Race Report: Prairie State Half Marathon

In front of the starting line before the race

This race report is a week late. Last Saturday I did the Prairie State Half Marathon, my second attempt at the 13.1 distance. Going into the race, my goal was, of course, to beat my first half marathon time of 2:24:30, but I also just wanted to finish around 2 hours (under would be fantastic). I actually felt nervous on Friday about the race. I’d only done 9 miles as my long run training for this race and I would’ve preferred to have at least done 10 miles to get in the double digits again. I knew the end of the race is mostly a mental battle anyway, but I would’ve felt more confident having gotten more mileage in training.

Anyway, race morning was COLD! It almost felt like winter–the temps were in the 30s or 40s, but the real feel was in the 20s with the wind. I was prepared for less heat than my June half, but I wasn’t prepared to whip out my Under Armour already. Cooler weather is great for running though and the temperature was perfect, actually. By mile 4, I took off my gloves. A little later, I rolled up my sleeves, and by the halfway point, I removed my fleece headband (to keep my ears warm). The only problem then is having to hold these things while running. They weren’t throw-away clothes for me (and I needed them again after I finished & got cold again).

As the race started, I tried to focus on not starting out too fast. I wanted to try and stay between a 9-10 minute mile pace the entire race. I was able to stay in that range for most of the run (my Garmin really helped with this). Most of the run was on crushed limestone on the Des Plaines River Trail. It’s wooded and there aren’t many places for spectators to watch. My husband was great about coming out with me, mostly because I also told him he could fish in the lake while waiting for me to run (it’s boring and cold for spectators). There was this one stretch though by a park that had tons of spectators lined up and cheering as the runners went by. Even though they weren’t cheering specifically for me, it’s energizing and encouraging to have them there.

The course was good (just an out and back run), but there were a few times where I almost sprained my ankle or tripped/fell because parts of the ground might have been uneven or because I stepped on some forest debris (there were these round ball-like things…not acorns, something else). It happened multiple times so I was just praying I wouldn’t get hurt. I saw a couple other people stumble like that too. Scary! Every time it happened, I’d try to pick up my feet more.

I felt pretty good for most of the race, but I started hitting my wall around mile 9 or 10. My longest training run this time was 9

Approaching the finish line (I’m the one in back)

miles, so this kind of makes sense, but I was definitely feeling tired. I kept telling myself I didn’t want to walk because running slowly was still faster than walking. I did walk through the last few water stations (I was running out of water from my own hydration belt). Mile 12 was my slowest (10:12) even though I was reminding myself that I was almost to the finish line. Some marathoners passed me at that point. Just after the mile 12 marker, there were photographers taking pictures and one of them said, “You just got lapped,” referring to the marathoner who ran by before me. That’s real encouraging…but I didn’t really care because I was close enough to my goal time.

I knew as I approached mile 12 and got back into Independence Grove that I wasn’t going to get a sub-2 hour time, but I figured I might as well try to get as close to it as possible. I picked up my pace for a little while, but ended up slowing again (that last mile always feels so long). We got a headwind as we were nearing mile 13, which wasn’t fun, but once I passed that last mile marker, I stepped it up and sprinted that last 0.1 miles. I always do this in training, which I think pays off, since I had a pretty good time for that last portion according to my Garmin. Gerald was able to catch me finishing too because I called him when I hit mile 10 so he’d know to start heading to the finish line.

My official finishing time was 2:03:33 and I’m happy with that. It’s still 20 minutes faster than my first half! I placed 16th in my age group out of 69 people. Next time I’ll be aiming for a sub-2 hour half marathon. 🙂 I took last week to do a couple recovery runs and today began training for my Turkey Trot 8k.

Congrats to everyone who ran the Chicago Marathon last weekend too!

Me with my supportive husband

Half Marathon #2 complete!

 

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