In honor of the friends I have doing the Philly RnR half-marathon this weekend, I thought I’d post my half mary race report from 2 years ago. This was the half that is run with the marathon in November, so it is not the RnR September one. But the distance, pain and jubilation is the same! One of my go-to ways of dealing with taper madness is to read others race reports in the days leading up to my own, so thought this might be helpful for all you out there that are gearing up for your own big day. So read on, rest up and hydrate – then go kick some ass! Good luck, everyone!!
Time – 1:45.43 (Garmy registered 13.3mi and I hit 13.1 at 1:44.xx)
Weather – Sunny, clear, low wind (<8 mph), temps in upper 30s
Nutrition – cinnamon raisin bagel 1.5 hrs before, GU chomp at 1 hr before, half GU at 2 mins before start, half GU at 45 mins, half GU at 1 hr 5 mins, half GU at 1 hr 20 mins
What a day!! I love this race and at my 4th appearance it is starting to feel like an old friend. Hit the expo on Sat with mom, Laur and GD. It was great, though I preferred the expo for the Distance Run in Sept. Mom was totally energized by the atmosphere, the running bug has bitten her big time! She wants to do the half now, and I think that would be amazing (Note from the future: She did do the half, in 2011, and has plans for the full in 2013! GD was so impressed with her half last year that he is doing his first this year! Love the running domino effect!) .
Due to a mistake on my part, our hotel wound up being about 11 miles away from the start. Whoops! But it worked out just fine. We headed back to the hotel by 3-ish (Four Points Sheraton in NE Philly) and went to dinner at the Italian Bistro where we met up with our friends Rochelle and Shannon. Great meal – filled up on bread and pasta with basil sauce but did not go overboard. Back at the hotel I had some dry cereal and a Clif Z-bar and off to bed. Except sleep did not come. I usually have no problem the night before a race but I tossed and turned until 5am when the alarm went off. Felt sleepy when I got up, so I decided to take a long, hot shower to wake up. It worked! Got everything on, including my good luck charms of a rabbit silly band from my cousin and a temporary tattoo of a plover on my calf. Ate a Yanni’s cinnamon raisin bagel (more superstition – ate one of these before my great training run in AC last month and had to do it again) about 5:30.
Headed out about 5:45am, drove to start line with no problems. The exit lane off 95 to 676 was busy though, so Laur and I just hopped out of the car and walked to the start. Put toe warmers in my shoes and gloves, this was clutch!!! Weather was clear, cold (upper 30s) and no/little wind. I was really nervous about the temps, but it turned out to be very do able, esp with the toe/hand warmers. I wore capris, a tank, a long sleeved shirt, hat and gloves and felt great. First race in my new Brooks and it’s official, I love them!! We hit the porta pots and made our way to the corrals – at 6:57am! Race started at 7am, so cutting it close (but that’s just the way I like it, I hate waiting around to start). The one complaint I had about the race was that the color corrals were not well marked. Laur and I split up and each tried to find our corrals – not even sure we were successful, but got to the start line pretty quickly and we were off! Love the beginning of a race, everyone is so psyched. Mayor Nutter and Bart Yasso were giving out high fives – I missed them, but Laur said she grabbed Bart’s hand and yelled “You are awesome!!”. She said he looked slightly scared, lol. I started my race, telling myself it would be a great day and that I had already put in the hard work. Now I just had to put into play what I had practiced.
The course was crowded, but thanks to the corral system, everyone was running the same pace so I did not feel hemmed in, which was a relief. The next big boost was at the first water stop. Unlike Chicago, the water stations were only on one side so you could scoot through with very little time lost. Yes! Two of my biggest concerns (crowds and bottle necking at the water stops) were being swept away and that was great for confidence. I know some people prefer water stops on both sides since it helps cut down on people swerving madly for Gatorade, but not me. I’m down with the one-sided version. I was chugging along quite happily, soaking in the atmosphere. The spectators were especially awesome this year. Lots of great cheer zones, tons of bands – loved the Mummer’s as always, but also lots of other great music. My favorite sign – “It does not have to be fun to be fun”- was during these early miles. Chestnut Street was on fire with spectators! There were also hilarious drunk frat dudes and a group of people dressed in 80s garb doing aerobics to “Let’s Get Physical”. My plan was to hang around 8:20’s til mile 6.5, then slowly increase in speed until mile 10 and then just haul some ass for the last 5k. I tried to keep the pace easy, but my legs were excited and kept trying to go faster. I told them we did not have enough experience with this distance to get nuts and promised them if today went well that we could go harder next time. They sorta obliged and the plan worked, though I never ran 8:20 after the first 2 miles. But I went by perceived effort and kept it comfortable.
