Thursday, September 22, 2011

Race Report: #5, Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half

Sunday morning I rolled out of bed at about 6:15.  I tried to wake myself up and get my act together quickly.  Of all things, I nearly forgot my Garmin which I left plugged in over night to be SURE it was 100% charged in the morning.

I was in my car by 6:45 for the 45 minute drive to Philly.  I brought a banana and PBJ on wheat to eat in the car and an extra water bottle in addition to the one I'd be running with.

I allowed 30 minutes for traffic and to find parking/walk to the starting line, assuming I'd find a spot within a mile.  I'm glad I gave myself some extra time because there was some serious back up on the off ramp from the highway.  I took this picture while sitting on the off ramp, waiting to turn:

As I sat in traffic, I put the D-tag timing chip on my shoe, then gradually put on my socks and shoes (I left my apartment in sandals) and stuffed my energy gels into my ifitness pouch and water bottle pocket.  (I used to be more organized the night before...I guess I have stopped freaking out so much now that I know what to expect for these things).  I pulled into a garage at about 7:41am, drove up 5 million floors, pinned on my number and got on my way.

I had a nice 1 mile walk to the starting line which was a good warm up. The temperature was in the mid 50s and it was perfect.

I knew that last year, my corral (17) didn't go until about 20 minutes after the first runners so I wasn't too worried about being in place right at 8:00.  As I got closer to the line up, I heard the announcers release the elites.  It was cool to watch them run by!

I made my way back toward my corral.  I was shocked that with 16,000-ish runners, I managed to run into my TWO coworker friends who were also running.  It was great to see them at the start!

One friend was running with her sister, and the other started off the race with me.  We stuck together for the first several miles before getting separated at a water stop a few miles in.

I found this amongst 4,000-some "lost and found" pictures.  Seriously.

I had a moment of Garmin anger around mile 2 when I realized my Garmin failed me.  And it shouldn't have been a surprise because I had a similar problem on this course last year!

My first mile was a 10:06 pace according to my Garmin which I was fine with.  I then noticed that I had been running around a 9:00 pace for my second mile.  I thought that it felt really easy despite the faster pace, and told myself I should slow down a bit so I didn't die later on.  But then my watch beeped for the 2nd mile and clearly I was no where near the 2 mile marker on the course.

Instead, when I approached the 2 mile marker, my watch read 2.24 miles.  Ack!  I hit the lap button so I could know that at least for the subsequent laps, my pace shouldn't be too far off.  I am aware of things like running the tangent because the course is measured along the shortest possible route, but this was due to satellite interference from tall buildings.

Clearly I did not run in a diagonal across part of City Hall.  
The green is where the actual route was.

Let this be a reminder to not totally rely on your Garmin during races!  From that point on, I also checked the race clock at the mile markers and knew to subtract about 19 minutes since I crossed the start line at about 8:19.  Luckily, my goal pace was around 10 minutes per mile so that makes the math pretty easy to tell if I'm close to goal or not.

Anyway, I realized I was now running slower than I wanted to, but didn't get too worried.  I was happy that my heart rate was staying lower than it had been in any race and I was pretty confident that holding back in the beginning would mean I would be able to finish strong.

After separating from my work friend, the course had moved out of the tall building area and on to Boathouse Row along the river.  I had a couple faster miles. 

I don't remember a lot from this part of the course.  I focused on the backs of people around me and occasionally looked at the river.  I remember being behind a woman in a pink tank from Target for quite some time.  I remember being behind a girl who was sweating through her cotton capris in awkward places and I felt embarrassed for her.  A completely barefoot male runner passed me.  I also remember a woman in a running skirt, just a sports, bra, and purple arm warmers.  Here's another noteworthy runner:

I saw this guy several times throughout the race.  I can't imagine running in a face mask!

