Yesterday I ran my third half marathon while pregnant – The Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon! I signed up for this race before I found out I was expecting, and one of the big reasons I did was because I heard it had a great wine festival afterwards. My friend and I both signed up for it and were excited to run and drink wine to celebrate. Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way, but I still had an amazing race! Obviously I’m pregnant so I couldn’t partake in the wine, and my friend ended up not being able to race, so she asked Kevin to run in her place. He promised to stay with me the whole time so I was very excited!
Our morning started very early. We were up at 4:15 AM to get ready, and left at 5:00 to make the long drive out to Loudoun County where the race was taking place.
The drive took us a little over an hour and was easy until we hit some traffic right at the end. The race started and ended at Doukenie Winery which was only accessible by a narrow road, so traffic got pretty backed up.
Eventually we made it there and parked right near the start with 30 minutes to spare before the 7:00 AM start time. We found the porta-potties, took some pre-race pictures, and walked over to the start line. I was so excited to be running another half marathon at 23 weeks 3 days pregnant!
They had a great set-up at the winery with tents, a DJ, and lots of other fun race day activities. We stood with the crowds and waiting for our race to start. The scenery was beautiful, and I knew it was going to be a really scenic (and hilly!) run.
7:00 came and went and we hadn’t started yet. I noticed that there was still a steady stream of cars coming in and shuttle buses dropping people off from hotels. I figured they were delaying the start to let more people get to the race. One of the things that really bothers me is a race that starts late. I don’t mind a few minutes, or even 15 minutes, but later than that and I start to get really annoyed. At 7:30 we were still waiting, and we were starting to get hungry again. Everyone was getting really antsy and just waiting around.
Finally at 7:35 we started running! I was so happy to be moving and not standing anymore! My mood picked up right away.
Even though we were smiling, we weren’t feeling great. We both felt tired and our legs felt heavy. It was hard to get in our groove, especially after a really crowded first mile. But we put on our happy faces and pushed through it, hoping to get into the zone soon.
This race was FULL of constant rolling hills. The flat sections were few and far between. We were either going uphill or downhill like 80% of the time. I didn’t mind it very much though, because I prefer running on a rolling course rather than a pancake flat road. It keeps my legs engaged and it keeps things interesting. I just tried to keep the pace steady going up and down all the hills, and not over-exert myself too much. We passed the halfway point at 1:06, so I predicted we would finish around 2:15 or so.
Luckily, the temperature that morning was perfect. It was in the 50s at the race start and warmed up to the 60s during the run, but a lot of the course was shaded so it felt cool. I have noticed that cool temperatures are the key to having a good run while pregnant. Once it gets hotter and more humid, I start cramping immediately and feeling terrible. I was finally feeling great after a tough first few miles. We both finally found our running grooves and were really enjoying running together and the beautiful course. We even started picking up the pace a little bit.
Around the 10 mile mark, Kevin’s foot started to hurt. He’s been battling tendonitis since the Pittsburgh Marathon a month ago, and hasn’t been running much to let it heal. He did a great job pushing through it and staying strong! We picked it up in the last mile when we knew we were getting close to the end. We were passing people on the uphills constantly. I felt so strong and I almost forgot I was 6 months pregnant!
I looked at my Garmin and I noticed that I was running the second half faster than the first half. That never happens to me because I always start too fast! Not only was I going to come in under 2:15 like I originally predicted, there was a chance I would finish in less than 2:10! With this new motivation Kevin and I ran to the finish line as fast as we could manage (without going too crazy). We crossed the finish line hand-in-hand at 2:09:00. That’s an average pace of 9:50/mile. Not bad for 23 weeks pregnant! I was so proud!
Kevin and I got our little bags of food and some drinks and went to the grassy area to stretch and rest for a few minutes. Of course we had to take some more picture with our new bling: the coolest race medal ever! It was a wine stopper and wine opener! And my other favorite accessory- my baby bump 🙂
This was a great race. I loved the course, the beautiful scenery, the medal, and most of all running with Kevin and my baby. I am so, so, so thankful that I can still participate in these races throughout my pregnancy, even if I ran 20 minutes slower than my half marathon PR 🙂 I have never felt stronger or more beautiful!