October 19, 2014
I discovered this race on www.RunningInTheUSA.com website. The event website didn’t provide clear information regarding if there was race day packet pickup and whether or not every finisher received a medal. But after emailing the contact person and getting a quick response back (confirming those items), I registered on October 2nd. The cost had already gone through several increases but they were only in $5 increments. I paid $66.95 with taxes and fees.
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 18TH: So…after I completed the Purdue Boilermaker Half Marathon (read about it HERE), I found a gas station so that I could change out of my sweaty clothes, put gas in my vehicle and then begin the 3 hour drive to Springfield, IL. Oh my….this drive was the most boring ever! Even if I did go past an exit on _72W, there wasn’t really anything at the exit. I actually drove the entire way without stopping. UNHEARD OF!
I arrived at the REC Building on the UIS Campus (University if Illinois Springfield) around 2:00pm/local time but I had to stop at the Campus Security office and ask for directions. There really wasn’t good signage around the campus.
And even when I walked in to the REC Building it wasn’t clear where the packet pickup area was. Hopefully next year they’ll sign things a little better. There weren't many people at packet pickup so I was able to get both of my packets (5K and half marathon) and didn’t have to stand in line. I was chatting it up with the folks at the 5K/Pasta wristband table about my half this morning and the three hour drive and I got a bonus wristband for a beer. However I don’t drink beer but I was courteous and accepted it anyway.
They had a few vendors there but nothing that I was interested in. My dilemma now was what to do? Should I go to the hotel and check in and then drive to the Muni where the 5K was taking place? Or should I just stay here since I knew that I was maybe 10 minutes away from the Muni? I opted to just stay at the REC Building. I got the charger out of my car and plugged in my Garmin watch and watched the people come in and out. Eventually I changed into the clothes I planned on wearing for the 5K.
I must share this gem with you; first time I’d ever seen one so maybe its common place and I just don’t get out much. Next to the water fountains was a water dispenser specifically for water bottles. GENIUS!
Leaving sooner than I really needed to, I got in my car and headed to the Muni. Thankfully I was given the heads up about a traffic situation by the zoo that I’d run into driving there and I averted that fiasco. I did get to see some wildlife on my drive. There were three of them out there along the roadside.
I completed the 5K (you can read about that HERE) and after the pasta dinner drove to the motel.
There was a line when I got there – it was actually the Mother/Daughter that I passed in the final stretch of the 5K – and I had to wait. There was some problem with their reservation. While standing there, some other lady came in, cut in front of me and got the next room! This wouldn’t have been such a big deal except she took the last NON SMOKING ROOM! Granted it was only 1 bed and I had requested 2…but I also had requested non-smoking. I would have given up an extra bed to have non-smoking. UGH! The room was so gross smelling. I even keep the window open all night to try to alleviate some of the smell. I guess that’s what you might get when you try to go “on the cheap” and save a penny. If I’d gone to the hotel and checked in rather than staying at the REC Building, I could have gotten a smoke free room. Also, if I hadn't opted to “pay at hotel” and paid in advance, a non-smoking room would have been held for me. Lessons learned.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19TH: The Marathon, Marathon Relay and Half Marathon had a 7:30AM start time. I wasn’t far from the campus but planned on leaving the hotel at 6:45AM at the latest just to make sure that I could get parked accordingly. And did I get parked! Although lots were clearly marked for the participants, I remember that the lot at the REC Building was for volunteers and that was also where the start line was. So I took a chance and drove to that area and – BOOM – parked there. So did some people that I recognized from the 5K!
I sat in the car for a bit but eventually went inside the REC Building to use the restroom one last time. While in there I noticed a lady wearing a 50 States shirt so I told her I was a member too. We took this picture once we were both in the lobby.
The sun was beginning to rise and it was time to head to the start line.
There wasn’t a traditional start line since they used these timing tags. It is the first time I’ve been given these but they certainly were easy to put on and take off. We used them during the 5K as well.
The weather at the start was good. I’m glad that I had my throw away gloves but I didn’t need any additional throw away clothing.
The 50 Stater that I’d met earlier told me there really wasn’t much to “see” along the course so I figured I’d run with phone in hand and take photos of anything noteworthy on the way out and put it away on the way back in. Once again, my game plan was to just finish. After all I’d run 16.2 miles yesterday and this would be another (somewhat) hilly course. Here are some pictures from along the way:
Approaching mile 6 is when we began running in the country. This is where the biggest “hill” would occur and where I began chasing “Granny Runner.” Always give people names; it helps keep my mind occupied. She and I kept passing each other starting around mile 5 and she would look at me every time she passed me. I wondered if she was thinking, “What’s up youngster? Why are you slowing down?” This all could was in my head of course but it was the sense I was getting. She became my target. Obviously I didn’t know how old she was but she looked older then me so she became Granny Runner. Finally at the turnaround - just after mile 7 – I passed her for the last time and she never caught back up with me.
These woolly worms (Woolly Bear Caterpillars) were all over the place on the course. A lot of them squished by runners. This guy didn’t have much black on him. Most of the ones that I saw – dead and alive – were about half and half. I read that the Woolly Bear caterpillar has 13 brown and black segments, which correspond to the 13 weeks of winter. The lighter brown a segment is, the milder that week of winter will be. The darker black a segment is, the colder and snowier the corresponding week will be. There were times that I felt like these guys were moving faster than me!
Finally I was nearing the finish line and for the first time, I saw the sign for the university! I made a mental note to walk back and get a photo later. Although I didn’t have much left in the tank, I did manage to pass a few people on my way to the finish. After I crossed the line and stopped my watch, I could see where they were handing out the medals. I walked over there but no one gave me anything. So eventually I asked and was told they were out of the half marathon medals. WHAT!?!?!?! This was my 65th lifetime half marathon and the fist time I wasn’t given a medal. I walked over to a tent where there were other medals and discovered that’s where I would get my Challenge medal (which was nice, by the way) and that they hoped the mix-up was just that a box was left at the warehouse and they’d send someone to check.
They estimated that it would take 20-30 minutes before someone was back and if they weren't found, they would be mailed to us. The pickle for me was that I needed to get to the hotel to check out but I figured I had about an hour wiggle room and would try to wait it out. So I walked back down the course to take the campus sign.
I waited back at the finish line area chatting with some other people and about 5 minutes later a guy showed up with our medals! YAY!!! One of the girls I was talking with took my finishers pictures for me and I did the same for her.
Some of the awards had been handed out and I noticed that the MC was down from the platform speaking to people. I introduce myself and we talked about running and our love of compression socks for recovery. He was kind enough to have his picture taken with me.
I’ll admit that I knew he was “someone” but I didn’t know who he was at the time. Turns out he is Craig Virgin – an Olympian and a very big deal in Illinois running. You can read more about him HERE.
This was just the second year for the event and they did a pretty good job. I would recommend it and the Challenge medal is really nice.
But it was time to leave and get checked out of the smoky Motel 6. Plus I needed to find out if my oldest brother really was also in Springfield, IL.