So guess what? You can run the same half marathon 2 years in a row and not feel like you ran the same race at all. I’m here to tell you all about my experience at this year’s Philly Love Run.
First let me remind you all a little about last year’s race.
1. It was the inaugural year
2. It poured rain the entire time
3. I set a PR (and it’s still my PR)
If you want to read all the details of last year’s recap just go here.
OK, so now on to this year’s Philly Love Run (13.1) recap.
It all started at 5:19am when I woke up and realized I somehow missed my alarm. I was supposed to be on the road by 5:15! So here I am 4 minutes late and I have to first get geared up. Luckily it’s not my first rodeo and I had all my stuff laid out the night before. I was out of the house in 15 minutes flat and started out for Jane’s house about an hour away. We then traveled together to Philadelphia. Of course the one item I didn’t have was my morning coffee! Tragic, but I had to sacrifice something since I was running so late. At least I think the adrenaline was sufficiently pumping thanks to the shock when I realized that I overslept.
The parking lot we used last year was already full at 7:15 when we arrived and we had a little slight panic as it is kinda hard to find parking in Philly but we called Jane’s husband’s boss Chris who lived nearby and he gave us some great info. He suggested we park in one of the elementary school’s parking lots since it isn’t used on weekends. There were some signs that said they’d tow but we took a risk and it all worked out just fine! Whew! By now it was 7:30 so we quickly met up with Chris who had graciously grabbed our bib packets at the expo the day before. And then made our way to the corals. (Note: I didn’t attend the expo but Chris said it was a bit disjointed.)
It was really cold! Somewhere in the 20s. The sun out though which was lovely.
Once in the corrals we took a quick photo and then Jane went up a bit further and connected with her friend Kerry. They had some PR goals and had paces on their wrist for a 1:52 – 1:53 finish. I had no goals for this race other than to try and run the entire thing without knee issues. Oh and I was REALLY hoping to not have any “Wyoming issues”. If you never read my recap of the half marathon I ran in Wyoming you can read it here but the gist is that I had my monthly visitor and some GI issues and almost didn’t have the most pleasant race.
The race began right on time.
I loved the first 2 miles! I was comfortably cold and enjoying the city views as well as my playlist. Uptown Funk is the best song ever! My first 2 splits were speedy (for me) 9:57 and 9:03.
My watch only shows elapsed time and distance on the main screen but in the early miles I would do the math to see I was hitting sub 10 minute miles. I was thrilled. I could feel my body responding more the way it would when I wasn’t injured. It was so reassuring to really feel for myself that I am healing and so close to being 100 percent again. And the tummy issues were under control. It wasn’t the most comfortable feeling to have for 13.1 miles but I refused to deal with waiting on a line for a porta-can mid-race. “Ain’t nothin’ gonna break my stride”, ya know?
Miles 3 & 4: 10:44 and 10:14
At mile 4 I stopped for my first fluids. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade which was slush. It tasted so good! It was still below 32 degrees out I guess. I had to be careful since I was having tummy distress and so throughout the entire race i barely fueled or hydrated. Just a few sips of Gatorade at mile 4. About 4 sport beans (like 40 calories) and a few sips of water around mile 10. On a side note I was really happy to see they had put some rock salt down on the ground at the water stops. There could have easily been some black ice causing safety issues for the runners. So props to CGI Racing who puts on the race.
There was a huge down hill around this time too that was so steep it was the only time during then entire race I felt knee pain. So I shuffled really slow for a bit there but I didn’t have to walk at all. YAY!
Miles 5, 6 & 7: 11:15, 11:37, 11:22
I was taking it easy and slowly ticking off some miles. Not so much crowd support at this part either. I also think it was right around this time I felt like maybe I should just pick a goal finish time to work toward. I totally wasn’t out to run fast or anything but sometimes I feel lost when I don’t have a specific number to work toward. For the NYC Half I really just hoped to finish in the course’s time limit but by this point I knew my knee was going to be fine for the race and I didn’t want to shuffle along if I had more in me.
Miles 8-10: 11:33, 11:53, 10:25
It was at mile 8 that I really showed up mentally and got into my runner-girl groove! And while there were some major hills to climb (and slowly and tentatively descend too!) causing me to slow down at this point, I was so full of energy and felt this positivity oozing out of me. It’s my favorite thing about distance running. I have these life affirmations, inspirations and epiphanies that just happen. And it usually takes at least 7 or more miles for me to get in that zone.
