The Philadelphia Half was my final race of the season and 26th half marathon overall. I mentioned in my training recap this race wasn’t initially in my plans but I received a complimentary entry from Gore-Tex (the title sponsor) through Lisa so was excited to give it a go!
My weekend in Philadelphia started on Saturday morning. I made the 2 1/2 drive from DC arriving around 11 am. During the drive I began feeling a little sick and hoped it would subside. My plan was to hit the expo, grab some lunch and see if I could check in early.
I have to stop and give a major shout out to Le Meridien Philadelphia. I initially reserved a place north of the city because hotels were sold out, but earlier in the week signed in to my Hotels.com account to find a special secret deal going on for this hotel which was mere blocks from the start/finish. The room was magnificently large and comfortable and the staff were SO gracious to us runners. The best thing for me was my room was ready early so I was able to check in before 1 pm.
Hitting the Expo was – wow. It was held at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and was not too big (good thing) but also pretty crowded. To be expected for a large race so I picked up my bib quickly once I was able to find it. They had packet pick up in the back which is not exactly convenient but brilliant marketing. 😉 The swag was GREAT though!! I quickly made my way through the official merchandise area, checked in with the Pittsburgh Marathon booth, then left to grab something to eat. Since I checked in early I was able to relax for a awhile. Later I met up with Lisa and her family for an early carb loading dinner before getting Flat Mar ready to go.
Lisa and I met a little after 6 am to walk to the start line. After a brief walk we arrived to heavy security and though slow going, I appreciated the extra precautions. She was a couple corrals ahead of me so we snapped a before photo and then parted ways. Again, because I registered – oh 3 weeks ago – I ended up placed in the last Corral. I’m also kicking myself because this Corral was right in front of the Rocky steps and I didn’t snap a photo or go anywhere near them. Le sigh… guess I have to go back to Philly!
There was an accident somewhere on the race course so the start was delayed by about 20 minutes. I intentionally left the Garmin at home and had no plans to record this run. I just wanted to run and enjoy the course. However I did decide I wanted to know my splits later so turned on MapMyRun then turned the phone off. The race started near the Art Museum and ran down Benjamin Franklin Parkway (and actually past my hotel!) for the first mile through city center and then along the Delaware River hitting Independence Hall around Mile 5. Hydration stations were plentiful though I skipped the first one and alternated between Gatorade and water at the remaining stops. Those miles flew and Philadelphia is SO scenic. I was just enjoying the historical surroundings.
When I crossed the 10K marker I was still feeling great and got curious as to my time. I had a hunch where I was and MapMyRun read 1:03:xx. at 6.44 miles. I was pleased by this so shut the phone off and kept going. At this point though it got wiiiiiiiiindy! I almost blew over crossing the bridge over the Schuylkill River.
Miles 7-8 I knew I needed to get fueling. I tried not to lose momentum by slowing down. As we traveled through University City I had to step to the side to grab my Annie’s Fruit Snacks. I did this while listening to the Fresh Prince theme song being played by a group of frat boys (we were in West Philadelphia, it was hysterical). Afterwards I heard someone sidle up to me and say hey, are you Mar? I pulled my headphone out and it was Jennifer who said she reads my blog. Shout out to Jennifer and thank you for saying hi!!
Somewhere around mile 9 near the Philadelphia Zoo we hit a gigantic hill. GAH! I definitely slowed but kept running and alternated between power walking and running to get over it. The remaining course was relatively flat and even consistently downhill. Perfect, right? Well, halfway through mile 10 my stomach started to hurt again. Ugh. The wheels came off pretty quickly but given I was so close to the end, I just willed myself to keep going, albeit at a much slower pace.
Once I turned the corner and saw the Rocky steps I knew the finish was just around the corner so I picked up the pace a bit and crossed in 2:19:37. I was happy with this race and run and had no time goals but definitely a little disappointed in the final 3.5 miles as I was on pace for 2:13 ish. Still, after crossing the finish line I was given a cup of Gatorade then adorned with this beauty: Volunteers gave us paper Macy’s bags so I collected a bottle of water and banana for later. They also had cups of soup and the most amazing, ridiculous soft pretzel in the world. I ate it, no picture 😉 It was freezing so Lisa had already gone ahead and I just hustled to get back to the hotel where I had a late checkout and they had ice water and hot coffee waiting for us in the lobby.
Despite being somewhat crowded, cold and windy (hello late November) I LOVED this race!! It was extremely organized, the volunteers were amazing, the course was fabulous and scenic, the swag was unbelievable (I mean the bell actually rings!!) It sounded like Christmas afterwards hearing all the bells jingle as runners walked around.
For my final race of 2015 I don’t have a single complaint about the Philadelphia Half and highly recommend it to anyone! Have you ever run Philadelphia Marathon or Half? Any more races left this year?