Race Report: The Dilemma of a Ho-Hum Marathon

By: Rachel Gibson

It seems like an oxymoron, using ho-hum in the same sentence as the word marathon. Truly, it is a feat to run 26.2 continuous miles (especially coming off a wretched ankle sprain that kept me off my feet for 2 weeks of key training time)...but when you run enough of the same distance races, they start to, well, blur together.

Last weekend I ran the Illinois Marathon. Here are the stats:

-It was my 3rd marathon in 2012. Trying to maintain my crazy race schedule I blabbed about earlier.

-It was the 4th annual Illinois Marathon. And my 4th running of the Illinois Marathon. Yep, even though I moved 5 hours further away, I'll still always drive back and run it every year. How awesome would it be to be at the 10th running of it knowing you've been there for every one of them? Challenge accepted.

-It was my 20th marathon ever. Not sure when that happened...holy cow.

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The ankle held up--I felt some pain throughout the race, but nothing to stop me from continuing on my steady, not-super-slow but not-super-fast pace. Actually, all sorts of parts of my body hurt at one point or another--like someone had a little voo-doo Rachel doll that they kept relocating the pin on or something--never crazy drop-to-the-ground-in-anguish pain, just the kind that you're like "why in the world does my left butt cheek all of a sudden hurt?". It was bizarre. But I was smart, I started off the line slow purposefully so that the ankle wouldn't give me grief. And it didn't. Hooray.

But the race itself was, well, uninteresting. Which is good, I guess, nothing went wrong--the pouring rain that doused us on the drive to Champaign-Urbana held off, it was an overcast 45 degree day (hallelujah!), and I ran the same race I've run pretty much every year prior.

The only highlights, which I will soon forget (and don't take that to mean that the race isn't put on well--it truly is a spectacular race, which is why I'll drive many many hours to run it every single year without fail---they do a fantastic job in C-U and deserve to be commended for the work they put in to providing a great race year after year--the reason it's ho-hum is that for me it was run like many other races in my past running life: there was never a wall or a time I wanted to quit, nor a surefire feeling of excitement--I just ran. Finished. Meh.) are as follows:

-We were late to the start. With no police support at some of the intersections to get in to campus (my only beef!), it took way longer than last year to get to the parking lots. So we started 15 minutes after we should've. Meh, that's what chip timing is for!

-The Friday night 5k was a hit, as always. I'll always do the I-Challenge (5k Friday night, full marathon Saturday morning) because the 5k runs through a college campus on a Friday night....which means all the college kids (can I call them 'kids' yet? it's been 7 years since I've been in those shoes...so old...)are out in front of their apartments/frat houses/sororities cheering and yelling and, ummm, having some choice adult beverages. And sometimes certain 5k runners who are running very slowly in order to not kill themselves for a full marathon the next morning take advantage of an abundance of college kids with adult beverages. Who may or may not offer that said 5ker an adult beverage. And that 5ker may or may not take that adult beverage with a smile and a thank you and run the next mile and a half with it in hand, enjoying it along with the fantastic support, the hollers and the cool college atmosphere. Totally a hypothetical situation, surely.

And that's about it. It was a great weekend, as always, with family (my dad's first full of the year, he killed it, I expected nothing less--and I stayed the weekend with my grandparents, who are truly the world's sweetest people. I ought to make them an award for that, they're amazing) and fun and no hindering injuries, but in the books this race was just like many, many others, run all the same, just in a different place.

Guess I need to amp it up for Cleveland so I can put some crazier memories in the books! (and on the blog!)

How do you keep races interesting?

For more running nonsense, follow me on Twitter: @nomad_runner!

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