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.
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.
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
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!!!
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 😉
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.
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!
GO FAST. TAKE CHANCES.