Blue & Gray Half Marathon

This morning I ran the second half marathon of my second pregnancy, the Blue & Gray Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is a race put on by a local running store about 20 minutes from where I live. I’ve done the 5K for the last couple years (2012 & 2013) but hadn’t done the half yet- mostly because the weather is usually terrible this time of year. Over the last few years the weather has included snow, sleet and freezing temperatures, so I wasn’t really sure about signing up to do the half this year, especially considering I’m pregnant. However, I knew it might be my last chance to run a half for a while since my pregnancy this time falls during the winter and my options are limited. By the time the spring races roll around I’ll be way past the point where I should be running those kind of distances. So I decided to take a chance on the weather and go for it, and I’m so glad I did! I ended up running a great, strong race and felt amazing the entire time. Here are the details!

Before the race, sporting my 17 week baby bump :)

Before the race, sporting my 17 week baby bump 🙂

I woke up this morning to cold temperatures (in the 30s) and even colder wind gusts. I knew I didn’t want to drag my boys out for that, so I hitched a ride down to the race with my friends James and Chanda who were also running the half. Kevin & Little Kev were going to come later closer to when I would be finished to see me at the end. I went back and forth on what to wear. I didn’t want to overdress because I HATE the feeling of being too hot while running, but I didn’t want to freeze either. I decided on capris, a long sleeved base layer that holds in heat, and a lightweight jacket. I knew I would warm up once I started running (I was right, what I wore ended up being perfect). I wore more layers while we picked up our bibs and waited for the porta-potties, but luckily since this race is relatively small we were able to park close by so I could throw them in the car before we started. We were also able to wait inside the running store where it was warm until a few minutes before the 7:30 start time, which was so nice!

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Eventually we reluctantly went outside and jumped up and down shivering until it was time to start. The wind gusts were pretty bad, and I knew it would add an extra challenge into this race. I also was very familiar with the course since we run in Fredericksburg all the time, and I knew it was also very hilly. I was definitely thankful to be going into this race to run for fun with no expectations for performance!

The race started at exactly 7:30 (I love small races!) and we were off! It was so hard not to run too fast at the beginning, because I just wanted to warm up and the first two miles are mostly downhill. It was awesome running down two of the most infamous hills in Fredericksburg (Hospital Hill & Cowan Boulevard Hill), but I also knew that later we’d be running back up during miles 12 & 13. Luckily, I have trained on these hills and run them many times, so I wasn’t too worried. I enjoyed my downhill miles though, that’s for sure!

  • Mile 1 – 9:08
  • Mile 2 – 9:01

I wasn’t really sure what to expect in terms of pace for this race. Most of my longer runs have been between 9:45 and 11:00 pace, and I figured with the course and the weather it might be on the slower end. I predicted I would finish around 2:15, which I would have been super happy with. So when I saw my first couple mile splits I was surprised (even though they were a lot of downhill), but I figured I’d just go with what felt comfortable to me in the moment and adjust when I felt I needed to. I was able to keep this momentum for the next few miles, but did need to stop around mile 3.5 for a bathroom break. Unfortunately there were others that needed to stop as well, and I ended up waiting in line for almost 3 minutes total, causing my split for mile 4 to be pretty slow. But it was totally fine because I NEEDED to pee, and would’ve been super uncomfortable the rest of the time if I hadn’t! I got right back into it afterwards and felt a lot better!

  • Mile 3 – 9:10
  • Mile 4 – 11:43 (<— potty break!)
  • Mile 5 – 9:10

During mile 5 my friend Amanda met up with me to run a few miles with me. My pace naturally slowed down at this point because we were busy chatting and my energy wasn’t being totally directed towards running anymore. It was so awesome to have company for a few miles! I loved that she was able to be my wing woman like I was for her in Richmond a few weeks ago and during some other races as well!

  • Mile 6 – 9:32
  • Mile 7 – 9:53
  • Mile 8 – 10:01

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When Amanda left I got myself mentally focused for the challenges ahead. We were about to run by the water again where it was beautiful but super windy, and I knew I had the two big hills looming ahead starting at mile 11. As I got more focused I started running a bit faster too. I think I was trying to build my momentum to get up the hills 🙂 During mile 11 I got a little pain in my belly that ended up being a gas bubble (gotta love pregnancy!). It went away quickly and then I felt great again. It was the only pain I experienced during the entire race.

  • Mile 9 – 9:25
  • Mile 10 – 9:30
  • Mile 11 – 9:38

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Pretty soon I was staring up at the first monster hill- lovingly called “Hospital Hill” because it’s right alongside a hospital, and I heard a rumor once that someone once had a heart attack while running up it?? Hospital Hill is basically a long, slow, steady incline that seems like it will never end. I tried to focus on a point in front of me rather than looking at how much farther I had to go, and that strategy worked for me. I didn’t have to walk at all even though many others around me were, and I was shocked to see that my mile split wasn’t even that slow!

  • Mile 12 – 9:40 (including Hospital Hill!)
At the top of Hospital Hill!

At the top of Hospital Hill!

After Hospital Hill we got a little bit of a break running on flat and slightly downhill road before the next one. The Cowan Boulevard Hill is a shorter, steeper hill that I think feels harder in a way, since you’re already tired from Hospital Hill. I knew I was almost done though, so I charged up it and again, didn’t have to walk at all. Once I got up the hill I knew I was almost at the finish, so I picked up the pace and booked it there! I was so happy to see my boys at the finish line and couldn’t stop smiling!

  • Mile 13 – 9:03 (includes Cowan Boulevard hill!)
  • The last .1 – 8:30 pace 🙂

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I ended up finishing way under my goal of 2:15 and I couldn’t believe it. With my first pregnancy I ran a half at 20 weeks pregnant and finished in 2:06. I didn’t think that was even a possibility today since I’m already running slower than I did at this point in my first pregnancy, and I’m bigger too! I definitely surprised myself, especially when I realized that it would have been closer to 2:02 without my 3 minute potty break 🙂

  • Official Finish Time – 2:05:42 / 9:35 average pace

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As soon as I finished I very quickly realized how cold and windy it was. I grabbed a blanket that was in the stroller that little Kevin wouldn’t keep on because I was so cold. I shivered while we waiting for James and Chanda to come through. Chanda came through around 2:17, beating her time for another race that was on a very similar course (including the hills) this past May!

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After she came through I headed inside the running store with little Kev to get warm, while Chanda and Kevin stayed and waited for James. This little boy is such a trooper and loves coming to races no matter if it’s hot, cold, windy or snowing! He loves cheering on the runners and saying, “Go, go, go!”

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James had a tough day and ended up injuring his knee. He came through later on, but was determined to finish his last race in Virginia before they move to Germany in a few weeks.

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After we all finished we went to breakfast where I ate the most delicious pancakes, eggs, and biscuits of my life. Seriously, they never tasted so good! Once we got home and got the toddler down for a nap, I passed out straight out of the shower (in my towel and everything) and slept for a solid 2 hours. I woke up feeling like a million bucks 🙂

I am so thankful to be able to run, especially during pregnancy. Pregnant running and racing is the best, with no real stress or expectations. I was able to go out there, have fun, and ended up surprising myself with how amazing I felt. I love that I can share these special moments and accomplishments with my little one before he or she is even born!

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My December race is complete! Now to register for my January one 🙂

Other races during pregnancy #2:

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6 responses to “Blue & Gray Half Marathon

  1. Congrats on an awesome race! I’ve done the 5k for the last 2 years, maybe next year I’ll do the half. What are you thinking about for January?

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