I participated in the Half I-Challenge at the Illinois Marathon for the second year in a row this past weekend. Up first in this 16.2-mile weekend: the Friday evening 5K.
I got to Champaign Friday afternoon, picked up ALL OF THE THINGS, and then chilled at the hotel before heading to the start line. AccuWeather kept telling me it would rain for the duration of the race, which made it hard to figure out what to wear. Wouldn’t it get colder when the sun went down? Wouldn’t rain make it feel even colder? What if I got cold after the race?!?! This is quickly becoming a theme of my races this year: concerns about being uncomfortably cold before or after the race that leads to an unnecessary amount of stress and frustration.
Anyway, after deciding to wear a short sleeve shirt, shorts, arm sleeves, and a visor in case of rain, I headed off to the race. I met up with a couple friends and chatted with them a bit before heading into my corral. I was seeded in the B corral, but since I had a half marathon coming up 12 hours later, this race was obviously not my priority. As a result, it’s probably the only 5K that I don’t dread, knowing that I’m going for a comfortable 3.1-mile shakeout run is significantly less painful than going as hard as I can for 3.1 miles!
We got started on time and I settled into a comfortable 9:xx pace. I normally try to run 5Ks in the low 8s, so 9s were a nice chance of (literal) pace. I thought this would help in the pain department, but a mile into the race, I got an enormous side stitch. This was hardly the first time in my life I’ve had a side stitch, and it wasn’t even the worst side stitch I’ve ever had, but it was the worst one I’ve had in a long time for sure. I actually considered walking to try to breathe it out, it was that bad. Fortunately it dissipated (for the most part) by the time I got to the second mile marker, but I did definitely try to relax in the speed department for the second mile to try to keep my side happy (I went from a 9:11 pace to a 9:44 pace).
We wound through Champaign and through campus. I tried really hard to hydrate well throughout the day on Friday, but I felt parched before I even hit the first mile marker of the race. I grabbed water from a volunteer at the aid station on the course, which made this one of only a handful of times I’ve bothered to get water during anything shorter than a 10K during a race. I felt a bit better after getting some water in me and kept chugging along.
Even though I didn’t ~officially~ have a goal for this race, I did want to finish in under 30 minutes for the sake of my ego, given that I’m used to 25:xx finishes for 5Ks. I crossed the 50-yard line inside Memorial Stadium at the finish in 29:21, so mission accomplished.
I collected my medal and water but skipped all the food they had available for runners after the race. I made a brief stop at the post race party, and that was that! This was a pretty low key affair for me, given that I treat it as just a shakeout run. I needed to get in and out so I could have dinner and rest up for the main event: the Illinois Half Marathon the following day!