Tag Archives: half marathon

Race #15: La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon

On December 2, 2012, Maggie and I completed the last race in the Texas Bridge Series, the La Porte By the Bay Half Marathon.

I almost did not do this race.  I was sick the week leading up to this race, and was not sure what was wrong with me.  My doctor’s best guess was that it was a virus, and it would just take time to pass.  The days leading up to this race, I was extremely tired.  I was sleeping 10-12 hours a night, and still taking a nap or two during the day for an additional 2-4 hours.  I can’t remember the last time that I slept that much.

My doctor did not want me to do this race.  I asked if I could walk it, and she strongly recommended against that.  But, I am stubborn, and knew there was no way I would miss this race.  I was determined to at least walk it, and earn that additional medal for finishing all three Texas Bridge Series races.  And I am lucky enough to have such a nice running buddy that she agreed to walk this race with me.

I tried running a little bit here and there in the beginning, but it was bad.  I found myself getting out of breath so quickly.  Something was off.  But I just kept pushing through it.  There was a lot of walking, but we were still having a good time.


We made it up the first side of the bridge, and on the way down, I had this sinking feeling.  The sun was off to our right, and I began to have sun spots on the right side of my vision.  I get migraines with aura, which means I see lights like sun spots before a migraine.  I told myself it was just the sun and tried to ignore it.  This was about halfway through mile 6.  When the spots had not gone away 15-20 minutes later, as we were approaching mile 8, I knew it was a migraine.

One of my worst racing fears has been that I would get a migraine in the middle of a race.  I did not have my migraine meds on me, did not have any ibuprofen, and was now about 8 miles away from my car where these items were.

After the turn-around at mile 8, I stopped at the water station and asked if anyone had any pain medication.  They said they were not supposed to give any to me.  I tried to explain my desperate situation, that I had a migraine and it would be very bad if I did not get medication right away.  I will be forever thankful to the person who told me they had some ibuprofen, and agreed to give me what I needed (while telling me that if anyone asked, they did not give me any).  Thank you so much, random stranger.

The headache began to slowly set in, and Maggie stuck with me, knowing this meant I would have to walk the rest of the way.  We chatted and I tried to distract myself from the headache and nausea.  This was a mild migraine compared to others I’ve had, and I was lucky that I got some ibuprofen in me when I did.

We ran just a little bit toward the very end of the race.  It was not our usual sprint, but I was so happy to just be done.  Although this will hopefully be my slowest half marathon ever, I felt just as much of a sense of accomplishment as I have for finishing any other race.  I was so happy to be done!


Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  13:00
  • Mile 2:  14:17
  • Mile 3:  16:35
  • Mile 4:  13:04
  • Mile 5:  14:39
  • Mile 6:  15:19
  • Mile 7:  12:49
  • Mile 8:  15:31
  • Mile 9:  15:47
  • Mile 10:  16:19
  • Mile 11:  15:43
  • Mile 12:  15:44
  • Mile 13:  13:09
  • Mile 13.0 – 13.11:  9:08 pace
  • Total:  3:13:01 (14:43 pace)

This is the closest my Garmin has ever been to the actual distance of a race – could it be the lack of weaving between people??

I was feeling a little better by the time we made it back to Houston, and was up for a quick breakfast at Denny’s before getting more sleep.

La Porte Half Marathon 12.2.2012

The medals were huge and both glittery!  I would definitely consider doing the Texas Bridge Series again next year.  These races were well organized, and they had great food options at the after parties.  I also appreciated that they had packet pick-up available race mornings.  These were such fun races!


Race #14: Houston Half Marathon

On October 28, 2012, we ran the Houston Half Marathon.  We only registered for this race a week or two beforehand.  We realized we had a 14 mile training run planned for this weekend, so why not run the half marathon to make the training run much more fun?  We could have done our own run, but there would have been no cheering crowds, no water stations and definitely no medal.  The half marathon sounded like the perfect way to get this run in.

It was supposed to be a training run along one of our common running routes.  We were going to take this run easy and stick to our 6/4 intervals.  We stuck to the intervals, but I was feeling so good in this race.  We really pushed our pace during the 6 minute runs.

