Race Report: Prairie State Marathon

I did something I’ve never done before this week – ran 2 marathons in 2 days! I wanted a new challenge this year and I was looking to knock out a couple more states, so this seemed like a win-win! Spoiler alert – I finished both, but I’ll start with the Prairie State Marathon in Libertyville, IL and then write about the other one in the next couple of days. Okay, so IL was first up on the list. I was hoping for a picturesque fall day and I total got one!

Here are the race details…I caught my flight to Chicago on Friday, picked up my packet (by the way – nicest shirt I’ve gotten for a race in a while, so that was a bonus!), and then headed to my hotel nearby to chill. I got a great nights sleep and then headed off for the 8 am start. Parking was at a fairgrounds about  a 15 minute bus ride away – very well organized and the trip to the start went off without a hitch! I had about 45 minutes to wait around when I arrived and it was chilly. I was glad that I wore my arm warmers, or I would have been kicking myself. The weather at the start was around 40 and sunny – just perfect for a race!

There were around 1000 people race this race – 225ish for the full and 800ish for the half. The course was a double out and back and everyone started together. The first out and back went out to mile 9 and then turned around to loop back to the start and head out the opposite direction. I ran most of this race solo, as there were no pace groups. I did have company for about 6 miles and chatted with a nice gentleman from Illinois from mile 11 to around 17. It definitely helped the time pass and we kept a nice 9:30 mi/mile pace. At mile 18 we crossed past the start/finish area (I do hate it when races taunt you like that!) and went out to another turn around at mile 22. I kept a steady pace this entire race and felt really good. In fact, I probably should have slowed down a little knowing that I had another marathon to run the next day, but my completive nature kept me a bit speedier than I originally anticipated. My goal was sub-5 hr in both races. I crossed the finish line in 4:15 for this race. No to shabby and I still felt fine!

The race was 24 or so miles of dirt, which caught me a little off guard! Luckily it was a nice packed gravel trail. If it was any type of technical it could have been bad news bears for me (I am the queen of tripping on roots!). I guess I didn’t catch that when I signed up for it. Despite this, running through the super colorful woods was amazing! The leaves here are at peak (or close to it) this week and the temps stayed below 65 for the entire race, which made it almost a perfect race day! I prefer around a high of 50, but since I’ve done so much running in heat this summer, I wasn’t going to complain! This race made my top 10 of favorite marathons list. I love a no frills, beautiful, well-run race. The aid stations were ample, the scenery was some of the best I’ve seen in a while, and everyone was super friendly. I was glad that I chose this as my IL marathon. I’ve still got my eye on the Chicago Marathon, but I’ll wait and wrangle Brian into running that one with me!

I caught the bus back to my car, grabbed a quick coffee, and drove the 3 1/2 hours to Plover, WI to pick up my packet, get some rest, and do it all again the next day. Stay tuned for day two…



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