The Illini Half – 3 Makes 1

Evident by the fact this post has been published, I can officially say I once again survived Illinois’ Toughest 15K race which was held this morning in an absolute downpour.  I’ll save the details on today’s adventure for a future post because I need to get to the race queue before I get too far behind.  As a follow up to yesterday’s post on the Illini Marathon 5K race, tonight’s post brings us the main event.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half - Half Marathon April 2019

The morning after the 5K is the official Marathon, Half Marathon and 10K events.  Once again opted for the Half Marathon this year as there is already a big-ass race planned for July – no need to go crazy on this one.  True to course for this weekend, there were more early forecasts for cold, rain, wind … yep, the usual for late April in the Midwest. In a stroke of luck the rain moved through during the night and the rest pushed off until later that day leaving a cool but very accommodating climate for a long race.

Illini Marathon I-Challenge Half - Half Marathon April 2019

Hit the jump to read details on the day.

Continue reading The Illini Half – 3 Makes 1

To the Depths of Hell and Back

Welcome to June everyone!  I thought I’d dedicate this month to some epic posts.  Epic in this context being personal accomplishments along with prize finds out in the field.  How about we start with a physical feat.  Almost 14 years ago to the day I hung up my martial arts hobby and replaced it with running.  Well, to be honest, it was replaced with a shuffle to end of my driveway.  The goal at that time was to finish a race in the Quad Cities called The Bix 7 (link here).  At that time 7 miles seemed like an unattainable dream.   Then came the 10K (technically a step back), the 15K (link here) and the mighty Half (link here).  All checks in my Life List!  6 Years ago, I embarked on a new running Life List item.  A Journey that brought its shares of ups and a multitude of downs.

That Life List Entry was to earn one of these!

Illinois Full I-Challenge Marathon April 30, 2016

That’s right, the badge of honor for any runner.  There are certainly longer running events, but the 26.2 is the gold standard for those of us that pound the pavement.  When you haven’t earned that right of passage, every 26.2 sticker/magnet you see on cars you pass on the road or spot in a parking lot is an absolute taunt.  For 6 years, those stickers haunted me and drove me to pick myself off the ground and start again after every setback.  My Life List items are embedded in my DNA – they are enshrined with dedication and motivate me every single day until they are accomplished.  365 days a year for 6 years it sat in the back of my conscious trying its best to defeat me… and that it did year after year:

Year 1: was spent trying to get beyond the dreaded Half distance

Year 2: resulted in a torn hamstring where it connects to the knee – another summer of rehab

Year 3: was a complete retooling of my running mechanics (link here) and strength training

Year 4: Heat Stroke about ended it all (link here) – starting from scratch again on the heat conditioning

Year 5 my targeted race was canceled by the sponsors after setting a record for miles in a year (link here) -note, I ended with well over 1350 for the year

Year 6 .. well that put me at the starting line of the Illinois Marathon.

 

Illinois Full I-Challenge Marathon April 30, 2016

Complete with a race day weather of non-stop rain, 10-23 mph winds and a pretty constant temp around 51.  Now the temperature couldn’t be more perfect, especially for someone who has to watch their heat exposure post the heat stroke incident.  The rain and wind .. not so perfect, in fact, downright SUCKAGE.  Linda took the shot above and is due a huge credit for braving the miserable weather to capture my big day.  At this point in the race, the main thing swirling in my head was “did I really train enough to make it through this”.  The more I thought about it, the more I began to doubt myself.

Hit the jump to see how this day turned out!

Continue reading To the Depths of Hell and Back