We seemed to speed up through our first five miles:

  • Mile 1:  11:15
  • Mile 2:  10:45
  • Mile 3:  10:30
  • Mile 4:  10:35
  • Mile 5:  10:26

I knew we were pushing our pace, but it felt okay at the time.  We slowed back down a bit miles 6 through 9:

  • Mile 6:  10:29
  • Mile 7:  10:33
  • Mile 8:  10:48
  • Mile 9:  11:09

The last few miles got a little tougher.  We stopped for a bathroom during Mile 11, but kept running strong.  I really didn’t start to feel tired until the very last mile.  But we kept pushing with our intervals and finished in a better time than we had anticipated, or planned for:

  • Mile 10:  10:19
  • Mile 11:  12:37
  • Mile 12:  10:16
  • Mile 13:  11:17
  • Mile 13.0 – 13.31:  8:24 pace
  • Total:  2:23:39 (10:47 pace)

We were tired after this one!  There were some good options for food and beer, but lines were very long and it was cold.  We picked up a few goodies and headed directly to the parking garage.  Of course, we couldn’t leave until we creepily hunted down someone in their car who could take our race picture 🙂

Post Run


Race #5: San Antonio Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon

I bet you never thought you would hear from me again!  I’ve had a lot going on, but I couldn’t resist writing about my latest race, and figured I would give you a quick update while I’m at it.

Running has been rough for me lately.  About a month and a half ago, I injured my IT band.  I injured my IT band for the first time in 2008, and it was a long recovery.  Early in October, I felt my IT band acting up again on a 13 mile long run.  It started to ache around miles 4-5, and by mile 9 I was in quite a bit of pain.  I should have quit then, but I was determined to finish my 13.  My IT band has made running painful since that run.  I can usually run 2-3 miles before it starts to ache, but that has been really inconvenient when it comes to training for my first marathon.

I started going to physical therapy about two weeks ago – twice a week each week.  They have me doing exercises to strengthen my hip and loosen my hamstrings.  I’ve been very good about doing my exercises and foam rolling every single day, but I’m not sure whether it’s really helping or not.  I did an 8 mile training run last week, alternating 5 minute of jogging (10:30 pace) with 5 minutes of walking.  I made it through with only a little bit of ache, and felt pretty good.  So my plan for the half marathon this morning was to alternative running 6 minutes and walking 4 minutes.

We arrived in San Antonio yesterday.  We made a little stop by the San Marcos outlets before heading into town.  I couldn’t believe how huge the shops were!  We could have spent several days there, but we only had a few hours.  We wanted to make sure we left for San Antonio in time for the expo.  I still had to pick up my race packet, and we only had until 5pm.

It was the first race expo I’ve ever been to.  They seemed pretty well organized, and I enjoyed walking around the booths and sampling different drinks and bars.  I think the highlight for me was seeing some old contestants from Biggest Loser.  I should have asked for a picture!  But they looked busy when I went by.

After the Expo we had dinner at a Guadelajara Grill, a Mexican restaurant near our hotel.  After some delicious veggie fajitas and a margarita, we made our way back to the hotel for an early bedtime.

I was really nervous for the race this morning.  After all the walking yesterday, my knee was aching pretty badly before the race even started this morning.  I was worried that I shouldn’t even try to race, that I would just make my knee even worse.  I was also worried that if I tried, my knee would hurt too badly, and I wouldn’t be able to finish.  But all my worries went away as I moved closer to the start line and felt the excitement of the race!

I stuck to the 6 min/4 min plan for almost the entire race.  But in the excitement of the race, I ran my 6 minute intervals at closer to a 9:00 pace.  There’s just something about being in a race that makes it difficult to pace myself!  Each 4 minute interval felt like torture.  I knew I needed to walk, but it was so hard to watch all the people passing me each time.

I loved all the crowds along this race.  I got lots of high fives from little kids, and all the cheers were really encouraging.  There were also a lot of awesome signs – I wish I had taken pictures to remember some of the more creative signs.  One of my favorites was a couple dressed up like Greek gods/goddesses – their sign said something like, “We’re old – we ran the marathon the 1st time!”

