After 3 months, many miles in my new shoes (I wear Brooks Ghosts and like to buy them here), ounces upon ounces of celebratory coconut water after long runs (as far as I’m concerned the best one hands down is this one), and caffeinated jelly bean after caffeinated jelly bean, the day finally came for the 2016 Fox Valley Marathon. This was my 5th marathon, and I hadn’t run this particular race since 2012 (my 1st marathon!). How exciting to race again on a very familiar old training course, and to be back in the Chicagoland area for a couple of days with friends and family.

I began my visit with an early, early flight and eye-catching skies, as the world woke up below me (it’s entirely possible I take too many pictures out of airplane windows).img_3404img_3405img_3406Once in Illinois, it was time to catch up with friends, eat healthy pre-race foods (nicoise salad with salmon, lots of water- excellent start), and get to bed super early. Like 8:30. Okay, actually 8:30. Clearly this was going to be a party weekend.

The next morning- race day! The Fox Valley Marathon is situated along the Fox River, and starts and ends in St. Charles, Illinois. Runners have the option of a half marathon, 20 miler, or full marathon. For those running the full marathon, you run all the way from St. Charles to Aurora, which is a heck of a distance when you map it out. Take a look to see what I mean!One useful piece of information for Chicagoland racers- the Fox Valley race series is always scheduled to coincide with the Chicago Marathon such that Chicago marathoners can complete the 20 miler during the Fox Valley race, and be perfectly prepared for their upcoming full marathon in Chicago in October. Smart idea because you have fuel, drinks, and bathrooms, as well as a cheering crowd to urge you on.

And now, the race!

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Me and my lovely friends who were all also racing!
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The morning start- great views and perfect weather to begin the day.
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Long morning shadows.
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There be runners through those trees.

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It was a terrific day- perfect weather, fantastic friends, my mom came to cheer me on, and we even made time for some celebratory snacks afterwards. If you want the best frozen custard in northern Illinois, I highly recommend Julie Ann’s. I’ve never had its equal. My go-to is a chocolate custard concrete with raspberries. It cannot be beat. My mom swears by the chocolate custard concrete with peanut butter. Really, you cannot go wrong.

My last day was spent enjoying a true midwestern fall morning and working from my mom’s house. How can these days be summed up, if not better than Henry Thoreau:

“I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.”

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