Race Recap: 2014 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Hello and happy Monday!

Yesterday I raced the 2014 Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon.  I loooove this race and have done it a bunch, including last year.  This year, I managed a PR.  A PR!  Who doesn't love a PR?  My time was 1:49:33 (about 20 seconds faster than the Love Run), which is an average 8:21/mile pace.  I was 2,183 of 15,537 racers overall (male and female); 111 of 1,559 in my age group; and 653 of 9,401 in my gender.  Hello.  I don't do math, but 2/3 of those are better than top 10%.  Yes!  That deserves a big woo hoo!

But woo hoos and yays aside, this sucker was hard fought and *should* have been about a minute faster but something bad happened on mile 7-8 (more below) so it wasn't.  Ahh ... coulda woulda shoulda.  While the weather was, thankfully, overcast with no sun at all, the humidity was about 90% and the air temp was about 66 at the start.  Anyone who runs knows that a humidity level + air temperature combo like that is brutal.  But you can't control race day weather, so race we did! 

The issue with running this race this year is my big race, Steamtown Marathon, is just three weeks away.  So a 13.1 mile run, even a race, isn't ideal right now since I need to be running longer.  Thankfully, my coach solved the problem by having me run a super easy 5 miles before the race, and then racing the actual race.  The race plan was as follows:
  • 5 mile warm up: keep pace around 10:00/mile.  Try to finish about 15-20 minutes before the race starts
  • Half marathon plan
    • Miles 1-3:  8:20/mile
    • Miles 4-10: 8:10-8:15/mile
    • Miles 11-13:  go by feel - either ramp up or stick at current pace
The warm up was good.  I ran on Kelly Drive, which is right on the river and was well patrolled with police.  I snapped this picture on my first mile -- love that view.

And I followed the plan! Look at that pace.  #discipline

I got to the start and had about 40 minutes to kill.  I found Amy and my friend Heather and we hung out for a bit.  I was kinda excited.

Before I knew it, it was time to get in the corral and start racing!  It took about 3 minutes for me to hit the starting mat and then ... off I went!

Miles 1-3

Mile 1: 8:19
Mile 2: 7:59
Mile 3: 8:16

A little faster than the 8:20 that my coach wanted, but close.  Except for mile 2, where I evidently lost my mind.  These miles were good.  I felt good and strong here.  I also tried hard to keep close to the 8:20 pace.  These miles are really fun too.  You run up the Ben Franklin Parkway to City Hall, then up JFK to 20th Street, to Market Street, alllllll the way down to 4th Street, where you cross over onto Arch.  From Arch, you head back to the Parkway.  Lots of people are around this area, which is a blast. 

Miles 4-7

Mile 4: 8:05
Mile 5: 8:12
Mile 6: 8:06
Mile 7: 8:06

Strong and consistent as hell.  I felt fantastic in these miles.  The course at this point is Arch Street to the Ben Franklin Parkway and then onto Kelly Drive.  This part of the course always has a lot of spectators as well.  Unfortunately, at mile 5, my iPod died.  Just went out.  No more music. Over and out.  I was brought back to my running roots (I only started running with an iPod in 2012) and finished the race with just me and my thoughts and the sounds around me.  A very surprising number of people sing out loud when they run.  So I got some glimpses into other people's playlists.  

Mile 8

Mile 8: 8:48

So, when I hit mile 7 or so, my stomach was not feeling quite right.  I started to think I might need to stop and use the bathroom.  I tried some mind over matter stuff but the matter was really stronger than my mind.  So at the aid station around mile 7.5, I saw a porta potty and decided to go there (which is to say I turned into a wild rabid beast and ran toward those porta potties with their glorious green vacant signs like they were some kind of prey).  The running to, actually using, and running from the porta potty likely cost me a minute or so (or judging by my other paces, maybe just 40 seconds).  Still.  Boo.  But that trip was absolutely necessary.  Unfortunately, the break in momentum screwed up the next mile, too.

Miles 9-10

Mile 9: 8:27
Mile 10: 8:14

I am proud of the way I rallied after my pit stop.  I could have easily been demoralized and upset, but I was like "hell no, you keep on running. You are still on track to beat your old PR.  Your legs are fine.  Race."  So I did.  Mile 9 is right after you cross the Falls Bridge from Kelly and move onto Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.  At that point, you know you're headed back to the finish, which is great.  I tried a Mandarin Orange flavored Gu at this point (the race handed it out -- I thought I was grabbing a vanilla one).  It was delicious.  Sold! Another flavor!

Miles 11-13

Mile 11: 8:21
Mile 12: 8:25
Mile 13: 8:16

Well, needless to say, I did not put the hammer down in the final three miles. I was hoping I could do it and get paces in the high 7s or super low 8s, but it didn't happen.  I can't really pinpoint why either: my legs felt good and I had the energy.  Still ... I could tell by my total time and knowing the course like I do that if I maintained my current effort, I would PR.  No matter how many times I do this race, I forget how absolutely brutal the last 1/2 mile of this race is!  Basically all uphill, including a really steep one from MLK to the Art Museum finish.  I gutted it out and pushed hard (that's what she said) and got my PR!  And then I snapped a selfie!  You can tell how beat I was! That is a really bad picture and fake smile!  But it's all I have! 

So, especially in light of the conditions and the fact that I did a little 5 mile appetizer before the race, I am super pleased with this one.  The bathroom stop is a little concerning with the marathon so close, so I am going to deal with that in the next few weeks and see how I can avoid having that happen again.  

I'll do a training recap for last week and this current week next week.  I figure this post is enough sweat related posts for this week!  Happy Fall, ya'll! 

See you swoon,

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