RR: Illinois Half Marathon 2014

Half Marathon? Check! I have completed my first half and despite the nerves and anxiety leading into this race, I was able to relax and enjoy every minute come race time. The weather was pretty perfect as well.


The week leading up my legs were feeling extremely fatigued and it was sorta freaking me out. Because of this I took last week very easy. Monday, I had a great swim – 3000 yards, 42 min, 1:24 pace. Tuesday, short 30 minute run – 3.16 miles, 9:28 pace. This run hurt and my legs felt like cement (freaking out continues). I tried to remain calm. I had a sports massage scheduled that night and I was praying this and rest would make me new.

The massage was great and Allen worked wonders on my legs – I will now get these massages every three weeks (my body needs it). I am big about saving money and do not like spending frivolously, but I believe getting these types of massages are so beneficial to recovery and keeping your body injury free. Our bodies need to be taken care of! Wednesday and Thursday I completely took off and Friday I completed an easy 20 minute spin and then an easy 10 minute run – 8:20 pace (feeling much better!). My legs moved easily and felt light! Yay!

This race was held on Saturday morning, 7AM start, in Champaign-Urbana (University of Illinois’ Campus). I left work around 2PM and drove straight down to U of I, arriving around 5PM. I stayed with my sister, Sam, who is a Junior at U of I, so I parked at her place, conveniently located between the ARC/the football Stadium and Green Street. This was a major selling point for me when I initially signed up for the race. The ARC was where packet pick-up was and the Stadium was race start and end, so no additional travel time or trying to find a place to park! The walk was about 5 minutes, how great is that!?

Once I arrived, Sam and I headed over to the expo/packet pick-up. Everything was well organized and I was able to pick up what I needed to. We looked around for a bit and I purchased a pair of shorts at a great price!

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After the expo we went back to her apartment, dropped off my things, then drove  to downtown Champaign to have dinner. We chose Big Grove Tavern and both ordered their tavern burger, which was a combination of beef, bison, and pork. I got mine with a fried egg and mixed greens and Sam got hers with cheese and fries.


My meal was delicious! The egg was an excellent addition and hit the spot for sure.

The rest of the night consisted of stretching and watching the Bulls and Blackhawks. I passed out before either game finished, around 9:15PM. I was knocked out too, so tired. I slept on a blow up mattress, but I slept pretty great. Wake up time was 5AM, which is usually when I get up during the week (even a little later). I immediately started drinking water and about a half hour later I had toast with peanut butter. I relaxed for a bit then started gathering my gear. 6:15AM my sister and I left her apartment and walked to the race start. It was already 52 degrees (warm for me!) and it was expected to get up to mid 70s! We had to part ways as she had to check in to volunteer!


I ate a vanilla power bar while walking over and had a tiny bit of coffee, which they were offering for free! I got in line for the bathrooms, which took way too long and by the time I was done it was time to race!

I started in corral C, start time 7:07AM!

Mile 1: 8:58

Feeling good, enjoying the sun rising, and the spectators lining the streets. Always fun to see college students out on their lawns in pajamas drinking some beer! I was trying to hold back as I knew to not go out too fast, even though I was itching to!

Mile 2: 8:56

Still feeling great. I wanted to go faster and I felt like I was going so slow, but my pace was right where I wanted it to be.

Mile 3: 9:04

Cruising at a steady effort.

Mile 4: 9:13

Ok, a little slower, but still feeling good, just stay at this pace.

Mile 5: 8:53

This feels good! Ran by a group of people offering bacon and beer! No thanks, but the gesture was nice! Took a GU for a boost!

Mile 6: 9:05

A new 10K PR! 55 minutes and I wasn’t pushing it!

Mile 7: 9:41

Yikes! A few small inclines here, starting to feel it.

Mile 8: 9:31

Keep trudging. My strategy was to only walk through aid stations to take in some water and/or gatorade. I did not want to dehydrate! The sun sure was coming down too, but I never felt hot, there was always a nice breeze!

Mile 9: 9:38

This mile was through a park with turns. Not my favorite mile, another GU to the rescue!

Mile 10: 10:06

 Knees and hip flexors hurting, don’t know why I went this slow though!

Mile 11: 9:32

Picked it up a little bit, I can feel the finish coming! Feeling pretty strong and first time running over 10 miles!

Mile 12: 9:47

Running through campus, just need to hold it for one more mile.

Mile 13: 9:25

Almost there!!

Mile .1 (my watch had a total of 13.23): 2:18

Ran hard through the tunnel, onto the field, and across the 50 yard line! Hands in the air!

Official Time: 13.1, 2:03:37, 9:23 pace


I bee lined it to a lady with a cold bottle of water and continued to walk around the field for a while. My knee joints and hip flexors hurt, but everything else felt fine. It was so nice outside, I stayed on the field and stretched, drank water, and watched other runners finish. I got to see the top 3 marathon men finish too!

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So fun being on the field! (I only had my iPod with me so I don’t have many pictures)

I grabbed two bananas, gatorade, and a granola bar and headed back to the apartment. I stopped and watched more marathon runners head into the stadium. At this point there were few of them, all the elites, major props to them! They looked awesome for running a marathon!

I did not want to move once I was back, but Papa Dells was calling my name. Sam got back from volunteering, I took a shower, and we walked over to Papa Dells, picking up her boyfriend on the way. We had to wait 45 minutes for the pizza to cook (pepperoni and garlic), but it was well worth the wait. It is safe to say I devoured my slices.


Best pizza ever!! If you are in Champaign, you NEED to go to this place. I always have to go here when I am in town and I always take home two frozen pizzas as well.

A nap would have been amazing after this meal, but it was time to drive back home. 3 hours and a few rest stops later (all the fluids!) I was home! I picked up a big bag of ice when I got back into town and jumped right into an ice bath. 10 minutes later and my bottom half was frozen, but my legs would thank me later.

Overall, I had such a fun time. Although I wanted to get under 2 hours, I knew going in to the race it would be a long shot. I am not there yet, but I will be soon. I am happy with my time and performance. It is hard to really set a goal time for a race you have never completed before. I had never ran that distance, let alone raced that distance so I felt like the race was more of a training run. I wasn’t sure how hard I should push it in fear that I would burn out by the end of it. Every race is a learning opportunity to get better.

For me to average a 9:23 pace for 13.1 miles is HUGE progress. Last year around this time I couldn’t run a 5K under 30 min! My long runs were 5 miles and my average pace was more than 9:23 and at the end of last summer 10K races were hard and I was completing those at the 1 hour mark.


  • Spending time with my sister
  • Short walk to the race
  • AMAZING weather
  • Finishing on U of I’s football field
  • Running all of 13.1 + miles

Take Aways:

  • Have more long runs under my belt
  • Don’t slow down mid way through (this will come with more experience and training)

This morning I woke up to sore knees, but everything else is all good. I have spent my day catching up on shows, watching the Bulls and Blackhawks, and just relaxing. This morning I went out for a recovery walk/run with my mom. We walked for a mile, ran for 10 minutes, 9:18 pace (into the wind!), then another mile walk for a total of 3.16 miles in 42 minutes. Felt good to get out a stretch my legs!

I hope everyone else had a great weekend and congrats to all those who raced!

4 thoughts on “RR: Illinois Half Marathon 2014

  1. Congrats Jessie on your first 21km run. For a first timer, you did extremely well and judging from your mile per mile breakdown, you did well to pace yourself. Keep it up and don’t ever stop running. Time to focus on your next half and eventually a full marathon. Running with you in spirit!

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