Posts Tagged half marathon

{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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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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