I had my first gu, a Clif Shot gel in Mocha beginning at about 53 minutes (maybe 5.2ish miles) and ate it slowly over the next several minutes.   I then remember holding on to the empty packet until I approached a garbage can, which may have been approximately a half mile.  I know it's "ok" to litter during a race but it pains me to throw things on the ground.  Even though I know someone will rake it up later.  My heart rate increased a small but noticeable amount after the first gel; I'm thinking maybe I should be using ones without added caffeine?  Or I wasn't hydrating as much as I should have been.  I don't know.

Mile 7 was slower for some reason and I don't remember why.  It also was about .09 off from the mile marker, so I hit 'lap' a second time to even it up.  From that point on though, I didn't need to hit lap again.  My Garmin showed maybe a couple hundredths of a mile extra for every mile ran.  Not enough to hit the lap button. Mile 8 was sub-10:00.  Mile 9 was slower but still close to goal.  Then my paces for Miles 10 until the end were all below a 10:00 minute/mile pace.

I really don't remember much from this side of the river either.  I remember crossing the bridge.  I remember a rock band playing "Wild Thing" and the chorus included bagpipes playing with the guitar & drums.  Pretty unexpected and entertaining.

[picture from their facebook page here]  

From about 1:47 - 1:53 I took my time with my Mint Chocolate gu.  I think it was about 10.6 miles as I opened it.  I cared less about finding a garbage can with this one, and threw it on the ground near a bunch of cups on the ground from a water stop. 

I passed on all the water stations except for at mile 11.6.  I brought my own bottle and was drinking from it.  I started to get low on water toward the end though so I unscrewed my top in preparation, grabbed a cup from a volunteer and dumped it in my bottle - all while still running.  I was quite proud.

At this point I started to calculate a reasonable time goal, knowing 2:10 was not going to happen.  As I hit the 13 mile mark, I thought I might be able to finish in the 2:11s.  I ran really hard from the 13 mile marker, up the slight uphill, straight through to finish.  I remember the gun time was 2:30:41 as I went under so I thought I was in the 2:11s.

I felt pretty good about my run and did not feel like I was going to fall over at the finish line, so that's a plus! But it was so crowded at the finish line...I remember walking into a couple people.  I wish there had been more space to walk/cool down at the end before you were sent through a chute to collect your post-race food.

Here are my official splits from the race website:

I hit the 5k mark at 31:49 (10:14 avg pace)
10k mark at 1:03:59 (10:18 avg pace)
10 mile mark at 1:41:51  (10:11 avg pace)

There were more splits on the site on race day, but they seem to have disappeared.

Here are my Garmin splits:

It was not quite 65 by the time I finished at 10:30.  Perrrrfect!

While I thought I was good for something in the 2:11s, I was off on when I crossed the start line by about 15 seconds.  I thought it was pretty close to 19 minutes, turns out it was ~18 minutes and 45 my official time was actually 2:12:01.

Still a new PR!

Here's my race photo:

That's right.  The entire 13.1 miles, this is my only one! (Besides the one earlier that I found after scouring the lost and found pictures for a couple hours). There are actually 2 still shots from the 2 seconds after this, where I am even more obscured by the man in front of me.  Clearly I should have thought this out as I hurried to the finish line and found a more open spot so my race number would have been visible to the camera.

It was a tough job searching the 4325 "lost and found" pictures to look for a teal tank top.  I managed to nod off somewhere around picture #400 the other night and finally finished my quick scanning last night.

Here are some of the post-race snacks.  The Dole frozen strawberries did not survive long enough for this picture. I also had some Dole Real Fruit bites hidden in my ifitness belt.

 Spoiler alert: the Marathon Snickers bar does not taste like a Snickers bar.

I stuck around for the post-race concert, which featured Bret Michaels.  Better than last year's attraction: a Bon Jovi tribute band (didn't stick around last year).

It was pretty short, lasting maybe 45 minutes, until a little after noon.  Then I began my mile walk back to my car.

 I passed this on my way, and thought of Alyssa.

