How has your weekend been going? Mine has been a squishy, soggy, splish-splashy one thanks to the downpouring rain all weekend, including—as I had prepared myself for—today’s half marathon. But, guess what? It didn’t matter! As the subject line spoiler says I set a new PR at The Love Run Half Marathon in Philadelphia, finishing in 2:05:04 (my last PR was 2:07:54).
I’ll give you the play by play and some insight into this inaugural race…
4am: Got dressed, made coffee and a small pb&j sandwich
4:47am: Took a quick selfie with my puzzled puppy. He still doesn’t understand these early rise Sundays.
5am: Walked dog quick. At this point the weather was just a drizzle.
5:15am: I headed down to meet up with Jane. I was fortunate that my friend lent me his fancy car since my Jeep is now leaking something and has to go back to the mechanic. I enjoyed the treats of said fancy car including heated seats and satellite radio. I kept it on the 80’s station for the entire ride.
Ironically Survivor’s Eye of the Tiger (from Rocky) came on…how perfect for my Philadelphia race that finished at the Rocky stairs! (I’ll explain the Mountaineers reference later)
6:15am: Arrived at Jane’s where we hopped in her car and she drove us into Philadelphia.
7:00am: We parked the car and started to take care of our last minute pinning of bibs and such. Parking in Philly can be difficult so if you decide to do a race there it’s best to give yourself plenty of time. We scored one of the last spots in the daily parking lot closest to the start. (It was $13 for 12 hours which was great since we planned to have brunch after). There probably were a few spots on the street which would have been free but we preferred to use our last 30 minutes getting ourselves together rather than driving up and down streets to find a spot. At this point the drizzle became a steady rain. I had almost thought to leave the rain poncho in the car but once it turned into a steady rain I changed my mind and put it on.
7:30am: We walked over to the starting area, used the port-a-potty, took a quick pre-race photo and then hopped in the corrals about 7:45am.
I have to say I was impressed right away as we approached the start/finish area. Gear check, Team Tents, Bags of food and hot chocolate set up for the finishers. All were fairly organized. There were SO many volunteers who were over the top friendly and helpful. (Boy they probably had no idea what they signed up for!) They continued to announce that runners needed to get into corrals so the race could start on time and it did. It was a decent size race of just under 10,000 runners but didn’t seem to feel too crowded. Unfortunately the grounds of the start/finish area became a very muddy and puddly mess! (I wanted to take pictures but had already safely placed my phone it its’ waterproof baggy in my SpiBelt.)
8:00am: The race began. My plan was a last minute plan. I wanted to shoot for a 2:10 finish. (the idea that doubling your half time and adding 20 minutes gives a good predictor for a marathon time and that would give me some self confidence that I can pull out a 4:40 next month).
Miles 1-6: The steady rain became a downpour just few miles in. I noticed my first couple of splits were low 9s and even an 8:58. I felt great and while I must have looked silly, my poncho was keeping the rain off my neck and shoulders and helping me to retain some heat.
I could hear everyone’s feet (including mine) splishing and splashing through puddles. (I didn’t bring music with me for this race). I sorta laughed and thought to myself “hey it can’t get any worse”.
The spectators were AMAZING! So many people standing with umbrellas cheering and holding signs. One girl had a sign that had a big red button on it that said “press here for more horsepower”. Lots of runners ran up to the sign and pushed the “button” for a “boost”. I don’t always appreciate the interactive aspects between runner and spectator but as I prepare to be a spectator at mile 20 for the NYC Marathon this year I was more in-tune with that at this race. Another spectator alerted us that there were pot holes in the street ahead and to be careful. Truly the City of Brotherly Love!
My pace for the first half stayed pretty consistent with just one split at 10:25 when we hit the only real hill of the race. I hit the half point at 1:02.
There was Gatorade available at every other water stop. The first one I took was lemon lime and very dilute. Not sure if it was the rain or just mixed weak. But then the next two Gatorades I had later in the race were orange and super sweet. So who knows. I guess it’s not a super big deal but I didn’t bring any fuel with me and was feeling rather desperate for some electrolytes/sugar.
Miles 6-12: This is where I realized I could PR. Other than that one hill the course was fairly flat and felt like it was downhill more than anything. It’s also where I realized that I was getting soggy and uncomfortable and my sneakers were getting heavy. I didn’t want to be a wimp so I immediately decided I needed to remind myself of others who didn’t choose discomfort (as I basically had). I thought of this girl Meggan who I met last February when I was part of a photo shoot for Dicks Sporting Goods.
She’s been battling metastatic breast cancer for a few years and most recently is undergoing brain radiation and chemo as they found lesions on her brain I only spent 48 hours with her but she was so positive about her situation and it really inspired me. And so silently I chanted to myself “Meggan Meggan Meggan J. Let’s make those cancer cells go away.” As I visualized her undergoing treatment and feeling crappy, all of a sudden my squishy shoes really didn’t bother me anymore.
Mile 13: I pushed as hard as i could and can honestly say I felt such a sense of pride as I crossed the finish line. What a difference compared to the NYC Half I did 2 weeks ago. My mindset was positive and I successfully kept any frustration about the rain at bay.
Jane had finished about 8 minutes before me and after we met up and got our hot chocolate and food we quickly took some post-race pics before going back to the car to change out of our wet clothes. Also, let me mention that Jane did a stair climb yesterday in that very building behind her (to the right). She’s young and spry!
After changing into dry clothes we headed over to a cute restaurant for brunch where we met up with my friend Laura and her hubby Kevin. Laura and Kevin live just a few blocks away and brunch is a typical Sunday morning for them so it worked out great that we could meet up with them. The food was delicious! I copied Jane and ordered the same, a salmon and cream cheese and red onion omelette with potatoes, some greens and toast.
OK so here’s the Mountaineers reference. My hubby was a huge West Virginia Mountaineers fan. After I got serious about running (about 7 years after his passing) I always wondered if he knew that I found something to be so passionate about. I wanted to know he’d have been proud of me. Ironically I think I got my answer. It started at my first full marathon back in 2011. I was chatting with a girl in the corrals. When we were about to start she walked in front of me and I saw the WV logo on the back of her shirt! Turns out she was from WV and went to that college. I knew at that moment he WAS proud of me and that he’d be with me in spirit as I ran that first full.
The following year I ran the Philly Marathon and sure enough as I was walking to the start area I saw this guy:
OK well, I’m falling asleep as I type this so I better head to bed.
Hope your week starts out great!
Question: Do you believe we can get messages/signs from loved ones who have passed away? Did anyone race this weekend