Philly Half Marathon

I’m pretty excited to recap my Philly Half Marathon weekend, because it was a really great weekend! Fun was had, goals were met, and I got to enjoy my first big-city race experience!

My alarm went off at 2:15am Friday to catch the bus and then 6:25am plane outta Boston with travel pal Jess! We landed just over an hour later, and greeted our hostess Danielle with a big fat squeeze! The rest of our Friday consisted of shopping around town, hitting the expo and cozying up for dinner and good conversation on the couch at home. The expo was a pretty decent size, and there was tons of great branded gear to buy, but I think we all made it through with just the race shirts – because they alone were an awesome quality long-sleeve tech shirt!

We did a little shake-out run on Saturday, but mostly kept our feet up, watching the HBO series “Girls” (I’d never seen it) and just enjoying hangin’ together. We did, however, get off our butts to enjoy a great dinner in City Center with 16 other Oiselle teammates in town to race and cheer for the weekend! I love the camaraderie of this team!

Around this time, I actually started voicing what had been in my head for a couple of months: I wanted to run the full marathon. I have my reasons for this, but didn’t want to be a jackass on my new ACL, nor a jackass in the running community. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I just want to run more than one marathon. Plenty of people have run one and its a wonderful accomplishment, but in the community we’re all in, I still feel like such a newbie. Mostly though – and this may sound dumb to you, I know – it seemed like way less pressure to run Philly’s entire 26.2. I could run as slowly as I wanted without pressure, I already knew the weather was perfect, I could skip all the hype of a training cycle… But in the end, after only training to 16 miles this month, I decided (at the start line) to stick to my goal of a sub-2-hour half marathon.

Race morning! Another early morning alarm, but for a good cause. English muffin, peanut butter, banana… The Sunday morning routine of racers around the world! We took the subway about 10 minutes to City Hall and made our way on foot to the start. Still dark, it had the feeling of all those Instagram photos I’ve seen from other big city races, like San Fran and Chicago. Thousands of runners flocking in the same direction! We arrived just in time for a porta-potty break, bag drop, group hug and photo, and to snack on my Honey Stinger vanilla waffle amongst my peeps in the Black corral. My first-ever race with text tracking, corrals, and my first time ever checking a bag (which rocks, by the way!)

Ready, set, go! That’s what they said. It was comforting to start alongside marathoners and keep it to a gradual pace right over the line! The course was electrified with music right away, and I definitely felt excited and happy. For me to reach a goal of sub-2 hours was going to require kind of a lot at this point in time. My first half marathon back after ACL surgery was just last month, in a miserable (mentally) 2:08. Could I shave 8 minutes and change off my time here in Philly?

I looked at my watch fairly regularly to eye my pace – usually around 8:45 to 9:15 – but I almost never looked at the miles. In fact, I don’t think I saw a single mile marker on the course either! The only indication I had were those fellow runners (you know those runners) who were constantly chatting numbers with their buddy. I occasionally looked up to enjoy the scenery of a new city, but I mostly tried to stay in my own world and relax my breath. Ate my Honey Stinger fruit smoothie chews along the way, and handheld water. A couple of uphills balanced very nicely with a lot of speedy downhills too. I don’t usually race the downhills because it seems so hard on the knees, but… well, what’s a knee without a little excitement, right? I needed to use those hills to my advantage.

I ran this race happier than maybe ever at the 13.1 distance. I didn’t want to die at mile 10 or 11, but I did start to slow and get into my head by 12. I finally looked at the numbers and did some racer’s math, which never helps, and I was tempted to bail on the idea of sub-2. Then two seconds later, racer’s math told me I was fine and eeeeasily had it. Tricks, dammit! As I cruised into the 12.5 mark (ish), I realized this was going to require an all-out SPRINT! Oh man… fine. “Let’s do this,” I caved to myself.

Official time: 1:59:36

PRETZELS at the finish line?!?!?! Amazing! I grabbed my medal, lots of foodie options, and immediately got my checked bag of warmth. Philly, you were good to me, and I would love to join you for 26.2 miles soon! The City of Brotherly Run & Sisterly Endurance!

Post-race brunch celebrations with my Ragnar Cape Cod ‘14 teammates! Such a great reunion!

Thank you also to Whiskey the Chug. He knows how to rock the hospitality in a big way.

Huge thanks to so many of you who cheered before, during and after this weekend’s race! With so many texts and a Twitter #rungiving on Monday, I was overwhelmed with the support of friends around the world. Congrats to those of my peers running the streets of Philly this 2014 too! A beautiful city, wonderful people, and an incredible race!

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