Halfway to the Illini -Badger medal – Illinois Half Marathon Race Recap
“Disclaimer: I received entry into the Madison Mini to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
Spring racing season is here, and from now until about October, it’s easy to find an event to participate in. The problem is choosing one.
My decision to run the Illinois half marathon was based on 2 things. Josh was running it and I was in for the additional medal. If you run the half marathon during the Illinois marathon weekend and the Madison Mini in Madison, WI in August you get and extra medal. I am already registered for Madison.
Josh and I took off on the Friday before the race, and after a short 3.5 hour drive we were parking and making our way to packet pickup and the expo.
The University of Illinois plays host to the weekend of events. There is a 5k on Friday night, then on Saturday the marathon, half marathon and marathon relay. The University also hosts at their rec center and football stadium.
We picked up our bibs first. It was a super simple process, they assigned race numbers with QR readers from confirmation emails. Or in my case I just told them my name and they gave me my bib. From this gym, volunteers directed us to another gym to get our race shirts. The shirts were all different for each race and the male and female shirts were also different.
This gym also had the vendor expo. It was a “medium” size expo. There were photo opps, giveaways and race merchandise. It didn’t take to long to browse everything.
We happened upon our friend, Heather and her mom in the merchandise area. They were running the 5k in a few hours, so we parted ways and said we would cheer them on at the finish.
The best thing I think we picked up at the expo was a sample of Kodiak Cakes. I love samples! No commitment to have to use a giant box of something you don’t care for.
Anyway, we departed and went to meet Team Bibrave. They had gathered in the lobby of the rec center. We chatted for a while. Matt was also running the 5k, and the others were going to the pasta dinner. *This was about $17 and we decided to pass as it was lasagna. #teamnosauce
Josh and I stayed a few miles from the campus, so we went back to that area for dinner. We decided to dine at a Fazoli’s, nothing too fancy. We also wasted more time at the nearby Target.
We eventually ended back at the football stadium to watch the 5k finishers. Parking in the area is very easy, there is plenty because it’s all the parking for game day events. It is also free all weekend!! Just need to be patient as everyone files through.
We sat in the stands, right next to where the participants come into the stadium, for a finish on the football field. We cheered and cheered, and we saw Matt, Heather and her mother. They earned an additional medal for doing multiple events. We caught up with them all after the race, but we all needed to grab some sleep for our races the next day.
As per tradition, I lay all my things out that I would need for a race. When we got back to our hotel, I started the process, only to realize I forgot to bring pants/shorts to run in. After a brief moment of panic, I went through the items I did bring, none of them comfortable to run 13.1 miles. Josh then suggested some random compression short – underwear things… um no! I then went to the google machine to see what big box store was near, I knew I could run in leggings. I am very particular when it comes to running shorts, and I usually buy those online.
We set out to the nearby Wal-Mart, when we drove by the Target we had stopped at earlier in the day – DUH!! Also, I know they carry the Champion brand, which is a good sportswear company. I found the last pair in my size, of anything I would consider running in – a capri. Whew, but it was getting late… so with everything finally in order, we caught a few hours of sleep.
Gear: Sparkle Athletic Skirt, Orange Mud Gear Vest Pro, Aftershokz Trekz Air, ProCompression Socks, Rudy Sunglasses, Brooks Gylcerin, Garmin Forerunner 935, Brooks jacket, Nathan race belt, Boco Gear Visor, UA tank, Champion capris, Buff
We woke early – well we woke up in time to go to a Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. We had coffees and bagels with cream cheese. It was on the drive to the start.
The parking was the same as the day before, free and plenty of it!! The lots had loads of port-0-potties available. We even saw an attendant placing more toilet paper near them.
We made our way to the starting corrals, we found Jess and said, hi! Then I met up with Heather and Marge and said, hi! In this time there was a live singing of the National Anthem and the wheelers started.
I didn’t have any goals for this race, than to just finish. I had run the full marathon a few years ago, I knew the course was flat and I knew the half marathon runs the first 12 miles or so with the marathon.
I lined up in my corral, which was a little confusing as the sign to the corrals didn’t line up with the entrance. They were checking bibs though, which was nice.
Then it was time to start… so there I went! The first part of the course runs through the downtown, there were people cheering here. Then you run out and into some residential neighborhoods, through a sculpture park, and then come back to finish on the 50 yard line of the football field. There were many spectators throughout the entire course. In fact I remember seeing a sign at the end of a driveway “hurry up, we are stuck in our home.” I thought It was funny. I feel the people who lived on the race course supported the event.
I was having a decent race until I stopped about halfway to get some water to splash on my face. I shouldn’t have stopped. It took the next 2 miles to keep working out the pangs in my ankle. It thought we were done or something. I was feeling good around mile 10, and at mile 11, I stopped to have a beer. It was really good at that point in the race. Then I made to mile 12, I knew Josh had finished as I was tracking him, so I called him to tell him where I was.
Then I came to the finish on the field. Josh and some of the Bibrave crew was in the stands cheering me in. That was cool! I was also just minutes behind the woman’s marathon winner. The course is very flat, allowing for some speedy times, despite all the turns.
*The free race photos were in my email before I was even done spectating*
I flew over the finish line, and like any Hawkeye would do, headed for the end zone!! Sorry, I can’t stop using this joke. On my way I picked up a heat sheet and a medal.
There was no food or drink allowed on the field, so I grabbed a bottle of water and Gatorade on my exit off the playing surface. I found the crew in the stands, and we cheered in finishers.
It was cloudy and overcast with a slight wind, it was a little chilly. However, I stayed and cheered in all my friends. Josh did bring me some more clothes to put on. I watched Tim, Amy, Matt, Heather, and Marge come to the finish line. I also was very happy to see Jacyln come in to complete her first marathon!!
I was done spectating and moved to the inside concourse to find the post race food, located at the concession stands. There were slices of pizza, pasta salad, bananas, granola bars and cookies! This area was also out of the wind, many people were hanging out in here.
We departed the concourse with Heather and Marge, to check out the party on the street. This is where the post race party was. There was live music and beer, you could also buy merchandise and there were some food trucks lined up. We didn’t stick around.
After cleaning up, we said our goodbyes to Heather. Then made our way to lunch with Bibrave. There is never enough time to hang out with everyone, but I think my most favorite part of going to races is meeting up with all my friends.
I really like this event, mostly because the logistics are easy. The registration process is easy, it’s easy to park, it’s easy to get your bib, race day details are done right, and I love FREE photos!!
If you ran the the Illinois Half Marathon, you can register for the Madison Mini to also earn the Illini Badger medal. Use code “BIBRAVE5” for $5 off. http://www.madisonminimarathon.com/ *Note this is only applicable if you ran the half distance at Illinois.
See you in Madtown!!
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