Beginners and Beyond


Illinois Half Marathon Race Report (Read 78 times)


    This is my third year running this race.  I had only one goal going in.  I wanted a sub 2 hour time and I wanted it badly.


    I feel like my preparation for the race was pretty solid.  I have been running at least 40 miles per week for about a year and I have finally started incorporating some speed work.  I'm not quite as hard core about it as a lot of people here, but I have been doing a lot of progression runs and on days when I'm feeling good, I get up to tempo pace for several miles.  It seems to work better for me if I don't plan it.


    During the week leading up to the race I was pretty nervous.  I ran a 10k about a month ago that sort of fell apart when I got bad stomach cramps at mile 4 and I had run a 5k a couple of weeks before that where I had stomach cramps as well, though I did finish only a few seconds off of my PR.  I wasn't happy about either race which made me tense about this one.  For my strategy, I decided take a leap of faith and trust the 2 hour pacer.  I was going to hang out with her for the first 10 miles, then reassess and see if I felt good enough to pick it up.  My experiences with pacers have all not worked out, so it was a hard decision, but I was afraid if I started out too slowly, I wouldn't be able to make up the time.  The morning of the race I felt good even though I hadn't gotten a lot of sleep.  I jogged the 1.5 miles to the starting line as a warm up and was ready to go.


    The first miles was fast.  Really fast.  At the 1 mile marker my Garmin showed an 8:34 average pace.  While I didn't feel like it was really tough, I was nervous that if I started out too fast I was going to crash and burn.  I toyed with the idea of letting the pacer go and try to run my own race, but decided that I would stick with her for one more mile and see if she settled down a bit.  Luckily, she reigned it in at mile 2 and it started feeling better from there.


    Things were going well for the next couple of miles.  It certainly wasn't an easy pace, but it was a pace I felt like I could handle.  Around 4.5 miles I sort of was taking in the crowd and feeling good and all of a sudden realized that I wasn't with the pacer anymore.  I had a moment of panic until I turned to the lady next to me and asked if we were in front or behind the pacer.  She gave me a strange look (I don't blame her) and said we were in front of her.  Again, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but finally decided to try to hold my current average pace (around 8:59) as it felt good and I felt like it was sustainable.


    Right before mile 8 I was starting to get a bit tired.  The last 2 miles had been through an extremely boring neighborhood with no trees, no water stations and no crowd support.  I slowed down a bit during mile 7 and realized maybe I needed a sugar boost so I took a GU and got some Gatorade.  That did the trick.  I picked right back up within a few minutes.


    Miles 8-10 are through a park with kind of a narrow path.  We were packed in pretty tightly, but I tried not to do too much dodging around people and just tried to hold my pace.  It worked out pretty well.


    Once I hit mile 10, I realized if I could keep my current pace, I definitely was going to hit sub 2.  I was feeling a little tired, but it wasn't anything I couldn't fight through.  I also was thrilled I hadn't had any stomach cramps or side stitches.  Of course a mile later a side stitch hit.  At that point I made the decision that I was going to get sub 2 or die trying, so I tried all of the tricks that you guys have recommended to me.  I dug my hand in my side, I breathed out on the opposite foot, I breathed out really hard and I ran with my hand above my head for a quarter of a mile.  I got some interesting looks while doing that!  By the time I got to mile 12.5, the side stitch had abated.


    Mile 12.5 is where the half and the full marathon split off from each other and is a great signal to the half marathoners that you're almost home.  I turned on the afterburners at that point and had a great last .6 miles.  I crossed the line in 1:57:49 which is over a 6 minute PR.


    I am absolutely thrilled with how the race went.  I thought I was capable of sub 2, but thought it would just be by a couple of seconds.  I didn't anticipate running the whole race at an average pace of 8:59.  This was a big deal for me because in my mind if I can run a half under 2 hours, that tells me that in a couple of years, when I'm in the 50-54 AG, if I work hard enough, I can run a sub 4 marathon which would qualify me for Boston.  That would be an unbelievable thrill for me.


    Thanks for hanging in through this long report.  Here are the stats:



    AG 29/292 (top 10%-woo hoo!)

    Gender 611/3593

    Overall 1781/6199

    Jack K.

    uʍop ǝpᴉsdn sǝʇᴉɹʍ ʇI

      Great work! A six minute pr is amazing and something to be proud of. Your training certainly paid off.


      Caretaker/Overlook Hotel

        Great race and great RR!


        If you can ballpark what a typical week looks like for you, I'd love to see how you spread your 40 miles out in a given week.





          40 mpw is nothing to sneeze at. Good job in training rewarded by nice new PR. There is something about breaking barriers (2 hours in your case) which makes that PR much better than lets say going from 2:15 half to 2:05.

          Keep at it. I think that your chance to BQ in a few years is very good and Boston is definitely worth of the effort.

          Slow and steady never wins anything.

            I think you have a very good chance of running a BQ if you'll keep running 40-50 mpw and keep doing speed work.  Don't be afraid of occasionally doing some short, fast stuff like strides, "repetition" workouts, and hill sprints.  Sounds like you had a terrific race.  Congrats.

            Short term goal: 17:59 5K

            Mid term goal:  2:54:59 marathon

            Long term goal: To say I've been a runner half my life.  (I started running at age 45).

            Bad Ass

              Great job.  Congratulations on your sub-2!  Solid training (I do the same ad hoc training for tempos and progression runs depending on how I feel with my asthma).  Not hard core, pffffttttt!



              "The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."

              It's always fucking hot in Miami!


                Nice job. I would let go of pacers from here on out. Part if the fun if racing is trusting yourself with the pace. Ultimately, it's your responsibility.



                  ...and I have finally started incorporating some speed work.  I'm not quite as hard core about it as a lot of people here, but I have been doing a lot of progression runs and on days when I'm feeling good, I get up to tempo pace for several miles.  It seems to work better for me if I don't plan it.


                  I am the exact opposite, I daydream about my upcoming speed work sessions all day long lol!


                  You are making great progress!  Congrats on the milestone!



                      You did a great job!  Congrats on the awesome PR!  I think Boston will be in your future. Big grin


                      My running blog

                      Goals | sub-18 5k | sub-3 marathon

                        Way to smash through the sub 2 hour HM!!  As one who has yet to do it, I know how much big of a thrill it is.  A 6 minute plus PR and top 10% AG finish - Rejoice and celebrate. Well done.

                        “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” - T.S. Eliot

                          Great job on the PR!

                          First Race

                          Hot Chocolate 5K Chicago November 4, 2012 30:17

                          Second Race

                          Penguin in the Park 5K Decatur Illinois March 23,2013 27:08


                            Congrats on the PR! Your training is very solid, and it payed off.

                              Congrats on the huge improvement!   Sweet!

                              Take Charge. Train Harder. Suck Less. No Excuses.

                              You Rang?

                                Congratulations on your sub two hour half!


                                PR: 5k 25:01 (10/15) 10k: 57:44 (7/14) HM: 1:57 (5/15) FM: 4:55 (1/15)