Love Run Half Marathon Recap

By Janelle @ Run With No Regrets | race recap

Mar 29

The Love Run Half Marathon was amazing beyond my wildest dreams.

Last Sunday I finally completed the Love Run, and while I didn’t PR, I came pretty darn close!  This wasn’t in the plan!

I’m happy to share my recap of the experience, and if you ever read my recaps, you know I give all the details.  I hope you enjoy!

I’m linking up with Susie, Debbie, Lora, and Rachel for the Running Coaches Corner and Annmarie, Nicole, and Jen for Wild Workout Wednesday!  I’m also joining Ilka and Angela for the Fitness and Food linkup!

So happy to share my awesome race experience at the @loverunphilly half marathon! #runchat #run215 Click To Tweet

Check out my recap of the Love Run Half Marathon in Philadelphia, PA! It was my first time running the half and I had an incredible experience in the City of Brotherly Love! Find even more race recaps at runwithnoregrets.com!

Love Run Half Marathon Race Recap

It was a busy weekend leading up to the Love Run Half Marathon.  On Saturday morning, I completed the Fight for Air Stair Climb with my coworkers – 50 flights!  Knowing I had to race the next day, I didn’t overdo it on the climb, but my sinuses got all out of whack thanks to what I put my body through!  I was so worried that I just sabotaged the half since I was a sneezy, drippy mess for the rest of the day.

Race Expo

Conveniently, I was already parked in a garage for the Stair Climb for only $5, so I kept my car in place and walked to the Convention Center where the Love Run held their race expo.  To be honest, I was a little disappointed that they were going back to the run-of-the-mill format.  Last year, they had a party atmosphere at Xfinity Live where you got a free beer ticket and could enjoy live music.  Still, CGI Racing does better than most with expos and had a lot of great vendors to check out.  I got some free samples Larabars, tasted lots of Krave jerky (YUM!), and got to get a couple of tips for the Ragnar Relay in Pennsylvania, which I’m participating in June!  I didn’t stay long though because I was starving and wanted some downtime at home before heading out again.

The Night Before

We have neighbors that are moving out of the city and we were invited to do a bar crawl with them at their favorite haunts in Mt. Airy for old times’ sake.  Obviously, I wasn’t going to be throwing them back!  I was still feeling awful from the climb and I drank as much water as possible.  I had one beer and one cocktail over the course of the evening, but in this instance, pacing was important too!  We had a good time and lots of good conversations and they all wished me well for the Love Run.  I didn’t have dinner until after 10 pm – a juicy burger and fries – so I was definitely nervous about having some negative consequences on the course…

Race Morning

I ended up getting about 5 hours of sleep, getting up sometime after 5 am.  The race started at 7:30 so I wanted to make sure I had my breakfast and enough time to drive towards the course.  It’s still weird for me to have to deal with driving to my races…living in Fairmount spoiled me!  Sometime after 6, I drove to Kelly Drive so that I could find some free parking near the Art Museum.  Of course, part of the street was detoured because of the Regatta on the Schuylkill River, so that took extra time.  So many cars were already parked so I had to find a spot on Lemon Hill then walk to the Art Museum to meet up with City Fit Girls.  Unfortunately, by the time I met up with them, it was 7:05 and they already took their group photos.  They did take one with me at least before we split up.  And I briefly got to see Kiera, Katie, and Mercedes who I hadn’t seen in ages!  Then it was time to check my bag and warm up before heading to Corral yellow.

The Starting Line

Did I mention that it was cold outside?  The weather was in the 40’s so I was conflicted on what to wear, but I kept on my gloves.  We were so worried about rain in the forecast but I never felt a drop!  The sky was cloudy/overcast which I think made for great race conditions.  After a wonderful National Anthem by Samantha, a local running blogger that I’ve had the pleasure to meet and talk to on a few occasions, it was time to get ready to run!  While waiting, I met Kelly, another fellow City Fit Girl who was running the Love Run as her first half marathon.  I wished her luck!   And after about 20 minutes, we were off!

Miles 1-5

I looked over Laura’s plan while waiting in line so that I could keep it in my head.  Don’t start out too fast the first few miles!  It’s always so easy to get caught up and so hard to get a feel for pace with all the excitement.  But I kept telling myself that I could do this – I could run 2:15.  This was going to happen.  The first few miles of the race are downtown – you start on Ben Franklin Parkway and make your way through the streets of Center City.  We ran around City Hall and through Chinatown.  It’s nice to run in a city that you know – it’s familiar.  Now it’s all a blur, but as I checked my mile splits, I couldn’t believe I was going so fast.  I needed to rein it in and conserve for the hills so I tried to slow down a bit before hitting race pace. But I was also confused because I was behind the 2:20 pacer for a long time!  Then when I finally passed her I was behind the 2:30 pacer!  At every mile marker, I was hoping the time would increase by about 10 minutes.  As we made our way back towards the Art Museum and “Gonna Fly Now” literally came on my marathon playlist, I was feeling damn good.

Splits:  10:05, 9:47, 10:29, 9:34, 9:43.

Miles 6-10

Next, we spent a long time on MLK Drive, west of the Art Museum.  Unlike Kelly Drive, I LOVE running on MLK.  It’s much more scenic.  I was in disbelief of how well the race was going, and the emotions were already bubbling up – but I told myself to calm down and stay focused.  Fueling and hydrating were going really well the entire way.  As we were running towards the Strawberry Mansion Bridge, runners were already heading back to the finish.  I was wondering if I would see Lauren of Breathe Deeply and Smile because she’s also a race ambassador and super speedy.  Sure enough, I did see her but we didn’t get to make a connection.

