Race Recap: BQ.2 Chicagoland

Ok, I have heard it enough. I need to get a post written about the race... I have let it stew and settle and thought and rethought about my approach to this post. But in reality, it is difficult to sum up an experience that was everything that I really thought I was capable of doing and executing despite rain, despite humidity, despite running a looped course, which has its pains...

So way back, more than a month ago, on September 10 I ran a marathon. I ran the BQ.2 in Geneva, IL. I registered for it back in April, after it was forwarded to me by my husband. (For those whose spouses are not runners, when they offer their support to you for your major running goals, you take it - and I registered immediately.) I started training for this immediately after my big PR in April at the GCM in the half. I definitely just started with some base building, getting mileage under my belt, but it was not long before I was into training, hardcore, once again.

So I guess I should talk about the race, since everyone who reads this has actually potentially read my training recaps.

So, J and I drove to Geneva on Friday, the day before the race. We dropped Addie off at daycare, and immediately hopped on the highway headed toward Indianapolis (that is the easiest way to get to the Chicago area). We arrived in Geneva around 1 pm, which was right on time to stop by Geneva Running Co to pick up my packet. We got there, I got my stuff, I got my picture taken with my bib (they were very serious about ensuring that those who were going for Boston qualifying times were not cheated). After that we went right over to a little restaurant called "Little Owl" for lunch. It was super cute. The food was really good too.

When we finished there, we headed to our hotel, I got my stuff all ready for morning.
After that, I headed over to the forest preserve where the race was, J stayed at the hotel and worked. I ran a shakeout with some of the race officials and pacers. We ran one lap of the race course (race day would have 2 laps), which was just over a 5K in distance. I ran nice and easy (a little slower than 9min/mile pace) and did a few strides at the end. After the shakeout, I went back to the hotel, showered and dressed for dinner. Following our meal, I went to bed almost right away, full of nerves.

In the morning, I sat in the dark, reading blogs on my phone and eating breakfast.
Jason took me over to the starting line right before 6 am for a 6:30 start time. I definitely found the restroom immediately, and paced around a lot waiting for the race to start.

I introduced myself to the 3:30 pacer (who was planning to run a 3:26), and told him that I was sticking with him. He tried to point me toward the 3:35 (3:31) pacer, and I corrected him, letting him know that no, I was running with him. He gave the group the plan (first mile easy-ish -8 min pace - and then hit every mile between 7:45 and 7:55), and it was not long before we were hearing the national anthem and were out the shoot!

The first mile we ticked off at 8:15, and then the group took off! I checked my watch and they were running sub-7:30 pace (I was running 7:35 and losing them quickly) so I made a very quick choice to let them go. I was a little discouraged right off the bad that it was mile 2-3 and I was already losing the pace group, but there was NO WAY that I was going to run that fast and do well on a day that was so humid. The sky started spitting. I saw J at the end of the first lap. After seeing him, and knowing that I was in a good place for running, I honed in my pace and focused. I brought my fuel in a camelbak, it was my first time racing with one. I took my water bottles (with just water) at every elite station and drank my tailwind. On the other side of the loop, I took water at the aid station and dumped it on my head. Yes, it was raining, but with the humidity, I was already super hot, and did not want to risk any issues.

J walked the loop, the opposite direction that I was running, and therefore I saw him at a different point on the course every time. That was awesome, honestly. It was nice to see him in different places, and it kept my spirits up, especially around lap 6 where I was definitely wiped (right around 20 miles). My pace was slowing, but not a lot. I was still ticking off miles in the high 7:50s. I think I ran an 8:03 in there, but in general, I was able to keep them below 8.
On the 8th and final lap, I really wanted to be able to RACE, but I was done. I just was able to maintain my pace. The above picture was taken right as I was heading into the last half mile-ish. I really wanted to sprint, but I felt like I was. I just KEPT RUNNING.
And when you reach your goal, in not ideal conditions, you experience JOY.

By the numbers:
2 scoops tailwind
2 gus
Fastest mile: 7:36- mile 4
Slowest mile: 8:02- mile 24
Total time: 3:27:46
PR by 11:07

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