Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Race Recap: IVS Half Marathon Relay

I once said "I'll never run that one."  Last Sunday, I made myself into a liar by running the IVS Half Marathon & Relay.  It's a terribly hilly winding course through the large Springdale Cemetery in the heart of Peoria.  While Mother Nature gives it a nice serenity, it always seemed odd to me to run through a cemetery.  And then the hills... they are no joke.  Long and steep.

I got caught up in the excitement of all my Sole Sisters who were racing.  So I asked a fellow Sole Sister to join me in the relay option... and in no time, it was official.  We were registered as the Lightning Libras!  The Half Marathon is 2 loops around the course; thus in the relay, we each did one loop of 6.55 miles.

First things first... the BEST darn thing about this race was the hoodie sweatshirt!  Perfectly timed for fall & super comfortable!  It's so rare that the swag clothing from races actually fits right, but this one was a slam dunk.  Secondly, I was happy with another ODD race number... #4525.

The race was on the remarkable date of 9/11.  It was a beautiful warm day.  Runners were lined up at the start line.  After a brief moment of silence to honor the day, we waited and waited for the National Anthem.  Technical difficulties.  Talk moved quickly amongst the mass of runners... "Let's just sing it..."  And just like that, the entire crowd of runners, volunteers and fans sang an acapella version of the Star Spangled Banner.  It was the most amazing thing I've ever been a part of and spread goosebumps down my arms.

In a flash, the race started.  It was a small local race, so only a couple hundred runners, which made congestion nearly impossible.  One mile was done quick.  And then the first big hill... By time I reached the top, I nearly had the wind knocked out of me.  That had never happened before. Thankfully there was a water stop at the top.  I took water - only to give me an excuse to walk and catch my breathe.  

The course continued winding through the cemetery back and forth, up and down.  At times there was 2-way traffic, which proved to be fun...  lots of high five's and cheers for friends going back and forth.  This was nice because there were no spectators in the cemetery.  I found it kind of boring without cheerleaders!

The only time split I managed to catch was at the 4 mile mark.  38:20.  I quickly did the math in my head to figure out a 9:35 pace.  I was happy with that considering the rolling hills. At that point, I was feeling pretty good and thought to myself, "I can start picking up the pace here... only 2.5 miles left."  

And then it came.  The big big long hill.  O' dear, I prayed for an end.  Runners ahead of me began to walk, but I forged ahead.  Although I think I would have walked faster at this point.  I felt like I was on a darn stairmaster!!  Finally the loop at the top and back down.  Again, two-way traffic so I joked with runners on their way up... "It's much easier this direction!"  The downhills are almost as painful as the uphills.  Two days later, I can still feel my knees from the steep declines.  I used the downhill to stabilize my breathing, and then picked up the pace as we exited the cemetery.  

At mile 6, the clock read 58:10.  I knew under an hour was out of question at this point, but I still pushed hard that last half mile.  I came up out of the wooded path (nearly tripping over a woman in front of me who stopped for a picture!) and sprinted to the relay exchange, where my partner Toby took over to finish the Half Marathon.  This area of the course was fun, as there was a nice gathering of Sole Sisters who were cheering in the runners.  Cowbell. Whistles. Clapping.  Pure Encouragement!  They are such great women, especially Jennifer who watched my girls for me while I ran!

At the finish, we got a neat dog tag medal, rather fitting for the day.  I hung out and cheered in the rest of the runners, relaxed with a pot-luck style picnic in the park and chatted away with friends as we waited for the awards ceremony. 

6.55 miles
Official chip time: 1:03:15  (9:39 pace)
Combined team time:  2:07:39
The Lightning Libras placed #5 out of 14 in the Open Women division

My running partner Toby and I...  We are the Lightning Libras!

Our Sole Sisters crew before the race
My friend Anna worked the finish line, handing out medals!


  1. Jess this looks like a blast! I love good race swag and you definitely go that here!

    And, you look FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Awesome run Jess. Way to get through all those hills.

  3. great job! Looks like tons of fun! :)

  4. What a cute relay! Looks like it was a lot of fun!

  5. That looks like such a fun race. Great job and you are righ awesome swag!

  6. How fun! The only half relay I've done wasn't as much fun as this one. I love the sweatshirt, awesome swag.

  7. What an awesome sweatshirt! How much fun you had for sure!!

  8. Congrats on another half marathon! That hoodie is super cute! I love hoodies!

  9. I loved the story about singing the national anthem. How fitting on 9/11 especially, and that a bunch of runners doesn't need to depend on technology to sing a song.

  10. What awesome swag you got...the sweatshirt is so cool! You did great pushing up those hills!!

  11. Congrats on the race! And the swag is niiiice!


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