Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Race Report: Philadelphia Half Marathon

I have run a few half marathons in Philadelphia:
  • The Rock n’ Roll half marathon (2010 and 2011)
  • The ODDyssey half marathon (2011)
And now the half marathon that is part of THE Philadelphia Marathon weekend.

Beware: this is wordy.  Perhaps excessively so.

My alarm went off at 5am and I realized that I actually slept a solid 6 hours of sleep.  My typical race-eve sleep is not so good…it takes me forever to fall asleep and then I wake up several times, worried that I have overslept.  But it’s dark outside, so there’s no way to tell.  This time I didn’t remember waking up once.  I would not normally be proud of a whopping 6 hours of sleep, but I slept for about 9 the night before so I was feeling good.

In my barely awake state,  I recalled how I had just run the half marathon and finished in the upper 2:07s, and I was ok with that.  Then I realized that I had in fact NOT run this half marathon yet and needed to get out of bed to go do that.

My clothes were all picked out from the night before.

IMG-20111119-01186 (1024x766)

Also, since I’m aware that I won’t run all the tangents in a race and therefore my Garmin isn’t going to match up with the race clock, I had considered wearing a pace bracelet.  Kristy gave me some good advice about printing up a tiny little pace chart to put on my race bib.  So I did!

IMG-20111120-01221 (1024x768)

This came from the pace calculator at coolrunning.  There’s an option to ‘calculate splits’ then I printed it smaller, covered it in Scotch tape so I couldn’t sweat away the ink, then I taped it onto my bib for easy reading.

Back to the morning of: I had some peanut butter on a slice of cinnamon bread at 5:30.  I got out the door by 5:45, and ate my banana in the car at 6.  It was dark outside.


I was tipped off to some good (free) parking in Fairmount Park if I arrived early, but I’m pretty sure my 6:30 arrival for the 7am start was not so early, so I decided to park in my usual Philly race garage at 19th & Market St., and did my 1 mile warm up walk to the start.

Walking up Ben Franklin Parkway toward the Art Museum/starting line, 6:48am:


Past the starting line, continuing back to my corral.


View from my corral’s starting area at 6:58am:


There was an announcement that there was a situation and it might delay the start.  Minutes later the “situation” had been taken care of.  The first runners started only a couple minutes after 7am.  It was a comfortable ~50F.

After 20 minutes or so of standing around, my corral was ready to start.  I crossed the line at 7:23am or just over 18:07ish after the gun went off.  The 18:07 is important only because that was a number I had to subtract from the race clock at every mile.

I heard on the loud speaker that Mayor Nutter and Bart Yasso would be available for high fives at the starting line.  I stayed to the left to high five Bart Yasso

The course was pretty crowded for most of the first mile.  My goal was to keep it slower, i.e. over a 10:00/mi pace.  Done.  Since I was somehow already slightly off by mile 1, I hit the lap button on my watch when I ran next to the 1st mile marker (that’s why there’s a .02).
  • Mile 1- 10:04
    • .02- :14
  • Mile 2- 9:28
  • Mile 3- 9:36
  • Mile 4- 9:40
  • Mile 5- 9:40
Mile 2 was down Christopher Columbus Boulevard.  The Eagles drumline was playing as we rounded the corner.  It thinned out a bit here since the road is wider.  I remember seeing lots of guys off to the right peeing behind trees and converter boxes and I felt annoyed that as a female I could not pee so easily in public, in broad daylight.  Seeing them pee made me think that maybe I had to pee, but when I saw a 10 person line for a port-a-potty, I changed my mind, because there’s no way I could PR if I waited in line.

There was a water stop under an overpass and our next turn was South Front Street, which was a narrower road, so things got crowded again.  A few 20-somethings had set up a small table on the sidewalk with some small Gatorade bottles and a couple red cups, which appeared to be a personalized aid station for their favorite runner. I was amused.