First it was the song lyrics from that Bon Jovi song I love—Soldier of One…
“And when it’s time to face the fight
With just my shadow at my side
I’m an army of one
I’m a soldier“
I just love how you run a race with so many people but YOU really are the one who makes it the accomplishment. YOU are the one who has to dig deep and realize all the potential and strength you possess.
Then as we crossed Strawberry Mansion bridge I thought to myself I am just getting to the point in a half where I am loving life. A half marathon is too short. I’m ready! I want to run the full marathon in New Jersey next month SO BAD. I have been wavering back and forth about whether to still do the full. I will be fully recovered in 4 weeks no doubt but my training has been pretty insufficient. Then I happened to notice a woman in front of me wearing a shirt with a West Virginia University logo.
I knew right then and there that was my sign. I mentioned this in last year’s recap….long story short it’s one of the signs I know that my late husband is still around and supporting me. He was a HUGE West Virginia Mountaineers fan. He died well before I began running and it always makes me feel good to know he can somehow be part of all of this.
So the decision is made! I’m going to run the full 26.2 New Jersey Marathon on April 26th! It won’t be an all out effort obviously, but I know I can do it. This Sunday I’ll shoot for 16-17 miles as my final long run and then taper. Talk about insufficient training. I just know my body wants more than 13.1 now. I actually have been walking around all day today without any aches or soreness from yesterday’s race. I feel great! Like I’d go run another half today if I could. What a huge improvement in my body’s response compared to how I felt just 2 weeks ago after the NYC half.
Since there was a section of the course that was out-and-back I was able to see Jane as she was in her final couple of miles.
Jane rocked a new PR! Way to go girl!
Miles 11-13: 10:09, 10:10, 9:56
I really sped up the last few miles of the race. I was so ridiculously happy and felt good so I started surging ahead. It’s always a great feeling to pass people so late in a race. I’ll admit, when I saw the 11:00 pacer I knew I needed to push ahead. And during the last mile I saw this couple. The guy was running backwards so he could coach her along but she was struggling so he finally ran back to her and grabbed her hand and they ran the last mile holding hands. It was so sweet and SO appropriate for a half marathon named The Love Run!
Once I crossed the finish (official time 2:23:53 — 10:59 average pace) we all met up for a few quick photos and then it was off to brunch.
OK so now to compare
All the swag:
I was impressed with last year’s swag but this year’s was even better. They added a pair of tickets to see a Philadelphia Philly’s game. And also one of my favorite winter accessories…a neck buff.
It’s corny to say but I love that they give you a mug as part of the swag. Last year’s mug has been used quite often. And this year’s mug will most definitely get used a lot too. Maybe I should run a few more years so I can have a complete set.
The shirt this year is—for my taste—quite an improvement. While both are tech shirts, last year’s was short sleeve and crew neck and very boxy. This year’s is long sleeve with a v-neck and a nicer fabric that seems a bit more shapely.
Another improvement was the race bibs. Last year they were paper and with the heavy rains many people lost their bib because they just ripped so easily. This year they used the more commonly used tyvek material. And I already mentioned I love the free bib personalization.
Last year it POURED. It was the worst weather I had ever run in. This year, COLD but sunny. There were a couple of really windy miles but overall the wind didn’t bother me too much
This year’s course seemed so much hillier (I knew it changed a bit) and after looking at a side by side of both courses I noticed there really only was one additional hill.
Especially after realizing that last year had a decent amount of hills I’m really proud of that 2:05 PR! I was in great shape last year. I had done speedwork AND hill work all winter and it showed. This year I obviously had different goals but I’m going to say my performance was a really good effort.
So basically I LOVE the Philly Love Run! I love that they took all the comments from last year’s runners and really improved this event for it’s 2nd year. They had great volunteers and some good spectator crowds the first few and last few miles.
Plus, a spinner medal, a personalized bib, baseball tickets, long sleeve tech shirt, buff, coffee mug, oh and a great historic city course…nuff’ said.
So, Jane grabbed her PR and I grabbed my optimism back. I returned back to Mr. SOTSS house yesterday afternoon and as soon as I said I felt good for the race he smiled and said “you’re running the full next month aren’t you?”. He knows me so well! And ironically since we met I haven’t run more than 13.1 miles. He doesn’t even know me as a marathoner yet. But he knows ME. Thanks sweetie for listening to me ramble about everything I put in this recap post as soon as I walked in the door.
Have you ever run a race more than one year in a row? Do you like to compare them?
While we’re on the subject of Philly and Love does anyone have a good story about either?