Illinois Marathon 2019

Last weekend, runners took to our local streets in the 11th running of the Illinois Marathon.

Since its inaugural events in 2009, I've run the following Illinois Marathon races - 2 Half Marathons, 3 Full Marathons (including my First Full Marathon), 1 5Ks, 1 Relay Marathon and now I can add the last race - the 10K. I've participated 8 out of the 11 years. One year (2012), I was recovering from ACL replacement surgery, so no running that year. I recall avoiding the race events one year (then regretting it), and two years ago I was out of town attending to family business. I am so very thankful for what the Illinois Marathon has done for our community - people come together to train, to run, to volunteer, to cheer and encourage; to achieve goals, to push physical and mental limits and to discover more about themselves in the process.
I doubt I would have endeavored to run a full marathon had it not been for this local race.

Through this event, I connected with other local runners and in the process, expanded my circle of friends. I can always find a person to slog through numerous miles, in good conditions and bad, in the wee morning hours, in the rain, snow, cold, heat and humidity. Crazy begets crazy!

I even managed to rub this crazy running habit off on my family. Last year, we teamed up and completed the 4 person marathon relay. This year, my daughter trained for and completed her first half marathon! I am so proud of her! She signed up for the local training program my Run Club executes, managed to get to the Saturday 8am group runs (not easy for a 21 year old college student) and met her goal of finishing her first Half Marathon. In contrast, I didn't run my first half marathon until I was in my 40's!

Congrats to My Daughter on Her first Half Marathon!! Way to go. Super proud of how hard you’ve worked and trained!

I ran the 10K with two of my dear Book Club friends, one who is a beginner runner. I helped Nancy train for this, her first 10K race. She trained using a walk-run couch to 10K program but ran the entire race. I had a blast accompanying her the entire 6.2 miles

Our group - pre race. One of my friend's 9 year old, Nancy's husband, me, Heather and Nancy.
Getting Ready to Run! #shirleyruns #illinoismarathon #10k #getoutsideandrun
During the course of our training, we developed a running mantra - "For the Fellowship" and I was the running group's Coach - you can see those elements in our race bibs, along with Nancy's husband's encouragement for her race.

I spotted a course photographer at mile 5, so posed for this shot:

Our Finish line photos were crappy, but we managed to finish strong, holding our hand together in the air in victory. I hope Nancy and Heather continue to run through the summer. We will meet up in late July at our Lake retreat and I already have plans for us to run together.


May 2019 Free Desktop Calendar Download- Thailand Boats at Sunset

Another photo of boats from last year's trip to Thailand - this time at sunset.

To download the May calendar, click on this link from
Link --> May 2019 - Thailand Boats at Sunset


April 2019 Free Desktop Calendar Download - St Francis Xavier Church

My son attends St Louis University and the St. Francis Xavier church sits prominently as a cornerstone on campus.

Its serene beauty provides shelter and calm to those who visit.
My husband actually took the photo with his iPhone - I think he did a great job!

To download the April calendar, click on this link from
Link --> April 2019 - St Francis Xavier Church


March 2019 Free Desktop Calendar - Boats in Thailand

Well, I'm 10 days late with posting this, but that means there are still 21 days to enjoy March's Photo calendar.

Taken on the island of Phuket in Thailand, the low tide grounds the boats to the sand. We walked across the rippled sea bottom to explore this area, a short distance from our hotel. Even though it is a resort area, ruins of abandoned developments pock the landscape (slightly visible on the ride side of the photo). Thailand is a country of dichotomies - rich intermingled with poor. Still, we found the people to be so happy and gracious, country full of lush beauty.

To download the March calendar, click on this link from
Link --> March 2019 - Boats in Thailand


My 2018 Running Year - The Worst and Best Year

Yeah, yeah, almost 2 months into 2019 and here comes a recap of last year?
Forgive and indulge me a little bit - even though we are well into 2019, last year's experiences still continue to mold me and I constantly need to be reminded that success does not hinge on running "X" miles a week. Read on to get the rest of the story:

2018 - It was the worst year of running, it was the best year in spite of that.

Coming off my 2017, with all its accomplishments, why wouldn’t 2018 eclipse it all? Several reasons emerged - my Pride went before the fall, age caught up with even me, and well, maybe it just wouldn’t be the year where I smashed all my goals regardless how hard I tried to control things. Yes, I am an admitted control freak (just ask my kids and they will resoundingly nod their heads).

I couldn’t control my left hip’s pain and I didn’t foresee tearing something in my right glute (an injury obtained while doing yoga of all things). I could only adjust and force myself to be patient. But, these injuries forced me to slow down, adjust my workouts, divert my focus and in the end, resulted in a 2018 full of rich experiences.

What went down: due to nagging left hip pain and lack of trail miles, I withdrew from my planned spring ultra. What I did instead: after a year’s hiatus, I returned to the pool and realized it wasn’t so bad. I drew solace from the dark and cold winter mornings, somewhat thankful I didn’t have to brave those elements on the road.

Instead of running that ultra during spring break week, I traveled to Thailand with my daughter, sister and a local running friend! The impetus of the trip was my daughter’s desire to visit a high school friend studying abroad. We flew over together then parted ways once I had delivered her to her friend’s place in Bangkok. My local running friend, Brenda, and I met up with my sister in Chiangmai. We hiked up a mountain, visited temples, took a Thai cooking class and interacted with elephants. We flew to Phuket, relaxed on the beach, kayaked in sea hongs of Phang Nga Bay, experienced bio luminescent show and had a wonderful vacation.

