Race Report: Sunburst Half Marathon

I freaking love running. Today was just one of those RUNNING IS AWESOME days for me. Which is good. Because today was a goal race.

You can read my Goals / Psyche Myself Up post for this race. I was getting excited. My training prepared me for a sub-2 half. The temperature at the start of the race was supposed to be 50 degrees and get to 60 after I finished. This race had 10 (TEN) water stations. For a half marathon. You couldn’t ask for better race conditions. Plus all of my running friends (online and IRL) gave me lots of encouragement! I love my running friends!!

I was running this race with The Sailor (my husband … hopefully you’ve picked up on that) and BFF Genevieve (who you’ve met before). This was a first half marathon for both of them!

We left town last night after work (well, I took the day off an enjoyed a lovely afternoon at the symphony … no, seriously I did, thanks to a deal via TravelZoo.com). I made some pasta with meat sauce for us to eat before heading to South Bend, because I knew we wouldn’t get there until 10pm local time. We checked into our hotel (and got cookies – thanks DoubleTree!), took silly pictures of our outfits for the next day and went to bed. (Even though I think Gen and I really wanted to stay up and watch The HolidayΒ on TBS).

Gen, Mag, Rob
The Sailor wouldn’t join in our outfit silliness, mostly because he was wearing the shirt he would run in. So instead we laid out the clothes next to him so he could still “participate.” That’s his big hairy leg in case you can’t tell.

Because our hotel was literally right next to the start line, we got to “sleep in” until 5:30am. (Actually The Sailor slept later.) Gen and I headed downstairs to the College Football Hall of Fame to pick up our race bibs and watch the start of the marathon (at 6am … which I think is why this race is called “Sunburst” … the marathoners get to watch the sunrise).

Guess who I ran into on her way to the marathon start line?


Sara aka Gingerfoxxx! Can’t wait to read the recap of her “revenge marathon.”

After watching the start of the marathon (fewer than 500 runners, so a pretty quick start), we headed back upstairs (after stopping at the Starbucks in the lobby) to get ready. I’ll spare you those details, but many poop jokes were made.

We realized we could see the start from our hotel room window:

View of the start from our hotel room
Lovely view, no? If you looked straight down, our room overlooked an atrium.

Around 7:20am, we finally moseyed down to the start. Yes, the race started at 7:30am. And by moseyed, I mean, I was dancing down the hallway, in the elevator, through the lobby … we got to the start area, and I lined up between the 9 and 10 minute/mile pace groups, and Gen and The Sailor headed back to who knows where, because at this point, I was so giddy with excitement that I’m sure they were happy to finally get rid of me.

It was about 50 degrees out at this point. Felt. Awesome.

And then we were off.

I spent the race completely focused on my heart rate. Well, during the first mile, I just let myself warm up, but by mile two, I told myself “your only job for the next 11 miles is to keep your heart rate in the 160s. That’s all you have to do.” And that’s exactly what I did. I honestly did not look at the pace on my Garmin once. It would beep for my mile splits and I forced myself not to look at it. (It was surprisingly easy, but that’s probably because I run by heart rate a lot.) A couple of the mile signs had clocks, and I tried to do some mental math to figure out my pace, but all I knew was that I was under a 9-minute pace, I just wasn’t sure by how much.

The course was great. Most of it was shady, and it was pretty scenic, along the river or through residential areas. As I said, there were tons of water stations. More than I needed, but it was nice to know they weren’t far apart. Also it was good at the later stations to take a few sips of water and then dump the rest down my back. They also handed out Gu at two points on the course. I ended up taking one Gu somewhere around mile 7, and none of the many Clif shot bloks that I packed in my Spibelt. I ate my breakfast (two pieces of wheat bread, peanut butter, banana) in two parts, and the second part kind of late, so I wasn’t hungry. (Luckily the late breakfast did not backfire on me.)

Also somewhere around mile 7 or 8, someone ran up from behind me and asked “are you Maggie?” (I have MagMileRunner.com on the back of all my Fast Women shirts.) It was Deanna, who won my 13.1 giveaway! It was nice to meet you! I hope you had a good race. See you next Saturday!

For the last couple of miles, I let my heart rate get up to 170-171. I was feeling great. I wore my compression calf sleeves and had almost no aches and pains.

Eventually, I could see what I assumed was the Notre Dame Stadium in front of me, and as we approached, I was getting so excited to see the finish line clock. We turned into the stadium, through a tunnel (a pretty short one), onto the field and I could see the finish and the time on the clock. I’m pretty sure as I crossed the finish I said “Love you, old P.R.,” but replace “love” with a different 4-letter word.

I looked at my Garmin … 1:53!!!!!!!!!!!!! I walked around the field soaking it in, then realized I was hungry and the food wasn’t on the field, so I went in the concourse, through the food line, and sat in the stands, waiting for The Sailor and Gen to finish. I also got to watch Sara finish the marathon! She looked so happy πŸ™‚

The Sailor, me, Gen

After we were all done, we went to find the shuttles, which required us to exit the stadium and pretty much walk all the way around it, which I thought was mean to make us do. Eventually we got back to our hotel, showered, checked-out (and got more cookies), and went out for lunch before heading home.

Post-race = compression tights under a long skirt
Post-race = CW-X compression tights under a long skirt. FTW.



I’m so happy! I’d like to personally thank Mother Nature and her perfect weather for making today possible.

Next up: 13.1 Chicago this Saturday! I’m planning to run it “blind” with my Garmin in my shoelaces, screen facing down. We’ll see if I actually do that. Maybe I’ll just do that one by heart rate too.

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14 Comments on “Race Report: Sunburst Half Marathon”

  1. Great job! I am hoping to get a sub 2 someday!!! I need a good running day again. It’s been a long time and I feel like I lost my running love because each run is hard for one reason or another. Ugh.

  2. Congrats!!!! I’m so glad you had a fantastic running experience…it’s more encouragement to keep on going and going and doing more races πŸ™‚ Running by heart rate is very smart and (in my opinion) very important. Your body often knows better than you sometimes do about how much it can be pushed, and following its queues is key to success!

    1. Exactly! Also I think it leads to far less self-doubt in the end. I never question if I could have had a faster time. I know that I ran that race at the fastest pace that was sustainable for me over the distance.

  3. Awesome awesome race! I love that your goal HM went so well! I love love love that “I love running” feeling after a race! Congrats on the awesome PR! It sounds like it was super easy for you!

    1. Thanks! I’m starting to think maybe for a HM I should target a slightly higher heart rate. For this one I stuck to 160-168, and 170-171 for the last mile or two. I’m thinking maybe I should try shifting that up a few beats. Maybe for RnR in July. I figure it’s far enough out from the Marathon that I can still race it. Right?

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