There was a lot of water and Cytomax along the course, which was helpful.  There were enough water volunteers that I was able to get 2-3 cups at each water stop.  I tasted the Cytomax at the expo and wasn’t a fan, so I avoided those.  I also liked the music along the way, but wished there was more.  The stages were too far away from each other.  Several stores and houses were blasting music, and I enjoyed that.

The best part of the whole race was seeing my husband at mile marker 8 🙂  I had been watching for him, but wasn’t sure I would see him in the crowd.  He popped down for a quick kiss, and then I was on my way.  It gave me just the pep I needed at that point!

I first started to feel my knee really aching around 6.5 miles.  But after a quick walk break, it started to feel a little better.  It wasn’t until about 11.5 miles that it really became painful.  I know at this point I should have switched to just walking, but being that close to the end, it was hard to just walk and watch everyone else pass me by.  I kept up the 6/4 intervals, but started walking just a little bit more until the last half mile.  It almost hurt less to keep jogging than it did to walk.  It hurt either way, so I was really just looking forward to it being over.

The last half mile was really exciting.  I started to take one last walk break, but was too excited – I could see that the finish line was up a short hill and around the corner, so I quick switched back to running to the end – I wanted to get that medal!

We finished!  I finished in 2:36.  I was expecting to finish in 2:45 – 3:00, so I was happy with my time.  I was really just happy that I had run – and finished the race.  Maggie finished in under 2 hours, for an awesome PR!!  My splits:

  • Mile 1:  11:08
  • Mile 2:  10:47
  • Mile 3:  11:28
  • Mile 4:  10:47
  • Mile 5:  11:39
  • Mile 6:  12:19
  • Mile 7:  12:04
  • Mile 8:  11:34
  • Mile 9:  11:45
  • Mile 10:  12:03
  • Mile 11:  13:39
  • Mile 12:  12:37
  • Mile 13:  11:15
  • Last 0.31:  10:04
  • Total:  2:36:14 (11:44 average pace)

It was a fun race and a fun weekend!

After a long ride home, my knee is hurting quite a bit now.  I’m hoping a little rest and a lot of foam rolling will help get it back into shape quickly.  I think I will be keeping up with the run/walking thing as long as it keeps me running.  I have my first full marathon to train for!

My First Half Marathon

The race was awesome!  I loved every minute of it, and I can’t wait to run another.  A lot of training went into this run, and it feels good to say that I am officially a half marathoner.  I’ve been smiling all day!

I was up at 4:45 AM and was moving a little slowly.  I made us each a peanut butter and banana sandwich and rushed out the door.  If it wasn’t bad enough that I was late to pick up Maggie, it wasn’t until I got in my car that I was running on empty.  So we made a quick stop for gas before heading to Sugar Land.  We still made it to the race about 20 minutes before start.  We each took a pre-race Gu in the car and put on our D-tags.  I had pre-race jitters and was so excited to get started.  We got a few comments and cheers on our tanks as we were lining up to start 🙂

Before I knew it, the national anthem was being played, and we were off!  The first two miles went very quickly.  The humidity was about 95% (!) when we started, and I was nervous about that.  I could tell it was harder to breathe, but we took it slowly in the beginning and I think that paid off.  It was a little strange to be running while it was still dark outside, but it peaceful at the same time.

The race course included a 4 mile loop.  We entered this loop during the third mile, and knew we would have to complete the loop twice before heading back to the finish line.  The sun was coming up as we ran through here, and I was surprised to see how beautiful the neighborhood was.  The houses were so big, they rivaled River Oaks (one of the wealthiest zip codes in the US, located near downtown Houston).

The loop wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  There were plenty of spectators cheering along the way and two or three water stations.  Wearing shirts with our names on them was such a good idea.  It was really nice to have people cheering us by name and congratulating us on our first half marathon.  When one woman with young children yelled to us, “Go Jessica!  Go Maggie!” her kid turned to her and said, “How do you know their names?”

