ODDyssey Half Marathon
Philadelphia, PA - 5/22/11
Costumes were encouraged, but my creative juices were not flowing and I was more focused on trying to improve my time.
The night before (Saturday), I told myself I'd try to get ready for bed at 9:30...that didn't really happen. I was more ready for bed at about 10:30, but my mind was still racing (and I wasn't even caffeinated), and I triple-checked my phone to make sure my alarm was set. I may have fallen asleep by 11. Luckily I got a good night's sleep Friday night.
5:00: alarm. it was totally dark outside and 60F.
5:01-5:25: It was a fuzzy blur. But I know it included drinking some water, putting contacts in my tired eyes, brushing teeth, washing face, getting dressed, slapping some almond butter and raspberry preserves on a piece of wheat bread, grabbing a banana, pulling my half frozen water bottle out of the freezer and filling it with water.
5:30: picked up by a friend and tried to choke down the half sandwich and a small banana in the car (At that hour, my body barely knows it is awake, let alone that I should be hungry).
6:15: parking found. and it was free!
Ready to Run! (Photo courtesy of Jess)
I was going back and forth on what to wear on my head -- it was overcast, but I didn't know if it would get sunny once the fog/haze burned off. I went with the Sweaty band and sunglasses - just in case. I also wore my Lululemon Run: Fast Shorts and my I Just Wanna Run tank, my Feetures socks and my Asics GT-2150s. I also used my Camelbak water bottle and ifitness pouch.
7:00ish: Race start. 60F w/fog/mist/overcast, and pretty humid.
(Still, very happy with this. It could have been a lot hotter, like today...where it was 70 at 7am and it would have warmed up to 79 by the time I finished).
The wave start with chip timing was a good thing; there were still people in line at port-a-potties when the starting horn blew.
I tried to take it easy at the beginning. Despite the wave start, it was congested at the beginning, so that made it easy for me to take it slower.
Out of control hair!
That picture was somewhere between the starting line and mile 1.1, OR between 2.8 and 4.0. Probably the latter, because there would be more people around me if it was closer to the beginning.
Mile 4.0: The begin of the down hill (the same one I'd be running up, 8.4 miles later) I'm cool with running downhill. I just apparently stare at my feet while I do it (with surprised eyebrows?)
Mile 4.5: Planned to have gu here, but wasn't feeling it. Knew I should have something, so I put it off until mile 5.0, where I had a mint chocolate Gu.
Mile 5.75ish was the first turn around along the river (see bottom of the map above)
I attribute my faster pace during lap 8 (mile 7.0-8.0) to the gal near me in the red Lululemon tank. We never spoke, but were running next to each other for a good chunk of that mile. It was a slightly faster pace than I had been running, but it helped keep me going through an uneventful stretch of the course. Thank you, Red Lululemon Tank girl!
Mile 8: I remember my watch said 1:23. By the way, as this course did not have a lot of tunnels/bridges/tall buildings immediately nearby, my watch's mile markers were pretty close to the course mile markers. It varied somewhat, but the furthest my Garmin deviated was that it beeped for the mile, and I still had another .02-.03 before I reached the sign along the course. (So my watch would be at, i.e. 9.03 when I was in line with the #9 mile marker on the course).
Mile 9.5: Planned to have another gu here, but felt full. Postponed to mile 10.0. I know that meant only 3.1 miles left, but I didn't want to be totally drained on the hill right before the finish line. For variety, went with the Clif Shot energy gel in mocha.
Second turnaround was at about mile 9.7. I wish I had looked up at exactly which point this turnaround was. I spent a lot of mile 7ish on wondering how much further until the turn around.
When my Garmin hit mile 11.0, I took a brief, planned walk break to give my HR a chance to drop a couple beats and to save a little energy for the upcoming hill at mile 12.4-ish. I stopped and walked for about :45 then ran again, and amazingly, the walk break did not slow down my average pace for that lap too much (lap 12 - 10:37).
Mile 12.4: Begin the Up Hill. I was feeling DONE, but I pushed through. I tried to remind myself (constantly) that this hill was not as bad as the hills in the Bucks County half marathon last month. It did feel longer than it should have though.
I ran through this Civil War memorial at mile 13.0 (and from the other direction earlier in the race):
While I was working really hard from mile 12.4 to the end, I guess I only got my average pace up to 9:54 for that last full mile. It was up hill though!
