{Race Recap} Prairie State Half Marathon 2014

IMG_3480It was a great weekend to race in Chicago! The big event, of course, was the Chicago Marathon yesterday. My cousin, Sammy, rocked that one–her first marathon! She finished in 3:41:41 (only about 6 minutes away from qualifying for Boston!) I’m so impressed by her. 🙂 She was nice enough to come out to cheer for me during my race, the Prairie State Half Marathon, on Saturday.

This was my second time running the Prairie State Half so I was familiar with the course. I ran it two years ago as my second half marathon. Last year I didn’t race at all because I was pregnant during fall racing season, so this race was always on my mind as a postpartum goal. This race was my big post-baby fitness goal. I didn’t really start training until the beginning of July once I got my jogging stroller. That made it easier for me to get out for more runs because I could take baby with me (he was 6 months old when I started running with him). I followed a half marathon plan I found online that required me to run 5 days a week, but I was generally only able to do 4 runs a week because the days I go in to the office were tough to fit a run in. I also didn’t get to go all the way up to the 12 mile long run because a 5k I did one Saturday made me skip the long run that week. Still, I knew I could finish the distance after doing my 11 mile long run a couple weeks ago. As much as the physical training is important for a big race like this, running really is mental too.

Race day came and I planned on getting up around 5:45 to have time to eat some breakfast, get ready, and maybe feed Jaylen if he woke up before leaving to catch the shuttle to the race site, but with a baby that still wakes up a few times in the middle of the night, I ended up turning off my alarm. Luckily I still woke up in time even if it was an hour later. That sure got the adrenaline going! It worked out though because Jaylen woke up and he and Gerald dropped me off and got to watch me start the race.

The weather was perfect for running. It was chilly to start, but I’m glad I didn’t overdress because I definitely warmed up quickly. I felt great for the first 8 miles of the race and kept a fairly consistent pace. Then the exhaustion began to set in a little bit and I ended up taking a few walking breaks until the last mile, where I pushed through to the end (that ended up being my fastest mile). I was using my RunKeeper app to keep track of my miles and pacing, but it didn’t quite match up with the mile markers on the course. According to RunKeeper I reached the mile markers slightly ahead of the course markers, but then somehow at mile 6, I reached the mile marker quite a bit after I passed that mile on the course. Not sure what happened there, but here are my splits according to RunKeeper:

Mile 1 – 9:30
Mile 2 – 9:31
Mile 3 – 9:38
Mile 4 – 9:54
Mile 5 – 9:32
Mile 6 – 9:53
Mile 7 – 9:33
Mile 8 – 9:52
Mile 9 – 10:12
Mile 10 – 11:03
Mile 11 – 10:31
Mile 12 – 10:39
Mile 13 – 9:29

My pace picked up a little bit between miles 6 and 7 because that was where a lot of the spectators (including Sammy and my Uncle Lary) were waiting to cheer us on as we ran by. They almost missed me the first time I ran by (this was right before the turnaround) so I had to wave them down. Encouragement really helps in these endurance races. In the last mile this man and woman ran past me. He was obviously pacing and helping her finish the race and he was so excited and yelling encouraging things to other runners that it helped me pick up my pace as I finished too even though he wasn’t specifically encouraging me.

It felt so good to finish the race, and Gerald was right there at the finish line waiting for me (he had taken Jaylen to his parents’ house). My official finish time was 2:09:35 (an average pace of 9:54). It’s not a PR, but my goal was just to finish this time and I’m pleasantly surprised that I kept an average pace under 10 minute miles. On my training runs I always ran 10-11 minute miles. Almost exactly 10 months ago, I gave birth to Jaylen and now I finished a half marathon. So to me, that’s quite an accomplishment!

I really love the half marathon distance because it’s challenging, but doesn’t seem as daunting to me as a marathon (plus I don’t have time to train for a marathon…I know there are some moms who can do it, but right now I’m not one of them). This was my last race for the year, but with my race and with the marathon this past weekend, it makes me excited for the next one! 🙂

Third half marathon complete!

Third marathon complete!

Post-race with my baby. He's biting the medal like a champ.

Post-race with my baby. He’s biting the medal like a champ.

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