async="src="/ Taking the Long Way Home: Race Recap: Prairie State Half Marathon

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Race Recap: Prairie State Half Marathon

Disclaimer: As an ambassador for All Community Events, my entries to their events are comped. All my opinions are my own.

Live from Long Grove....it's the Prairie State Half Marathon! 

When I signed up for this race last summer, I was really skeptical that it would actually take place. But Illinois continues to maintain strict guidelines with regards to openings and gatherings, much to many people's dismay. With a continued low COVID positivity rate of 3-4%, the race was given the green light!

After my disappointing virtual half marathon a couple of weeks ago, I hoped that a live race atmosphere would be what I needed to redeem myself. After all, I've been running strong this fall. I tried not to get myself worked up about it, though. Would I have to suck it up and accept that I was really slowing down? Or was my poor performance on that last half just due to me having a really bad day? 

Prior to race day, runners were required to sign up for a start time. I arrived at the race about 20 minutes prior to my start time. Parking was plentiful and as I walked to the start line, the early bird runners were already on the course. Besides the half marathon, there was a 3.5 mile race and a 10k. I stopped to visit the portapotties--there was no line-- and headed into the corral. There was a guy checking the runners in and instructing them on distancing. Runners were required to wear a mask in the corral but would be allowed to remove it once on the course. 

The corral wound around a parking lot with orange cones placed 6 feet apart. Runners were reminded to line up with the cones. When I got to the start line, the starter had me wait for 10 seconds after the previous runner before allowing me onto the course. Then I was off!


The first part of the race was through Long Grove, a picturesque little village with shops and restaurants. We ran through the downtown on a busy street in a narrow lane marked with orange cones. The course took us into the countryside onto a road with 'rolling hills'. I was running a little faster than I wanted, so I dialed it back and tucked in behind a woman with enormous muscular calves. Those first 3 miles, hills and all, were about 9m/m. Way too fast this early in a race. I'll never learn how to do this, will I?

The course took us back through the downtown and under the covered bridge into another country road. I started using my 4:1 run/walk intervals and lost my rabbit. I was excited that this part of the course took us on a road that ran along one of the preserves where I do a lot of training! The course, which was actually really boring, continued along this road for many miles and took us through several neighborhoods with some nice homes. Periodically, there were aid stations with bottles of water and gatorade set out. Each of the aid stations had some portapotties too. 

Using my run/walk intervals kept me feeling really good, so I made a plan to skip them in mile 12 and pick up the pace, sprinting to the finish. Unfortunately, my body had other ideas. I became really nauseous. Deja vu from that 5k I ran last winter! I had no plans to vomit, so I stopped to walk briefly a few times. I was able to jog that last mile and my stomach settled down. I crossed the finish line in 2:06:06 (Garmin time). 

Free race photos aren't always the shots you want!

There was a tent with a volunteer who handed us our goodie bags through a plastic window. Runners were reminded to keep moving and leave the race area as soon as they were finished. I ran into one of my fellow ambassadors--we hoped to cheer the other ambassadors in, but because of the rules, we left. 

Post-race with a fellow ambassador

A local brewery, Buffalo Creek Brewing, was providing a free beer to runners. You know I almost never pass up free beer! There weren't many people inside the brewpub. I selected a Hefeweizen and sat down at a long table by the window. My beer was delicious. As more runners came into the brewpub, I started to get a little nervous, so I finished my beer, pulled up my buff, and headed home.

Overall, this was a great example of a safe running event and I hope there will be more like this in the future. The race director really did a great job of making sure that everyone was safe. My only complaint was that the running lanes in the first couple of miles were quite narrow and runners were pretty close together. I also saw lots of spit on the ground and I hated the thought of those droplets in the air. Why, oh why do people have to spit?

And another thought: All Community Events owns a hella lot of orange cones. Just saying. 

UPDATE: My results weren't showing up on the race page and I reached out to the race to remedy this. By the time of publication of this post, the results were posted!


Personally, I was really happy with my finish time. This is the fastest half marathon I've run since I was diagnosed with RA 4 years ago. Sure, I'd love to sub-2, but that would require me to run 30 seconds/mile faster and I don't know if I have 13.1 miles of 9m/m in me anymore. Long distances have become challenging for me and it was nice to see that I could still muster up some decent splits, even using the run/walk intervals. I wasn't too sore the next day--my right knee was unhappy, but other than that nothing more than the usual post-race stiffness. I am grateful for what my body lets me do, but you know I'm always looking for more! 

Here's to hoping for good health and more live events!

I ran a real, live half marathon in the era of COVID-19! Safe and socially distanced. It can be done! My recap @oldrunningmom @allcommunityeve #running #runchat 

Have you run any live races since the pandemic started? If so, what kind of safety measures did the race use? 

I'm linking up with Kim and Zenaida for Tuesday Topics and with the Runners' Roundup: DebbieDeborahJenLaura, and Lisa.  

