Philadelphia Half Marathon (1:27.44)

Philadelphia half marathon

Sometimes, we don’t have it.  Sometimes even with tapering, we don’t mentally have the race we hoped.  That’s exactly what happened to me last Saturday. While the Philadelphia half is not the most enjoyable race to blog about, you can’t have good races without bad ones.

To be honest, I’m also not surprised.  Throughout the week I didn’t feel good or mentally ready for the race.  My mind and heart weren’t into it.  But I paid $130 for the race, and I wasn’t injured.  I hoped by posting on my social media I was running that maybe I would motivate myself.  Yet, race day morning came, and I was anything but that.

I got to the race at 6:30.  While going through the security, they confiscated my Gatorade.  I’ve run 30+half marathons and hundreds of races, and I’ve never had my Gatorade confiscated.  So I was left without any fluids before the start.  They had water near the start, but I didn’t water, I wanted Gatorade.  I did drink some water, but the line was long.

So when I lined up at the start I was thirsty. I met up with my friend Paul and we started (and ended) the race together.  The race went off and out we went.  While I had a seeded bib, I started in the first corral.  There was no need for me to be in the elite corral…I wasn’t going to fool anyone. I had qualified to be there, but I preferred to run around people my pace, not be left alone.

During the first mile, I knew I was in for a rough race.  My calves were tight, and I looked down only to realize I had run half mile.  We hit the first mile in 6:40. I felt defeated.  Mentally I knew I was not in a good spot.  I told Paul not to feel obligated to stay with me (not that I would expect anyone to ever sacrifice their race).

Mile 2 gave me a lot of hope.  I got caught in a crowd, and I ran a 5:58.  During the second mile.  I didn’t feel any better, but I thought, oh maybe I will surprise myself…That feeling was short lived.

I ran mile 3-4 and began to notice my watch was clicking miles later and later past the mile markers.  I started to notice the mile markers were off.  I ran each mile at 6:19, 6:24.

My goal by mile 5 was to evaluate how I felt at halfway.  By then I knew I was not going to PR.  I got to the halfway point around 42:30.  I thought I  could maybe even split to a 1:25.

I thought wrong.

We climbed a small hill during mile 6, and I ran a 6:55.  I thought: “that hill really wasn’t too bad.”

Even though I felt awful, I was proud I climbed the hill well and passed several runners.

I came back and ran the next mile in 6:24.  I thought: “Eh it was the hill that slowed me down”.  This is still a great pace for me.

We began to see the elites coming back, and they looked like they were in pain.  I kept wondering: what exactly is back there?  Is it hilly?  Then came the hill.  I had mistaken the course to go elsewhere, and I realized just how hard the course was.  Because the hill was on an angle, you were running up sideways.  I couldn’t get a good rhythm, and my quads were burning.  It was one of the hardest “half marathon moments,” I’ve had.  The hill ate me up and spit me back up.  When we finally made it out of that section, I ran a 7:17 mile. I felt crushed and defeated.  I haven’t run a 7:17 mile in a half marathon in a very long time.

For the rest of the race, I focused on getting to the end.  I put my sunglasses over my eyes and just zoned out.  I wanted the race to be over.  For no reason, I wanted to stop.  However, I couldn’t do that…I wasn’t injured, and I needed blog content…(kidding).  The next three miles went by without much excitement, and I ran 6:36, 6:46 and 6:41.

The final two miles I ran alone. There was no one within 15 seconds of me.  Somehow I found a pocket of abandonment in a huge race. There was nothing of note.  I saw my husband around 12.5, and it motivated me.  I ran a 6:32 and 6:46 final mile.

I crossed the finish in 1:27.44.   I was 25th women overall and quite far off on any goal time I considered weeks before

Typically I don’t care much about GPS, but I ran a 13.3 race (which was actually much shorter than many people).  I don’t believe the course was accurate and for a big city race that is unacceptable.

I ran 2 miles alone during the race, and there was never a point I wasn’t running tangents. I was lucky I ran as short as possible even though I still ended .2 long.


I haven’t had a “bad” race in awhile.  After my ankle injury, I’ve been building and running well.  In all honesty, this was one of the worst races I’ve had in the last two years. It “bad” because the course was hard but because  I wasn’t mentally into it and my body didn’t physically feel good.

Bad races do come with the sport.  

Am I disappointed because I do know I’m in much better shape?  Of course but there are plenty of other races to come.  I finished injury free which is the most important part of running.

There are plenty of races in the sea of running. I smiled post race and had a great day afterward. Philadelphia half marathon

So far my short runs recovering from Philly have felt more enjoyable and pleasant than the half so that is motivating. 🙂

Question for you: Have you ever felt mentally unexcited for an event or race?

