As I write this post, my race feels like it might as well have been six months ago. But it was just a mere 10 days ago that I ran my 13.1 miles in Philadelphia. So, if you're interested, here's my race recap...
The twitter-sized version of the recap - The race went way better than I expected. I felt strong and was proud of how I did despite the lack of a PR.
The Good: The weather was perfect. High 50s and sunny when we left the hotel that morning, and warmed up into the 60s by the time the race was over. When it comes to sports, I'm very superstitious and kind of quirky. When I got my bib on Saturday I was very relieved to see my number; seemed like a good bib number to have. The second half of the course was beautiful and easy to run. Despite the fact that I ran faster in the city, I was much happier from the 5 mile marker on.
The Bad: The first half of the course was hideous. It was flat and fast so I ran well, but mainly just to get out of there. The crowd support was really disappointing. I was having some serious mental motivation issues coming into this race and was looking forward to the crowd cheering me on. There were minimal people throughout the race course, and hardly any of them were cheering. Or even happy looking.
The Ugly: Philly. I'm not a fan of the downtown area. It's not very pretty, and to be honest it's pretty filthy. This was my third trip to the city, and I'm not feeling compelled to go back. Sorry to everyone from Philadelphia, I won't hold it against you personally, but I'm just not in love with your city.
|Heading to the starting line.|
Miles 1/2/3/4 - I was in the 22nd of 25 corrals, so even though the gun went off at 8:00, I didn't get across the starting line for another 25-30 minutes. I hate the waiting around; as far as I'm concerned it's just extra time on my feet and extra steps I don't want to have to take. Lucky fast runners in the early corrals.The first leg of the course was through downtown/Center City Philly; it was basically a running tour of the city's finest historical treasures and it's vast amount of homeless people. Not exactly picturesque. But the streets were wide and flat, so I wasn't having to muscle my way through the crowd. I was feeling fine thoughout these first few miles. It normally takes me at least a 5K to really get warmed up.
Miles 5/6/7 - The 5 mile marker is at the finish line. It's really fuckin cruel to do that to people. There was already a steady stream of people finishing the race, and I wasn't even half way done. Given, they did start a full 30 minutes before me and they're running at least 4 min/mile faster so they certainly deserve to finish first, but still. Not nice Philly, not nice at all. This section of the race was probably my strongest. I was very weary of my training since my long runs hadn't gone that well, but I knew that I go at least 6 without stopping for a short walk break. The scenery drastically switched between miles 5 and 6. We went from the drab downtown to the lush riverfront on the banks of the Schuykill. We ran down wide, shaded roads past boathouses and bridges. It was my ideal scenario for a race, since I do most of my training in Rock Creek Park which has very similar surroundings. I ran strong until mile 7 when I needed a little mental break more than anything.
Miles 8/9 - I walked from the 7 mile marker to the 8. I probably didn't need to walk that long, but I just needed a literal change of pace. My legs were starting to feel a little fatigued so I thought changing my gate for a bit would be a nice break. During this stretch there was a very peppy woman handing out dixie cups of chocolate milk and bite sized pieces of pretzel. Why thank you ma'am, yes I'm starving. About 3/4 of the way through the shot of chocolate milk I was anticipating having to write this blog post with the title "Milk was a bad choice" but I ended up being fine. The scenery during the second half of the course was really helping my mental state. Had the entire race been in the downtown area I probably would have been miserable. I picked up my pace at the 8 mile marker and ran strong into the turn around (around 8.7 miles) where we crossed the river and were finally headed back to the finish line. It's a huge mental boost to be actually pointing at the finish line instead of continually running away from it. The adrenaline of the final turn around carried me swiftly through to the 10 mile marker.
Miles 10/11 - During the stretch between 9 and 10, I got a phone call from Christy. She had just finished the race and was going to be waiting for me at the finish line. Alright, I thought. She's done, so let's not keep her waiting. Mile 10 was my fastest in the second half and by the time I hit the 11 mile marker I was feeling very confident that I could finish strong. I checked my phone to see what all the buzzing was about, and it was a text from Christy saying I was on pace to finish in a PR. Fuck. Keep running. But the quick mile 10 killed my legs, and the 10 to 11 stretch was my slowest of the day. I needed to walk a bit but was determined to keep moving forward as quickly as possible. Whether that meant walking or running, just keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Mile 12/13 - The stretch from 12 to 13 was the most physical pain I've ever had to put my body through. That's not saying a lot though, since I have a low pain tolerance and I haven't ever had any real excruciating pain scenarios. But still, it was not pleasant. At this point my thighs were seriously fatigued and my back was killing me. Killing me. Every 15 seconds I had to keep reminding myself to keep my shoulders back and my head up. It's amazing how easy it is just to slouch along that last mile. I ran/walked this section best I could. I just really wanted to be done.
13 to 13.1 - The only hill of the race. Not kidding. You hit the 13 mile sign and there's a quick turn around the corner of the art museum and BAM. A hill up to the finish. Just one final fuck you from Philly. I'm a sprint-as-soon-as-I-see-the-finish sort of runner, so I turned the corner and used every extra ounce of energy I had, lengthened my stride, and just flew over the finish. I crossed the timing mats, stopped my iPod, and felt like I was going to pass out and throw up all at the same time. A good 30 seconds of leaning over, hands on my knees, waiting for my brain to catch up with my body, and I was good to go, finishers medal in hand, and walked across the raceway to Kelly and Christy's energetic smiles. I kind of wanted to punch them for having so much energy. But I knew that was the low blood sugar talking.
I headed into the finishers area to get some water and food only to find that most of the vendors were packing up their booths and all the waters/gatorades were warm. Number 1 pet peeve at races - having no respect for the people at the back of the pack. Are we not equally deserving of cold beverages post race? I would have loved a granola bar or a non-mashed up banana. But I guess not. I grabbed what I could and hobbled out to find Kelly and the medical tent. My knees felt like someone took a baseball bat to them, so I wanted to get iced up immediately. I walked into the medical tent and literally stood there for a minute without anyone even noticing me. I guess if you're not vomiting or bleeding they get to ignore you? I finally asked someone to get my knees iced up and she looked pretty bothered that I was going to interrupt her cleaning everything up. Sorry lady, but the race isn't over. Ice on the knees, and water bottles in hand, Kelly and I headed back to the hotel so I could clean up before we headed home.
Here are my splits, mainly just for my own record keeping, but if you're interested...
1 - 11:50 2 - 10:41
3 - 11:44 4 - 12:16
5 - 12:38 6 - 14:30
7 - 12:35 8 - 13:47
9 - 14:05 10 - 12:08
11 - 13:58 12 - 12:46
13 - 13:00
Official time - 2:58:04. My first half marathon in March was 2:51, so this race wasn't a PR but I felt stronger this time around and definitely ran more versus run/walk. So I'm happy with my time :)
And we'll close this post with another photo from after the race. Ice packs strapped to both knees. Super sexy, I know.
Thanks to everyone who listened to me complain about this race in the weeks leading up to it. Thanks for your facebook comments and text messages of support. And thanks for reading this ridiculously long race recap :) Hoping to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler again in the spring, and then probably tack on another half marathon right after that. Nothing scheduled officially yet, so stay tuned...