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Southwest Half Marathon Race Recap

Posted May 01 2011 10:08pm

Hello everyone! I can’t thank you enough for all of your congratulations and other wonderfully supportive comments. I’ve never had so cheerleaders before!

As some of you know I started training for the June 12th North Shore Half Marathon at the beginning of May. After reading several exciting blogger race recaps I got impatient and decided to register for the Southwest Half Marathon. Of course running a race so soon meant that my training schedule was shortened by two thirds. Consequently, I was hesitant to set a concrete time goal. Fortunately, my wonderful readers and fellow bloggers convinced me to just go for it.

My goals for today’s half marathon were to:

  • Have a great time
  • Complete the race healthy and injury free
  • Finish in under two hours

Let’s see how it all went down…

Starting Friday night, I made a conscious effort to eat a little extra at each meal as well as additional snack in order to ensure that my glycogen (muscle energy) stores were topped off. After spending yesterday in Foodie Heaven we had an early dinner and I spent some time getting my race gear in order.


The tube on the left is Body Glide which is the best product for blister and chaffing prevention I have ever found. I also made sure to bring some clothes to change into after the race as well as some snacks.

We woke up bright and early at 5:15 this morning and I ate a quick breakfast of sprouted grain bread with peanut butter, banana, and almond milk. Then we hopped into the car and headed out the race start.


We arrived with 30 minutes to spare, however, the Porta Potty lines were ridiculously long. I passed the time by chatting with a fellow racer (in the black hat) who was walking the race for the third time in honor of her late brother who died of pancreatic cancer.

portapotty line

I succeeded in getting in and out of the Porta Potty five minutes before the race start so I quickly hopped over the barricade and scooted into the middle of the crowd. After tying and retying my shoes at least twenty times the race started and off we went!

pro start

Whoops! Those are the slow pokes, here’s the real speed demon!

my start

I knew that I might need all of my focus to reach my time goal, therefore, I decided not to take a camera with me on the course. It was a simple out and back run on a two lane road that runs through Forest Preserves in the Southwest Chicago suburbs.


To achieve my goal of completing the course in under two hours I needed to run a 9 minute mile pace. Although, I run treadmill workouts that offer an idea of my cruising pace, it has been years since I have worn a watch while running outside. Therefore, I was very curious to see the pace of my first mile.

I finished the first mile in 8:48, which I was pleased with because the race start was quite crowded. Miles 2 through 6 felt good as I kept pace with a group of four runners. The water stations were about 1 and 1/2 miles apart and I made sure to drink water at each one. Unfortunately, the volunteers poured only a couple of ounces of water into each cup, therefore, it was hard to get enough to stay properly hydrated. I swallowed my Raspberry Clif energy shot right before reaching the water station at mile 5 and then quickly washed it down with a few gulps of water.

I finished the first half of the race in 56 minutes, 4 minutes ahead of my maximum race goal and an average pace of 8:28 minute per mile. My legs started to tire slightly and I realized that allowing other racers to determine my pace really wasn’t a good idea. I backed off my pace a bit, composed myself, and tried to focus on running my own race.

The problem was the after running the first half of the race 4 minutes under my goal time I began to have hopes that I would cross the line in under 1:55. Therefore, I let my legs return to that 8:28 pace a few more times.

I had hoped for a warm, sunny day and boy did I get it. had predicted that the temps would reach 55 degrees. However, out on the course the temperature was closer to 70 degrees which meant that in black capris and a long sleeve shirt, I was seriously overdressed. The sun heated my black clad thighs and the hot asphalt made my feet feel like they were on fire. I would have taken off my shirt and run in my sports bra, however, I knew that my race bib needed to stay visible. Therefore, I did the next best thing and folded the bottom of my shirt up over my chest so that my belly and lower back could release a little extra heat.

At mile 8, the combination of the rolling hills, heat, and quick pace started to wear me down and I knew that I really needed to be smarter with my pacing over the remaining 5.2 miles. I kept a pretty steady pace, however, by the time I reached mile 10 my body was hurting. I had planned to eat another Clif Shot at the next water station but I simply couldn’t stomach the thought of trying. I did, however, make sure to grab two cups of water at the last three stations so that I could hydrate as much a possible.

Although I don’t usually walk during my runs, I decided that a walk break here and there would help me cool off and give my legs a much needed break. Therefore, I walked for 30 seconds at Mile 9, 10 1/2, and 12. After mile 12, I tried to pick up a pace a few times so that I could attempt a sub 1:55 finish, however, my body repeatedly shut down my greedy attempts!

my finish1

I pushed as hard as I could into the finish which only maintained my pace. As you can see, I was really hurting!


After finishing, I was so out of it that I barely glanced at my watch, although I was pretty sure I saw 1:56:40. I immediately pulled my shirt off and woozily searched for something to drink. A lovely medic saw that I was out of it and walked with me until Nick took over. Poor Nick, I told him “I can’t talk now, get me Powerade and water and follow me around so I don’t faint and fall on my face!” After dumping some water on my head I plopped down on the ground for 30 minutes until I had rehydrated and no longer felt woozy.

lie down

I can’t say that this half marathon experience made me want to run another race right away! However, I feel really good about the fact that I achieved my time goal and that I really gave it my all, despite the fact that my pacing was a bit off. Overall, I am a pretty happy camper!


On the ride home I called my mom to let her know that I had survived. Those of you who saw my Race Recap Teaser know that I was craving a big cheesy slice of pepperoni pizza for my post race meal. However, Nick wasn’t in the mood for pizza and, seeing as how he had been nice enough to get up at 5am to support me, I figured that we should go to a restaurant that we could both enjoy. Our friend Hannah recently introduced us to Wilde a lovely, reasonably priced bar and restaurant in our neighborhood. So we headed on over.


Nick and I both ordered Garden Veggie Burgers which at first glance may not seem particularly special. However, the melted Swiss cheese, grilled tomatoes, red onion, field greens and fluffy glazed pretzel rolls take what would be an ordinary veggie burger to delicious new heights.


I also enjoyed a hot tea because after getting so hot and sweaty during the race, it seemed as though my internal thermostat was still set on low!


Nick got a little silly in our comfy booth and gave me a case of the giggles.

tired nick

sneaky nick

After heading back to our apartment I hopped into bed with Mosely and slept for four hours. It was glorious! When I woke up I checked my official race time and saw that my woozy estimate was off by almost a minute!


I am just glad that I overestimated my time rather than underestimating it!

Overall I am very happy to have run the race and had a great overall experience. Although I do not think that it is good to use a Garmin or watch for all training runs, I can now see how occasionally doing so could be beneficial in preparing and carrying out a specific pacing plan.

As we are unsure where we will be living next week or next month I am glad that I haven’t yet registered for the June 12th North Shore Half Marathon. When we have a better idea of our living situation I will probably look for another half marathon or a 10K run to train for. Right now, I am going to rest and enjoy my achievement!


Thank you again for all of your encouragement, support, and congratulations! It really has meant the world to me and I thought of all of you quite a bit during those tough last few miles.

Don’t forget to stop by later today for my . I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and that you have an even better start to your week!

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