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  1. I’m sorry you had such a disappointing race 🙁 we’ve all been there though, so you’ll bounce right back. I was thinking of doing the Philly full marathon next year but now you have me double guessing that!

  2. Sorry it was a tough day! I heard a lot of people talking about how long the course was for the half and a few people saying the same about the full. Most races factor in some sort of small buffer to ensure they achieve the full distance, but I’ve always found that big city/high profile races give themselves a bit more cushion. (Who knows maybe it’s just my watch…)

    1. I’ve also heard buildings can play a role in the GPS too. To be honest, I don’t think many courses are long but I do believe Philadelphia was.

  3. My race, albeit much slower than yours, was disappointing as well. I knew I could have done better and while I was mentally really pumped going in, somewhere along mile 8 (the hill) it fizzled. My Garmin said I did 13.45 miles. 😐

  4. I’m really sorry you had a bad race. Yes, it is always great to finish injury-free and have the race over with, but I understand how hard it is to work hard and not meet your goals or… just have a bad day. I had a very rough day a few weeks ago at the JICR10K, and I was super upset. Now that I’m injured, I feel guilty over being upset about the race, but in that moment, I was truly not happy because I hadn’t met my goals and felt like I was capable of better. It’s a fine line… being thankful (especially in this season) and still not being complacent. You will have better races.

    That stinks they took your Gatorade from you. I heard this race had some hiccups anyway since the half and full were on different days. Maybe next year’s will be better. But I understand paying for a race and still going just because you’ve sunk that money into it already!

  5. Sorry to hear you had a bad race. I would love to have your time any day though. 🙂 I’m mentally unprepared for my 15k turkey trot. Hopefully, I’ll bounce back afterwards.

  6. Sorry it wasn’t the best race, and the long course. That is a significant difference. My half last weekend was the same but luckily I ran their spring version and was mentally prepared for the extra .2-.3. But I’m pretty happy I decided not to go. Actually work decided definitely for me as there was no way for me to make it for bib pickup. I haven’t heard a positive recap yet which is surprising since everyone in the past has said great things!

  7. I’m so glad that I read your recap because I had a similar experience (albeit a slower time). I had a bad week leading up to the race, felt off throughout the race, wanted to cry during that hill between mile 7-8 and wanted to walk off the course after that. And confiscating Gatorade and water at the start! I was also left with nothing to drink too! Congrats on getting to the finish line injury free!

    1. UGH, sorry to hear that Christine. I was disappointed with the race in general from the expo, to the race, to the course.

  8. First, I have never been to a race where there was security and I think that’s garbage that they confiscated your Gatorade. Second, I have actually felt mentally unexcited for running in general. I was hoping that with the purchase of that new Nike Apple watch, it would bring more motivation. But honestly, my job is so tiring and consumes every bit of me that the last thing I want to do is run. In my head I miss it so much, but I just want to take every little bit of time I do get at home, to just sit and relax. I’m so glad you did your race even when you were mentally unexcited because I know you inspire others and it definitely shows that you aren’t this running robot that is turned on all the time and ready for action. That you are human and there are days where you won’t feel it and don’t feel ready or into the race when you know you are in the shape and that it’s okay. I think that’s the strongest message.

  9. Oh man – we have all had those races. It takes a lot of grace to hold your head up high despite the fact that you didn’t reach a goal time and you should be proud of that!

  10. Ugh I am sorry to hear about your race! I ran the full on Sunday and was super nervous after hearing reports of people getting fuel taken away on Saturday. I’m glad they sorted it out, but I can’t imagine running without gels (as that’s how I’ve trained, at least). The full course appeared to be long as well… I ended w/ 26.8, as did many of my friends. I have a hard time believing that is just because of the buildings! I noticed the mile markers were off starting around mile 3, which made for a long and frustrating race, distance-wise.

  11. That’s so crazy that they took your Gatorade! I had considered doing this race but after reading reports from you and Christine, I’m glad I didn’t… ha! You still amaze me at your ability to fly through a tough course. That hill sounds brutal!

    I know what you mean also about not mentally being in it… those races are the worst!!

  12. I saw that your Gatorade was taken on FB. That’s totally unacceptable! Anyway, you race so often that there are bound to be ones that don’t go as well as you would like. But you have an incredible attitude about racing and I really love your perspective and analysis of this. I’m pretty sure I will never even break 1:30, so I’m still in awe of these paces! Great job!

  13. That stinks, but we need to take the not-so-great races with the great ones. If anything, those outings make the good ones that much better. I had a similar outcome last year re: GPS satellites and mile markers. If I recall correctly, my watch read 13.6 or 13.7 instead of the 13.1. In fact, I’ve heard of no one who has actually run 13.1 miles on that course, ha.

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