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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Jazz Half Marathon 2019 race recap

I signed up for the Jazz half with a discount code before I knew I was pregnant, and as the day grew closer I kind of wondered how it would work out: racing a half marathon in the third trimester! But I figured that if I could still complete long runs of 10-12 miles, I'd be fine.
I went into this race really banged up. A surge of the hormone relaxin has wreaked absolute havoc on my feet and legs: my normally strong arches are lax and I cycled rapidly through achilles tendinitis, plantar fasciitis, and now arch-ankle-leg pain so bad I'm limping. I've been experimenting with compression wraps and things, but race day still had me in a lot of pain.

The day didn't start out well. A tropical storm hit New Orleans on Friday night, brining rain, wind, and storms. Its strength was completely unexpected, and took the city off guard. We lost power over and over throughout the morning, and when we got up at 5am, it was pitch black and we didn't have electricity. The storm was still going at this point, so as we groped around by candlelight for our race clothes, we wondered if the race would be cancelled. It was scheduled to start at 7, but my weather app showed the worst would be over at 7, so I guessed that it might just be postponed. I was right: as we headed to packet pickup, the rain and wind died down, and the race posted that the start would be delayed until 7:30. By the time the race started, the rain was a mist, and our biggest obstacles were fierce wind and a lot of debris on the course. The Jazz course is mostly on St. Charles avenue and through Audubon park, and all those oaks leave a lot of downed branches (sadly, Audubon lost one of its majestic oaks in the storm, actually).

I pushed myself back quite a bit from the start, knowing my limitations. Last year I ran this race in 1:27:04, which was a PR (and a surprise). This year the VDOT calculator predicted a 1:40 based on my recent two-miler. Although how accurate could that be? I was a lot more pregnant now! I decided to let my painful feet and legs decide how the race went. The race starts downtown, where GPS is useless, so my first "mile" beeped at 7:27...nowhere near the first mile marker. By mile two, I was really trying to let my feet warm up and maybe stop hurting so much, and I was mostly jog-limping. My GPS mile indicators were way, way off, as is typical, so I wasn't able to really on average pace readouts anyway. But by the time we got onto St. Charles Ave, I was starting to get a stride going, and at mile four I was at about a 7:50 pace (at some point, I rendered my Garmin splits totally useless by cleverly hitting "lap" at the mile marker. I was trying to get back on track so my autolap wasn't beeping so early. But I somehow also hit "stop" and didn't realize it for several tenths of a mile...eventually everything evened out what with GPS error and all, and by the finish my miles were *almost* on track, but basically my splits are useless!).
At the start
I run down St. Charles almost every week, so most of this race is very familiar to me. The only difference was that I was picking through a lot of branches on the ground this time. I got a chance to talk to teammate Paul, who came out to watch, and as I neared the park I got to see the leaders already coming back the other way. Power Milers were in second, third, and fourth for the men, and first and second for the women! I always like a chance to cheer my team on! Speaking of cheers, I was getting a lot of attention for running pregnant. It was really nice, because otherwise I was just another mid-pack runner. This gave me some motivation!

We reached the park after mile seven, and I love running through my park in a race. I was feeling a little better and started to pick it up. I passed two friends I'd seen at the start who had left me earlier in the race, and checked my time. A 1:40 was still doable, despite my slow start, but I'd have to pick it up. I was at 7:45 pace by the 7.1 marker (the relay exchange) and I'd need 7:37. There was Powerade on the course after the first few miles, so I grabbed some of that for some energy. And electrolytes - although it had cooled a lot since we got up - 78F to 65F by the race start! - it was still really humid from the storm.

I exited the park and headed back up St. Charles, trying not to think about taking a bathroom break (ugh!), and kept my pace up. I passed quite a few people in the second half: 35, actually, moving up from 97th to 62nd overall. It was definitely fun to hear the cheers then, because it's bad enough to be the pregnant runner, but the pregnant runner passing people? That gets A LOT of chatter! I can't really sprint anymore, but I did pass one more women right at mile 13, leaving me as 8th woman overall and 3rd in the 30-39 age group. I don't know how baby scored, but I did get two medals at the finish from the sweet and excited finish line volunteers...honestly, I rarely take medals anymore, but I took these so as not to be incredibly rude.
Getting a "Grace Thacker and company" from the announcer at the finish, ha! 
I finally got a bathroom break, but right away my ankle hurt too much to walk. Now that the race is over, I am on break to rest and heal. I don't plan for this to be a break all the way until the baby is born, but you never know. I just need to take enough time to readjust to all the changes that are creating all these injury situations and to let the inflammation die down!


  1. I'm so impressed by all of this. You are so fit that you can run that time and win an AG award when in the third trimester. That storm sounds really intense, too. I hope your inflammation gets better soon.

  2. I'm also so impressed by how fast you are running when very pregnant. I know your pace is 'slow' compared to when you aren't pregnant but it's still quite fast. I hope you are able to get back to running before the baby comes but you'll just have to listen to your body. Sounds like running is pretty painful right now so probably not worth it but maybe with some rest you'll feel better? Time will tell!

  3. You're pretty much my hero. I ran a half-marathon yesterday at 7.5 weeks in a 1:47 (10 min off my PR); it was somewhat of a suffer fest with breathlessness and fatigue, and my first ever race porta-potty break! I'm hoping to "run" Boston in 2020 at 6.5 months... so yeah. I'm so inspired by you and how fast you are pregnant (and non-pregnant)! - Kim K.

    1. Congratulations on your race and I hope Boston is amazing!