Monday, April 30, 2012

The Illinois Marathon Spectator and Ghost Runner Report

Many moons ago, my friend Amanda and I met during marathon training over the summer. We started the Chicago Marathon together and she went on to finish the race! After I had my DNF in Chicago and decided to run in Grand Rapids, Amanda hopped in her convertible and made the 3 hour drive to run the race with me. This past fall when Amanda decided to run the Illinois Marathon, I knew I would be returning the favor! A large group of my running friends (Yankee Runners) were also running the race so I had a lot of folks to cheer on during the race. I had planned on meeting at mile 15 and running the last 10 with Amanda.

The weather for the race had been questionable all week. Predicted thunderstorms, 40% chance of rain... It poured rain the entire time we were heading to Champaign. Once we arrived, the skies cleared. The rain was gone, the sun was covered by clouds, and the gun was about to go off. Once I parked my car, ate my oatmeal, and secured my outfit and additional supplies (banana, Gu, etc), I headed out to mile 15.

I was at the spot pretty early and the 10k folks were walking by (this race had a 10k, half marathon, and full marathon). I got comfortable and sent a text to Amanda letting her know I was here and at mile 15.

After settling in, it was time to wait for the elites to go by. Once I heard sirens, I knew they were close. Bikes and cars leading the way, the first place runner went by in a blur (literally).

I couldn't help myself but cheer really loudly when I saw fast women run by. I mean, girl power, right?! I saw some of my Yankee Runner and FN Running Club friends when I got a text from Amanda. She said she was tired and wanted me to meet her at mile 14 instead of 15. I didn't think that was a good sign.

I saw Amanda at mile 14 and she looked happy to see me. I hopped in, asked her what she needed and tried to bring some pep and energy to race day! Amanda had a rule during her first marathon to smile at every mile. Sooo I tried to take a picture of us smiling at every mile (or at least, tried at every mile)!
Mile 15
Mile 17
Mile 19
Mile 20
Mile 22
Mile 24
We saw Erin on the course too, but I didn't think to get a photo. She ran with us for a few feet and gave some words of encouragement. Thanks Erin! :)

Amanda's quads were sore and she didn't end up beating her time from last year. However, she had a lot of injuries this time around (you can read more about them on her blog) and we were both happy that she finished (well, obviously).

Some Yankee Runner friends qualified for Boston while others finished their first marathon. We had a cookout afterwards with tons of burgers, chicken, and snacks (new addiction = sweet potato chips).
L to R: Cy, Jeanne, me, Amanda, Dan, Lynn
It was a fun time to enjoy and celebrate!! Congrats to all of the finishers!!

I enjoyed jumping in for part of the marathon experience without having to go through the pain of completing a full marathon! I enjoyed being able to support Amanda, have fun with it, and read all the fun spectator signs! :)


  1. You're such a great friend!!! And Amanda did awesome, especially considering her injuries! I love the smile at every mile photos. And sweet potato chips - YES! I have recently discovered those too.

  2. Sweet potato chips are great! Aldi carries an off brand that I love and must restrain myself from at times.

    I need to find someone to jump in with me on my marathon. I think it would make a huge difference to know someone is waiting for me.

  3. The ones we had were actually from Aldi and sooooo delicious. I recognized the "Clancy" brand right away. I now need to go and buy these, immediately.

    I had someone that planned to jump in with me at mile 23 of my first marathon (didn't make it that far) and Amanda jumped in at mile 18 of marathon #2. It definitely does help!

  4. Thanks! I totally agree that she did really well all things considered. And she is happy with her performance so that is also what is important! :)

  5. I love your picture idea! That is seriously brilliant!! Congrats to both of you for being awesome friends and marathoner :D

  6. Thanks! Amanda wasn't using her phone and the IL Marathon didn't have a runner tracker. Therefore, I was her runner tracker! I think the photos were a nice motivation. At least, I had fun doing them. :)

  7. Yay! I'm glad she still has a smile on her face at the finish line. It was fun to see you two! Thanks for shouting out to me.

    I ran Kim in for the last 10K of the Madison Marathon last year and had a great time. I think she wanted to slug my chipper self but I find pacing people to be so rewarding.

  8. Haha, I completely agree! I was so happy to go there and help out Amanda, especially since she was having a hard time. It made me feel so much better about my long run for the weekend! :)

  9. How FABULOUS that you could do this for her! After finishing 3 solo, I know just the difference this can make mentally for someone. Mile 15 is right where I start to struggle. You've gone so far and have so far to go still...

  10. Additionally, viewership dropped off significantly after the half marathon marker (runners ran on the same course for 12.5 miles) so I think that was a little defeating too--to go from seeing so many folks to not as many. It was very rewarding to go down there and help her out. It was a fun time! :)

  11. I was going to say, the sweet potato chips from ALDI are THE BOMB!!!

  12. Smile at every mile! Perfect! So nice of you to pace her :) I think I would rather do that than run a marathon :)

  13. Haha, pacing someone while they're running a marathon is definitely easier than running the full thing! Haha! :) It is very rewarding too, especially since you've been in their shoes and have an idea of what they're going through...

  14. Awesome support Kelly! Thanks!! I could have done it without you but I'm glad I didn't have to! Without my music, it was nice for some distraction! Although I know I was rather irritable and grumpy! lol

  15. OMG why can't I remember seeing Erin?? lol

  16. I think I was singing for part of the race too. I vaguely remember going through the full "We are the champions" song complete with guitar sounds. Haha! I'm happy I was able to be there to help you along the way! :)