I had zero expectations when I signed up for the inaugural Bend Half Marathon a few months ago. I knew I would be 5 months pregnant and had no idea what my body would look like or how it would respond to running 13.1 miles with a preggo belly. What I did know was that I did not want to miss Bend’s first marathon and half marathon race, as part of the Gorgeous Race Series.
While I have competed in races and events across the country, each of which had its own special appeal to me, running in my hometown is something that I love to do. Waking up in your own bed, going through your familiar routine, seeing friends at the start line, and celebrating with them afterwards in my opinion all combines to create a more comforting atmosphere no matter where you live, but I think it’s particularly so in Bend.
And while this was not my fastest half marathon (about 15 minutes slower than my PR) I was able to meet all of my goals and even surprised myself a little along the way. Let me break it down.
* The race started at 7:30am in downtown Bend. Parking was easy and there was plenty of space to warm up and hang out with family and friends.
* The temperature at the start was perfect (~35 degrees) and there was not a cloud in the sky. A typical Bend day.
* After kissing my husband goodbye we were off, cruising along the first three miles of flat pavement through neighborhoods and alongside the Deschutes River. Who doesn’t want to stampede in the early hours through a bunch of residential areas, shaking the ground, and sparking the curiosity of those still in bed?
* Miles 4-8 were along a wide dirt path paralleling the river once again. One could easily argue that this was the most beautiful section of the course. At least, that’s what I kept hearing from runners around me.
* These miles were also the most technical, with a few steep climbs – enough to get the lungs and legs equally burning. Are we warmed up yet?
* There were aid stations every 2-3 miles, with some of the most amped up and encouraging volunteers I have ever seen. I made it a point to drink lots of water and thank those who were so graciously taking time out of their day.
* I saw my husband at mile 7 and threw him my long sleeve top. It was a very spectator friendly course and Justin was able to ride his bike around to catch me at numerous locations. I saw him at least 6 times and at one point he even rode his bike alongside me from a distance, cheering me on.
* Miles 8 and 9 were two of my favorite, as the course led runners back into downtown Bend, through a half-mile long tunnel of wild, yelling spectators. For me, it was like filling up the tank with gas and feeling completely recharged for the next round of mileage. Spectators truly are a runner’s best friend.
* I got a high five from Lauren Fleshman and Jesse Thomas at mile 9. When the elites take time out of their day to come out and cheer runners on, that is pretty awesome.
* The last 4 miles were the most familiar, as I have run the Old Mill District to Drake Park route countless times while training. This is where I was able to pick up the pace and pass other runners. I have been in both positions before so I know that when you are the runner who is thriving and whisking by other runners who are surviving off fumes, it’s a good feeling.
* The finish area downtown was lined with people. The support from the crowd was beautiful and I saw a lot of familiar faces. Thank you Bend!!! Baby boy and I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:53:36.
* When I crossed the finish line one of my friends, Rainie, and her daughter were volunteering and passing out medals. I was elated to see her and excited to receive THE coolest medal I have earned by crossing the finish line. This one is dedicated to the growing life inside me.
* The course was not easy and had roughly 730ft of elevation gain. Thankfully, I had run it enough to know what to expect and how to pace myself. My heart rate stayed fairly consistent throughout.
* The race swag was pretty impressive. We received a fancy long sleeved shirt, Picky Bar, gift card to Jamba Juice, gum, discounts to other local races, a beer token (free beer = poor pregnant Kristen), and a wall mountable beer bottle opener finisher medal.
* My only disappointment was with the food at the finish. They offered bananas and bagels, but nothing else. The bananas were fine but the bagels were sitting out and somewhat dry. It would have been nice to be able to throw some peanut butter on them, or something. I will let it slide this time because it is an inaugural event but hopefully they will add a little more variety next year. And after all, most people in Bend run for the post-race beer anyway. If I had been able to imbibe in that, it might have been a slightly different story.
My three goals for the race were to negative split (most importantly), finish under two hours, and have fun/listen to my body. I am happy to report that I achieved all of these goals and was able to finish feeling fresh and strong. I definitely could have kept going if I wasn’t pregnant.
By the way, negative splits are awesome. I don’t know why I have struggled to run one in my pre-pregnant body, but I can guarantee you that I will be making this a habit more often when I start racing again. There is something mentally invigorating about going faster in those last few miles, picking off people left and right.
What was it like running a half marathon 5 months pregnant?
I don’t know what it is about the race environment, but my body felt great. I became more energized as the race when on and enjoyed myself a majority of the time. Yes, there were moments of fatigue and round ligament pain, but they were short lived and would come and go. Oddly enough, the downhill sections were hardest on my body because of the force and impact.
The baby seems to cooperate when I run races because I didn’t have to stop to use the restroom ONCE. This was incredibly surprising to me. That being said, I went about 10 times before the race, so “things” were empty.
Running a half marathon 5 months pregnant is not easy. The extra weight definitely takes a toll on the body, and the way my body has changed in subtle ways has altered my running mechanics ever so slightly. I can feel and see a difference in my running form.
It was also a little bittersweet as this was my first and likely only half marathon (or longer) distance race in 2015. I am very grateful that I put in the time and effort to complete this event, but it still feels really weird knowing that it will be a year before I start racing these distances again. Perhaps I will throw a 5K or 10K into the mix in the next few months for enjoyment.
Once the race was over I was completely done and needed to get off my feet. It would have been nice to hang around to cheer others on, but my body was noticeably going downhill fast. I was couch bound and horizontal the rest of the day, with a lot of ligament pain around my lower abdomen and groin. I guess that is the sacrifice I make for running that kind of distance. Because of the impact that it had on my body, it is unlikely that I will continue running miles in the double digits – unless they are very slow and I feel up to it.
Final Thoughts on the Inaugural Event
The race organizers really did a great job of laying out a great course and getting the residents of Bend to come out and show support for runners. There is a good chance that I will add this as an annual event to my race calendar to show support for our local running community. Hopefully we will see it grow each year and bring people from all over.
Have you ever run a negative split? How would you compare it to a positive split?
Most memorable finishing medal or race bling you have ever received…
Anyone want to come to Bend next year and run this with me? 🙂