It was down in Elk Grove, right by Chicago, and it had an elk preserve inside the park! It's called the Busse Woods Forest Preserve The course description let us know what miles that we would get to see them!
Yesterday morning I got up at about 5, had an egg and toast (from homemade bread - YUM), and of course my coffee! I had packed everything the night before, including laying out my clothes that I was going to run in. I am always glad I do this on the morning of. It saves a lot of stress and worry, so I definitely suggest this for everyone doing any kind of race.
Becky picked me up at about 5:45 and it was a pretty uneventful drive down. Traffic was obviously light so we got there in about an hour and fifteen minutes.
We walked up to get our packets right as the first wave went off - the 7 min milers - so we had some time. We checked our gear and got in line with the 12 min pace group. Our friend Marin caught up with us here as well. She got there minutes before we took off. I haven't seen her since my cousin's wedding (about 12 years), but we keep current on FB with each other. She is running the Chicago Marathon, which will be her first!
The three of us ran together for maybe the first 2 miles, but Marin is quite a bit faster and took off. We saw her a couple of times after when the course looped back. Below are just some pictures of the trail.
The first 10 miles flew by. We both knew we were going too fast, but with all of the other runners and energy it was so hard not too! We kept to our plan of eating something every 3.5 miles and did our best to run 9, walk 1, but we kept missing the walking.
I lapped my watch at the 10 mile mark and we were at 2:04, which is a lot faster than we've been on training runs. The last half I started to struggle a lot more. The miles started to drag and the other runners were starting to get a bit sparse.
The course was beautiful and despite having several out and backs, which usually seem to make miles drag on, made it fun to see all the other runners go by and motivate me. The day was also absolutely perfect. It was around the mid 60's and sunny with beautiful, fluffy clouds.
Running by the elk was pretty cool. There were a ton right by the fence of the reserve, but it was too dark and I couldn't get very good pictures.
Overall, the run took me 4:18, 9 minutes under my goal time! I was really sore and walked right to the food and got my veggie dog (was super excited about that) and went to find Becky.
We stretched and ate and then had to shuffle back to the car where we changed before starting the drive back.
We stopped at the Oasis for some food, where I was cracking up at Becky's outfit.
She had on capri's, compression socks, and flip flops. I, on the other hand, looked like a homeless person with my sweat pants, sandals, and two shirts. Nothing I had on matched. I just grabbed the first things I saw. Thankfully no one got a picture of me!
I definitely have some mental preparation before I complete 26.2 miles, because after the 20, I don't know how I can go any further, I just know I will!
I was also pretty glad after I talked to one of the pacers that parked next to us. Her first marathon was the Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon, which is the one I'm running. She said it was a great course and the end is a big downhill to Veteran's Park. It gave me a little something to look forward to!
Two more weeks until the big twenty six point two!!
What's the fursthest you ever ran? How was your first 20 mile run? Any advice for a first time marathoner?