A while back I signed up for the Fox Valley Marathon flex option. This allowed me to wait until packet pick-up to decide which race distance I would run (13.1, 20 or 26.2). My intention was to have this race as my back up fall marathon in case I didn’t get into the the Chicago Marathon. Once I was committed to the Chicago Marathon via my Run4ALS charity, The Les Turner ALS Foundation, I knew I would run the FV Final 20 as my 20 mile training run.
I woke up race morning dark and early at 4:10am. I prepared my usual breakfast collected all my pre/post race gear and headed out the door. I met up with some of my pack and we carpooled to the race site. We parked in the parking garage right next to the start without any problems. It pays to get to a race a bit early. We got there still under the light of the moon so I had plenty of time to get myself organized before the start. We headed to the port-a-potties and did out business, hung out some more and went back to the johns for a second time. We all made it with a few minutes to spare to the 9:45 min/mile spot in the starting corral.
I shed my outer layer, which was an entire head-to-toe grey sweat suit. Cause that’s how I roll. I’m always cold. My race plan given to me by my coach, Amanda, was to run a 9:30-10:00 min/mile pace for the first 14 miles. Then for the last 6 I was told to ramp it up to my goal marathon pace of 9:00 min/miles. This plan seemed dobale. I was only nervous about whether I would have a 9:00 min/mile pace left in me after running 14.
Getting into our starting spots was a piece of cake. This was a laid back, but well organized start. When it was our turn I began running with my friends and chatting, which I am known to do. It’s kind of my thing. The miles flew by. I could hardly believe how easy this run was going. We enjoyed the scenery of the extravagant homes and the views of the Fox River. I’d say 90% of the run was on the paved trails and the rest was on streets to get us to and from the trails. It wasn’t too hilly of a course, but do not be fooled it was not all flat. Nothing I couldn’t handle though. I didn’t look at the course map before hand, but environmental clues told me we ran though St. Charles, Geneva, North Aurora & Batavia. There were ample aid stations and bathroom stops. The course had plenty of crowd support. Since there were not a huge number of runners I always felt special when someone on the sidelines cheered me on.
At mile 13 I stared to prepare for the separation from my friends. I got my headphones plugged in to my phone and the cord weaved through my shirt. I downed some fuel and started my music. At mile 14 I was prepared to shoot out ahead and get my time down to a 9:00 min mile. At mile marker 14 I started to gain some speed. I settled in at about an 8:40 pace and felt really good. I was able to keep that pace or better for the last 6 miles . It was not my intention to run so fast, but when I find a rhythm I stay with it. It was an easy negative split and a triumphant finish despite having to run uphill and into the wind.
I will definitely put the Fox Valley full marathon on my list of races to do. After I finished I got to spend time at the finish waiting to cheer my friend as she finished the full marathon. I loved that kids were joining their moms and dads to cross the finish line. It was a very family friendly finish line.
I had a wonderful race with friends. I’d say it was a perfect way to end the thickest part of my Chicago Marathon training. I am heading into taper madness and oh do I have plans to make the most of it.