I ran the Philly Love Run half marathon in Philadelphia yesterday. This race has been in existence now for 3 years and I’ve run all 3 years.

You get a mug each year as part of your swag. They seem to be shrinking each year. :)

You get a mug each year as part of your swag which I love since I’m such a big coffee drinker. They seem to be shrinking each year though. :)

The first year (2014)  I set my current half marathon PR in the pouring rain.

Such a wild day running in the pouring rain

Such a wild day running in the pouring rain

Last year (2015) my knee was still recovering and I was just hoping to finish without crippling myself.

Yay! Done! Knee ok. Let's eat.

Yay! Done! Knee ok. Let’s eat.

This year I knew I wasn’t in PR shape but I also knew after last week’s Cherry Blossom 10 miler that I could run strong 10-minute miles for at least 10 miles so my goal was to finish between 2:10 and 2:15. Well, despite the ridiculously big hills between miles 7 and 8 I did it and came in at 2:13 with a 10:09 average pace.

medal-watch-love-run2016

Each year the course has changed between miles 6-9 and that has always been the hilliest and most challenging part of the course. I’m going to do a comparison of all 3 year’s courses in detail at the end of this recap but first I’ll recap yesterday’s experience:

Expo: I’ve yet to attend an expo since I live an hour and a half from Philly. I’ve relied on my friend Jane (and her resources) to grab my bib and swag every year. They are fine with someone else getting your bib as long as you show a copy of that runner’s ID.Thank you Jane!

Philly Love Run Race Day

Pre-Race: I slept at Mr SOTSS’ the night before so at 4:15am when the alarm went off I got up and shut it off quickly, got dressed, made a travel mug of coffee and toasted a bagel with a little butter and wrapped it up in foil so I could have my breakfast on the road. Mr. SOTSS’ dog Chester eats breakfast really early so he was happy to see me moving about at 4:45 am. I fed him (and Duncan too) just before I left the house at 5am.

note

Old school note left on the kitchen counter. Wouldn’t want the dogs to get fed twice although I’m sure they’d be ok with it :)

I ate half the bagel, half the cup of coffee and had some water on the drive down and by 6:30 am I was parking. The lot was almost full! Each year the race gets larger so if you plan to drive be sure to give yourself plenty of time to park. There is street parking if you are lucky but I hate stressing about parking so I just shelled out the $20 for the parking lot and patted myself on the back for getting there as early as I did. The lot I parked in is only 3 blocks from the start. By 7:30 I had met up with Jane and her friends.

Start–Mile 4: It was cold in the morning. Temps were just below freezing. But graciously mother nature decided to ease up on the original predicted wind and there was plenty of sunshine too. I decided to seed myself in the 1:45-2:00 hour corral.

View from the corrals

View from the corrals

I knew i’d be slower than that but wanted to ensure I didn’t have a repeat of Cherry Blossom 10 miler where I was stuck behind slower runners. I also knew the course started out fast and flat and I could keep up so I wouldn’t be holding anyone back.

Happily running in my Brooks Glycerins. This was their first 1/2 :)

Happily running in my Brooks Glycerins. This was their first 1/2 :)

Start Selfie

Start Selfie

This was a smart move for me. I ended up realizing my shoelace was almost untied so I stopped on a median to tie it in the first mile. I LOVE the beginning of this race. You start at Eakin’s Oval right by the Art Museum with the famous Rocky Stairs. Philadelphia’s center city is so visually appealing to me. From the all the international flags along Benjamin Franklin Parkway to the historic buildings and sculpture. This year, unfortunately portions of the road had been milled and not yet re-paved so they were grooved and uncomfortable to run on. There were a lot of potholes too. I hope nobody tripped. I know that this is just something that can’t really be controlled. My first 4 miles were my best miles of the race.Splits: 9:49, 9:36, 9:38, 9:40

Somewhere in the first few miles

Somewhere in the first few miles

Miles 5–7: By this point the city portion of the course is complete and you pass back by the Art Museum and follow along the Schuykill River for 3 miles. This part is fairly flat and since you are running close to where the start/finish area is there are plenty of spectators and it’s pretty high-energy which is nice. I enjoyed these miles too feeling fresh and comfortable with my pace. I walked through a water stop and took a few Honey Stinger chews at this point expecting the hills to start. Splits: 9:37, 10:20, 9:52

Miles 8–9 the HILLS: This part of the course was different than previous years. The previous 2 years we ran parts of Fairmount Park a mile or two earlier in the course and while they were hills I don’t think they were as difficult although I could be wrong. This year, they kept us along the river a bit longer before putting us into the park and boy was this hill ridiculous. It was actually one hill with a turn and then a second hill was revealed. I ran by effort allowing my pace to slow and tried to run the whole thing but by the second hill I had to walk a bit of it. The good thing was that I was feeling so inspired by my music at this point. The song I Lived by One Republic was playing and every line of the song just spoke to me.

