Monday, April 29, 2013

Illinois Half Marathon Recap

I had the Illinois Half Marathon this past Saturday.  When I signed up for it, I originally was going to just run easy since I had the Half Marathon in Indianapolis the following weekend.  However, after discussing it with Jodi, I decided to try to get a sub 2 hour half during the Illinois Half.  Now, Jodi didn't necessarily tell me to do that.  She gave me a suggestion on goals to try to shoot for while running the Illinois Half (first half run about 9:08-9:09 and second half run 9:04-9:06, I think...).  But if I ran these paces, I'd hit the sub 2:00 hour goal.  So that's what I was shooting for.

I went down to the Illinois Half with Derek and his sister and brother in law.  Derek never ran a half before (long story but he did run a full marathon).  But in the last few months, he's gotten faster (I'm jealous), and therefore made it his goal to beat me, therefore getting a sub-2:00 himself.  I wasn't competing with him but he was definitely competing with me!  Hey...whatever gets you motivated, I guess!

Derek and I both lined up with the 1:57 half marathon pacer but I didn't feel comfortable there (I think it was a 9:00 min avg pace).  And I didn't really want to see Derek fly ahead of me so I told him I was going to move back to the 9:10 pace group (2:00 hour pacer).  We wished each other luck and off to my corral I went.

Before the race in front of the corral Derek started in
The half marathon and marathon started and people were off.  My pace group TOOK OFF!  I wasn't even about to catch them!  When I looked down, I was running at a sub-9:00 pace.  What is this 9:10 pace group even doing??  I was pretty annoyed but I know I need to run MY race and not let all the fast people flying ahead of me (including my pace group) influence my speed.  In fact, my first 3 miles?  8:58, 9:01, 8:55... and I never even SAW the 9:10 pace group!  I didn't "catch" them until mile 6 or 7!

The temperatures that day weren't going to be too bad.  It was supposed to be about 49-50 degrees during the race.  I forgot my hand held water bottle and I thought about bringing my regular throw away bottle but decided against it as I figured I'd drink from the water stations.  NOTE TO SELF: listen to your gut.  I skipped the first aid station, tried to drink on the go during the second and ended up with water mostly in my nose, and skipped the 3rd water station.

I'm not sure what I was thinking here.  It got really sunny almost right away during the half.  I was smart and wore capris, a tank and arm sleeves.  My arm sleeves came down after mile 1 and completely off at mile 2!  The sun was just beating down on me.  I'm a "hot" runner anyway and there was no shade on this course.  ZERO!  After barely drinking any water for the first 3 aid stations (about 6-7 miles), I was definitely feeling it.  Actually, I do know what I was thinking, I didn't want to slow up my time by stopping at the aid stations!  FAIL! know better!

By mile 6, we headed into a field/park area.  This area was very narrow and very crowded.  I knew I'd have pace problems during this mile.  I didn't want to waste energy by running on grass (or tripping and hurting myself) so I tried to keep the best pace I could.  When I got to mile 7, I was feeling really thirsty and didn't know when the next water stop would be.  Mile 8...I really started struggling.  I wanted water, the sun was beating down on me, I was hot, we were still running in this cramped park area and my pace was slipping slightly.  I was getting discouraged.  I decided to walk a minute.  While walking, a blond girl in a bright yellow long sleeve ran past me and cheerily yelled..."Great job! Keep going! You can do this!"  I smiled and gave her a thumbs up.  I actually really needed that at that moment and decided maybe Jodi sent her my way to make sure I kept running...  ?  Haha.  So thank you random blond girl.

By mile 9, I was really feeling dehydrated.  I was trying to push myself but I know my pace slipped a bit.  There was an aid station and I needed to stop and drink water.  A full cup.  I think I may have been on pace for a sub 2:00 or slightly behind it at that point.  I thought, even if I don't sub-2:00, I could still get a PR but it's going to be close.  I was feeling that sun.  At mile 10, I got a huge headache in the back of my head, it felt really heavy and my vision blurred from being slightly dizzy.   My fingers were swollen.  I knew I was dehydrated and I figured if I pushed myself too much right now, someone may be pealing me off the ground and hauling me to a medical tent or the hospital.  Maybe I could have pushed through but I didn't want to take the risk of passing out.  At this point, I needed to walk, grab water and jog slowly.  If I didn't PR, I didn't PR.  I've done enough half marathons (this was my 11th I think) to know you need to listen to your body.  I told myself I was not going to be upset with my time, whatever it ended up being.  I was doing the right thing.  This is, of course, what I told myself.