When we hit the 5th mile, we took our first Gu.  I didn’t need it yet, but I knew I would.  We began the second loop at little after finishing the 6th mile.  The way the loops were set up, it was hard to tell who was on their first loop and who was on their second.  It was around the 7 mile marker that we realized that the race distance was off.  When we passed what the said was the 7th mile marker, we were actually closer to 6.5 miles according to our Garmin.  As we went by, the volunteer read off, “9:42 pace”… ha!  When we passed the 8th mile marker, though, the volunteers knew they were off and said, “You’re at about 7.5 miles.”  We began to wonder if the race was going to be short, but hoped that these markers were just off.

When we hit 8 miles for real, I was feeling pretty good.  During most of our long runs I hit a wall around 7 miles, so I was impressed that we were still going strong.  At 8.5 miles there was a woman handing out orange slices.  I debated taking one (just think of the germs…) but my craving for the orange juice outweighed any germaphobia, and I ate one.

We walked through all the water stations just long enough to drink our water, but it wasn’t until we finished 9 miles that we took our first non-water or Gu walk break.  Even with the walking, we still finished that mile in 10:20.

We decided to take our last Gu at the next water station we saw, which ended up being just a little past the 10th mile marker.  The crowd had thinned out a lot by this point, and there were not many people close behind or ahead of us.

I really hit my wall around 11 or 11.5 miles.  After mile 9, we started walking once or so per mile, but we tried to make up for it by running under 10-minute miles while we were running.  Around the 12th mile marker there was a guy playing a bagpipe!  But no more water.  We didn’t see another water stop after the 10th mile marker, and that was disappointing.  With the heat and humidity, I really could have used it.

The last mile was kind of confusing.  I wasn’t sure if the race would end early, but I really wanted to finish strong through the last little bit with all the spectators.  So I suggested we take one last walk break around 12.5 miles, to allow us to sprint to the finish, thinking we still had 0.60 miles to go.  Around this time, we passed the guy who came in first place.  He was standing on a corner cheering for everyone else, and I thought that was really cool.  I should have known how close we were to the end! 

When we picked up our pace, we came around a corner… and there was the finish line!  We sprinted to the end at under an 8-minute pace, but it was over quickly.  I thought we’d have a little bit longer to end with a faster pace, but I’m pretty sure the course was short.  My Garmin said 12.74 miles when we crossed the finish line.  We finished in 2:11:12!

The last stretch was so fun.  I heard one lady call out, “You’re not virgins anymore!”  I was so excited to see my husband standing at the finish line with the camera.  It felt so awesome to finish, and I was so happy with our time.  Even if the course was short, we were still on pace to have finished in my original goal of 2:15.  But I think my 1/2 marathon official time still counts – it’s always possible my Garmin was a little off too?  Either way, I love the smiles on our faces as we crossed the finish line 😀

Our splits:

  • Mile 1:  10:14
  • Mile 2:  10:27
  • Mile 3:  10:25
  • Mile 4:  10:17
  • Mile 5:  10:10
  • Mile 6:  10:32
  • Mile 7:  10:15
  • Mile 8:  10:03
  • Mile 9:  10:13
  • Mile 10:  10:20
  • Mile 11:  10:04
  • Mile 12:  10:21
  • Mile 12.74 / 13.1:  7:51
  • Total:  12.74 in 2:11:12  (10:18 average pace)

I’m really proud that even with our walk breaks, all of our miles were under 11 minutes.  It was our first time running this distance, and I think we paced ourselves very well.  Strong arms!

After the race we picked up a banana and some other snacks, and went to find our finisher’s t-shirts.  I love the red tech-tees they gave us and can’t wait to wear it on my next run 🙂  We didn’t stick around long after that because there didn’t seem to be too much else going on.

The race was so much fun.  I really can’t wait to run my next half.  It might have to wait until the Fall because of the Houston weather, but I definitely plan to do this again.  Thanks to everyone who has followed along with my training.  Your encouragement really does keep me motivated!

I’ve been eating everything in sight and took a short nap this afternoon.  Any tips for recovery after a half marathon?