Thursday, May 5, 2011

Race Recap: Illinois Half Marathon

The fact that it's taken until Thursday for me to write a race recap should tell all.  My mind had not been on the half-marathon all week, and race day was no exception.  Not sure why but I just was not mentally there for this one.

On Friday afternoon, the 1.5 hour trip to Champaign whizzed by as my friend Angie and I chatted away. After checking into our hotel, we hit the expo.  No foot chip for this race... instead the timing device was adhered to the backside of our bib.  A nice surprise, the technical tees were color coordinated by gender - pink for the ladies and gray for the men.  I liked the simple design, but disappointed with the wrong size (which I didn't notice until we were back at the hotel.  More incentive to get down another size I guess!)  The drawstring bag was nice quality, but half-marathon color was black (never a fan of black bags since it's difficult to see stuff inside).  The swag inside was minimal this year - just a bunch of flyers for upcoming races.  We quickly splurged on Bondi Bands, and headed to our dinner reservations.  If you are at TGIFriday's anytime soon, I highly recommend the Chicken Paccata Pasta and the garlic breadsticks.  I was pleasantly surprised how good the food was... or maybe it was the fact that I was sans kids and could savor every tasty bite?

I got an unbelievable good night's sleep, and was up exactly one minute before the 5am alarm.  After deciding on my outfit (finally!), we attached our bibs and were out the door.  Runners were abuzz throughout the lobby as I wolfed down my waffle with peanut butter.  All the talk was about the WIND...
Pre-race photo at the hotel
Start times were waved this year.  Marathon took off at 7:00am, 10K at 7:20am and finally the half-marathon (largest group at 7000 runners) at 7:35am.  I wasn't sure how it would all play out, but it certainly relieved the early congestion that was so bad last year.

The weather was perfect except for the wind... 20mph at the gun, building to 40mph gusts by lunchtime. My goal of 1:59 was lofty going in. I knew that, but I still hoped for a PR.  Here's how the miles unfolded...
MILE 1 - 8:42
Too fast but it felt good.

MILE 2 - 9:01
Trying to settle into my pace.

MILE 3 - 9:04
Feel like I'm being passed in herds...

MILE 4 - 9:26
I'm unusually winded, and we're only four miles in.  Why am I doing this?
Too early for these kind of thoughts... what is wrong with me today?!

MILE 5 - 9:22
Compare stopwatch time to pace band.  Hmm, I'm only a couple seconds off from the 1:59 time.  I can still go after this... Take a GU, maybe it will help the mind?

MILE 6 - 9:24
We came out of the neighborhoods and hit smack into a wall of wind.  Ouch.  I really needed my sunglasses for the wind.  My contacts are dried out and the eyes begin to burn. I try to run alternating one eye closed...
Here we come up the open stretch.  I'm on the left side.

MILE 7 - 9:39
Long gradual incline into a newer subdivision.  I find myself constantly comparing the miles to how they felt last spring.  Here's when I begin to notice... I'm in much better shape that a year ago.  I recall struggling through this relay zone last year.

MILE 8 - 9:25
We enter the Meadowbrook Park... merging from an entire road wide to a just a one lane trail.  I feel the whole group slow down as everyone tries to squeeze on the trail.  It felt incredibly slow, and yet my pace was okay.

MILE 9 - 9:35
The 2-hr pace group catches me as we exit the park.  I latch on and drag behind them for a while.  O' crap, there she goes...

MILE 10 - 10:00
I was incredibly thirsty in the last mile and was desperately watching for a water stop.  Finally before 10, it appeared and for the first time, I slowed to a walk to drink in both water and Gatorade.

MILE 11 - 9:53
 I catch myself "jogging" again.  I just can't find my mental "push yourself" button today.  I down another GU and latch on to others to hold a pace.  I feel really sucky right now.

MILE 12 - 10:07
At about 11.5, I slow down to take water and rejuvenate myself one last time.  The end is near and I vow to push myself the final 1.6 miles.  I glance at my stopwatch and set a new goal of 2:03.