Around mile 4.25, I realized I was getting warm and didn’t need my arm warmers anymore.  In fact, I was sweating through them.  After fussing around with them, I ended up folding them up nicely and sticking them in my ifitness pouch.

At 50 minutes, I took a gu.
  • Mile 6- 9:40
  • Mile 7- 9:00
A little after mile 5 we turned on to Chestnut Street… it was nearly 2 miles of amazingness.  Fan support was unbelievable and I felt SO excited to be running.  I had some kind of crazy runner’s high here.  I felt cool since taking off my arm warmers, I remember thinking how perfect the weather was, my legs felt fresh, and running felt so effortless.  I can’t wait to see official race photos, because I’m pretty sure there may have been a rainbow shooting out of my butt.
And I’m pretty sure that’s how I ended up running approximately mile 6-7 at a 9:00 pace.  Holy crap.  I looked down in the middle of that lap and saw something in the 8:00s and tried so hard to back off…only bringing it down to 9:00.

Also in this part, I crossed the 10k mat at 1:00:30, which was an average pace of 9:44 and a predicted finish time of 2:07:35 (I signed myself up for free tracking via email).
In this stretch I high-fived an IHOP chocolate chip pancake,  and saw some memorable signs including:
  • woman with a sign promising cupcakes at the end (lies!)
  • “Hurry up Kristen (or other common girl’s name, I can’t remember), It’s your turn in Words with Friends!” 
  • “On a scale of 1 to 10, you’re a 13.1”
  • “You trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage”
…and many spectators cheered my name- which was weird at first, but pretty cool.  This was my first race where they put your name on your race bib.
  • Mile 8- 9:52
    • .10- :56
  • Mile 9- 9:48
  • Mile 10- 9:42
After the insanely fast lap, I made myself slow down a little and pulled off to the water tables just after mile 7 to dump a couple cups of water into my handheld bottle.

I hit ‘lap’ as I crossed the 8th mile marker to even things up again as I had managed to run an extra .1 miles by that point, according to my Garmin.

Basically mile 7 to 8.2 was one continuous uphill, followed by a downhill where I got a big whiff of the zoo.  I don’t remember thinking much here.  My legs definitely felt the hill, and I tried to rein in my speed on the downhill, knowing another steeper hill was coming at mile 9.  I looked to the right at the river below and saw some speedier runners down on that part of the course (mile 12ish).

Soon it was mile 9 and I was running up the hill from the ODDyssey half marathon…(except in that race, it was at mile 12.5).  The steep part was about a quarter mile long.  I was running next to a couple people running together for a charity, and one of the women kept yelling, “I love hills!”  I love hills!!” also barking this at people who were walking up the left shoulder of the road.  After the really steep part, the incline continued, but more gradually, for another half a mile.

This part is kind of a blur.  I was just happy to get to the top of the steep part.  I’m pretty sure brain activity was minimal here.  They were giving out Clif Shot gels in mocha and raspberry based on the packets all over the road.  I know I grabbed another cup of water to dump in my water bottle just before the 10th mile, but I have absolutely NO recollection of this.

  • Mile 11- 9:33
  • Mile 12- 9:11
Just after mile 10 there was a glorious down hill.  I realized I had been running for around 1:40 so I took my second gu while coasting down hill.  I don’t remember much until turning around along the river at about mile 11.  There was a DJ set up between the road and the river with people dancing in costumes including a bright orange full furry hippo costume with a sign that said “Stay Hungry.”  This was very amusing to me.

Math became more difficult at this point (you try subtracting 18:07 from the race clock/adding 18:07 to your pace strip times).  At the 11th mile marker, my total time was about 40 seconds slower than it should have been according to my little pace strip.  I was a little bummed but thought I could make up the difference if I picked up the pace for the last couple miles.

There started to be signs for the marathoners to stay to the left, and half marathoners to stay to the right.  The end was within reach!  Part of MLK Jr Drive is severely sloped.  I could see it being a problem for people with IT Band issues.  There were sidewalks off to both sides though.