40 comments :

  1. Firstly, I'm so pleased about how you did in this race, what a brilliant time!! But secondly, as I read this I had this feeling of excitement that races with multiple distances can be organised in a way that complies with COVID-19 rules and protocols. As you were telling the story, I just felt safe.

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    1. I was just so pleased at the whole event and the outcome! I hope other race directors will take note and plan safe events as well!

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  2. Really well done and also I'm glad it was organised so well.

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  3. Great recap Wendy! Glad it was a good experience and example of how we can safely get back to live races

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  4. Hooray! A real life race! Congratulations on your fastest post-RA-diagnosis half marathon! Awesome job, Wendy!
    I haven't done any pandemic races yet. We only have very few ultras in the mountains that were still held.
    Your race did a great job of keeping it very safe. It's still bittersweet compared to the old days with cheering crowds and packed starting lines. But better than nothing!

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    1. I didn't really miss the cheering spectators as much as I thought I would, with the exception of the approach to the finish line. Without all the fanfare of the start line, my adrenaline was definitely dialed down, which in my case, isn't a bad thing!

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  5. Great job Wendy, and thanks for this recap! This gives me hope that eventually races may start to open back up in my area. I know that New York Road Runners is starting to have some races but NYC and some surrounding boroughs are starting to see a rise in numbers again :(

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    1. Well, that's the thing. Our positivity rate is pretty low right now, but if things start going back up, events like this won't happen.

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  6. Great job, Wendy!

    Les and his brother rode the 6 Gap Century in Georgia a couple weeks ago. 100 miles of cycling with over 11,000' of elevation gain. Similar to your race, masks at the start. The race volunteers did a great job with water refills - cyclists took the lids off their water bottles and volunteers poured directly in to their water bottles.

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    1. Sounds like that was a well run race too! The volunteers at my race didn't even get close to the runners.

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  7. Yay!!! 4:1 is such a great tool. I've found that it doesn't slow my pace down very much. I'm 5 days out from running my first live race since February...wheee!!!! My only complaint is that this race isn't affiliated with a brewery, but thanks to virtual racing I know how to handle that...have a beer when I get home.

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  8. So wonderful to read this recap, well done! No live races this year, just two virtual half marathons. My full would have been virtual too so I guess I missed the pain train of a virtual full by breaking my foot? Looking for the silver lining!

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  9. Oh wow this is so fun to read! Huge congrats to you on your speedy finish. You do always seem to pull it out when the time is right. Very excited for you that you got to run a real race. I don't think we will have any here at all for a long time sadly. Way to go!

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    1. I'm hoping this race is a start in the right direction! At least we know it can happen safely, right?

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  10. Congratulations!! You still got it in you, which I had no doubt! It's so interesting to see how races are proceeding in this COVID world...it seems like they did a good job keeping everyone safe! And yes to a post-race Hefeweizen!

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    1. This is the first live race that I'm aware of, at least in our area. It was so nice to do a live event!

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  11. Congrats on your race! That's awesome that this was your fastest time since your RA diagnosis. I'm glad you were able to run a real race and that everything went smoothly. Hopefully more places can figure this out for the spring!

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  12. This is great, Wendy! Congrats! Looks like many things went well that day. That is exciting you ran a real race since I thought for sure this year there wouldn't be any anymore.

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    1. I'm actually running a live 5k later this month. Stay tuned!

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  13. So happy for you Wendy! What a great job you did.

    There have been a few live races here, but personally, I'm content to wait until things are more back to normal. Of course having that race atmosphere must feel great, even if it's modified!

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  14. Congrats on your fastest post-RA half marathon - what a huge accomplishment! That's so exciting that you were able to run a live race and feel safe in it. We have a few here; I was registered but had to drop out since Covid recovery was taking a long time. Hopefully there will be more in winter/spring that I can do once my fitness comes back.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear that COVID took such a toll on your fitness! You will definitely be back to form soon.

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  15. I would be lying if I didn't say I am envious! This is exciting to see how races will begin to navigate this new world and it brings me hope! Great job on a great run!

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    1. Thank you! It was a great time to test all the quarantine running I've been doing!

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  16. Congrats Wendy and great recap! It sounds like the RD did a great job - I hope this means there can be more in-person races in the near future.

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  17. so excited for you to run a real race and to do so well!

    I have one on Nov 15. It will be fun...not in racing shape but it will feel good to race again.

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  18. That race looks awesome and you ran so fast! I'm glad you got to have this experience and thanks for sharing the details.

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    1. Fast is relative (you're FAST!) but I sure was happy with the outcome!

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  19. LOVE IT!!! Congratulations!

    I think I am signing up for a 5K in mid November. It sounds like that race will have similar precautions and safety measures as yours, and honestly, if I'm outside, I am fine and not as concerned as if I am inside somewhere.

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    1. I feel the same! I have another race, a live 5k coming up next month. Hopefully it will be very similar!

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