Not sure where during the race this was taken

Maybe around mile 11, after I started not feeling well. I mustered up the energy to smile and wave for the camera

I tried to just jog as much as possible for the next few miles.  I stopped to walk a few times.  Stopped and got gatorade and water when it was available.  I tried to feel like I was doing the best I could under the circumstances.  At one point, I thought about crying because I hate not feeling good, but what would that get me.  It would just make it harder to run and breathe so I pushed it down.  And finally I was done.

I deliriously got my medal and looked for something...Derek? Water? I really wasn't sure. I was slowly walking somewhere.  Derek came up behind me and gave me a hug and I just started telling him I didn't feel well during the race and I just started crying.  Then I apologized, tried to hold back the tears, explained briefly what happened.  He gave me some of his gatorade and helped me get water.  Then I asked him how he did... yes, he got a sub-2:00.  I thought he would and I was glad he did (1:58:06).  I felt discouraged in myself knowing I was on pace for a long time and doing well.  I wasn't mad that he did "beat" me or did what I FAILED to do this time.  A little discouraging only because I've been doing this so long and he comes along and just does it... (when he was slower than me in December and January).  But I'm definitely proud of his accomplishment and it had more to do with feeling disappointed in myself than anything else.

We got food and waited for his sister and BIL to finish.  We picked up our bags, and I tried to find my Yankee Runner group for a tailgate post party.  I couldn't find them and we were all sore and hungry so we decided to just go eat and leave.

With our finisher medals

Here is how my splits went:

Miles 1-7: 8:58, 9:01, 8:55, 9:10, 9:07, 9:05, 9:36 (water stop)
Miles 8-13: 9:14, 9:46, 10:00, 10:31, 11:17, 10:06

I replay things in my head.  Maybe I should have paced myself better.  I definitely should have drank more water (and brought some with me on the run).  I try to figure out how things could have been different.  During the run, about mile 12, I thought, I'm not ever trying to sub-2:00 again. I'm not going for it next weekend.  NOT AT ALL!!  I hate this.

But after thinking about it, looking at my splits, knowing what I didn't do right.  I still think I can get a sub 2:00.  My time was 2:06.  And that is with "bombing" the last 4 miles!  A year ago, I would have killed for a 2:06!  I know I need to be happy with that time and how I did.  I could have quit. At mile 10, when I got a headache and dizzy, I immediately looked around for a medical tent or aid person.  I was going to pull myself right there.  But I didn't.  I had to change my strategy but that happens in life in general. I pulled it together enough so I could finish.

After a few days post-half, I decided I will try for a sub 2:00 this coming weekend in Indy.  I know I can do it.  I will just run smarter. 


  1. I'm so glad you didn't end up in the med tent. YOu did great! You had wonderful weather too! Congrats on finishing!

    1. A lot of people had a harder time than normal due to the sun/weather. I think the air was cool enough, we just were prepared for the heat from the sun!

  2. I wonder sometimes what I'm thinking on race day. During the RNR half, I gave up about half way through, just broke down into tears and said F this race. If I would have kept pushing, I could have easily PRed. Instead, I got pissed and gave up. Kudos to you for not giving up, keep pushing, yet listening to your body at the same time. We can't PR every race and you do have another half next weekend, where maybe you'll be able to get that boost to a PR with Jodi pacing you! Best of luck this weekend and congrats on another great half marathon FINISH!

    And congrats to Derek for meeting his goal!

    1. Derek did great! I'm so impressed. He decided he wanted to start at a 9 pace and stay consistent. And he did.

      And you are right Kelly...sometimes we are our own worst enemy!

  3. you will have perfect weather for Indy!! I frequently have breakdowns and miss my goal. Sometimes its just not your day - the elements will align for you next time!

  4. Congrats on finishing even if it wasn't the race you wanted. Hopefully Indy will go better for you!!

  5. Congrats on finishing - even when the going gets hard. It was warm out!

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