By mile 12, the race clock (-18.07) matched up with my pace strip almost exactly.
Blur, blur, blur, try to run faster, blur, blur.   Notice people cheering on overpass.  Blur, blur, blur.
  • Mile 13- 9:08
I could hear the announcers reminding people to stay to the left for marathon, stay to the right for half marathon.  There’s a slight uphill approaching the art museum and mile 13 and a lot of spectators.  I don’t remember looking at or paying attention to any of the spectators in this area.  I knew I was supposed to stay to the right, but people were slowing down on the uphill, and I couldn’t get through.  I remember passing along the the middle and hoping the announcer didn’t scold me.
  • .19- 1:27 (7:30 pace!!!)
I started sprinting as I came in front of the art museum and that may have been a little soon, but I knew if I could see 2:24:xx on the race clock that it would mean sub-2:07, and I kept telling myself I’d be able to see the race clock at the finish line any second now.

Longest curve of my life.

The announcer was calling in some of the runners, I heard him reference a guy running to my right who ran the entire half with a huge American flag.  I don’t think I was really in control of my legs at this point and I was worried I was going to plow him over.  I know I saw 2:24 on the clock as I ran under, and I remembered to stop my Garmin pretty quickly but I didn’t know what my time was until I checked my phone a little later:

2:06:48, 9:40 average pace! Negative splits!

Guy that I may have run into had he crossed my path, after finishing:

Somehow, 7 minutes after finishing, I checked the results that were emailed/texted to me and managed to tweet this:


Text tracking seems to be received faster than email alerts.  My reading comprehension skills were clearly suffering after running since I was unable to read that the 2:07:35 was only my predicted finish based on the 10k split, not my final results.

2:06:48 is a new half-marathon PR for me… by 5:13 over my last half marathon in September.  Despite those little hills.

IMG-20111120-01204 (1024x756)

After crossing finish, I immediately got a bottle of water, a heat blanket, and medal.  It was only in the mid-50s when I finished.  PERFECT!  I would have even taken a couple degrees cooler.


I downed the water while waiting in line to have my picture taken with my medal, then I waited in line for food, and then I waited in line for a free massage—which was totally worth it.  I talked with a speedy 2:57 marathoner while waiting for the massage.

I’m hoping to talk Dan into swapping out our comforter for my cool new heat sheet:

Monday, November 21, 2011

Road ID Winner

As promised, I am posting the winner of the Road ID Giveaway on Monday 11/21.  Barely.  I had hoped to have my Philadelphia half marathon recap ready at the same time, but no such luck.

So for now... here's the winner.  Thanks to all who entered!

Drumroll, please...


Congratulations, AR!

Please drop me an email at: amandarunsoncoffeeATgmailDOTcom and I'll let you know how to claim your  Road ID.

If you are bummed about not winning and want to order your own, you can go to: www.RoadID.com and use code pcSanta220 for 20% off your entire order through 11/28

Please stop back some time Tuesday night for my race recap.  Seriously.

Oh, and check out this post-finish line picture from the Philadelphia Marathon twitter account.

I made a cameo appearance in my blue t-shirt.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Philadelphia (Half) Marathon Expo

Yesterday after work I drove into Philly for packet pick up.  I love seeing the city sky line, it was especially pretty at sunset.

Kudos to the Philadelphia Marathon folks for having a giant banner outside the convention center which made it very clear where to enter for the expo.  The convention center is pretty big and I remember walking around inside the convention center for a while to get to the Rock n' Roll half expo, both this year and last. 

This banner is inside; I didn't take a picture of the outside one.

I have never run THIS Philadelphia half marathon before, but coming to the expo Friday night was much better than going during the rush on Saturday like I have done previously for the RnR half marathons.  There was no line at all to pick up my race number.  It was broken down by bib number into 1,000s.  Shirt pick up was by marathon or half marathon, and then by size and there were only a few people in my line for the shirts.