MILE 13 - 8:59
The Marines are ringing a huge bell and drilling runners.  It gives me a little "basic training" pep.  Lots of fans along this final mile.  In fact, the whole race had an abundance of spectators!

Mile 0.1 - 1:16
I zoom past runners in a sprint to the stadium entrance.  Why are people walking?!  The sun is finally shining as I step onto the football field and bring it in to the 50-yard line.  
Wanna see the video finish?  Click HERE.  I'm easy to spot in pink!

Official Chip Time: 2:03:58
PR beating my time from two weeks ago by 5 minutes.

OVERALL - Top 38% - 2466 of 6399
WOMEN DIV - Top 22% - 979 of 3690
AGE DIVISION - Top 29% - 132 of 462

Male winner's time: 1:10:14
 Female winner time: 1:20:46

Any PR deserves a rockstar pose!!
Angie score a PR too at 1:55!

I relaxed.  I ate.  I rolled.  I stretched.
The next day, I had hardly any soreness at all.  In my head, I know I could have pushed harder and am a bit disappointed with myself for that.  The 1:59 will come in it's own due time.  I won't quit, and I won't give up.  Last Friday, I won a free entry into the Chicago Rock 'n Roll Half-Marathon on August 14.  And on Monday, I registered for my first 26.2 at the Quad Cities Marathon on September 26.  

Keep on Running...


  1. Great recap, Jess!! Great job on your PR. That wind sounds brutal!

  2. NIce work!! your race recaps always inspire me!

  3. Awesome job Jess!

    I do not recall any sort of hill...I spaced out most of the race and can hardly remember what I thought about.

  4. I am loving all the pink gear! You really stand out in the crowd.

    Sorry you weren't feeling the race - but so happy you got a new PR!

  5. Awesome, congrats on the PR. Bummer about the wind... I struggled with some this weekend too, it's officially my least favorite element! :D

  6. Ugh it was windy. Congrats on pushing thru to a new PR!!!

  7. Go you for getting that PR!!! Rock on!

  8. Congrats!!! great race!!!
    I love the rock star pic!!!

  9. Great race-recap. Congratulations on the PR!!!! Even though it wasn't what you were expecting, it's still great--faster than before, and really close to goal! I've run in the horrible 20-40 mph winds and it's rough. you should be so proud of your time! :)

  10. You PR'd!! I know you wanted that sub 2 but that is SO in your future Jess!

    PINK attire looks great on you and I could easily spot you in the pics!

    Congrats on your free entry to the RnR in Chi town!!

  11. LOVE that superstar pose picture! LOVE IT!

    And once the contacts dry out, it's all over for me. You are my hero for keeping on keepin' on :)

    And a PR outta the deal? Awesome!

  12. I really can't believe how many people were just walking across the finish. Crazy!!

    Awesome job!!

  13. Awesome PR! Way to go!

    Your race day outfit was super cute, too!

  14. Congrats on the PR!
    The sub-2 is clearly right around the corner for you!!

  15. Wow that's an amazing time! Good job Jess! Awesome time splits!

  16. Great job and killer pics!! I want beautiful weather for my next race AND a PR too!!

    hmmm, I'm not too far from Illinois, might have to put that race on my list!

  17. Great race recap! That wind was really something!

  18. Great race, 1:59 will come and you are so ready, just like life you can't predict the weather or what is going to happen on race day but the key is for us to continue to have fun and chase that goal.

  19. Love the rock star pose :) Great race!

  20. this link is to a form if you want to get the right size shirt:


  21. Thanks for the recap. What a lot of fun! Get's me motivated to do a 1/2 somewhere between now and Portland. Of course I got to get over the 10k hump first! But I love it !!!

    See you on the trails...

  22. Awesome job!!! Great job on the PR!!

  23. Congrats on the PR! And great job battling the wind. It's been brutal lately.

  24. Your totally awesome! Great job!


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