I spent the weekend in Philadelphia and ran in the Philadelphia half marathon on Sunday. My finish time was not what I wanted but I had a wonderful weekend and enjoyed the race. I’ll recap some things about my training and the weekend here.
Since Augusta, I have been run-focused. I’ve been swimming, doing strength work and some biking but I have been running more than during other times of the year. I stuck pretty close to the plan Sam created, with a couple of exceptions when I was sick for two days and one work conflict. I did the long runs, did the speed work, made friends with the treadmill and started to see progress on my mile times decreasing to a more consistent 12:30-13:30. It’s taken a while to get back to that point. I was feeling good going into the weekend.
I signed up for this race because of Ann Nicocelli’s enthusiasm about her experience last year. Ann is one of my She Does Tri teammates and a wonderful friend. She was right. It is a great course and race. I spent a good part of Saturday with Ann, her daughter Sofia, and Rob. Sofia ran in the Kids Fun Run and was the first girl to come across the finish for the half mile race. Yay!! We had a great time cheering for her.
I love this photo that Ann caught of Sofia in the air.
We had lunch, headed for the expo, and had a early dinner with a big group of people that Rob and Ann know, including their coaches.
With an early wake-up we all headed to our hotels for the evening.
I had already visited Reading Terminal, but I stopped by again since it was on my way back to my hotel. My cousin Nancy was also in town for the race but we did not get a chance to connect until race morning.
With 30,000 runners and in the wake of Boston, security is tighter than normal. There were all kinds of security warnings and measures in place. Everyone had to clear through a secure area to get to the start line and they recommended arriving at 5 am, two hours prior to race time. I arrived around 5:20 and the lines were still not very long but a lot of people were already there. The race was well organized but I could not immediately find my corral because all the signs were not in place yet.
It was a warmer day than I had anticipated when I thought about Philadelphia in November. The temperatures were in the low 50s and it was fairly humid at the start and it got warmer. The weather was actually great for running. Fortunately I had a tri top on under my long sleeve top so I was able to take a layer off around mile 3 when I got really warm.
I caught up with my cousin and spent a little time with her before we both headed to our corrals.
Race time was 7 am but I was in the back so there was quite a bit of time to stand around and to talk to other runners The marathoners and half-marathoners start together. One woman had run 17 marathon in the past few years and is working her way to 50. There was a large group of students from the Students Run Philly Style group. I wound up with them for much of the race.
We finally reached the starting line at 7:31 and were off. I started out with a great pace, under 13 minutes a mile for my first few miles. The first eight miles were actually at a pretty good pace. This is a fun route because you run through different parts of the city and the cheer crowds and just the crowds of people who are not in the official cheer crowds are great. There is a lot of music, lots of silly signs, people call out names because they are on our bibs. It is a great atmosphere.
I had a race strategy and I had planned out my nutrition. I have had problems with bonking in the longer runs but I did not have that problem in Philly. My original plan was to use my Camelbak for hydration but with the security I decided not to fuss with it. I wound up carrying a bottle of water and using the water stations on the route which were about every 2 miles. I had gel, chews, and salt sticks with me. One more salt stick might have been good but I did fine with what I had.
The hills started around mile 7. I had been quite concerned about the hill at mile 7 but I ran up it. It was really not bad. The hill at mile 9 was another story. That is the one that slowed down my pace significantly. I just need to get in more hill work before my next race. From that point I was walking some and then trying to pick my pace back up running. I had these great bracelets from Sofia and the band that Paige gave me at Luray when I needed inspiration to keep going.
In addition to getting my nutrition and hydration right this time, I also kept a pretty positive attitude throughout the race and kept my running form. I was happy with both of those things. I felt a little discouraged going up the mile 9 hill because I realized that I was not going to make my goal time and I had been pretty close to being on track for it up to that point. At one point a sag vehicle was pulling beside every runner in the back of the pack and trying to pick them up. That gave me a moment of “oh no! not again” but I refused the ride and said I was fine and I was finishing.
And I did finish. I was very happy to cross the finish line and complete the 13.1 miles. I feel like I know what to do to improve but I also know that you can never predict what might happen on any given day.