Marathons: Paul #67, Leah #57 : Rockford Marathon 2015
31st May 2015, Rockford, Illinois, USA
Finish Time = 3:50:51
We were looking forward to a weekend break from 11 marathons in 11 weeks, but we still needed to run a sub-4 in Illinois and the Rockford Marathon was perfectly positioned. If we didn’t do it, Illinois was going to be troublesome to fit into our schedule for the remainder of the year.
So we signed up a few days beforehand, very wary about the weather forecast which was predicting thunderstorms and rain. When we landed in Chicago the day before it was absolutely pouring down. It made the drive to Rockford tricky but even though it was only 90 minutes from Chicago, the weather was much better once we arrived.
On the morning of the marathon we drove over to the start, being a smaller race there was easy parking near to the start area. The wind was cold but it looked like there wouldn’t be any thunderstorms or rain which was a relief. We saw a couple of Maniac friends and soon after, the race started.
It was definitely a runner’s run, not that scenic but not bad either. The course started in downtown Rockford and went through a mixture of industrial areas, some main roads and residential roads. The marathoners did 2 loops of the course. For the small (300) runners that were there, the field was fast with average finish times typically 30 minutes faster than most events. This again was due to it being a no-thrills event that mainly draws runners rather than people looking for large crowd support and other niceties.
We ran a fairly zippy first half in 1:48, giving us some buffer for the second loop. During the fast half we had run past an area of road where someone had hit a deer, it must have only been a few hours prior to the race as it was lying on the grass looking perfectly normal with a rich orange coat. Sad that a healthy looking animal ended up like that. On our second lap we looked out for the deer again and shortly after passing it there was another on the grass by the side of the road. It definitely hadn’t been there on the first lap and you could see where it had just been dragged from the road. Considering we were running in a coned-off section of road with police stationed right at that point, I’m not quite sure how someone managed to hit it in broad daylight.
Towards the end of our second lap we came across another Maniac, Seth, and we swapped stories of races, States and Club Stars. It turned out he had lost an incredible amount of weight since beginning running, and he was hoping to get a PR (Personal Record) that day. He said one of the advantages is that as he’s been losing weight he’s kept being able to beat his previous records, which is a great feeling. He was on target to do it again, even if it was only just, so he stuck with us and we talked the miles away.
We rounded the corner and crossed the finish line in 3 hours 50, with Seth just up ahead, he had managed to get a new PR by 2 seconds! The Rockford Marathon was low key but well organised and I’m sure the course could provide runners with some quick times.
It was a milestone moment for us as by finishing Rockford we had run 30 Marathons in 30 States/Countries within 11 months, qualifying us for the top status in the Marathon Maniacs of 10* Titanium. Within that 30 were 28 States and 2 Countries, England and Spain.
Of the 11,500+ members of the club, a club built around frequent marathoning, only 2% have managed to reach 10 Stars. It was something we had only dared to dream about achieving and even though we had mapped it out as possible path at the beginning of the year, we had no idea if it was a realistic path that we would be able to uphold with week-after-week marathons. We realised that it would mean running 16 marathons all in different locations during the first 5 months of the year, a rate at which we had never run them before. The weekend flying to the events would also need to be on top of our weekly flights for our jobs, adding an even tougher and more tiring dimension.
It forced us to push beyond the limits we believed we had, which were already ambitious and we thought, open-minded. None of it has been easy but when you realise you’re capable of far more than you thought you were, it is a very exhilarating and empowering feeling.
We may not run marathons forever, but from now on we’ll always be 10* Titanium Maniacs.
Elevation Graph from my running watch:
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