Race Report: Fox Valley Half Marathon

Not quite a sub 2, but still relishing in a PR.  Photo: @alijsch

The Fox Valley Half Marathon was supposed to be the finish of my own Project 1:59 – in other words a sub 2 hour half marathon.  While it didn’t end up quite the day I was hoping for, there was still a lot to be happy about from that day.

The Training

I decided back in July to take a break from volume to work on speed and follow Kara Goucher’s Project 1:59 training plan.  It’s a 10-week training plan developed in conjunction with Strava that put plenty of focus on speedwork.  Long runs in the plan were on Sundays, so I shifted it a day.  The general plan for me worked like this: 

  • Monday – Turnover Day
  • Tuesday –  Recovery Run
  • Wednesday – Tempo Run
  • Thursday – Off/Strength
  • Friday – Recovery Run
  • Saturday – Long Run
  • Sunday – Off/Yoga

I was performing well in training, hitting paces on turnover and tempo days even when I was feeling tired.  The added benefit of training for a shorter race this summer was that while many in my running club were getting up super early for 5:30-6am starts I got to sleep in a little and join them mid-way since my longest training run was 11 miles.

Race Day

The race itself was one that I would do again.  The course is relatively flat except for a hill a little over a mile into the race that felt like a mountain even though it was probably 100 feet.  Thankfully, a good portion of the race is also shaded, which helped greatly with the heat.  I carried a handheld with Nuun and an extra tab of Nuun in my shorts pockets, so I didn’t need to get water at every aid station.  The aid stations were well-spaced and it was easy for me to refill my bottle quickly when needed.  There were even a few people out in front of their homes on the course with their hoses on, ready to cool us off – much appreciated!

Coming into the finish line!

When I signed up a for a September race, I was expecting slightly cooler temperatures.  Instead I got a day that was about 70 degrees at the start and 84 by the time I finished the race; Not exactly PR-inducing temperatures.  Despite the heat I had a decent pace thru the first 10 miles.  Goal overall pace is about 9:09.  I started off purposely a little slower at 9:34 and aimed to get it to be closer to 9-9:10 for the next several miles and then get to 8-8:30 in the last 3.1 to pull off the sub 2.  Miles 2-10 were 9:15, 9:01, 9:03, 9:19, 9:18, 9:04, 9:23, 9:07, 9:06.

In mile 11 the heat finally got to me and I walked just a bit.  I wish I could say thank you to the woman who ran by and said “come on, you can do this” and encouraged me get my butt going again.  The last 3 miles had a little more walking – 9:50, 9:30, 9:41, but I didn’t push past the discomfort of the heat enough and couldn’t really make up that time.  I finished strong for the last .1 (.21 on my watch) at 7:44.  Official race time was 2:02:46.  Even though I didn’t end up with 1:59 I did still end up with a 5 minute PR.  I am pretty proud of that given the heat.

Ringing the PR bell with a 5 minute PR!

Within a few days after the race I still couldn’t get the sub 2 out of my head and decided to give it one last shot.  Naperville Half on October 21st will be my plan B.  As I write this Fall has definitely arrived with 40 degree mornings, so hopefully I won’t end up with snow on race day!

Celebrating with teammates afterward who came to cheer (Ali) and race (Johanna).  Photo: @alijsh  … (apparently all my good race photos are from Ali)

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