At this point, there was a woman on the course with a rose in her hair that would become my bunny.  She was running at a good pace and I just wanted to keep up with her.  How the heck I managed to pull that off, I still don’t know.  I was wondering when the big hill would come and we finally made our way up a steep ramp to the aforementioned bridge.  The climb wasn’t bad at all and I took Laura’s advice to look up the hill and take short strides, but I definitely felt a bit winded!  Running across the bridge gave me a chance to catch my breath before we’d wind our way up another hill and run around Strawberry Mansion before taking a nice downhill back to the other side of the bridge and back on MLK to finish out.  I actually liked this part of the course.  Now that the worst was over, it was time to finish strong!

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Splits:  9:57, 9:47, 9:54, 10:06, 9:29.

Miles 11-13.1

Even though I love MLK Drive, I was getting eager to finish this race.  I realized that I was running in the 9-minute range and it was super exciting and scary!  Somehow I found more gas in the tank and pushed as hard as I could to finish strong.  My bunny was still close up tot his point, but in the last couple of miles, I passed her and never saw her again.  She really kept me motivated!  So after losing her, I found more people to pass along the way(fun, right?).  It was thrilling!

I knew that City Fit Girls would be cheering near the finish and I was able to give some high-five’s and waves.  They really gave me a boost – thanks ladies!  Like most races that are on MLK Drive, there’s a big hill under the Spring Garden Bridge that you have to climb before finishing in front of the Art Museum.  The finish line was so close but so far.  I gave it my all and was full of so much emotion.  I couldn’t do the math in my head, but I knew that I ran under 2:15.  I reached my goal!

Splits: 9:30, 9:30, 9:20.

Race Results

My official finishing time was 2:11:08.  My Nike+ watch had 2:11:11 in 13.44 miles.  UNBELIEVABLE!  You know I just about lost it.  The tears were flowing.  I was so proud and amazed that I was able to do it.  I felt amazing – no GI issues, no regrets about anything.  This really happened!  I hadn’t run close to this pace for a half marathon since the infamous RNR Philly 2011, my very first half marathon when I ran 2:10:53.  That was an emotional race too.  How fitting that Philly would provide this moment for me once again.  This by far was the best race I’ve ever had!  Here’s a video I posted on Facebook sharing my thoughts – check it out!

After the Race

Once I was finished, I took some photos, grabbed my belongings, and then took the long walk back to my car to head home.  When I got home, I got to tell Bret the good the news.  When I hugged him, I let it all out.  The emotions were so real and it was just a culmination of all the hard work I’ve done so far this year.  I’m finally over the 2:15 hump!  I thought it would never happen, and now I know that I’ve got a lot more to give!

So of course, we had to celebrate, so we went for brunch in Chestnut Hill.  The food was delicious!  Since I was starving, we started out with the most amazing nachos, then I had my main dish – French toast!  Was it too much food?  Definitely!  But I earned it!  Oh, and I had a mimosa too, naturally!  Bret had a catfish sandwich that was fantastic!

Then  it was finally time to rest and relax for the rest of the day and just be proud of my accomplishments.  The Love Run Half Marathon was a HUGE success!  I am so grateful.  These are the types of days that show why I love running so much.  The feeling you get when you reach and/or surpass your goal is indescribable!

Takeaways

I think my face says it all.  This was such an emotional experience for me and I will never forget it.  It really is that simple.  The Love Run Half Marathon is a fantastic race – I highly recommend doing it at least once!  Since I had such a high note, this may end up being a one-and-done for me.  I know I’ll never be able to recapture the magic from this day.

Pros

  • Extremely well-organized.  With 10,000 runners, things can get really crowded, but overall I never felt too cramped – clearly the corral system worked well.  CGI Racing is also great with communication and signage.
  • Great course.  I think they finally nailed the course this year and I hope they don’t change it.  The notorious hills are gone, but there are still enough throughout the course to make things interesting, even in Center City.
  • Great expo.  CGI Racing always shines with their expos.  Even though it wasn’t at XFinity Live this year, it was still better than most of the expos I attend with a great variety of vendors.
  • All the swag.  At this point I have more Love Run gear than I know what to do with!  Every year they come up with some great clothing designs.  The medal is always huge and you get a coffee mug that’s really nice!
  • FREE PHOTOS!  As you know this is always a favorite for me!
  • Lots of volunteers.  I was amazed at the quantity of volunteers at the Expo and on the course.  They did a great job!

Cons

  • The Philly streets are rough.  My feet really took a pounding running on the pavement.  There was definitely a moment when I almost tripped in a pothole while running on MLK Drive.
  • The beer line was too crowded.  I didn’t even bother wading through the crowd for my beer.  It was too cold anyway!
  • No post-race massages.  Last year they offered massages and I was SO happy to get one.  This is a minor complaint though!

Shoutouts

First, I must thank CGI Racing for inviting me to be an Ambassador for the Love Run Half Marathon for the second year in a row!  I had an incredible experience and I was so happy to be able to provide race discounts to be used by over 130 people!  Not only do they organize the Love Run but the Perfect 10 Miler, the Unite Half Marathon, and the New Jersey State Triathlon.  They always put on a great event – check them out!

Working with Coach Laura has been great!  I’m so glad that we are working together.  We had a really solid training plan and even though I thought it was really ambitious, she believed in me!  I look forward to seeing how I can continue to grow as a runner!

I honestly appreciate everyone’s support from the time that I started training for the Love Run to now.  Your positivity and encouragement really made a difference!  I’m so glad that the hard work is paying off and that I can make you proud.  But it’s only March…it’s going to be a really fun year of racing, this is just the beginning!

Have you ever had a “perfect” race that exceeded your expectations?  

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