I stopped by Starbucks for a beloved Doubleshot on Ice.  Yes, I put my Starbucks gift card in my ifitness pouch at the start of the race.  I come prepared.  The Starbucks was conveniently located across the street from my parking garage.

That is how much of my sandwich I ate in the car in the morning (I also had a whole banana). 
I can't make myself eat at 6-something AM.  Good thing PBJ is good post-run fuel too... I finished it on the drive home.

Here I am at home.  I look like a turd with my forced smile. 

But I am wearing my medal.  The yellow 64 calorie beer bracelet was a waste.  I'm not a fan of the beer and I didn't even bother seeking out the beer tent after the race.  If I'm going to have a beer at 10:30am, it better be a good one.

Once I got home I cleaned up, put on my Zensah calf compression sleeves, and hung out.  Actually, first I went grocery shopping in my new I run Philadelphia shirt (and my calf sleeves, they were hidden under jeans though).

Then I kicked up my feet.  And let the calf sleeves work their magic for something like 9 hours.

I'm happy to report that my calves were feeling 100% normal the next morning.  Not one little bit sore!  My quads, on the other hand, were really feeling it.  I don't know if I can completely attribute my pain-free calves to the sleeves, but it certainly didn't hurt.


  1. What a great race recap! Argh, that blows that your Garmin didn't work properly. I rely on my Garmin too much and couldn't imagine running without it or withi it working properly. Congrats on the PR!

  2. Great job!! What were your thoughts on the plan for this time, would you do it again, just curious, gonna do March R&R in DC and may follow it.

  3. Great job on the race!

    I can tell I've been living in the middle of nowhere for too long because I felt claustrophobic just looking at your race photos. I may have a problem at MCM next month. :)

  4. Stefanie- thank you! Yeah, I guess that's where those pace bracelets or tattoos can be helpful, even if you have a Garmin.

    Heather- I liked the plan and do feel it helped improve my time. 3 quality runs can be a little tough though. Using Hal Higdon there's 1 or 2 easy runs each week so if you feel like having an easier day it's easy to switch runs around. With this plan, all the runs are important! If you're feeling tired or not as motivated on a certain day, there's not really a "oh this will be an easier run" option, they're all work. But I stuck pretty close to the plan, only missed a few of the target runs over the 13 wks. Garmin issues aside, I wish (and think I could have) pushed myself harder in the early and middle miles. It was a good race for me, and still an improvement over May, but I think I still had gas left in my tank at the end. (On the other hand last year I started off too ambitiously and sucked at the end).

    Kara- there were lots of runners! More than last year I think. Last year I remember it thinning out a bit during the second half, which I did not notice this year. I also ran it much faster than last year (last year was bad). I was annoyed that the finish area was so crowded that people were bumping into eachother just in slowing down from a run to a walk.

  5. You did get your PR! Congrats!!!

    Don't you love the picture of Bret Michaels that was thrown into everyone's race photos? As if I would order that.

    I love that I Run Philly shirt!!!

  6. Woah, I want to run a race with Bret Michaels at the end! I'm stupid obsessed with Rock of Love, so he's definitely my favorite reality show mess. So jealous!

    Way to go on the new PR!

  7. Great race recap! This is my first time here, love it! I think it perfectly compliments my morning coffee.

  8. OMG! I lust look to the right and saw that you have a greyhound! I have a 12 year old brindle named Slim!

  9. Kristy- Thanks- on the PR and the shirt! yeah, there are more close ups of Bret than me in my pictures.

    Ssrah- Thank you! I was pretty excited to see Bret too! I actually haven't seen Rock of Love but my husband and I happened to watch Celebrity Apprentice when Bret was on it, and became a little bit more of a fan.

    Alecia- thanks for stopping by! I love your greyhound's name. I'll have to go hunt around on your blog for some pup pics :)

  10. congrats on the PR! && way cute shoes btw!!

  11. Wow! Great job on the awesome new PR!

  12. This is a good common sense Blog. Very helpful to one who is just finding the resources about this part. It will certainly help educate me.


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