Long sleeve shirt: the front

The back
I like the design and style of the shirt, but thumbs down for unisex sizing.  I have previously whined enough about this, so I won't go on.  This size small doesn't seem too ridiculously big, but it's still a looser fit than I would choose for myself to wear while running.  

The bags/backpacks are pretty sweet.  Seriously.  I don't actually do gear check.  I hear it works seamlessly at these things but I still fear losing good running clothing or my car keys, so I only wear what I plan to keep with me for the whole run and I run with my car keys.  But I will use the bag for other things.

Not only do I like the red, but the side that would be worn against your back is mesh. AND it has a little zipper pocket.  My husband and I have used similar bags on bike rides before, so I appreciate the mesh for a cooler back and the pocket to keep tiny things separate.

All of these goodies were in the red bag, along with cards for some races and some coupons for restaurants in the area.  I like the mini clif bar size, hopefully I like that flavor.  I've never used Arctic Ease or tried the Dark Chocolate Acai with Blueberries.  I have had Naked coconut water before and it was just ok compared to some other brands.  I'll try it again though.  The blue things with the VW logo are wrist sweat bands.

What was most exciting is that Kristy and I happened to be going to the expo at  the same time, so we were able to meet and chat for a little bit!  She is the first blogger friend I have ever met in person.

We saw THE Hal Higdon talking with runners and signing some books at the Runner's World table.  Maybe I should have told him that his half marathon plans were very helpful to me this past spring, but I wouldn't really describe myself as outgoing.

After Kristy and I parted ways, I also came across Bart Yasso giving a talk:

After exchanging some emails with Kristen at ifitness, I also swung by the ifitness booth regarding their newer hydration add-ons. More on that later.

That's all I did at the expo.  I realize as I type this that I should have kept my eyes peeled for the new Peanut Butter flavored Gu, but I completely forgot.  I saw an email about it this week, and I want to try it.

Because I like to obsess over weather, here's the current forecast for the crack of dawn Sunday.  I'm leaning toward wearing shorts.  I've never raced in capris and haven't had enough colder running days this fall where I've worn capris, so I'm sticking with what I know, and that's shorts.

Good luck to Kara and Alyssa running their 50 mile races today!
And good luck to anyone else running the Philadelphia half or full on Sunday.

PS: Have you entered my Road ID giveaway?  
You've got until tonight at 11:59 PST (I'm giving west coasters equal opportunity).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Adventures in Baking, Etc.

Sometimes recipes don't go as well as planned.  I have a whole bunch of ingredients in our pantry I've been trying to use up including flaxseed meal, coconut oil, and a can of pumpkin.  Two weekends ago, I found a recipe that used these.

Here are all the ingredient.  Minus the walnuts.

Here is the concoction plopped into lovely muffin tins.

And here are those muffins after they were in the oven for -- wait for it --  over 45 minutes.  Seriously.  I thought it was some kind of joke.  Or that I didn't have the oven on (I did).

The recipe said these should be in the oven for 25.  I kept checking them and they never rose.  And even after 45 minutes, they still looked like they weren't done yet in the middle.

They ended up tasting ok... we ate them.  But knew that they were more like a dense pumpkin bar in muffin cups.  Not at all a pumpkin muffin.  I'm not sure what went wrong here.  The recipe called for whole wheat flour, which might explain a denser end result...yet the muffins pictured with the recipe are light and fluffy.  Someone brought to my attention that if your baking powder is a little older, your baked goods may not rise.  But this same baking powder has not failed me in other recipes (banana nut bread, oatmeal butterscotch cookies).

The verdict is... I might think about trying to make this again, but I would sub in all-purpose flour for half of the flour in the recipe.  When I typically take a recipe that calls for all-purpose flour and sub in whole wheat, I usually only do up to half whole wheat.

To redeem myself, I made oatmeal butterscotch cookies later in the week and succeeded.  It's just the recipe on the back of the Toll House butterscotch chip bag, but I use half whole wheat flour.

