Sunday was my first half marathon knowing that I am pregnant (I had no idea I was 5 weeks pregnant when I ran the ZOOMA Chicago Half!). The Lighthouse Loop Half Marathon is a local race that raises money for the athletic programs at the high schools in the area. I ran it last year and had a great experience. This year's race was much the same!
The experience began on Saturday with packet pick-up. The process was very easy, and the race organizers offered multiple times and locations to get your packets. This year, we also get a drawstring bag in addition to the race shirt and other goodies!
Race morning was quick and easy. Setting out my clothes and other things I'd need the night before really helped! I decided to go with a pink theme to go along with Breast Cancer Awareness month.
The one downside to this race is that parking is about a mile from the start, and you have to walk over a long bridge to get there. However, it was a good warm-up for the race, and I got there with plenty of time to make it to the start.
|The bridge we crossed to get to the start|
There were plenty of port-a-potties at the start line, but the bag check line was VERY long. They only have one person checking the bags, so that was challenging. Luckily, I found Bobbie Jo and her husband Derek who were also running the race. They helped me pass the time in line by discussing our race strategy beforehand and hearing about Derek's recent Half Ironman race!
Let's get on in to the race! My strategy going in to the race was to run until the pack thinned out, then run 3 minutes and walk 1 minute intervals until the end of the race. My strategy worked very well until I started having the dreaded IT band-induced knee pain right around mile 4.
I decided to walk for about a half a mile, stretching every now and then, to keep the IT band from being an issue the whole race. I'm glad I did for two reasons: first, I was able to make my knee feel a little better, and second, I was able to take in the beautiful scenery of the sunrise over the ocean and the lovely oceanfront houses.
Around mile 4.5, I started running for 2 miles then walking for 1 minute. It'd stretch between every third interval, and things were going pretty well as far as the knee pain goes.
My favorite scene was turning the corner and seeing the lighthouse!
Around mile 8, my knee started hurting again. I didn't want to walk much because I was concerned about being able to beat my time of 3 hours from last year. I wound up sucking it up until about mile 9.5, and thanks to my RunKeeper app, I knew I was pretty good on my time. I then decided to walk for half a mile and stretch to keep the knee pain at bay.
The walking worked, and I was able to run 2 mins, walk 1 min until mile 12. I had some extra motivation right around mile 12 when two of my co-workers, Jen and Billy, were at the water station cheering me on! I was so happy to have them there to give me the push to finish.
I was feeling really great before getting to the bridge at the last mile. Mentally and cardiovascularly, I knew I could run the bridge. But, I knew my IT band would not do well with the steep uphill and downhill. I walked the whole bridge, but I was able to get some nice shots of the causeway. You can see the lighthouse way off in the distance--can't believe I just ran there and back!
Right after the bridge, I started running again and ran until the finish! There were lots of people cheering at the finish line, and I finally crossed the mat at....
This was my second worst half marathon time ever, BUT I met my "B" goal of beating last year's time! For that reason, I consider this race a success!
After the race, I met up with my coworker Bobbie Joe and her husband Derek to see how their race went. They, too, were trying to beat their time from last year, and they finished about 8 minutes before I did. Yay us!
Jen and Billy met up with us, as well, and we enjoyed the post race food and some social time.
Overall, I had a lot of fun with this race. Without the knee pain, I felt great mentally and physically during the race. If my knee wasn't bothering me, I know I could have finished with an average overall pace of 11:30 mins/mile. That's pretty normal for me, and I'm happy that I was still able to maintain that pace while being pregnant and watching my heart rate. This is good news because I feel assured of my abilities with my upcoming race schedule (which I will share later this week!).
Also, this race is very well organized. I love that the high schools man each water station, there are plenty of volunteers keeping the roads safe and pointing runners in the right directions, and the course is flat and very pretty. The only con is that my IT band seems to dislike this race!
Question for you: Do you enjoy local races? During which race(s) have you had physical issues?