Hey, hey! Several days have passed, and I’ve finally processed everything from last Sunday’s half marathon, and I can’t wait to tell you ALL about it. As you may know, for the past few months I’ve dedicated a majority of my blogging to chronicling my training for the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. It was a LOT of work, but overall, I had a great training experience. I made the investment to hire a Running Coach, followed the plan, and let the chips fall where they may!
The Night Before
Saturday was the day of the Rock and Roll 5K
. But that was all over pretty early in the morning. For the rest of the day I tried to rest as much as possible, then I spent a few hours studying for my PE exam. My Core and More class instructor, Elga, was celebrating her birthday that night and she invited me to come by her house for a party/jam session. So I drove over there, listened to some live music out in the backyard, and enjoyed some tasty deviled eggs, beans and rice, and a little fried chicken! I didn’t stay out super late, but I didn’t get to bed until 11 pm or so.
The alarm was once again set to 6:00 am and I ate the same breakfast of toast and strawberry preserves. My clothes were already laid out so I was fully dressed and just hanging out for awhile. I got an early text from my sister saying that she wasn’t going to be able to come to see me run. She had just gotten back from a conference out of state the night before, and she still would have had to drive 2+ hours to get to me. So naturally, I was crushed. Then I tried to find a way for her to get live text alerts during the race, but signups were closed 1 hour before the race start. Bummer.
I was feeling pretty down, but then I got another text from my friend Tom, who has been a running buddy of mine for years now. He said he would be out on the course, which was great to hear! Before I knew it, it was time to head out to the race.
Before the madness
The Starting Line
I slowly moseyed myself out the door to get to the race start. The weather outside was a little warmer than the day before, but it was VERY humid and overcast. After doing a few dynamic stretches and hearing the National Anthem (with a band rehearsing in the background—eek!), Bret and I headed over to my corral. I was in corral 17, which was towards the back but still not all the way at the end. Bret hung out with me for awhile then hopped out, but as we started to move up, he would walk alongside and snap some pictures. He really pumped me up for the race and I started to get excited….it’s finally happening!
But no, it’s not happening just yet. We’re still a long, long way from the starting line. The race started at 8, and at 8:30, we’re still not at the start?! There aren’t even 20,000 runners in this race! I don’t know what the holdup was, but eventually, I finally crossed the start and began the race!
Couldn’t wait to get to the starting line!
And We’re Off Again!
Miles 1 to 5:
While I was waiting in the corral, I kept telling myself over and over, “Go slow, go slow”. Coach Kristy advised me to start at an 11 minute pace. So as we finally got going, I knew I had to stay in control and stick to the plan. The only trouble is that my Nike+ watch is completely unreliable for giving me instantaneous pace. So I had to do it the old fashioned way and estimate my pace by the time posted at each mile marker.
Even though I ran this race 3 years ago, the beginning of the course felt only vaguely familiar. I barely remembered running past the Liberty Bell the first time. I had a pretty awesome memory of running under the Friendship Arch
in Chinatown back in 2011, but we definitely did not do that this time. I guess they changed the course? What a bummer!
It didn’t even take a mile in to be covered in sweat. It was so humid that my arm band for my cellphone kept slipping off as I tried to listen to music. Kristy advised me to take water at all the stations due to the forecast. So glad I did.
I was happy to see Tom twice while I was on the course! The first time he spotted me first (as always) on Market, but the second time I saw him on Arch and got a high five. Every little bit helps.
I was feeling really good and could feel myself speeding up, but before I knew it we were leaving downtown and heading down the Parkway down to the loop. I saw Bret on my way down and gave him a little smooch.
Splits: 11:10, 10:48, 10:36, 10:23, 10:55
Miles 5 to 10:
As I ran on Kelly Drive it was actually kind of fun; I was still feeling good pace-wise but I knew that I had a long boring stretch ahead of me. Normally when I run on Kelly Drive it’s on the trail, but for the race we were running on the road, so that was a nice change of pace.
From miles 6 to 10 I was supposed to run a 10:30 pace, so I was definitely in the right zone. It felt great to be among so many runners. As we approached the East Falls Bridge we had some fun music and dancing in the streets to entertain us. Lots of spectators were cheering us on.
Splits: 10:36, 10:40, 10:36, 10:40, 10:31
Miles 10 to 13.1:
I was really ready for this race to be over. Despite the cheering, once we passed the East Falls Bridge, I was done. Normally, I like running down MLK drive because I don’t do it often. But in this case, I just ran this course the day before, so I was a little bit over it! Lots of people were walking around me, and it was hard to ignore them and keep going as fast as I could. I also had an old man on the race scold me for breathing heavily, which really threw me off. I was trying to focus so that I could try to get up to that 10 minute pace for the last 3 miles…unfortunately he got in my head and I couldn’t find my rhythm.
But thankfully at mile 12 there was Bret! He told me I was in the final stretch and ran on the sidewalk with me for a few bursts! He gave me the gas I needed to get to the end. Thanks baby!