And because I am easily excited by all things related to food, I will share some recent purchases.

Left 2 from Trader Joe's; Dannon's stepping up their Greek game w/a new flavor.
The key lime Greek yogurt is pretty delicious. Perhaps because it's not the nonfat kind.  I'd buy it again, regardless of its 4.5 grams of fat.

Had this at a friend's house, had to stop myself from downing half the jar.
How badly can I mess up this recipe?

Not as protein- and fiber-ful as Kashi's TLC bars, but a good tasting crunchy granola bar.  Or more like a crunchy chocolate chip cookie. 4g protein, 3g fiber per 2 bars (1 package)

Have any good baking disaster stories?  
What's your favorite thing to bake?

Oh. and PS...

I don't really know what to do with this.  I bought this MLO brand brown rice protein powder.
I can't remember if I picked it up at Wegmans or Trader Joe's. 

Regardless, after trying it in 2 smoothies, it's not my cup of tea, but I feel like I can't throw away a nearly full 24 oz canister (minus 4 scoops). That's like 22-23 servings left.  

It's vegan.  I'm not, but I thought I might prefer something without a lot of added sugar or other flavors.  But after buying a couple brands, I find that I prefer a protein powder with flavor (i.e. chocolate).  This one tastes kind of like flour if you don't blend it well.  

Ringing endorsement, I know. 

I don't know if this is weird, but if someone wants it: claim it, and I'll mail it to you.  Seriously.  
If there are no takers, I guess I'll toss it because I don't know what else to do with it, and I'll feel bad.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Road ID Giveaway

As you may recall, I recently posted my review of the Wrist ID Slim, which was provided to me by Road ID in exchange for an honest review.

Wrist ID Slim comes in a cool tin

Demonstration of Road ID on bicycle

Customize with optional humorous statements

Jeff, who does PR for Road ID, has generously offered a free Road ID for one of my readers!

Prize: code for one Road ID item of your choosing
Who can enter: Anyone!
Ends: Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 11:59pm PST
To enter:
Mandatory: Go to the Road ID website, peruse their products, and leave a comment here telling me which model you would choose if you won.
Bonus (Optional): After the mandatory entry: if you follow my blog, leave a 2nd comment telling me you do.
1 Comment = 1 Entry.  Max: 2 Entries.
Winner chosen: randomly, using Random.org
Winner announced: On this blog on Monday, November 21, 2011.
To also be emailed upon winning, be sure to leave your email in your comment, or make sure I can easily find your email address if I click through to your blog or blogger profile.  If I can't find your email address, the only notification will be on my blog on Monday.
**Winner must respond within 48 hours of announcement/email or a new winner will be chosen.

You could be stylin' like me.

Thank you again to Jeff, who represents Road ID!

Please check out Road ID on Facebook and on Twitter.
Read my full Road ID - Wrist ID Slim review here

Monday, November 14, 2011

T minus 6 days

For my Philly half marathon training up until last week, see this post.

Here are some fall pictures from this past week to make this post prettier before I flash a bunch of numbers.

Now here's the last 3 weeks of my training plan:
5@  MT 
12 HMP+20 
3@ ST, 1E 
8 HMP+20 
3 E
The Half 

And what I actually did:
5@ MT
6.35 Easy
 5 Easy
3@ ST, 1E
8 HMP+30 
3 E
The Half 

As we are just starting the week of the 14th...that week is only my projected plan.  I know boot camp will have a focus on arms Monday night, so that's a plus. Tuesday, I'm undecided on whether or not to go to spin class- it's been a couple weeks so maybe I shouldn't go.  Wednesday and Friday I hope to get my runs in before work so I am in morning-running-mode for Sunday.

This week I will:
-Try really hard to go to bed early and get up earlier every morning this week.
-Make sure I drink lots of water and start doing that Monday.

My super amazing A-Goal for Sunday will be 2:07.
Kara and Kristy say I can do it, and I don't want to let them down!

