About 2.5 months ago, I started training for my 2nd ever half marathon. The first one I did was back in 2009 at the inaugural Chicago Rock n’ Roll Half, which was great. But for some reason, I never got around to doing it again—too busy, too daunting, etc. etc. Silly, really!
Finally, I got over it and signed up for the Wisconsin Half Marathon 2014. I set a few goals back in February. I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself to hit a specific time so basically said I wanted to give it my best effort. (Although in my head, I had a few goals, in order: run the whole thing, beat my 2:14 record, and hit a sub 2 hour half marathon.) I did the training and got in the long runs, albeit via the treadmill mostly, and found Pure Barre classes to help tone, build up my core and improve my flexibility/posture.
After a particularly successful 10k PR in April, I knew I might have a shot but I just wanted to see how I was feeling that day. I had an early wakeup time (4:30am) so I could eat breakfast and just wake up my body.
I picked up my packet the day before, and was greeted by Erin, one of the smiling, super helpful volunteers!
Then the hubs and I made the drive over the border into Kenosha. I was so glad this race was local…nothing like a short drive on race day and being able to sleep in your own bed the night before!
We got there around 6:15 (race started at 7am) and easily found a parking spot. We headed over to the race start and I headed to the Port-a-Potties. Lines were super long, but luckily Kim, the Wisconsin Half veteran, pointed out the additional set of bathrooms on the other side, which had way shorter lines. By the time I was done waiting in lines, it was 5 minutes till start time, so I ran over to the corral, listened to the national anthem, and then we were off!
The first mile was pretty packed, and I found myself weaving in and out of people. It was also my slowest mile.
Each time I hit a mile marker, I would check my watch and I noticed my pace at sub 9 minute miles. After the first 5 or so miles, I realized that if I could keep it up, I might run a sub 2 hour race! I was feeling good, so I kept going for it.
And the sun came out and warmed me up just enough that I didn’t overheat, which was ideal…and there were tons of people along the course- and the cheering and excitement just pushed me on…it is so motivating! I saw the top marathon/half marathon on the out & back and clapped for them as they passed by and that really got me going too!
And I spotted a couple of amazing race photographers–my husband and Kim’s husband, Steven. Steven rented some high quality lenses and gave my husband lessons so they could take some sweet shots…like these:
My signature shot is a jumping photo. And I had to do it mid-race…
Katie told me I look like the “ridiculously photogenic” runner…maybe I can be the female version?!
The course was beautiful, and I loved the out-and-back by Carthage College right along Lake Michigan. It got sunny once we started, and I loved the scenery, and seeing a few other racers along the way (congrats to Kim, Bobbi, Chris and Anne—great job ladies)!
A few gentle hills and several twists and turns kept the race interesting, and before I knew it- I was at the finish line!
My official time was 1:53:11, a PR for me by 21 minutes! I had a fantastic time and despite a little soreness, I feel great and am definitely on that runner’s high! Now I want to do another one, but I know I am not waiting another 5 years for it…which one to do…hmmm! In the meantime, I’m just going to keep smiling, because I am SO happy that I finally got around to doing another 13.1! WOO HOO!
Kim and I…she was a huge help in doing some long runs with me…outside. A couple of these were definitely “character building” with the cold, wind, snow, rain, etc!
Hope to see you again, Wisconsin Half! Here’s to a successful 13.1 for 2014 in the books!
Erica @ erica finds says
You go girl – that last 5K was impressive and I love the finishing pics – determined and happy. So awesome!! Congratulations!
Thank you Erica! I SO appreciate it- I felt so good and can’t believe I did it!
Danielle @ LMYR says
Great job on your second half! Training through this winter has been ridiculous, I’m happy to have even gotten to the starting line!! It was a beautiful day, even if it was a little windy. Congrats again!
Thank you so much Danielle! The sun really helped warm me up but after I finished and stood there, the wind was really getting cold! Congrats to YOU as well- so impressive!
Way to go! How awesome to get a PR! I am working toward my first half this year and this just made me more motivated to keep up the training!
Thanks Cynthia– so excited for you! When is your race?
It is mid August- So it will be nice and scorching hot! haha! I have two 5k’s this summer so far and a 4k on the fourth of July as well. Do you have any more races planned?
Yeah but if it’s early enough hopefully the temps won’t be too terrible! I love the 4k on the 4th- how fun! I’ve got a 5k in June, July and 10k in August for sure, but am thinking about an 11.5 mile race this summer too!
Nice splits! Way to go! You even got faster as you went on. And what an impressive PR! Congrats!
Thanks Laura! After I dodged around the people at first, I definitely picked up speed. Hope to do a race with you sometime!
Teresa O says
1:53!!!!! You are a BEAST! And inspiring too. Congrats!!
Thanks Teresa- I really appreciate it!
21 minutes??? That’s awesome!!! Congrats again! :)
Thank you Anne- and congrats to YOU too! (That was me screaming your name at the finish like a crazy lady lol.)
Way to go! You really are a photogenic runner too :)
Haha thanks Ginny- I appreciate it!
Congrats Valerie!!!!! Well done :)
Thank you Agi :-)
Way to go, that is awesome!!!
Thanks Heather, I appreciate it!
Valerie, I am SO proud of you. You kicked this race’s butt. And dayum, those are some IMPRESSIVE splits! Only one above 9:00 and faster in the last few miles. Way to go! I am excited to hear which half you choose to do next! :)
Thank you Kim :-) I so appreciate the support and encouragement along the way! The year is young…maybe another in 2014?!
Erin @ Loop Looks says
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: you have so much speed in you!! You ran an amazing race and should be super duper happy.
Thanks lady :-) It was such a great race and I felt so good…runner’s high clearly lol. Can’t believe it’s over just like that! I think I need to do another one…but until then, I’m going to enjoy sleeping in on weekends without having to do a long run!
Maggie - Mag Mile Runner says
Congrats on your awesome PR!
Thanks so much Maggie- I appreciate it!
Emily @ Out and About says
HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your AMAZING PR, Valerie! You look like you are having so much fun, too! I just love that picture of you jumping along the course, too. I’ve struggled to do jumping poses like that myself in the past, how do you make it look so effortless!?!?!?
Katie @ Live Half Full says
So, so happy for you! You worked hard and it paid off- you’re definitely inspiring me for my upcoming half training to kick butt!
Thank you Emily! It was SO fun and I can’t believe it’s over- it went by so fast considering all the weeks of training and long runs!
And I’ve had years of practice in jumping photos…the trickiest part is making sure the photographer takes the shot and the right moment! You really have to kick your legs back so it looks like you are getting tons of height :-)
Congrats! Looking at your splits, you finished so strong! That’s awesome!
A sweet PR like this makes all those “character-building” training runs worth it!
Thanks Alyssa! You’re right- those were TOTALLY worth it :-)