Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:25.00)

For the last seven months, I’ve raced a lot.

I’ve raced 41 times to be exact.

I haven’t had a race I’m disappointed in…until last Sunday.  On paper, I should be happy with the race.  I ran a 1:25 which is 45 seconds faster than RnR last month.  It was a harder course and a harder and more windy day.

So why am I not?

I know myself well that I could have given my PR a shot last weekend.  Philadelphia was a big race, and I don’t feel satisfied with it. I have taken races out too fast and paid the price before but not in a while. It was an unfamiliar and painful feeling.

To begin, I was given a spot in the gold corral.  A corral where athletes such as my personal friends Kris L and Colleen were running full marathons.  A place where super fast people like Katie E, Greta S, Laura A were running halves…and then me awkward standing there confused and fangirling.  All my fast friends in one spot…is this real life?

The gold corral was where women started separately and in front of the first corral.  That is not something I had done before. To be honest, a corral spot I earned two years ago and a place that intimated me. I could have just gone one corral back and I didn’t.  Maybe I just like to be these elite women’s fangirl.  At the start I proclaimed I would be the gold corral caboose…I got a chuckle out of these high caliber elites at least!

After a delay due to an accident, the race was off.  Since the half and full started together, I watched the 2:43 sign pacer fly by me. Being with such fast women, I found myself running my first mile in 6:04.  For those keeping track, that is faster than most of the first miles in 5ks I run.  I thought to myself…oh $hit this is going to be a bad time.

During the second mile, I attempted to dial back the pace. I knew there was no way I could run back to back 19 minute 5ks.  I located a runderwear sister, Greta, who was using the race as a tuneup for her next marathon.  She ultimately kept the same pace and dropped me like I was standing still.  During the second mile, many men from the first corral began passing me.  Throughout the race, I was just consistently passed.  People continuously running by you is an extremely demotivating feeling. That is pretty much the theme of the entire race.  I kept pressing on and the second and third mile were relatively blurry.

Thank you Erica for the photo!
Thank you, Erica, for the photo!

I hit mile 2 in 6:11 and 3 in 6:09.  After plugging in my Garmin, I ran the first 5k in 18:59.  Considering I recently broke 19 again last month in a 5k, I’m not entirely sure what I was thinking.  It set me up for a bad last 10 miles.

During the fourth mile, I saw a lot of friends and despite it being against the wind I ran a 6:27.  Mile 5 was spent focusing on getting to the halfway point.  Typically I feel better after the halfway and can lay down the hammer.  I ran mile 5 in 6:21.  My watch consistently beeped about .05 ahead of the mile markers and eventually .1 and .15.  I didn’t run the tangents well I suppose.

I hit the 10k in 39:21 which is about 15 seconds slower than my official 10k PR.  If you are looking for a sunshine and butterflies race report, here would probably be the best place to exit.  As I headed into mile 7, I could feel my pace slowing and my legs becoming more and more heavy.  Unless it’s a marathon, I’m not normally an OMG I wish this race was over type of person…but at the end of mile 7 I felt that way.

"You like wide eyed in that photo" me: "It think the term is looking rough"
“You like wide-eyed in that photo.”
me: “I think the term is looking rough.”

Mile 8 was my slowest mile as we climbed a large hill with the wind in our face.  My coworker, Lora, had given advice that the Drexel Hill was the worst.  She did not fail; it was the worst mile I’ve run in a while.  Only to be passed by mile 15 at NYCM.  Not only was it a giant hill but the wind was going into your face.

After we climbed to the top, I was immediately greeted by several coworkers on bikes (Thanks, Julie, Shawn, Ralph and Geraldine).  It was honestly the highlight of my race.  Little did they know, I had gone deep into a negative thought zone and seeing them lifted my spirits.  It’s hard to be sad seeing your friends.  After departing and heading towards the finish, I hit mile 10 in 1:04.  There was a nice downhill there which I greeted with open arms.

The next three miles alternated from feeling terrible, to getting passed by everyone, to staring longingly at Philadelphia in the distance.  During most half marathons, I find myself the strongest at the last 5k.  I raced differently and thus this race was different.  I felt tired and over it.

When I hit mile 11, I thought only 2 miles to go.  Only…that’s still an effing long way to go…I live in NJ, only 2 miles can mean half an hour.  At least we had a tailwind, and I ran mile 12 in 6:18.

That random Gatorade energy and tailwind quickly faded, and my last mile was rough.  My watch beeped mile 13, but I saw the 13th-mile marker way in the distance.  I knew I had at least a quarter of a mile to go.  I saw the half and marathon breakaway section.  Half marathoners went one way, and the marathoners went the other.  To be honest, I don’t know if I could have made it another mile let alone 13.1.

During the last quarter of a mile, several women outkicked me. It truly felt as if the finish line was not coming any closer. I crossed the line in 1:25. Immediately I came close to tripping over a woman who just stopped.  The last thing I needed was to have a miserable race and end up back in the ER for more stitches.

Finally ending...
Finally ending…

I began walking into the shoot where I walked into a local upstate runner, Dan, who lifted my spirits. It was good just to talk to a few runners and brush the race off. Was I upset? Sure, but at the end of the day it’s just running. Talking to people directly in the finishers shoot made me feel a lot better.

We waited and cheered the full marathon on where my father in law finished her first full. He finished smiling all the way!  He looked in a lot better condition than I did post race.

Post race with my husband and father in law
Post race with my husband and father in law

Thoughts:

The first half of my race was a 41:30 and the second half was 43:30. I took out the race too quickly. If I had raced smarter, I wouldn’t have faded but it’s all part of running. If every race went well, we would all be at the Olympic trials next year. I finished the race injury free, and I am progressing with races. I know I am getting closer to my half PR of 1:23.23.  I wish I had raced in smarter, but there is no sense to dwell on it.  There are many more spring half marathons.

Questions for you:
Have you taken a race out too quickly?