Posted by: Ingrid | April 27, 2010

Borgess “Run for the Health of it” Half Marathon

I had a brief panic moment Friday night as we drove to the Borgess Health and Fitness Center in Kalamazoo so that I could be on top of things and pick up my race packet the day before.  Imagine my horror and surprise when I saw all sort so people in race shirts gathered around and cheering… it felt a little like a running nightmare until I realized that they were doing the kid run and the mile the night before.

Saturday dawned cold and a little wet but it was fortunately not a dark and stormy day.  Well, it was a little dark, but I don’t like running with sun glasses on, so that part was okay.  All of the worry and wondering if it would rain and it DID NOT.  For that I am very thankful!  Isaac and Clint were spectators and Isaac mostly managed to do okay.

Thanks to doing a couple long runs with a friend who teaches sports science at the university across the street this was the first run where I actually paid attention to when I ate.  Usually I use Gu as an incentive for reaching mile 8.  I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I sort of thought that it kicked in as soon as you swallowed it… now I know better.  I ate two hours before, downed a Gu right before the run (so it would kick in around mile 4) and then took another one at mile 5.5 that would hit around mile 9.5 and hopefully carry me through.

As always, my dear husband got some good shots while still taking care of Isaac.  I love how in this picture everyone at the front is focused on their various GPS and watches.

The race started at 8:15 and I was able to find my pace pretty quickly and settle in.  I was right where I wanted to be at mile 4 – 29:40.  Running felt good and sticking to a 7:30 pace seemed quite feasible.  There were plenty of water stations and the volunteers were great!  Fortunately, unlike in my dreams, the course was NOT 18 miles long nor was it an obstacle course.  The only problem were the hills.  I was expecting a 1-2% incline over several miles at mile 8.  In reality, we round the corner at mile 7 and the next five miles were rolling hills with some fairly long inclines in places.  Guess who really should have done some hill running?  As it was some of my mile splits ended up being around 7:48, which, when you’re dealing with seconds, really kills you.

I had to block out of my head the fact that I felt like quitting because of the hills and just run.  Once I hit mile 10 I kept telling myself that I could do anything for 3 miles.  Then it was 2 miles, then 1, then less than a mile.  I was able to drop my pace back under 7:30 at the end but I was spent when I crossed the finish line!

I have to say that, despite the fact that I look like a dork with my gloved hand in the air, I love this picture because it makes me look like I have the runner’s legs I’ve always wanted but don’t really have.  Maybe my husband photo shopped it?  I finished in 1:39.03 (and yes – on occasion those three seconds get to me).  My Garmin gave me 13.27 miles, but you know how Garmin’s are…  My average pace was 7:33.  I finished 137th out of the 1223 finishers, 16th out of the 640 women, and 4th in my age division.  The winner was 33 and won with a time of 1:30.17.  My favorite part about those stats is the fact that you can search under the top 25 women to finish and my name comes up. 🙂  It’s the little things, right?

My funniest moment during the run was around mile 12 when I was about to pass a very skinny girl with bright pink compression socks on.  She’d been ahead of me since the beginning and I’d mentally dubbed her “anorexic chick” which yes, I know, is not very nice or compassionate.  Mile 12 I pulled ahead of her and realized that she was actually a really ugly guy with longish hair and not a skinny girl at all.  That made the passing that much more satisfying even though I almost tripped doing a double take.

I came away from the race with a few things that I was pretty happy and proud of.

First, having trained for a half for the first time I would definitely say it was worth my time!  Mentally and physically I felt more equpipped to run hard for as long as I did and I had the mental fortitude to get through it even when the course got hilly.  So I learned that training is a good thing.  Should I have learned this long ago?  Maybe.

Going along with the whole training plan, because I didn’t have a recent race time that hadn’t been influenced by being pregnant I sort of had to make up what I thought my half marathon time could be and train accordingly.  I trained for a 7:30 pace and wondered the whole time if I was being idealistic and overly ambitious.  The fact that I averaged 7:33 makes me feel like I can make fairly accurate decisions when it comes to future training goals, which is a great feeling!

This was also a good chance to learn that I can pace myself.  When I ran Disneyland a year and 8 months ago and finished in 1:43.20 I ran with the 1:45 pacer almost the entire way.  To have to keep a fast (for me) pace by myself was something that I wasn’t confident that I could do.  I was sure that I could do it if someone else was pushing me but not convinced that I could push myself.  Low and behold, I can!

I also realized that it’s never enough.  Already I find myself wanting to hit 1:37…but then there’s 1:35… and 1:30 would be amazing!  Of course, 1:29.59 is so close to 1:30… so the fun never ends. 🙂  I do know that I don’t think I’m ready to try to tackle the Sunburst half in just 6 weeks because that might be a little too soon for a new PR.  The 10K, on the other hand, is a distance I might be up for…

Of course, the medals are always fun, but a certain someone wanted it even more than I did.  I used to run for the t-shirts… now I run for the teething toys!



  1. Hey, congrats on such a fabulous race! Sounds like you exceeded your expectations on many fronts. That’s such an awesome feeling. Glad it didn’t rain during the race.
    Isaac looks so cute with your medal!

  2. I feel your pain on the hills that start at 7 and don’t end…it was the park that killed me last year. All the tiny ups and downs. Mile 10-11 was spent cursing the person who designed the course and feeling sorry for myself:) And I did the hill workouts! I really think you could PR at South Bend, it is fast and barely a hill on the whole course. Plus, you get to finish in Notre Dame stadium with Rocky music playing. Cliche I know, but still fun! I shaved 3 minutes from my Borgess time. Note: we stayed in a hotel last year near the start of the race, and had a hard time finding a place to get food the night before (that wasn’t a bar).

    • That makes it sound so tempting! I’m glad that South Bend is flat. I’m just not sure how to train since after just doing some relaxing runs this week I will only have five weeks before the half marathon. Do you remember if they had pacers at the event?

      • I think they did??? My husband recalls them, but he ran the full marathon. The organizers are good about getting back to you, so I would email them. As for the training, I think I just kept up on speed work and got in a couple long runs last year, and then tapered again. I was careful not to overdue it because I had been battling some weird postpartum running injuries. I hadn’t planned on running it, so I didn’t have any expectations. Maybe that is why I ran better, a more relaxed approach without all the nerves ect…

  3. 16th out of 640 women?? Amazing!! Your race sounds like mine . .. cold and wet! But it’s all relative after about mile 4, right? 🙂 Congrats again!

  4. Just coming back to comment on the Sunburst 1/2. I ran it a few years ago and had a great time running it. It is a fairly flat course, and I was excited because I got a PR at that event. I am almost positive there weren’t any pacers when I ran it, but definitely contact the organizers if that’s something you’d like to have.

  5. Hi, great post! I like reading it.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Keep up the good work!

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