The alarm was set for 5am, which was to make for a short night's sleep when I worked until 11pm the night before, and got home much later. But somehow I woke up before the even before alarm sounded. I was anxious to get going!
Because of injury and family responsibilities, I haven't run race longer than a 5k in months. And I've been planning on the Naperville marathon since registration opened in the spring. So I guess I was excited to jump back into it.
And what better place than the thriving western suburb of Naperville? This was the second year that the city has put on a marathon, and it has grown quickly. It has the full support of the city, including longtime mayor George Pradl, who was on hand at the start, and the finish congratulating the runners. They nearly doubled the size of the race this year, and changed the course from trails to roads through town to accomodate the larger field.
But they kept the charm, and enthusiasm. And, importantly, they kept a flat, fast course. Not that I was planning on running fast. But it was a great opportunity for those who were hoping for a P.R. or a Boston qualifier.
The injuries have prevented me from training much for the last couple of months, so my plan to run the marathon was a little unrealistic. But fortunately, they have a half marathon as well. I figured I could get through that somehow despite the low mileage I've been running recently.
After the mayor enthusiastically welcomed us all to the city at the starting line, the horn sounded and we were off. Out of habit, I had lined up fairly close to the starting line, despite my plan to run about 8 minute per mile pace. That meant I was going to get passed by a lot of people!
One of the things I was looking forward to in this race was the size of the field. They announced that they had 6000 runners total in both the half and full marathons. But it felt much smaller even. It was very easy to get from my running club tent to the start area before the race. And I ran into numerous friends in the start corral.
That doesn't often happen in some of the big downtown races. They have their own charm. In fact, I was a little dissappointed that the Hot Chocolate 5/15k was also Sunday. I always enjoy running downtown in that race.
But Sunday, for me, was all about Naperville. As we wound through the beautiful neighborhoods on the crisp, cool morning, I found the miles seemed to be going by pretty quickly and easily. We wound through residential neighborhoods past beautiful homes. There were plenty of fans along the course cheering us on, including many neighbors who embraced the race, setting up their own water tables and camp fires.
It was a fun atmosphere and I was enjoying it. It was also fun to run with some of the full marathon runners. We all ran together for the first 12 or so miles before they turned onto another road leading them to the second half of the race.
I was pretty happy to be near the finish at that point. The foot injury that limited my training recently flared up in the last few miles, which were painful. But I was thrilled to see Naperville Central high school, which hosted the start and finish, along with the post-race festivities. I crossed the finish line, got some water, picked up my finisher's medal and made my way to the medical tent to grab an ice pack for my inflamed heel.
After icing my heel, I went to the finish line to watch some of my friends running the full marathon finish. It was inspiring to watch them, and I realized how much I missed joining them. But there is a world of difference between the half and full marathon. You can't really fake the training for a full marathon.
But I was happy with being able to be out there. I limped around most of the rest of the day, but it was worth it. It wasn't fast, and it wasn't pretty on my end, but it was a great way to spend a sunday morning!
Hope to see you on the path soon..................