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Quad Cities Half Marathon

HELLO ALL MY WONDERFUL READERS!  I hope you all have been well and loving life!

On Sunday, September 22, 2013, I ran the Quad Cities Half Marathon.  It was my 10th half so far in my quest for 13 half marathons in 2013.  I know that there are HUNDREDS if not THOUSANDS of people doing this challenge, so I’m not saying I’m anything special, but just keeping track for myself.  This race was VERY special to me in many ways, so I’ll get right to explaining all the wonderful experiences.

First of all, I must start with this.  My wonderful husband grew up in the Quad Cities.  For those of you who don’t know where that is or anything about them let me quickly explain.  The Quad Cities are made up of four major cities….2 in Iowa and 2 in Illinois.  The two Iowa cities are Bettendorf and Davenport, and the Illinois cities are Moline and Rock Island and they split the Mississippi River.  The marathon and half are really great because runners get to run in each city, over two bridges (I believe the full runs over more than two bridges) and then through the famous Arsenal Island which is a military base.  Since meeting my husband, living in a nearby Quad City community, and all of his family still live there, the Quad Cities is very familiar to me and is like a second home.  I have always wanted to run it for those reasons, but the weekend never seemed to work out in our schedule. 

Secondly, if you remember back to the winter of 2013, I blogged about my father-in-law who was extremely ill with many heart issues.  He had to go into a dangerous surgery to remove an infected pacemaker and we were told by the cardiac team that he would most likely NOT survive the surgery.  I talked with my father-in-law before the surgery to give him my love and I told him to be strong.  I also told him that if he pulled through, I would run the Quad Cities Half Marathon in his honor and wear Illinois gear just for him.  Now…..my husband and I are Iowa Hawkeye fans and my in laws are Illinois fans.  This would be a tough thing for me to do….actually BUY a Fighting Illini shirt?!  But, if it meant that my father-in-law survived the surgery, then having him see me cross the finish line in that said shirt would be so worth it.

Obviously, you are figuring out that he did survive and so I took off on Saturday, the 21st (MY BIRTHDAY!) for my in law’s house.  We had a great little lunch at their house in which they had a birthday cake.  My sister-in-law and niece came over too and they all sang to me!  We headed out on a fun shopping afternoon and I had a terrible time finding an Illinois shirt!  But I was being picky.  I wanted just a t shirt and one that I knew I would feel comfortable running in for 13.1 miles.  I finally found one Saturday evening!

Since the heart surgery, my mother-in-law has been faced with some serious health problems too.  She is still going to the doctor to investigate some breast cancer scares, biopsies, what happens “if”, so I also bought some breast cancer earrings and a necklace to wear in her honor.

And then the big day came.  It was Sunday morning….race starts at 7:30am and I’m ready to get dressed.  On my headband, I wrote “4 LANLIN”…what that means is this.   Lanny and Linda are my in law’s names.  The license plate on their car is “LANLIN2”.  So I wrote the “4 LANLIN” meaning that I was running for Lanny and Linda.

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We got in the car and headed out.  Their plan was to watch the start and then get some coffee and tea and just wait/read.  Of course the atmosphere was very exciting!  I love races for that fact…lots of people around, everybody getting ready to line up, the announcer over the PA telling us how many minutes until gun time.  It’s just a neat experience and that certain excitement that I love.  It was quite chilly that morning, but you could tell that it was going to be a perfect running weather day.

Soon it was 7:30 and the gun went off on time!  The start line was in Moline, Illinois and we headed to the Interstate 74 bridge which crosses over the Mississippi River into Iowa.  The first Iowa city we ran in was Bettendorf.  We ran up our first hill in Iowa…what a hill.  Yuck.  We ran through some neighborhoods and made our way back down toward the Mississippi.  We ran along the river for several miles crossing into Davenport, Iowa.  Let me say…this was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL part of the course.  I have been on this path before, but not running.  It was so neat to look out over the river and see Illinois on the other side. 

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We turned and ran a little bit up into the downtown of Davenport.  Soon, the downtown street took us to the Arsenal Bridge…the only way to get on Arsenal Island.  It is located in Rock Island, Illinois and is now the largest government owned gun manufacturing arsenal in the United States.  It is a working Army Arsenal and we were granted permission to run on it for only a certain amount of time before it is closed to civilians again.  It was so neat to be on their for the last 5K.  There is also a military cemetery there.  The next three pictures:  the first one is the Arsenal Bridge “floor”…weird to run on!  The second is the gate going onto the Island, and the third is the military cemetery.

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Once we were through Arsenal Island, we were very close to the finish line!  We had one more little overpass to cross and then we made the turn to the finish line, which was back in Moline.  There were TONS of people and loud great music on the way to the end.  I saw Lanny and Linda waving and cheering me on!  I started to get really emotional seeing them at the finish line and I pointed and screamed out at them, “This is for you both!” 

How did I feel during the race?  I was a bit nervous for this race.  I think it was a couple of things.  One, just the emotion of it was hard.  I was excited to be running in the Quad Cities for the first mentioned reasons of it being like a second home to me, but also the emotion of why I was running.  I was thinking of all of the past and upcoming health issues that Lanny and Linda have dealt with and will continue to face and I would start to tear up.  I had to make myself re-focus and not get emotional while running.   Why not get emotional while running?  Well for me, it makes me tired.  If I get teary eyed, my breathing goes way off and then I struggle to find a good pace for myself and keep my breathing under control.

I was also nervous because I was not sure how my legs would feel.  At the Women Rock Half on August, 31, I had been doing Insanity very faithfully.  I decided that for the week prior to the Quad Cities Half, I was going to not do Insanity.  I actually had very mixed feelings about this.  I had been doing every DVD and working very hard at Insanity and part of me did not want to stop for that week.  However, I really felt deep down that my legs were so tired at Women Rock because of the Insanity workouts.  So to me, the best answer was to take a week off.  I’m glad I did!  I felt really great in this race…much better than I did at Women Rock.  I was down 10 pounds from the Women Rock and was 1 minute and 12 seconds better in my finish time at Quad Cities!

It was such a wonderful weekend.  The race was incredible.  It was very well organized, the scenery was beautiful, the spectators and volunteers were really great!  Love my t-shirt and medal!  In fact, the Quad Cities medal is my son’s favorite of all my medals.  There were lots of police officers and sheriffs around the course and that made me feel safe. 

Of course, the most important thing was the time I spent with Lanny and Linda…and also Lisa (my sister-in-law) and niece Katy.  It was so great to be with them and have them support me.  Seeing Lanny and Linda at the finish line was so fun and I’m beyond thrilled that they were able to see me in the Illinois gear! 

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