Rockford Half Marathon

All the driving aside, this turned out to be a really fun weekend!

Saturday my sister and I drove up to Wisconsin so I could take her back home. We didn’t stop at the World’s Largest Truck Stop near Davenport, Iowa, but we did stop to see the new neighborhood she is moving into!

After dropping my sister off, I decided to drive back to Rockford that night instead of staying in Wisconsin. I didn’t want to make the 2 hr drive at 4:30 in the morning on Sunday. Great choice! I stayed at the Studio Plus hotel after Travelocity booked me at a sold out hotel. Shuttling between hotels wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do at 10 p.m. the night before a race, but it all worked out. For the sake of others who may consider staying in Rockford – book early, soccer tournaments are always buying up the hotel spaces!

I PR’ed at one race after having a few drinks out on the town the night before, so now superstition dictates I have at least one the night before a race. With these single-serve wine glasses you’d think I’m still in college! Sorry for the terrible quality pic!

The expo for the Rockford Marathon was, to be brutally honest, grim. You grabbed your bib and t-shirt and that was it. There were two stands – one for a medal display rack and one for the pace groups. At least I was in-and-out in less than 10 minutes! I know it was a smaller race, but coming directly from the Flying Pig Marathon I couldn’t help but wish there was at least a running store sponsor or some kind of nutrition product giving away free tastes!

Beautiful, albeit hot, day for a race!

Race day I woke up in a funk. I had gotten to bed pretty late, hadn’t really prepared, and was going into the race with some pretty sad training runs. I had been doing 9:30, even 9:45 min pace on almost all of my runs these last two weeks after the marathon. I didn’t have high expectations going into it. As a small town race, there also weren’t many spectators and there was no entertainment along the course. With the heat and boredom, I thought it would be all I could do just to finish this race.

Luckily, one step after crossing the start line I met Kathy! She had just run the Little Rock marathon and I had just read a race report about it on Dan’s Marathon. In unison, we both said “the medals were the size of dinner plates!” I ended up running with her for 12.5 miles until the half and the full marathon split.

What a gem! She was just lovely. Having also lost 50+ lbs and also working toward running in all 50 states, we had a lot to talk about. Toward the end, she did most of the talking though because I was was running on fumes for the last 5k. She held a great pace and really pushed me. I told her, “I’ll run with you until mile 5 and then I might have to slow it down.” Then it was mile 8, then mile 10, and finally I told her she had to run me in! She was just the enthusiasm and motivation I needed for the race!

At mile 12.5 she headed off to finish the rest of the full marathon, but by this point we had caught up with one of her running buddies Tim, who ran with me that last mile. Those two really pushed me in and I finished in just under two hours at 1:59:22! While that wasn’t quite a PR, it was only my second time finishing under 2:00! I also finished 5th in my division, out of 31! This was a huge victory for me because I never suspected age awards would ever be in my grasp. I might have some new goals to train for!

Here was our pacing throughout the race. Not bad – fairly consistent! I wish I had kept a little gas in the tank to power through my last mile and PR, but I was still extremely happy with how this race turned out!

The race was also a success because I ran into two high school teachers. One I had as a teacher only for the second semester of my senior year. I’m surprised he recognized me because I barely made it to class that semester. I was so grateful to have run into him because I was finally able to personally deliver a much needed apology. Full of senioritus, I skipped class more often than I attended back then, and it was so nice to let him know I felt bad for slacking as a student, but that I went on to graduate college with honors and a job! 

The rest of the weekend was just as fun, but I’ll save that for another post!

What races have you done that turned out to be surprisingly more successful or fun than you went into expecting? 

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Three Races in Three Weekends

The last three weekends of my life have been filled with some of the most incredible experiences of my life, and now I’m looking forward to another three adventerous weekends in a row.

Three Weeks Ago: I gave my huge client presentation that was essentially the culmination of all that I learned in college. This past semester I worked as an Account Planner at MOJO Ad, and was tasked with developing consumer insights around how twenty-somethings view happy hour for our client T.G.I. Fridays. Image

The presentation went terrific and it really topped off five months working with some incredible individuals. If I didn’t already have a job lined up for after graduation, this really could have opened up doors! Either way, I walked away with some great experience with primary research and campaign development.

Two Weeks Ago: I ran my first full marathon at the Cincinnati Flying Pig.

It was the single most incredible, exciting, and fun experience of my life! After 18 weeks of training, I couldn’t have asked for a better climax.

One Week Ago: I graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a Bachelor of Journalism, with an emphasis in Strategic Communication. I also received minors in Business – Marketing and Geology. Not only did I graduate, but I did so debt-free and with Magna Cum Laude Latin honors!

This was a goal that was four long years in the making for me and I worked my ass off to achieve it! I made applying for scholarships a part time job, held three jobs, and did the whole RA in the dorms thing. But, it paid off! In fact, it’s still paying off. Mizzou just sent me a nice little graduation present – a check in the mail for excess financial aid!

After graduation, my mom, sister, and I took a road trip down to Little Rock, Arkansas. I was pleasantly surprised by how cosmopolitan it was. I’ll be honest, that trip down through the Ozarks was rough with all those hills, but worth it. We went to the Clinton Presidential Library (I just love presidential libraries!) and also saw Central High – home of the Little Rock 9. I managed to squeeze in some runs along their riverfront trail as well.

Now those are a hard three weeks to top. In fact, I’m not sure they can be topped. However, the next three weeks look pretty darn promising!! — 

This Weekend: I’m headed up to Madison, WI to drop my sister off. She came down to Missouri for my graduation and the road trip, but now it’s time to send her back home. Then I’m making a stop in Rockford, IL for the Rockford Half Marathon.

While I don’t really consider anywhere my “hometown” because I moved so much growing up, I spent the longest time (6 years) living in Rockford and that is where I graduated. I really have no desire to go back and would rather meet up with high school friends in Chicago, but the allure of running the half was just too tempting. I looked at the course map though and realized the “scenic” parts include some of the scary parts of the city – recognized as one of the “Top 10 Most Miserable Cities in America” by Forbes.

I’m also going to Second City in Chicago! The birthplace of some great comedians, including Tina Fey and almost the entire SNL cast, I’ve been wanting to go to a show at Second City for years. Unfortunately, because I’m usually too spontaneous to plan in advance, I can never get tickets. Luckily my friend David is a little bit more organized than me!

Two Weeks From Now: I hope my grandma isn’t reading this, because I’m going to surprise her for her 76th birthday! Last year I decided on the 23rd to make a road trip out to Estes Park, CO to surprise her the next day on her birthday. This year I figured I’d keep the tradition going! 

While in Colorado, I’m making a long weekend of it and doing the Bolder Boulder 10k with my aunt Karla. The biggest 10k in the country I believe, I know this will be a blast! Because I’m doing it with my aunt as a graduation gift I’m not sure that I’m going to run it. We might just take it easy. I’m very excited to share this experience with her because she has been an enormous inspiration to me. At 50 she managed to lose 60lbs+ and has done a triathlon! She is what got me going on my weight loss and fitness journey!

Three Weeks From Now: I’m doing this Hospital Hill Half Marathon in Kansas City on Saturday, June 2nd. I’m looking forward to running this with my friend Sean, who has proven to be my spontaneity soul mate. He was the one I convinced to run the Warrior Dash with me the day I met him, and also signed up for the Tulsa Route 66 half marathon a week before the race! His girlfriend is running with us as well and hopefully I can convince them to hit the Power & Light District with me in downtown KC the night before!Warrior Dash 2011

The next day, Sunday, I board my flight back to Madison – this time to start my new job driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile!