We left for Philly a little later than planned on Saturday, but luckily we went down in a car with a couple friends and arrived only 2 hours later. We checked into our Holiday Inn and then walked to the expo.

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The runners.

We walked around the expo for a bit, I checked out the Yurbuds booth to see if I actually liked them and to figure out my size. Possible christmas present!

I was really hungry, so we went in search of food after we left the expo. We ended up at a place called National Mechanics and I ate one of the best veggie burgers ever! It probably wasn’t the best choice for a pre-race meal because it was literally just a bunch of shredded vegetables (not a typical veggie burger) formed into a patty. I forgot to take a picture, but it was damn good and I recommend it if you find yourself there. Also, great beer selection, even though I didn’t drink anything that night.

I eventually got to bed around 10 and I had plans to wake up and run a few miles before the race, since I’m still marathon training and all. I think I was more nervous about this pre-run than the actual race. I slept terribly. Woke up at 4:30, headed out for 3 slow miles through the dark streets of Philly. It turned out to be a really nice run! It was quiet, and kind of pretty along the sidewalks. I also laughed when I saw several cars towed, because my time there wouldn’t be complete without that. I did work on Parking Wars after all.

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It was also a good test run to help me decide whether I should wear pants or shorts. It was definitely shorts weather! I returned to my hotel room around 5:20, changed my clothes, slapped on a Oiselle tattoo and we all headed out around 6 to walk the 1.5 miles to the start. By the time we went to the bathrooms and actually got to the corrals, it was like 6:50 and we were scrambling to find our correct corral. I was assigned to the Grey corral and I just could not find it! I felt so rushed, everything seemed unorganized and crazy, so I just decided to stand in the black corral, the only one I could actually get into.

All of a sudden we were moving up and I realized that the Black Corral was basically the 2nd corral of the race and I was about to start. I saw a few people get kicked out because they didn’t have a black bib, so I got worried that I was going to get in trouble. I managed to slip by and started the race way before thousands of others. I was in the corral with the 3:15 marathon pace group…oops! I felt guilty for about a half a mile, but then I got over it and was so happy to be running. I saw Beth within the first mile! She yelled my name, I waved and continued on with a huge smile on my face.

I found myself hitting my pace exactly for the first 2 miles, which was down the same street I ran my earlier 3 miles on. It was kind of a blur, but I was just happy to be feeling good and so happy to be surrounded by so many cheering fans out along the course. I had trouble slowing down on the 3rd mile! I was just feeling too good and wanted to go with it. Although I looked at my watch a thousand times within the first 3 miles, I was focusing on how I felt physically and if I could keep up the pace or not.

Mile 1: 8:45

Mile 2: 8:44

Mile 3: 8:21

At this point, I started counting down to mile 6 when I would see Derek and my friends! My splits were consistent and I was still feeling pretty strong. There were no major hills up to this point, the course was pretty flat with a few downhills as well. When I came upon mile 6, I started scanning the crowds on the right side, looking for my super tall friends, Dave and Jamie. I did end up seeing them first and started waving my hand so they would see me. It went by so fast, but I saw everyone, they cheered and waved and that left me smiling for next few miles. I also saw Ashley around this point! I had no idea she was even in Philly! I heard my name and looked around and saw her cheering in the crowd. I waved and was so caught off guard, I don’t remember what I said to her.

Mile 4: 8:31

Mile 5: 8:30 (Took Gu)

Mile 6: 8:31

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I hit the 6.5 mile mark on my watch and remember thinking, okay this is the halfway mark, how do you feel? “Strong and good”. In my head, I broke the remaining miles into two 3 mile segments. I couldn’t stop worrying about if I was going too fast or not. I did not want to burn out at mile 10 and have the last 3 miles be a disaster, that’s the worst feeling in the world. I was running way faster than I had predicted, but apparently my body didn’t want to slow down. Just going with the flow…

Mile 7: 8:20

Mile 8: 8:44

I kept telling myself that I needed to get through mile 10 and I would be set! The big hill is at mile 9, so I knew if I got through that, the rest would be a piece of cake. There were several smaller hills leading up to the steep hill at mile 9. I kept wondering whether or not I had already passed the hill and maybe it just wasn’t that bad? But, no, I definitely encountered it right where I thought it was going to be. It was steep and long, but similar to Harlem Hill if you run in Central Park. I stayed focused and kept chugging through and before I knew it, I was over the hill and I was coasting down a nice downhill once again. 3 miles left!

Mile 9: 8:19

Mile 10: 8:41 (Took Gu)

They were handing out Clif Shots at mile 10, I decided at the last minute to grab one and eat it. It was so cold and hard, I had a hard time eating it. I was glad I decided on it though. By mile 11, I was shocked at how fast the race had gone by, I couldn’t believe I was already at mile 11! Halfway into this mile, I started to struggle a bit. I started continuously talking to myself, trying anything to help get me through it. I looked at my watch at least 100 times in the last mile, hoping at least a quarter mile had gone by since the last time I looked, but obviously no such luck. There was a little bitch of a hill right at the end. I probably swore out loud as I trampled up it, magically keeping my pace. Once I crested the hill, I was starting to hurt, but the finish line was in sight! I hope there are pictures of me at this time, because I probably look terrible. My head was up, my mouth open and I was giving it everything I had. Those pictures will be hilarious.

Mile 11: 8:16

Mile 12: 8:27

Mile 13: 8:31

Mile .27: 2:02 (7:36 pace)

I threw my arms up at the finish line and finished with a 1:52 on my watch!!! Whaaaaat???? I was am so freaking happy! I crushed my goal of 1:55 and to say the least, I was crazy emotional after I finished.

Official Time: 1:52:41

Average Pace: 8:36!!!

***Edited to add: This is a PR by almost 5 whole minutes!!!

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Must’ve been the Oiselle gear! I am so happy and proud of myself. I am SO READY to smash my marathon in 3 weeks!

Jeremy and Em did fantastic too!!! This was Em’s first half marathon and I am so proud of her! She may or may not be writing us a guest post for the blog soon 😉

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This was one of the best races I’ve ever run! I loved the course, it was perfect weather, and I got to spend 3 days with some amazing people. I already want to come back next year and run again. This was my first visit to Philly and I did not get enough, so a return trip will definitely be in order. I got my cheesesteak, but I missed out on visiting the Rocky stairs.

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The rest of the day/night was spent eating and drinking my face off. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for all of their support and encouragement through Twitter and Facebook! Also thanks to my amazing husband!!! He’s a professional race husband by now and always knows all the right things to do and say. He is my biggest fan and supporter and I love him for that!

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GO FAST. TAKE CHANCES.

8 Comments

  1. YAY!!!!!!!! You seriously crushed it, Steph!! Mile 11 in 8:16?!?! Crazy fast =)
    So excited for what lies ahead for you in the coming weeks!!

  2. Great job Stephanie.Nice recap, and good job crushing your goal. Really makes me want to run a 1/2 marathon soon. I love that distance.

  3. Congrats on the awesome PR, Steph! The Philly Half is such a fun race; you made me really want to run it again sometime in the next few years. Run together sometime next weekend?

  4. CONGRATULATIONS!!! What a whopper of a PR! You’re so speedy! I can’t can’t CAN’T wait for you to rock that marathon!!

  5. Remember when you PR’d by 5 WHOLE MINUTES!?!?!?! You’re crazy awesome wife! You did an amazing job & I seriously can’t believe how fast you were…. But next time you gotta go to the correct corral! You threw off my race husbanding! You’re gonna kill te Rehoboth Marathon!!!

  6. Congratulations Steph!! You are amazing! I’m so impressed by how much you’ve improved these past few months. I know I keep saying this but I really can’t wait to see how the marathon goes next month!!

  7. Way to CRUSH that PR! 🙂 Great job! Philly seems like a fun race. Can’t wait to see how you do at the Rehoboth Marathon!

  8. You KILLED it! I am so excited for not only your half, but also for Rehoboth in a few weeks, where I’m sure you will just crush it again 🙂 Congratulations!

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