I took half a GU and some water around Mile 5, 2nd half at 8-ish and some water and another half GU 11-ish (closer together than normal, but just felt I needed it). Nutrition was great, I was nervous just before I started that I had not eaten enough (ghosts of Chicago haunting me) with the bagel and one GU chomp I had, so I took a half of a GU just before the start and that made my stomach cranky for first few miles. Mistake! But it settled down and went away – I did not feel hungry the whole time, not dehydrated and did not collapse at the finish. Hurray! Elsewhere in my body, I had a side stitch around miles 3-5 and my arch yowled a bit in the middle miles. I ignored them both and they went away.
By 6.5 I was getting antsy, because it was time to GO! But also because I knew this was where I might see GD & Co. As in Chicago, my first look at him was him running down the road on my right and it felt so good!! I love seeing that man!
Starting working harder after mile 6.5, which was tricky because it is also the hilliest portion of the course. I just pretended I was on the Longport Bridge for any of the inclines, grinded my way up them and enjoyed the downhills. After the big hill at mile 9, I knew most of the rest of the course was downhill and checked off another worry! The long downhill around mile 10 was also a little emotional – I just had one of those “god damn, I love my life!!!” moments. Teared up a bit but told myself I could have the warm fuzzies later – now was the time to work! I had been monitoring my pace the whole time and it was increasingly clear that I was having a really good day. 1:50 (my goal time) seemed a foregone conclusion and I started wondering just how much better I could do. Was super happy when I hit Mile 10 at 1:21:xx, which is faster than I ran Broad St a few yrs ago (although I knew I could have done that faster but this confirmed it!). The longer tempo runs really came in handy mentally at this point, because I had a 5k to go and that felt like nothing after 8 mile tempo runs! I told myself to leave it all on the course and kept going. By 11, the miles were catching up to me and I was feeling tired. But I was happy with my pace and just busted out my mantra, “Just keep swimming” from Nemo, and got through Mile 11.
The flag at Mile 12 was a welcome sight indeed and I told myself to just hang on, not be afraid to push and that it would be over soon. I was having nice flashbacks of running with Sherry from the previous year, and I really felt her support at that point – I knew she believed in a sub-1:50, and now I did too! Climbed up that last hill towards the art museum and felt so good, so many people were cheering. Turned the bend and left the marathoners behind (they ran under an arch that said “Welcome to the halfway point, the best is yet to come!”) . Garmy said I was at 13.1 at 1:44:xx so I was psyched. Saw our cheerleaders a little before the end and that gave me the last burst I needed to push through. The way Garmy was set was such that I could not see the seconds on the overall time. So I saw I was at 1:45 but could not tell how far into that minute I was. I really wanted to make it there before 1:46 so just hauled some ass into the finish. Raised my hands and YES!! It was still 1:45!!! I immediately started bawling. You know how every so often you just surprise yourself? That is what happened to me today. I know this isn’t a particularly speedy time, but it is truly faster than I thought I was capable of at this point in my running. Garmy said avg pace was 7:57 and that just blew me away. I did that?? For 13.1 miles?? Holy! Good job engines (GD’s nickname for my legs, I’ve adopted it too). I really took a minute to just be grateful for everything running gifts me and was so happy to be alive and in love with GD and have my family there and being in that place at that time. When I came out of my reverie, I noticed that the song on my iPod was crazy appropriate. The lyrics were “time means nothing” and it just drove home the feeling that as good as it was to push myself and get this new PR, what really mattered was the way it made me feel and sharing it with the people I love. The next verse provided this gem: “we’re all right where we’re supposed to be” and it just felt so perfect – and brought on another round of tears. Popped over to where my family was and watched Laur come in (producing round 3 of tears!) . We reunited, hit the massage tent (hurts so good!) and headed back to the hotel for a shower and more perma-grinning.
An amazingly incredible day, and a race I won’t soon forget.
Have you run a half-marathon? Tell us about it!