Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Race Recap: Peoria Marathon Relay

There are some races that you just can't pass up. No matter where you live, your hometown race is probably one of them.  It's like one big family reunion... because running friends are the family you pick for yourself. There is magic in those shared miles and trials.

The Peoria Marathon (also known as Run River City) is quickly becoming that 'can't miss' race in my city of Peoria, IL.  I had so much fun participating in the 2013 inaugural race that I vowed to return.  For the second year, I put together a women's relay team to cover the 26.2 distance. I'm typically not a fan of relay races, but in this particular race, I enjoy moving around the course and seeing my runner friends of all speeds at different mile markers.  It's the best of both worlds - I get to cheer and run!

This year, I created a team with three other ladies from our Sole Sisters running club. The hardest part was coming up with an outfit idea and team name before we could register.  Finally, we agreed on Rainbow Racers - a name built soley around these rainbow-colored checkered flag skirts.
The skirts were ordered from Sparkle Athletic.
I designed the logo and Runner Decals made an iron-on for our shirts.

This past Sunday, May 18th was finally race day!  There was so much excitement and nerves in the air leading up to the Peoria Marathon. When you're part of a team, there's just something inside that makes you want to perform your best - not just for you, but for the whole team. Going in, I knew I was the slowest on the team, but just hoped to give it an honest effort.

Sole Sisters group photo before the race.

The Peoria Marathon, relay and half all started together at 7:00am.  The 5K would start 30 minutes later and the kids mini marathon kicked off at 12noon. A lot of races in one day!  It was ideal race weather - in the 50's and beautiful sunshine.  Crystal lined up at the starting line for our team and set us up nicely from the beginning. She ran leg 1 in 52:39 (8:08 pace), and then handed off to Missy.

Crystal handing off to Missy

At the first exchange zone, we got a peak at our competition by watching the batons run by. Competing in the open women's division, we were counting how many female-to-female exchanges came before us... one... with a second right by our side.  Missy took over to run leg 2. She had the big Main Street hill to climb, but killed it in 53:25 (8:18 pace).

At the second exchange zone, Missy handed it off to me. We were officially halfway done at mile marker 13.  There's something about a baton that makes me sprint - perhaps a little leftover gear from the high school track? By time I was a couple blocks down, it felt like my heart was going to explode. With a quick glance at my Garmin, I realized I was indeed sprinting... a 6:40 pace my Garmin said! Holy smokes, I didn't even know I could do that!  Mile 1 - 8:50

The first half of my 10K leg was flat and very enjoyable. At first, there was a quiet stretch through neighborhoods and then entering into the pretty shaded Bradley University area. I run these streets often and felt right at home. We zigzagged back and forth, making it easy for my hubby and kids to catch me at three different spots.  Little Girl jumped out to run a block with me every time I saw them.
I love that we are perfectly in stride here...

The marathon course reconnected with the half marathoners by Bradley Park. For the next 2 miles, it was real fun passing people and seeing a lot of my friends in the final portion of their 13.1.  By far, this was my favorite part of my leg.
Mile 2 - 9:01 
Mile 3 - 9:12

At mile 17, the full marathon turned off and headed up North Street. I drove this portion of the course the day before, so I knew it would not be heavily spectated nor would it be easy.  There was a gradual climb up North Street that lasted about a half mile. It wore on me and I plugged in my music for some push. My mantra was "just keep working". I just wanted to give my best, knowing my team was waiting for me.
Mile 4 - 9:36

The course was pretty sparse at this point, but every once in a while, someone would pass me. We turned onto Loucks Ave and there was another climb up to reach the Sheridan intersection... again, not an awesome part of town so very sparse on spectators through this section. But halfway up the hill, I heard my hubby's voice. There he was at the top of the hill yelling at me with a bullhorn in one hand and a camera in the other.  Gotta love that guy!
Mile 5 - 9:35

Little Girl out to run with me once again... and again, we are perfectly in stride!

It seemed like I reached the final turn onto Isabell Ave all too sudden. I knew this section well, as it's part of my running route from the gym. I knew I didn't have much mileage left until the exchange zone.  I putzed with my ipod and found my "bring it in" song. Powering up the final stretch of my leg, there were a bunch of cheering spectators through this nice neighborhoods.  Mile 6 - 9:30  I tried to give a finishing sprint before handing the baton off to Karen.
My Leg 3 - 56:56 (9:19 pace)

So relieved to hand that baton off. Go Karen Go!

Karen killed the last (and longest) leg of the marathon in 53:47 (7:36 pace).  We met her downtown for the last 1/4 mile of the route.  The course narrowed and we got caught up behind a shirtless male relay team.
Excuse us fellas... get out of our way!

I guess there are worse problems than being trapped by half naked men... but hubby was trying to get a picture of our whole team running. We slowed down to get the money shot...

 Official Chip Time 3:36:50
8:17 avg pace
2nd place Open Womens Division (out of 25)
12th place Overall Relay (out of 85 teams)

I had so much FUN running with these incredible (fast) ladies!

We hung out cheering in fellow runners for hours after our relay finish. The kids mini marathon didn't start until 12noon and you know I couldn't miss that!  My kids had trained for 8 weeks, compiling their 25 miles before race day. On Sunday, they ran the final 1.2 miles to complete their marathon!!
Big Girl and Little Girl kickin' it down the finishing stretch!
Look - Their medals are BIGGER than mine!

The 2nd annual Peoria Marathon was a blast!  Yes, I will be back again next year. I hope you will join me in MY town for this great race.  I was delighted to see several Marathon Maniacs and 50 Staters on the course. This marathon will easily become a destination race, and continue to grow every year.


  1. Looks like a total blast. I'd love to do a relay some day - you made it look so fun!

  2. I agree with the home town races, there is one here in Ohio that I Live doing the marathon relay. It's the Akron marathon, running the blue line this year!! You should check it out somethime!

  3. That looks like such a fun race. I've never done a relay race. Your group looks like you know how to have a good time!
    Confessions of A Mother Runner

  4. Aww, your girls are so cute. Glad they are taking after Mom and running fun races. Congrats on your second place team finish in the women's open division. Way to represent in those adorable Sparkle Athletic skirts!

  5. I've always wanted to do a relay! It looks like so much fun.
    Your skirts are adorable!
    Karen @karenlovestorun

  6. After doing Ragnar I'm so in love with relays!! Your girls are so adorable!!!

  7. Glad you all slowed down - that's the perfect group running pic!!!

  8. Wow- that's a speedy marathon time! Congrats to your team. And I agree- that finish line pic is perfect!!

    Congrats to the girls, too! :)

  9. LOVE your outfits- cannot go wrong with bold colors
    I chuckle at your kid's medals being larger than yours- reminds me when I was in Alaska and my mom did a deci run / walk. (it was mostly comprised of kids)- her medal was DOUBLE the size of mine. Guess they feel kids need bigger things these days....

  10. Never did a rlay but this sounds like so much fun!! Good job on 2nd place, that is fantastic!!!

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