runners.  I don’t know how anyone could eat something that heavy prior to running but I was looking forward to having some afterward.

Everyone headed outside at 7:55AM and after a few brief instructions and the singing of the National Anthem, the gun went off and we were running.  It was cold and drizzling at the start.  The 5K participants and half marathoners all started at the same time and ran through downtown Lawrenceville.  As we headed back toward the school, the 5Kers would go to the track to finish while everyone doing the half marathon would continue out on to the country roads.  We were warned prior to starting that we would not find the roads in this area in good condition and they were correct about that.  The winter had taken its toll and there were lots of potholes, tons of loose gravel and from the rain that morning, well it was just not good.  The rain eased up after the first 3-4 miles but the wind was still whipping.  At one point I looked down at my gloves and they appeared to have frost on them.  I was very glad that I decided to pack my gloves and headband “just in case” because it would have sucked without them.

I definitely made the right decision leaving my phone behind.  There was NOTHING visually stimulating to look at out there on the course.  A few oil wells were pumping here and there in some of the fields but that was about it.  They were true to their word and there was an aid station at every two miles and there were randomly placed porta-potties too.  The water and Gatorade at the first few stations were not cold but with the help of Mother Nature, they were cold at the later stops.  The roads were not technically closed and while I always try to stay to one side or the other, the constant dodging of potholes made that a little more difficult.  I had a few drivers come up from behind and I was a little surprised that none of them gave a small “warning” beep with their horns.  The best road condition was when we were on 800E and would reach the 8 mile marker.  It was smoooooth.  However, this stretch also had us running on a road WITH traffic and it didn’t have a shoulder but I never encountered a car behind me during this time.  The crappiest section was just after the 11 mile marker.  It looked as though we were being routed on a dirt farm road but again with all the rain it was a sloppy muddy gravely rutted mess.

The finish is on the line was located on the high school track – which was technically behind the elementary school.  As you approached to enter and thought you would just run straight and be done…no, they make you run almost a full lap around the track.  KILL ME NOW!

This wasn’t my day for sure.  I had a lot of hip pain mostly on the left side but from time to time on both sides and also the outside of my left knee.  I don’t know if some of it was from the cold conditions or not but it felt tough and I was VERY glad when I was done.

I went in to the cafeteria to get my pancakes.  They were offering sausage links and biscuits & gravy too.  Plus coffee, milks (2% and chocolate) and apple juice.  I saw some runners getting ALL THE FOOD.  I just can’t do it.  It took everything I had to eat most of the 3 pancakes that I took. I should have just asked for 2. 

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After I was done eating I went out to my car to get dry clothes to change in to.  BEST DECISION EVER to bring extra clothes.  Although I wasn’t that wet from the rain, I was sweaty and it felt wonderful to put on something dry.  Plus, I probably was less stinky!  I was hanging around because at 10:30AM they were going to be handing out the age group awards and then everyone that ran was entered into a drawing for $500.  I knew I wasn’t going to win an age group award and sadly I didn’t win the $500 either. Sad smile

Even though this wasn’t a very good race for me personally, the race itself had many positive features.  Every turn was well marked with a sign AND there was a volunteer there as well to make sure you didn’t miss it.  Aid stations were (in my opinion) properly placed and friendly volunteers at each.  Hammer Gels were handed out just before the 4 mile marker and you passed this area again just before the 12 mile marker, although that late in the the race it wouldn’t help to take one.  They had a back drop that I initially noticed as we were heading out to start the race and was surprised that it wasn’t moved elsewhere (like in the gym or cafeteria) so that people could have a “finishers photo” taken in front of it.  And if the weather had been better having it near the finish line would have been even better.

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I doubt that I will ever do this race again but I’m super thankful that I happened upon it.  It gets me one step closer to my Half Fanatic goal and now the Geist Half Marathon on May 17th will officially be #50!

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