I forgot to stop my Garmin right after crossing finish; didn't hit stop until after I collected all my goodies.
My Garmin said 2:15:55 and as I was about to run under the chip sensor at the finish line, the clock was 2:17 and change. I knew I had started about 2ish minutes after the gun, so I knew I was sub 2:16, but not likely under 2:15.
I picked up my medal, was given a banana, some peanut butter crackers, a KIND bar, and a bottle of water...then my finisher's pint glass.
I found the tent with touch-screen computers allowing you to look up your finish time. You got to enter your bib number, and you were able to generate a little receipt telling you your gun time and chip time. Very cool!
The results were...
Gun time: 2:17:50
Chip time: 2:15:32 - PR by 3:23!
(Previous best was ~2:18:55, read about my last half marathon here)
Next I found the ladies I arrived with and we found the beer tent, where they were offering to fill your souvenir glass with complimentary Yuengling or a locally-made stout. While I brought my ID, I didn't need to show it to enter the beer tent; it was nice that they just looked at your age on your race bib.
While walking back to the car, a funny looking truck rounded the corner and pulled into the shoulder. We had to investigate.
Free coconut water!
Vita Coco is one of my preferred brands of coconut water, and I opted for the tangerine because I have not tried it before.
Once we got back to the car, we hunted down a Starbucks (iced nonfat latte = protein!... caramel = carbs?), then made our way back to NJ.
- 7am start: sure, it sucks when you need to get out of bed at the butt crack of dawn...or before. But it's great to be done running before 9:30!
- Ample free parking within a mile of the starting line.
- Some really creative and fun costumes to look at/be distracted by!
- Finish line was a nice little chute lined with people who were cheering!
- After finishing, easily directed into the snacks/beer tent area.
- Finisher's Pint Glass + Medal that doubles as a bottle opener:
- Sections where there were lots of spectators...who were not clapping or cheering. They were clearly looking for their runner (silently). Someone needed to teach them how to cheer! How lame to run by and have all these people lining the streets, standing quietly. Maybe they weren't awake yet.
- ASI Photo apparently stopped taking finish line photos at about 2:05 (approximately the first 709 runners of 1538). In all the events I've done, I've never not had a finish line photo! Kinda weird, if you ask me.
- Only finish line picture of me:
Srsly? No finish line pics? Sorry for bringing you into this, Mr. 1231.
- Wave Start- good idea. This wasn't too formal though - there were four "waves" based on your expected pace and some signs on the ground to show you where to stand. More important for the fast people than me... I know to start near the back.
- Bag Check- I don't think this is very common for smallish events. Nice to have, but I don't use this.
- Looping/Out-and-back portions of course- I barely know where I ran for the first couple miles. It was windy/loopy and part of it was repeated, but it was through the park and pretty. Then we ran down a hill around mile 4-ish and then ran along the Schuykill river. There were two out and back chunks along the river. That can be good or bad...you see the faster people ahead of you, looping back already. It can make you feel slow, or it can be a good opportunity to view costumes of runners way faster than you.
- Obstacles included a moon bounce (between mile 7 and 9) and Jenga (maybe around mile 11?), but as I was shooting to improve my time - I did not stop to play. There was also a place for costumed runners to stop and be photographed, and water balloons were being tossed at runners later on, too.
- a woman who was a shark? with a pinwheel on her head, temporary shark tattoos, and a gun that blew bubbles as she ran.
- Elvis running with Forrest Gump. They seemed to be taking turns holding a giant American flag.
- A woman with a car costume made from a cardboard box.
- A dish and a spoon ("Hey diddle diddle...and the dish ran away with the spoon")
- A police and a robber (with a bag of $)
- A lady bug
- Big Bird
- a nicely-feathered reddish/orangeish bird
- lots of tutus - on guys and gals
- male and female bakers?
- a team of Wonder Women (underwear over tights)
- a bride and bridesmaid (in white and purple tutus)
Overall, this was a great race! It seemed well organized with regular race-related emails leading up to the big day. The ample free parking for race day was very nice! Along the course, there were regular water stops with occasional Gatorade (or Gu brew, maybe?) but I just drank my own water from my handheld bottle. The water stop volunteers were very enthusiastic in cheering for runners as they passed. The finisher's area was fantastic! Lots of snacks, music, and of course free beer! I know I will get lots of use out of my pint glass, and this will be my most useful medal yet!