Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Report – Tiff’s Story

You know Tiff as one of the Cape Island Runners who trained for her first half. She’s has shown up in the blog over the past few months here, here and here.  Like the others, I asked her to send me some race highlights and lessons learned for a quickie update about her day. She sent me the following, which I LOVED and thought to myself “this deserves it’s own entry!”. It is always great fun for me to read about the race from someone else’s perspective, especially someone new to the sport, and I bet you’ll enjoy it too!
In Tiff’s Words:
It all started when I was half drunk, at Sushi Ukai (ed note: sooo good! a favorite for our local bird crew).
Me: “I think I want to run a half marathon.”
Kashi: “Run Philly with us! We’re all doing Philly- it’s in 11 weeks, it’s a 10 week training plan.” And on and on and on she went about it. If you know Kashi, you know what I mean.
What did I say to her? “Yes!” And that was that.
The  next day I was perfectly aware of what I had said, though I somewhat questioned my level of sanity at the time of my agreement. I had been running about 3 miles, several times a week, for the last two months or so. I used to run cross country and track in middle school, and my freshman year in high school, but hadn’t run since.
The first several weeks of training were great- and I always had Scott or Kashi to accompany me on my long runs. I ran my first race in 10 years- the 5 mile Cape May Beach Front Run- with my friend Diane (ed note: we miss you Diane! Hope to see you back in action this spring!) , and with Scott as our coach, running backwards and barefoot and trying to entertain us through our suffering.
Two weeks before the race, while 6 miles in to a 12 mile run, my knees started giving me trouble. I pushed through it until mile 10 and decided my body would truly appreciate it if I would stop. I limped around for the next day or two. The third day, I ran about 3 miles, no problem. All better, I thought! I was wrong…
Scott and I set out on an 8 mile run around Cape May City. About 4 miles in, we kicked up our pace from 10:30 miles to 10:00 miles. Mile five came along, and my knee started feeling a little tight again. I paused for a minute, bringing each of my knees, one after another, towards my chest for a gentle stretch. As soon as I put my foot down, I knew something was wrong. I couldn’t run, let alone walk. Scott left me and ran home and sent Sam to go pick me up.
I went to see a sports therapist and it turned out I was having problems with my ITB, and was instructed not to run until the race, a week away. He promised me- *promised* that I would be okay for the race as long as I was foam rolling (the most painful thing I have ever intentionally done to myself in all of my life thus far), and stretching has he had shown me.

Race day. First half marathon. First time ever running more than 11 miles. Deep breath. Okay. 4:45 am.  I get dressed in about three layers (Note to self: Do not forget BodyGlide!!! Check.), stick my GU Chomps in my bra, attempt to eat a hearty breakfast (the only thing I could manage to force down was a banana and half a Clif bar), go pee, walk 10 minutes to my friend’s car on South Street, get dropped off at the Sofitel Hotel to meet Kashi, Glen, Scott and Sherry, go pee, retie my shoes, walk as a group to the race area, eat a bit of dry cereal that Kashi had brought along, check my bag, convince myself there is no possible way I really have to pee, stretch, stare in awe at the most people I’ve ever seen in one place in my life, retie my shoes again, thank myself for putting my hair up with two hair ties instead of one in case heaven forbid one would break, convince myself once again that I don’t have to pee, try to find my corral, attempt to find a pace group (I’m glad I failed at finding it, because in hindsight, running with a pace group sounds like a pretty miserable existence for someone new to running), chat it up with some folks from Tom’s River whose homes did not get destroyed. The gun goes off (well, apparently, though I never heard it). 22:30 later, we are crossing the start line.
Half a mile in, my knee is already giving me grief, albeit very subtle. I immediately gave up my time goal, and just aimed to finish. A mile and a half in, I opened my Chomps- or should I say attempted to open them, because instead, they went flying across the pavement, my nerves still on edge. I turned around and bent down, barely avoiding a near-miss collision with a man behind me. I explained it was my first real race; he sympathized.  My first few miles were 11 minutes+.  I was able to convince myself that my knee pain was only in my head.
Mile 3, I met up with a group of guys laughing and talking and having a good old time, and conveniently keeping the same pace as I. Turns out they were Stone Harbor police. I was making small talk with them, and the very next thing I knew, I was all paws on the floor. Yep, no clue what I tripped on, and pretty sure it was nothing, but I did think one of the guys was pretty cute, so I’ll blame it on that. Dan, if you ever stumble across this, THANKS. I hardly missed a beat and was up and running in one or two graceful steps, quick enough to continue my conversation with Dan. We even had an insightful conversation about divorce. I ran with the cops until mile 8, when I left them in the dust.
Mile 9 was a tough one with the (relatively) hilly terrain- but mile 10- when I hit mile 10- I was shocked at what I discovered! I did the math and as it turned out, although I had abandoned it long ago, it wasn’t out of the question for me to finish within my original time goal of 2:20! Let’s do this! I was rejuvenated. Well, for the next two miles at least.
Mile 12 on was rough. My ITB was giving me lots of grief, and I was terrified it was going to freeze up as it had in my training run, leaving me incapacitated. I pushed through, and tried to think positive. Another half mile, and I knew I had it. Maybe it was a slight case of delirium, but I seemed to feel another adrenaline rush coming on. I was completely in disbelief and all I could think was the fact that I had never run this far before! This was the farthest I’d run in my entire LIFE! The crowds grew and I knew the finish was near. I rounded a bend and saw the finish clock. 2:41:00 minus 22:30….minus….minus….I could barely do the math, I was so in the zone, but sometime between seeing the finish line and approaching the finish line I realized that I was about to meet my time goal.
I finished my first half marathon, though afterwards nearly unable to walk, with a time of 2:19:41, and I cannot wait to complete another!
Congrats, Tiff, and here’s to many more!!

What was your first half-marathon like?
Will you do another?

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