Monday, April 9, 2012

Race Recap: Lincoln Presidential Half

I registered for the Lincoln Presidental Half Marathon just a couple weeks ago.  My rationale was two-fold...  First, I needed a baseline of how well (or how badly) I can run hills during a race.  After reviewing my marathon route for May 5, it looks like there is some decent elevation changes.  So I wanted to have an accurate guide for how much hills would kill my pace.  Secondly, the medal for the Lincoln Presidential Half was a giant penny.  Possibly the most coolest medal I've ever seen and I wanted it.  It was completely worth it...


I didn't treat this like a normal race... no taper, no easy week beforehand, just one rest day.  I'm training for 26.2 so my plan was to use this half marathon as a tough training run.  I spent the early 5am drive to Springfield calculating paces and finish times in my head.  I settled on a 2:05 goal (mid-9 pace).

Then the race excitement started to flare up inside me.  Before the race, I met up with a bunch of other local Peoria runners who drove the short 1.5 hour south into the Illinois State Capitol.  We jogged, stretched, laughed, talked non-stop (maybe that was just me) and of course... took lots of pictures!


I even caught up with the Half Fanatics!! 
I was admitted into the Half Fanatics club (#1092) last spring.


One of the things I love about medium-sized city races is that everything is so easy.  There was little to none crowd cluster at the starting area.  Although I must admit that more porta-potties were needed.  Pre-race started with an "address" from Abe Lincoln himself and then we were off.  With a small race of only 1500, runners spread out fast.  Congestion was never an issue from after the first block or two... I love races like this.  I can find my pace quickly.

The first half was fairly flat and I felt like I was cruising.  But I had been forewarned that there were some big ups/downs in the second half of the course.  My head was busy, trying to figure out what to do. My experience was telling me to slow it down so I don't explode on the hilly backhalf.  But my legs were on auto-pilot.  I was running at a faster pace than my goal and I knew it could spell trouble when I hit the hills.  At the pace I was running, thoughts of a second sub-2 were swirling in my head.

Mile 1 - 8:55
Mile 2 - 8:59
Mile 3 - 8:59
Mile 4 - 8:53

Around mile 4, I tried to distract myself by chatting with fellow runners and giving shout-outs to cheerleaders and volunteers.  For a race this small, I was impressed with the number of spectators cheering us on.


Mile 5 - 8:59
Mile 6 - 8:45

About mile 6, the first of the big hills hit.  My friend Anna came up from behind, "Girl, I've been trying to catch you for 6 miles!" We ran together for a mile and then it was like hanging onto someone's coat tails.  She slowly pulled away - and ended up setting a new PR for herself.

From then on, there seemed to be one big hill each mile... steep decline and then a steep climb.  The first few I seemed to handle with ease, and then slowly, one by one, they wore me down.  I tried to have fun with it, chanting "I love hills" as I crawled up the slopes.  It didn't help much, although it did get some chuckles from my fellow runners.  My pace slowed tremendously.  I remember thinking at mile 10, "So what? Your goal was a 2:05.  You're well inside that."


Mile 7 - 9:09
Mile 8 - 9:05
Mile 9 - 9:09
Mile 10 - 9:25

At mile 11, we turned a corner and got smacked with the wind for the first time.  Most of the course had wound through neighborhoods and pretty parks that were heavy with trees.  I hadn't even noticed there was a wind that day... until now.  I was fading fast.

Mile 11 - 9:28
Mile 12 - 9:45

Then I hit the mile 12 marker.  Some guy yelled out, "All downhill from here..."  Music to my ears (although should I really believe him?).  Typically I study the course map and elevation ahead of time so I know what to expect.  I didn't this time, so I really didn't know if there were more hills coming or not.  I took a brief look at my clock.  I had 10 minutes until the 2 hour mark... to run 1.1 miles.  Decision time.  Why not?!  Go for the sub-2!


Mile 13 - 8:55
...and change for the final 0.1


As I came down the final 1/2 mile stretch, the streets were lined with a great cheering crowd.  Some guy was in the middle of the road screaming away at runners. I was working hard and he could see it.  He actually ran a couple steps with me and gave me a great pump-up to finish strong.  As I approached the finish line, I actually thought I might hurl (and thank you photographer for catching that feeling on film!).


Half Marathon #8
Chip Time: 1:59:11
Age Group: #28 out of 126 
Females: #173 out of 764
Overall: #556 out of 1434


It was hard-fought, but I finished under 2 hours.  I couldn't be prouder of this one.  It wasn't a new PR but pretty darn close!  Most importantly, it was a great measure of where I'm at in my marathon training.

After the race, they had a decent spread of food... oranges, bananas, donuts, bowls of chili, biscuits & gravy, and my favorite Jamba Juice smoothies.  I got my picture taken with Abe Lincoln and his wife Mary...

I hung around for almost an hour celebrating and chatting with friends.  I even ran into a fellow Tough Chik Carmen (who completely rocked this half with a 1:50!)


