Thursday, September 27, 2012

Philly RnR Half Marathon Race Recap [warning: long and boring, but with attempted humor throughout]

I ran the Philly Rock 'n' Roll on September 16th. This was originally my goal race, then I flip flopped and thought the Philadelphia half would be, and then I flip flopped and decided this was my goal race. Again. The reason I was contrary about it.... was that I had done a terrible job in all my key workouts. I wanted to get in at least a few successful speed/tempo workouts before I ran my peak race.

Then I realized - what Im sure everyone else already knows - that every training cycle has its ups and downs. There IS no perfect set of speed and tempo workouts that you can do exactly on schedule, and at the right pace etc etc. Whether its injury, your job or the fact that you're too busy literally shedding tears when Christine, the blind home cook, wins Masterchef, training cycles are always going to face interruptions.

So Philly it was.

Day before the Race
The hubs and I took a bus to Philly (quick word of advice: just never ever ever give the greyhound bus company your business). He settled into the hotel while I checked out the expo.  It had the usual stuff; people tasting new shot block flavors like they were delicate french cheeses, tons of faux science spouted from the lips of fresh-faced college runners trying to sell you the latest and greatest in magic recovery socks, and of course the line of people grabbing at handfuls of freebie larabars, when the sign clearly marks THREE ONLY.

Hhhheeeeenyway, the rest of the day, I ignored all the advice to not walk around 6 miles the day before a race, while we went to see Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell, me constantly reminding the hubs that I would make a way better American citizen than him, because I had seen this stuff once already.

We had a late lunch due to non-aforementioned greyhound incompetence. I ate a massive serving of french toast and fruit for lunch, then a small amount of white rice, steamed chicken and vegetables for dinner.

Morning of the Race
Woke at 6am and had tons of coffee to get things moving (which they did). [Sidenote: I love how all race recaps reference the coffee-instigating morning bowel movements in exactly the same delicate little way when we all know we're much more crass about it in real life].

I ate a banana, a little peanut butter and two tiny bites of oatmeal. I was worried it wasnt enough and yet I was still so full from the day before, I figured my glycogen stores were plenty crankin'.

I walked the 1.5 miles to the race as a "warm-up". Given this was only my second half (and my longest long run has still only been 14 miles) I didnt want to expend much more energy before the race. I got in the queue for the portapotties, did my business, then had three Cliff shot blocks with some water before I went to line up at the startline. The corrals were full, but I was able to jump in mine after people started moving forward.

So Mile 1: extremely aggravating having to run around people running much, much slower than me. To be fair, I am not sure what time frames for finishing my corral was, but I highly doubt that these people could have finished in under 1:35, which was my goal. 7:15min/mile.

Mile 2: quicker at 6:50min/mile. I was clearing people, but at this stage had already added about 0.15 to the distance by dodging people and missing the tangents (there are a lot of turns at the beginning of the race, when you are running through the city streets).

Miles 3-8 went by fairly quickly, and I stuck around my goal pace of 7min/miles. Ate one Gu in miles 5-6. Paces were: 6:59, 7:00, 7:01, 6:58, 7:03, 7:06. I was relaxed, comfortable (I think - I dont remember any majorly agonizing pain). I looked something like this:

No Miranda Kerr, but not horrifically pissed off at life

Mile 9: 7:25 min/mile. This wasn't uphill; I think this was a turnaround where we faced a little wind, and I just lost concentration.

Miles 10-11: Regained concentration. 7:00, 7:09min/mile.

Miles 12-13.1: Paces were 7:19 and 7:28min/mile.  I can only say that I pushed back my bonk for longer than Simi Valley (which I faced at about mile 10), and that I was just really fatigued at this point. At mile 13 I completely lost any desire to push through and just wanted to finish.

That's when this happened:

And so began a series of some of the worst race photos I have ever seen. I don't even remember it being as veritably horrible as it looks.

In fact, I sat here for about ten minutes trying to think of a humerous caption for this photo, but nothing quite sums up the agonizing distaste I am expressing for that moment of my life. [For the record, "Ugh, I can't believe the waiter tried to convince us to pair a pinot grigio with Beef Bourguignon last night" was one of the top contenders].

Anyway, there were about a half dozen other of these photos, including the ones my husband took of me, all in miles 11-13, where I was not having a good time of it. They certainly rival Kristen's happiest America's Finest City 5K moments.

But photos that are more painful to look at than the experience itself aside,  I finished up. Not strong, I definitly died at the end and my finishing kick was more of hefty grunting shuffle, but I finished.

The BIGGEST win of the day was nutrition. I never felt the "urge" and I was happy with how fueled I was. I think I can do better at fueling and hydrating through the race (I barely got any water in my mouth and only ate one GU). The other things I learned for future races: (1) shove my way up front in the corral; and (2) learn to run tangents.

So yeah, there are lots of reasons why I could have gone a minute or two faster. But as with the training cycle, there are always lots of reasons for things going wrong; that is the nature of racing!

I am proud of my time though (cosmically I finished with the exact same average pace as Kristen's San Diego RnR PR). Its a new PR for me (and a 10K PR too!) and as my second half marathon ever, I'll take it :)


  1. Dude, that is like a 3 minute PR on only you second attempt. And had NYCM not gotten crazy with their qualifications, you would be in, easy-peasy. Totally worth a shitty picture.

    And yeah. The coffee thing. We all do it, yet we all don't want to talk about it like we do to our spouses on race day.

  2. Haha, Chacha that is so immensely true about the spouse thing. D was like "seriously? I really don't want to know." I think with runners, we are so eager to talk about it because it is such a victory when the plumbing is working smoothly, and such a horrific thought [i.e.OMGIMIGHTSERIOUSLYCRAPMYPANTSINPUBLIC] if its not.