My B-Goal is 2:10 or less (which would still be a 2 minute improvement over September 18th).

That's all I got.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Welcome to the Exercising Club

I don't understand the illustration, but I found this hanging in my school's cafeteria.
 Now that it's Wednesday (well, Thursday) let's go back and talk about last weekend!

Saturday we got bagel sandwiches from the nearby awesome bagel shop, then Dan put them in a backpack, got on his bike, and didn't let me have my sandwich until I caught him 4 miles later and we biked to a nearby park for a mini picnic before biking back home.  I can't believe I didn't even take a picture of the lake we ate next to!

We encountered obstacles like this from our freak October snow storm:

 I carried my bike over the tree toward the left of the picture.

Dan demonstrating proper post-bike, pre-bagel stretching

Because we biked, I did not run on Saturday.  I considering doing my 12 mile long run, but wanted to keep my legs fresh for a 5k Sunday morning.  So I opted to postpone the long run.

Sunday morning we were to meet up with greyhound friends for breakfast before going to a greyhound fun walk/5k.  While our friends would be walking, I planned to do the run.  It would give me an updated estimate of my fitness after 6ish weeks on a FIRST training plan, before my half marathon in 2 weeks.  Also, looking at least year's results, there was only one person in the female 25-29 category, with the average age of 5k participant easily being in the 40s.  I thought this might be my one shot in life at an age group award!

Saturday night I made these pumpkin muffins for our breakfast gathering (I'll post about that another time).

Sunday we had our breakfast, and were running late leaving our friends' house, so we did not get to the greyhound event until 3 minutes after the 5k started.  I could have run it, but as there were about 60 runners, it was just gun time, not chip time.  I may still have been able to place in my age group if I was the only one, but I would have freaked out about starting late.  I decided to just walk with Dan + friends.

At least it was a nice day for a walk.

We also saw horses:

After our walk, Molly (the retired racer) was spent, and helped herself to our bed.

I did some speedwork from my training plan to satisfy my unfulfilled 5k urges.  Goal time was 5:20 per 1k.  Since my Garmin is on miles-mode, not kilometers, .62 miles was how I entered my 1k intervals.

The 5  x 1k was my scheduled speed work for Wednesday.  So I flip-flopped the two, and did my long run mid-week.

I was shocked by my ability to pull my butt out of bed at 5:30(ish).  5:30 is the old 6:30, and since I got myself up at the old 6:30 last week, I told myself I could do it.  It was great practice for the 7am Philly half marathon start.  Complete with me not sleeping well.  Somehow I woke up at 3:30, concerned that I had overslept my alarm.  This happens the nights before races too.

This is what I looked like last week before the crack of dawn.  Look how happy Molly is to see my camera's flash.  She does not appreciate her sleep being interrupted, even if she sleeps for 22 hours a day.
This picture feels kind of Blair Witch to me.  Maybe it's just my paleness.
Aside from my first gu being cold, this morning's run went really well! (Have you ever tried that?  Hard to get down!)  I feel much better having gotten my last real long run in before the 20th.  My only remaining "long run" is an 8 miler this Sunday.

Goal pace was HMP + :20 (based on September 18th half, that means 10:24.  If you use some funny math to look at how I've been doing on my speed work (on average, faster than recommended times) and what times the speed work paces correlate with, it might mean more like 10:16 pace.  Regardless of which I use, I think I ran well!

Despite finishing the last mile at a 9:37 pace (which included me stopping to pick up the newspaper before lapping around the apartment again so I could at least hit the 12.0 mark), I still felt like I was holding back at the end.

I'm still figuring out how hard to push during a long run like this.  If I can run 12 miles in 2:01 for a harder training run, I think I can easily shave off :10-:15 per mile on race day compared with my 10:04 HM pace 2 months ago.  

Predictions on what kind of pace I might average over 13.1 miles in 2+ weeks?
Who else is running Philadelphia, and part two: the half or full?
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...