What an awesome race day!
So glad I decided to do this one!


39 comments:

  1. Congrats Jess! You really pushed it and showed yourself what you are made of! I agree awesome medal!

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  2. Sounds like it was a great race! Yay!

    Last year I emailed the race director about the Wisconsin race because a friend had told me it was hilly. The response I got back was that it wasn't (i think he even laughed at it!) and I would have to say I agreed after doing the half. I would say it has some inclines but nothing drastic imo and I HATE hills! I hope that helps!

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  3. WHOA! look at those splits.. dang girl you are tough and absolutely correct about that medal... it is awesome ( I <3 medals) Congratulations, I can see by your finish photo how much you put into it..inspiring!

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  4. That is fab! And your pace is EXTREMELY consistent, even with the hills. That is tough for a lot of runner (especially me). Congrats on the sub-2.

    and of course: THAT MEDAL ROCKS!

    I also eye-spy Dave Mari!

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  5. Great job! Several members of my running club ran this race. They all loved it too, especially since they all PR'd. I didn't sign up because I have a half on the 21st. I will consider this one for next year though. Looks like fun and is close.

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  6. You rocked this race!! Great job! :)

    Shannon
    http://www.everystepcounts365.wordpress.com

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  7. You did great! That sounds like a really fun race! I love it when it's not too crowded. That medal is awesome! Congrats!

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  8. Awesome job on your race... those hills sound killer! It's such a blast to surprise yourself with a better time than you expect, time to celebrate!

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  9. Your pictures are great! You know, I love me a sub 2, big huge congrats! I'm learning that hills are mental, they don't necessarily spell doom. Way to go!

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  10. Congratulations on another half marathon accomplishment!!!!

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  11. Way to go, Jess! What a terrific accomplishment!

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  12. That's an AMAZING time! NIce work!

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  13. Great job!! I dream of a sub-2 Half Marathon!!

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  14. Nice Job pushing hard at the end to get your sub 2! I love that medal.

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  15. Congrats!! Sub 2 is a big accomplishment!!

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  16. Such an awesome race thanks for the mention/shout out Jess. I loved running that mile with you!

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  17. Way to go! I will totally put this one on the race calendar for next year. Love the bling!

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  18. Way to go on an awesome race! I love the medal.

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  19. Congrats!!! I remember when I ran a sub 2 hour half marathon for the 2nd time. It felt it is real now and the first one wasn't just a fluke. Good job!!

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  20. Love the medal and you look adorable in your race gear! Nice race without a taper too!

    Haven't ever heard of the half fanatics, I've heard of the marathon maniacs. Off to go check it out now!

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  21. congrats on a great race!!! and i LOVE that medal. even though i’ve done IL I need that bling. i’ve decided smaller races are the way to go-this one sounds awesome!

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  22. Awesome finish picture! You know you left it all out there on that one! Sounds like a great race I may have to check out in the future. The medal is so unique!

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  23. I recently found your blog and LOVED reading this post! I've just taken up running last year after losing over 100 pounds and ran my first half last June. I'm on week two of training for my 2nd half, also again in June and have had a rough start in some ways due to a few hiccups. Thank you for inspiring me to press on! Looking forward to future posts.

    ❀ Paige
    Finding Joy in the Journey

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  24. Awesome medal. Congrats on the great race!

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  25. Woohoo! Great effort, great race. Love that BLING!

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  26. Congrats Jess! I love that medal!

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  27. Congrats on a fantastic race! The medal is awesome and OMG I wish every race ended with Jamba Juice!!!

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  28. What a great race! Congrats on another sub 2 hour finish! I ran my first half in under 2 hours last weekend and I definitely understand your face at the finish! I think I'm going to run this race next year as that penny medal looks amazing! :)

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  29. You always have so much fun racing Jess-I wish I lived near you! Congrats on a fantastic time!

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  30. I love reading your blogs! What an awesome account of your race! I would have done it for the penny too! Heck, I do most things for a tshirt! HAHA Congrats on your race. You are such an inspiration!

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  31. WOW! what a great race. I admit to envy. When I started reading we were on similar paces. You have gotten better and better, and I seem to be getting slower. I still read your blog because you inspire me. One day I will get that sub-2!

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  32. Great job on the sub-2. It doesn't look like your pace slowed that much so way to conquer those hills!!

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  33. shut up!!!! that is amazing!!!! i hope i have enough left in me to push through at the end like that. *cough* at least an hour later. *cough*

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  34. This race report is MEGA INSPIRATIONAL! "10 minutes to run 1.1 miles..." My heart actually started beating faster! Congrats on a super race!

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  35. Awesome!!!!! And I know some of those half fanatics (Kate and Nicole in the bunny ears). Nicole does lots of races near me, and Kate's parents and my parents used to be neighbors!

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  36. Who's the lady in the black coat to the left in the fourth photo from the top? That's one hell of a calf muscle she's got.

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  37. Who's the lady in the black coat to the left in the fourth photo from the top? That's one hell of a calf muscle she's got.

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