Splits: 10:41, 10:10, 9:48
I promised myself that when I saw the finish line that I would run strong. At my last half, the Philadelphia Half Marathon in 2012, I had a pathetic finish…I practically walked across. That wasn’t happening this time. While the photos look ugly (take my word for it), I gritted my teeth and ran my heart out to the finish. I didn’t care what my watch said, but I will tell you what it said: 13.29 miles, 2:20:14. My official time was 2:20:10.
Overall I felt very confident as I ran the race. My pace was consistent, the humidity didn’t bother me too much (minus some heavy breathing), fueling worked like a charm, and I stayed hydrated. While I didn’t shed any tears during the course, my heart was full of pride as I could see that all the hard work was worth it. I couldn’t have been happier.
Me and my 3 medals!
After the Race
Once I crossed the finish I was all out of sorts, even more than the day before. I had to beg someone to hand me a medal, and then I grabbed a water and wandered aimlessly through the photographers, protein bars, energy drinks, chocolate milk, bananas….nothing made sense. As I made my way out and back into the running festival area, there was Bret. He hugged me and said how proud he was of me. Of course I felt pretty slimy and gross from the hours of sweat shed on the course. My feet were absolutely killing me and my knees were quite a bit sore, but hey, I did just run over 13 miles! I brought some flip flops with me so I could change out of my Adidas. Yay for finally finding the right running shoes for me (another journey in itself)! This was their final hurrah after over 250 miles of running together.
Because I did the Remix Challenge, I had to get my 3rd medal. Being obnoxious for a change, I brought along my 5K medal so that I could walk around and wear all 3 that I earned that weekend! It was a nice moment of pride for me, haha.
I was hoping to see James after the race again and possibly some other runners I know, but it was too chaotic to even try. We skedaddled out of there.
Brunch was always going to be on the agenda, it was just a matter of figuring out where to go. Since it was my choice, I selected the Cedar Point Bar and Kitchen
, located in “the heart of Fishtown”. It’s our kind of place: rustic atmosphere, great food, great beer, and lots of hipsters. I ordered the French toast special which was somehow stuffed with blue cheese, apples and walnuts. And of course turkey bacon on the side. I really loved the Belgian beer that I had too. Breakfast of champions!
Amazing French toast and beer!
So I have a lot of thoughts about the race and everything, so I’m going to go with my trusted bullet points:
- There was great energy the entire weekend from all of the runners.
- The hydration stations were perfectly placed. Whenever I was in need, they were there
- The featured band was really good! I never heard of Rusted Root, but they had a nice groove.
- The medals are GORGEOUS! They captured the spirit of Philadelphia without being too corny.
- The T-Shirts are also gorgeous! Maybe I’ll wear them on a run this weekend!
- The course is boring. Philly runners know that any race you do is likely to be on Kelly Drive, MLK Drive, or the entire Schuylkill River loop. Yes, it’s pretty, but it’s nothing new.
- The bands and cheerleaders along the course just weren’t into it. There was a cute little band at the East Falls Bridge but I wanted more!
- Some of the volunteers handing out water weren’t wearing plastic gloves. Since I’ve done that job recently, I know it’s law. So….ew.
- Feeling more like a customer than a runner. I’m sorry, but it has to be said. There was way too much corporate sponsorship and kowtowing to elite athletes with the Rock and Roll franchise. We’re all runners and should all be appreciated. Everywhere you turned they were trying to sell you something…..day-of registration for the 5K was over $65!
In a nutshell: I had 2 great races and I’m very proud of my performance. But I will never run a 5K and half marathon in the same weekend ever again! I am definitely “retiring” from Rock and Roll Philly but am curious to see if I would sign up for an RnR in another city. I’m glad and so grateful that everything went well.
Last and not least, I want to thank everyone, and I mean everyone
, who was part of my half marathon journey. My sister dedicated an amazing Facebook post to me and was able to get over 100 likes, sending positive energy that I carried through the race and didn’t even know. Thank you for the support! #jjfit! I had a couple of great training runs with my running buddies Mark and Tom, and they have always been a huge support to me. Coach Kristy
was AMAZING, she really changed my whole viewpoint on how to train for a race. I really didn’t think “going slow” would help me go faster, yet I was able to maintain a 10:33 average pace! I also had my first lessons in speedwork and tapering, which all made a difference
The blogging and running community has been amazing. All of you who read and follow Run With No Regrets encouraged me the entire way. Remember that rough training week I had? You guys talked me off the ledge! And everyone who follows me at runwithnoregrets on Instagram is so amazing.
And FINALLY, I want to give a huge shoutout to my boyfriend Bret. He really is an amazing person and he was my rock throughout the whole training experience. He was the one out there with me on my 8, 9, 10, 11, and 12-mile runs. Thank goodness I’m dating a runner! He wore a goofy hydration belt for me on Kelly Drive, held my Clif Shots for me on Forbidden Drive, helped me when I could barely walk after the race. The list goes on and on.
Me, my man and my medals!
So now it’s all over! Have you ever run a Rock and Roll Race? How was your experience?
Note: I’ve also posted my review of this race on bibrave.com – it’s a free site 100% dedicated to race reviews. I’m a BibRave Pro Ambassador for 2016, and I’d love if you considered joining the site!