Up close and personal with these giants #elephantsanctuary #thailand #chiangmai

Towards the Sea

I rested my hip and returned to running in time for the Illinois Marathon weekend. But no Marathon for me. Instead, our family (me, husband Scott, kids Erica and Brian) formed a team and ran the Marathon Relay. I have wanted to do this as a family for many years but could never convince the non-runners. While we’ve all run 5ks , the 6+ mile distance seemed long for the kids. Erica has been running more and it was her desire to field a team that tipped the scales.
Scott ran the first leg, then I met Erica at the first exchange (she had to work earlier that morning). Erica took the second leg and Scott and I made our way to the next exchange point. I ran the third leg, enjoying the thinned running field. The last exchange is located approximately 2 miles from our house, perfect for our son who would run the last portion of the race. Perfect because this allowed him to sleep in while the rest of us were on the course!
We met Brian at the entrance to Memorial stadium, ran in together and crossed the finish line. We were blessed with perfect weather that day - sun and mid 50s. It doesn’t get much better.

I spent the rest of spring slowly regaining mileage. Winter's grip held spring captive and when it let go, summer barreled straight in. Cold then hot. Brian graduated from high school, and suddenly it was summer.

Brian Graduates

One morning, I received a text from my sister about a “vendor she uses at work who is the title sponsor of the NYC marathon” (TCS! Tata Consulting Services) and “extending an invitation for her work team to participate in the NYC marathon”.
OMG, the NYC Marathon! I've entered the lottery 4 times and 4 times been rejected....

Long story short, my sister manages to get me and her husband entries into NYC. And not just regular entries but VIP entries (special bus, special area in the Athletes' Village, special Finish line treatment and more).

I start rebuilding miles. Cross training. I get the official invite in mid June.
Then I injure myself doing yoga on Friday, July 13. I’m not a superstitious person, but seriously?
I assume the pain in my butt will go away in a few weeks but it doesn’t. By September I realize that I won’t be able to execute a normal marathon training cycle and start weighing options:
1. Drop out of the NYC Marathon
2. Do whatever I can from a training perspective, start the marathon and do the best I can. I could take a DNF (Did Not Finish) if things got really bad.

I go with Option 2 - because when will I ever get this opportunity again? I follow several talented runners from my Run club via Strava and one of them is injured yet continuing to train for her fall marathon via the elliptical. I follow her lead and embark on a non traditional training program of swimming, cycling and elliptical. I incorporated a run-walk strategy 3 weeks prior to the race. My “20 miler” was replaced by 50 laps in the pool, 30 minutes of pool jogging, one hour cycling class then 6 miles using a 1:30 run, :30 walk cycle. I peaked my running at 8 miles, the week before the marathon.

Instead of my normal 10 minute pace, I ran - walked the marathon with my sister and had a great time. If I hadn’t been injured, I would have run my own race. In the end, this was a great way to soak up NYC, support my sister and her first marathon experience. I wouldn’t change it for even a BQ. (Ok, maybe I would for that).

Ready or not, this is happening! #shirleyruns #tcsnycmarathon #26point2

So what did 2018 teach me from a running / fitness perspective? To be patient with injury recovery, to embrace the circumstances and do the best you can. Don’t let past accomplishments dictate how you face current challenges. I will never repeat the 5K PRs I earned in my 20’s. I doubt I will ever BQ. I’m ok with all that. Even with the lowest yearly mileage since 2012 and my worst marathon finish, I had an incredible running year. I expect 2019 will have its ups and downs but I intend to keep moving forward.


February 2019 Free Desktop Calendar - Tulips

I often buy flowers in the winter to brighten the home against the deary winter backdrop. My flower of choice - the elegant tulip. You can enjoy them all month long!

To download this month's calendar, click on this link from
Link -> February 2019 Desktop Calendar - Tulips


Winter Snow 2019

After a very mild December (2018), January decided Winter really needed to show up.

Last week, storm 'Gia' marched from the south and dumped 8" of powdery snow overnight and we woke to a white wonderland on Saturday morning.
We are accustomed to storms accompanied by wind, but this storm was unusually calm, resulting in trees flocked with ice crystals and the quiet that snow leaves in its wake.

Taken Saturday morning during a trail run. I convinced three running friends to join me in breaking through the fresh snow. Wow, it was hard work, but so lovely to experience.

Two days later, freezing fog hit the area, along with single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures. I've counted two other freezing fog events this winter (the other two were in December), a record for a winter's season. Like the last event, I decided to take a detour on my commute to work and stopped at a Rest Area. The difference from the last event - an abundance of snow on the ground.

Like a Dream Shirley LeMay #hoarfrost

Quiet Morning

You go that right - this is Rest Area on an Interstate Highway. I had to time my photos with the truckers pulling out of the parking lot.


Nature always finds a way to shine, even on the Interstate.



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All images on this blog (unless stated) are the intellectual property and copyright of Shirley LeMay Photography and Shirley Behind the Lens (© 2005-2014). Do not steal, borrow or pirate the images here.

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