illinois half marathon

Illinois Half Marathon 2012 Recap

Finally time for my half marathon recap!!! This was my second half marathon- my first one being the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in August of last year. I considered switching to the full marathon, but I’m glad I stuck with the half… my knees will thank me when it comes time to run Chicago in October.

I took a half day on Friday and drove down to the University of Illinois, where my sister goes to school,  with Craig and my family. It would have been hard to work a full day and still get to the expo and dinner. Expo festivities included getting my bib number and race shirt, which was sadly too small (and that’s a major bummer because it’s so cute!! It’s the lime green one in the pic), my sister made me a sparkly sign (which made it MUCH easier to spot them during the race), and my mom INSISTED that she buy me running clothes ;) I got a Brooks running shirt and a tank top with the Illinois Marathon logo on it, matching shorts, an IL Marathon pint glass, and a “Marathon Freak” sticker. I love getting goodies and new running clothes from the expo :)

We went to dinner at Houlihan’s, which, I have to be honest… does not have the best night-before-the-race food, but I ended up getting a salad that was pretty good and eating a little bit of everyone else’s food. Yum.

It was rough waking up before 6am for the race on Saturday morning, but I somehow managed to drag myself out of bed and get to the race about 25 minutes before the gun went off. I ate a banana, a little bit of a peanut butter sandwich, and a quarter of an Einstein bagel that they were giving out for free. I brought a GU with me, but I decided to save it for later in the race. I was supposed to be in Corral E (why so far back?!), but I was really anxious to start running, so I snuck into Corral C. Yea, I’m that girl who’s slower than everyone around her because she wanted to finish sooner… oh well, it wasn’t nearly as packed as the Chicago Marathon and I saw a few other people who didn’t belong in that corral either (this is me justifying my actions…)

For most of the week it said it was supposed to rain during the race, but luckily the rain stopped right before I got outside and stayed away for the rest of the day! It was a little chilly, but once I started running my long-sleeve shirt was plenty warm enough. I ran my first couple miles under a 10 minute pace, which was too fast, but it was hard to start off slow when everyone else was running so fast! That’s what I get for switching corrals. I saw my family and Craig at mile 2 and I tried to slow down the pace after that so I wouldn’t run out of energy. I kept a steady pace for the rest of the run and felt pretty good the whole time.

Every struggle I had during the race was purely mental. My body felt fine, I had energy, my knees didn’t hurt, etc… but the whole time I was running I was trying to figure out if I could sustain the pace I was at, if I should go faster, if I would beat my goal time, should I strive for an even better goal… blah blah blah. My brain never relaxed, but I guess I should be used to that since that’s pretty much how I am during every race. Towards the end, I knew I only had to do an 11 minute pace for the rest of the run to make my goal, and that felt pretty good, although I still pushed it and ran faster for the last couple miles.

I saw my family and Craig at mile 12 and that really gave me a boost of adrenalin. I got excited to see them and then I cruised for the last 1.1 miles to the finish. Once I saw the entrance to the stadium, I forgot all about any tiredness I felt and sprinted to the finish line. My initial goal was to finish in under 2:20, my revised goal was to finish in under 2:15, and my final time was 2:13:19. Only 14 seconds slower than my first half marathon!! I kept feeling like I’m a lot slower now than I was last summer, but this just proved me wrong. I guess a lot of the time it’s just mental, trying to find motivation and convince myself to run… I just need to be in the running zone and then I’m as fast as I was before.


I found my family in the bleachers (how cool is it that they can sit in the bleachers and watch me finish?!), stretched, found the free pizza, pasta, and bread, among other things, and then headed back to my parent’s hotel room to shower before an AWESOME post-race meal at Red Lobster. We had shrimp nachos for an appetizer, Cheddar Bay biscuits, caesar salad, and for my main meal I got fish tacos, coconut shrimp, and mashed potatoes with a couple Blue Moons. Way too much food, but I think I deserved it ;)

This race made me lots more excited for the Chicago Marathon. It’ll be another experiment, with doing less running and more cardio, but I’m excited. My mom and I have already started talking about what marathon I should run next year… maybe Nashville? Indianapolis? Quad Cities? Races always renew my excitement for running, so hopefully my motivation is back for good. Fingers crossed!!


I DID IT! New Personal Record of 1:43:10. Honestly can’t believe it. I didn’t really have a plan. My first mile was 7:30, too fast. I could barely slow myself down though. I had so much adrenaline and was determined to beat my previous best of 1:44:29. My final pace was 7:51. Took a full 7 seconds off. Nothing beats that feeling. Great great race. Half Marathon number 6 complete!