Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap
WE DID IT!
….humming the famous Rocky song…
What a day. Training for and completing this half marathon has been such a rewarding experience, and now I can finally share it!
I am still a little buzzed from the experience and incoherent from the exhaustion, but here I go!
We went to dinner with our friends last night and didn’t get to bed until 10:45 PM. When our alarm went off at 5 AM sharp, PB asked to snooze for 5 minutes and I said “I don’t think that is a good idea”. Who even says something like that? I was half asleep, but it was still hilarious. Everyone got dressed and had breakfast and soon enough our whole group was together. I surprised everyone with stick on letters but they didn’t really stick to our clothes! We will definitely make iron on shirts next time. I wrote RhodeyGirl down my legs but they fell off before the start.
I really loaded up what I was carrying and wearing. Tank shirt, tight running pants, zip up jacket with thumb holes, FuelBelt water bottle in hand, Gu chews in bottle pocket, digital camera, kleenex, house keys, and a bag in my jacket, and Garmin on my wrist, iPod on my arm, lululemon headband on. It was a LOT of stuff! It was worth it though. I never really played my music but I was glad to have it there as a crutch in case I needed it. Also, I am happy I had my water bottle as I found the water stations very hard to navigate. They were just so jammed and I was too focused on not slipping on the tossed cups to be able to drink.
Around 6:40 we finally walked to the start. PB decided that was the perfect time to use the restroom so we all anxiously waited while he waited in the endless line. By the time the line ended the race had started so we quickly zigzagged to our corral. We all started in the orange corral which was faster for some and slower for others but perfect for us to start together as a group! Once we got into our corral we then had to wait… and wait. I saw my friend Erin and took pictures with our friends and had fun waiting.
At 7:21 AM we crossed the start and were off!
The first miles flew by. Four of us ended up together and navigated the roads. Even though they started the race in waves we were trapped and forced to run a lot slower than our preferred pace, so we started running on the sidewalks! It ended up being a considerably higher distance (13.25 miles by the end) but it was worth it. We sidewalk ran for about 3 or 4 miles in all I’d say. We kept a comfortable pace and sometimes talked, sometimes just focused on the weaving in and out on the road. It was really fun actually! I loved that as the miles went on the cheering got louder and crowd got bigger and the energy was incredible.
My favorite part of the whole race was the halfway point. By this time speed demon PhillyBoy, who had been trapped behind the crowds, had caught up with us.
We picked up the pace as we didn’t want him to beat us and had already decided we didn’t want to let him . The crowd was on fire and it felt so good to know we were halfway done and only had 50% more to run! However, we didn’t know the hills would be so intense in the next few miles. I am not sure what mile it was but the race had about 10 minutes of hard hills. The road inclined and declined a bit before presenting us with a curvy steep hill. I was miserable! I was cursing myself for ever wanting to do a half marathon and considered asking my group to just leave me to walk it, but we all did it, and at a good pace too! We enjoyed the following few minutes of downhill as a bit of relief on our bodies.
After the hill from hell I got a side cramp. It was bizarre as I hadn’t had one in several weeks, and I am not sure why it happened. It was really uncomfortable but I rubbed it out and stretched as I ran and still felt great. Our group was doing really well and now, as a group of 5, we were really having a good time. We were really pushing the pace! It felt amazing!
Then we hit mile 10. Oh, mile 10!
Not by coincidence, mile 10 was the second to hardest mile (for me at least) and came after our fastest mile. It makes sense. By now my legs started to feel like lead. It was a sensation I had never felt before, but I felt like I was carrying heavy weights while running. I thought about tossing my water bottle to be able to pump my arms better, but I had made it all the way to mile 10 with it and was having difficulty navigating the water stations, so I kept it. I physically felt terrible but mentally I was still strong. Three of our friends went ahead and PhillyBoy stayed with me. I just couldn’t keep up anymore. I made it one more mile with PB and then asked him to go ahead because I needed to slow down even more.
Mile 11 was a little better and I pushed myself to keep the pace strong. I ended up around the same pace as mile 10 and thought miles 12 and 13 would have similar splits, but I actually slowed down even more. I barely remember the second to last mile but I thought about stopping several times and didn’t. I put on my music and then immediately shut it off as I was more motivated with the music of the finish line in the distant background. I saw a girl pull off to the side and was going to stop and see if she was ok, but then I saw her start to sit down and realize she had, er, made an intentional stop.
The last mile was hell. I didn’t think I could do it. Two or three times I stopped my jog/shuffle for 1-2 seconds and then yelled motivating words to myself in my head and kept running. I started chanting the distance left over and over again (in my head) and pushed myself to keep running. When my watch hit 12.32 miles I knew I had about a mile left (because of sidewalks and not hugging corners we ran 13.25) but instead of getting excited I was filled with dread. Every .1 mile after that was hell, but I just kept going. I knew if I could pick up the pace just a little bit I would make it in under 2:05, which would beat my goal time by 5 minutes, so I picked it up a little. I kept thinking just to put one leg in front of the other. When I saw the sign for the finish line I started sprinting, but it was actually just the sign that separated the half marathoners from the marathoners! I still had .3 left! I ran close to the crowd so their words and cheers could help me. I needed it, and I thank every person in the crowd today for helping me finish. I kept pushing and pushing and crossed the finish line with a smile and a time of:
And PhillyBoy finished in 2:02:45!!! I am so happy and so proud of our whole team! Our entire group did so well and we were all smiles! We even got to see the female marathoner cross the finish line before heading to our place. They played the Rocky song for her, and my eyes did start to well up (yes, I got emotional). It was such a fantastic experience and the spirits were high all around us.
Mile 1: 10:35
Mile 2: 9:17
Mile 3: 9:02
Mile 4: 9:26
Mile 5: 9:29
Mile 6: 8:52
Mile 7: 9:15
Mile 8: 9:04
Mile 9: 8:51
Mile 10: 9:28
Mile 11: 9:37
Mile 12: 9:37
Mile 13: 10:16
.25: 2:06 (pace 8:29)
Total time: 2:04:48
Average pace: 9:31 min/mile
After some apple juice and a Philly soft pretzel, we all walked to the top of the Art Museum to take a few photos near the Rocky feet before walking home for our after party where we got to hang out with a lot of our friends, including Heather & Mark!
It was the experience of a lifetime. First half marathon done!
Congratulations to all of our friends and especially Sarah, who completed her first marathon today!