Last year, Rock n Roll Philadelphia was several weeks later due to the Pope coming to town. The weather was brisk and perfect, and I ran a solid 1:25.45. The weather was perfect, so I knew this year wouldn’t be a course PR. Plus coming off an injury and a half marathon two weeks, I didn’t expect to be close to that time. I was okay with that.
I was lucky to get a ride over with my boss. Two days before the race I had no idea how I even would get to the race. He wasn’t racing the half marathon but placed second overall at the 5k the day before. After arriving at the start, I chatted with a few people and hung around.
I didn’t warm up for the race as it was hot enough. During the drive over I realized I had forgotten my watch. There wasn’t much I could do and honestly I had to suck up racing without a watch. I was irritated, but it was either race without a watch or miss the race.
As I lined up in my corral, I was overwhelmed with a bunch of familiar faces like my coworker Colleen and the famous running blogger, Michele
The race went off and during the first mile, I felt extremely boxed in. I felt like I was running slow because I couldn’t get around people (and people couldn’t get around me). We were packed in like sardines. When I hit the first mile in 6:38, I was shocked. That was much faster than Virginia Beach, plus, I didn’t take into account I had crossed the start line 10 seconds later.
The second mile began to spread out. The second and third mile, take you back towards the starting line. I like this aspect of the race a lot because the spectators are there cheering you on, and it’s a full crowd. It’s hard not to feel motivated!
We rounded the third mile and went down Spring Garden. The section is about a mile out and back with an 180-degree turn. As I ran the fourth mile, I saw the elites going the opposite direction. It’s always humbling to see them glide by effortlessly.
I rounded the 180 turn and didn’t take it well. I’m bad at turns and tend to take them too wide, but I would rather do that than fall. A couple of extra seconds is not worth falling. I headed back the opposite direction. As I was running, I saw several friends and coworkers running the opposite direction. I had no idea the time or pace, but I hit mile 5 in 33:00 exactly (per the course clock). I was surprisingly pleased. I saw one of my good friends Anita and continued to Kelley Drive and around the river.
I’ve run the 8.4-mile loop around the Schuylkill a dozen times. I know the loop well, and it’s a boring, unshaded loop around the Schukyill River. Not that I care but starting that loop when you aren’t even halfway done is mind numbing.
I hit the 10k just under 41 minutes per clock time. I was pleased. The next few miles were just spent staying mentally engaged. I knew if I lost focus, I would unknowingly slow down my pace. It was hot and humid, and I sweat through my entire singlet. I kept hoping the water stops would have Gatorade, but it was minimal. In fact, there wasn’t much in the form of electrolytes for the entire race. It was something I thought about during Virginia Beach as well.
I hit mile 10 in 1:05.30 and made it my goal to finish under 1:28. I knew the last three miles would be tough. There was no wind; it was heating up, and my clothing was soaken through. I kept reminding myself:
I set my 5k PR on this exact course, and I can race it well.
A man asked my goal, and I said 1:28 sounded reasonable. He said that was his goal and asked if we could run together. After a few exchanges, we realized we were at mile 11.
I saw a pack of 5 women in front as well as a man with a cast. Honestly, I wanted to catch them all, and they kept me focused. The last two miles is always tough because you can see Center City but it never seems to get any closer.
I hit mile 12, at just over 1:20 and I knew if I could maintain my pace I could break 1:28. I saw the pack of 5 women, and I ran right by them. If you know me, you know this hardly ever happens, and it’s a huge accomplishment. In fact, it might be the only time I’ve outkicked anyone.
Typically I get passed in the final mile…like in Shamrock when I went from 7th place to 14th in the last half mile.
At the final stretch, another woman outkicked and passed me. She kept me engaged up a minor uphill. I crossed the finish line with a chip time of 1:27.37 and as 30th woman overall. I was 10th in my age group.
I even got to cool down with Sarah D, who set a half marathon PR of 1:25 in the heat!
I’m both pleased and surprised with my result. To be honest, I was hoping to run between 1:28-1:32. After not getting the best nights sleep as well as the weather. I’m extremely happy with my time considering it was 2 minutes faster than two weeks ago, plus I was injury free.
September in Philadelphia is unpredictable. I thought it was extremely humid, but I’ve raced RnR Virginia Beach as well as the Remember the Alamo 13.2 which were both hotter and more humid. It stinks because this course has potential to be extremely fast in the fall (like last year when 40+ athletes qualified for the Olympic Trials).
Questions for you:
What is the hottest you’ve run in?
Have you ever forgotten your watch or something important to a race?