The only way you will know is give it all you have

The only way you can know is give it all you have

What a boost at just the right time. Last year the course crossed Strawberry Mansion Bridge and we did a loop on the other side of the river but this year that was eliminated and we just went a little farther on the out and back along the river after the hills. I tried to take this time to walk through a water stop figuring hey while I’m walking let me get some water in me too. I was sweating A LOT I guess from the strong sun and the fact that I had a vest on so I knew I needed the fluids. The water stops at this race were inconsistent. Some had Gatorade first and then water and others vice versa. But at least the cups were different so you knew what you were getting. Of course what goes up must come down and mile 9 was mostly downhill. I am too apprehensive about injury to run fast on the downhills so I leaned back a little and found a happy medium to try and make up for my previous slow uphill split. Splits: 11:34, 10:16

Miles 10–Finish: These miles are back along the river and can get a little monotonous. I still felt pretty good and was doing the math in my head trying to see how far off from a 10-min pace the hills caused me. I noticed a familiar shirt ahead of me.

That's Anne!

That’s Anne!

It was Anne, Jane’s running club friend. I met Anne on the day of the NYC Marathon when I had Jane and her running peeps come to me in the morning and we all went to the race together. I snapped a pic of her but couldn’t catch up until the next water stop where she and her friend slowed to grab water. I stayed with them for about a mile but they were really running about 30 seconds per mile faster than me and I finally had to let them go. It was nice though to have conversation for that mile. And then I just blasted my music and pushed myself to the finish. Splits: 9:52, 9:58, 10:13, 9:48

This was probably in the last few miles because my gloves are off and my face shows it

This was probably in the last few miles because my gloves are off and my face shows pain

Finish time: 2:13:00 (10:09 average pace)

finish2016I grabbed my medal, food (which i loved because they include a soft pretzel!) and sweatshirt from gear check and met up with Jane and possee at the fountain. We snapped a few pics and then went to Whole Foods for a bite to eat before parting ways.

Jane, me and some of Jane's running group

Jane, me and some of Jane’s running group

Good times

Good times

Jane set a new PR finishing in 1:49! When I first met her she was trying to get sub 2 and now she’s sub 1:50. She’s really on fire lately. So proud.

The medals at this race never disappoint. Last year was a spinner medal. This year was just super glittery.

The medals at this race never disappoint. Both previous years they had spinners in them. This year was just super glittery.

See ya later Philly

See ya later Philly

I came back to Mr. SOTSS’ house to see these two waiting for me.

Ridiculousness

Ridiculousness

After showering we took the pooches to the park for a nice little hike. And since Duncan has been so good at leaving his stitches alone I took off the darn donut and let him run free! He was so happy.

Best post run activity is hiking with these guys. I ended up with 40,000 steps for the day and less soreness the day after

Best post run activity is hiking with these guys. I ended up with 40,000 steps for the day and less soreness the day after

The free sniff

The free sniff

Chester!!!!

Chester!!!!

So now for the comparison of the Love Run course between 2014, 2015 and 2016:

Note: The tall buildings in the first 4 Center City miles made the elevation stats a bit erratic because they were really flat all 3 years so ignore those “hills” which really aren’t there.

The big changes from 2014 to 2015 was the extra hill across the river at mile 9 in 2015. And The biggest change from 2015 to 2016 was removing the hills at miles 6 and 9 and replacing them with a bigger and steeper double hill around mile 8.

2014 complete course

2014 complete course

2014 hills area

2014 hills area

2014 Elevation/pace/splits

2014 Elevation/pace/splits (notice hill miles between 5 and 7.5.)

2015 course

2015 course

2015 hills

2015 hills

2015 elevation/pace/splits

2015 elevation/pace/splits (notice hill miles between 5 and 7.5 and also mile 9.)

2016 course

2016 course

2016 hills

2016 hills

Elevation/pace/splits

2016 Elevation/pace/splits (notice hills between miles 7.5 and 9)

So all in all consider this a flat race for 12 of the 13 miles. I’m pretty sure I’ll run again next year.

Have you ever run in Philadelphia?

Do hills deter you from signing up for a race? 

How was your weekend?

2 Comments

  1. Interesting! I have run the Unite Half a few times, also run by CGI, and its course changed the first few years as well. One of these years I need to buck up and start my training earlier so that I can try this one out. I haven’t run in Philly in a very long time. I’ve got to branch out!

  2. Pingback: Top 10 favorite runs of 2016 -

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