Pack it up and hit the road again. Luckily most of the races I have been competing in recently were all local or a hop over the border in Canada. Not much planning or travel required. Philadelphia was different. 4 Days, 2 Buses, and lots of nerves does not make for a good race. I was less than optimistic. Plus they say Rock and Roll races are hard to PR at. But this was the only race I was required for my Snicker’s sponsorship so off I went. Boarded my bus Friday in Buffalo and arrived in Philly Friday night. One scary cab ride later I was tucking myself into the couch at my sisters apartment.
Saturday – The Expo
As part of my sponsorship they had asked people who would be available to come to the expo at noon on Saturday to help judge the rock band contest. We were expected to check in at the booth at sometime so I figured noon would be good. They wouldn’t need me anyway, I’m sure plenty of us would be around for judging. Well of course no one volunteered except me…..
So one Rock Band contest later, I get some more snickers swag and take a seat. The rock stage after the contest was hosting my running idol Kara Goucher. I was dying because I knew she would be there but I actually got to hear her speak. It was a really cool surprise.
So awesome. She talked about training and injuries and coming back at it. Inspiring to hear that we all answer injuries the same way. Frustration, Denial, Acceptance, and Rest. Also mentioning that her husband was trying to qualify for the Olympic trails the next day. By running in less than 65 minutes. WOW. (He actually did it too, by a couple seconds!) All and all it was really cool to hear her talk. She really seemed as awesome in person as I always hoped.
Even better, immediately after her talk she was doing signings. I actually got to MEET my idol. (And when I say idol I mean it. There are pictures of her gracing every mirror in my house and my hallway. Every time I had a doubt about my pursuit of finally running a full marathon, there she was inspiring me and cheering me on). So we chatted briefly about runners not liking to admit they are injured and she signed a picture for me and even one for Fleet Feet!
So after all that, 4 hours after I arrived at the expo, I finally picked up my packet and went to all the booths. Made my rounds collecting free stuff (4 free bags, two free shirts, and some weird stuff I’ll never use) and headed back to the snickers booth to say bye before I left. I was pleasantly surprised to run into Linda, whom I had been looking for. She was one of the few Marathon Bar athletes I knew by name (thank you Facebook!). I’m always glad to see people I know in the running world! So we got together for a group picture and promised a post-race pic too.
By then it was almost 4:30 and I promised to meet up with some of my other running buds from out of town for dinner. Pre-race pasta party is kinda a tradition with me and most of my run pals. We don’t see each other much but we all have a bit of a racing addiction. So we headed to Maggiano’s and had our pasta party. Then stopped for this lovely crazy picture. I’m totally serious about racing, can’t you tell?
Then back to my sister’s place to prepare. Laid everything out and headed to bed early. I kept getting up to go to the bathroom and having crazy dreams about riding a green and purple dinosaur. So bizarre. So needless to say I woke up completely tired and not ready to race. Had my half sandwich and headed down to the street. I was told to just walk to walnut street and catch a cab. Surprise. NO CABS! I started walking in the direction of the convention center hoping to spy one. No cabs. No one was even out. Eventually I spied a girl wearing Brooks ST5 racers and figured I would follow her. I ended up walking the mile and half to the start point from my sisters place. Call it a warm up and it must have worked!
Gear check, potty break, jump to the corrals. Managed to find Daria in corral 21. Technically I was suppose to start in corral 22, but I could not figure out why. I wasn’t a walker and there were only 23 corrals. I planned on finishing in at least 2:40:00 and somehow ended up with all the barely 4 hour people. But anyway, I corral jumped and got in next to Daria. I checked my pacetat and set my watch for something new. They say never try anything new on race day, but I tried the virtual trainer for the first time. So glad I did. Pacing is my downfall in the race. I always ALWAYS go out too fast. I set the pacer for 11:20 which would put me a little ahead of the 2:30:00 my pace tat was set for. My goal was to stick with my buddy and not go faster than my band. Don’t let the little cartoon man beat you. Don’t go out too fast. It took 40 minutes to get to the start and then we were off. I felt like I was crawling. I wanted to speed out and take the course by storm. But I held back at what felt like a crawl. It felt painfully slow and I really felt great. I was 40 seconds ahead of my pace buddy for the first 2 miles. I figured this was okay because I would walk through the water stops and get back to pace. Well the course was beautiful and the day was perfect. Cool and breezy. I felt amazing, and like I could go on forever. I took no unscheduled walk breaks for fatigue the ENTIRE race (a 1st for me). I walked all the water stops and felt good enough in the second half to get 2 minutes ahead of my pace buddy. The last two miles were the only ones that felt hard. The sun had started beating down and the last bit was a hill. Luckily I saw a dog that looked just like mine and it gave me the push to sprint in the finish. It wasn’t my most stellar finishing kick but it was still there. I was scared to look at my final time on my watch. I ran the whole race without knowing what my real time was. When I finally switched screens to look I was in shock. 02:28:45 my fastest time ever. (Officially it was 02:28:52) I was 2 minutes above my pacetat! I blew a full 18 minutes of my previous PR of 2:46:– I wanted to cry and cheer all at the same time. The best thing was, I felt GREAT! I felt fast the whole time. Never like I was “pretending” to run. And I was really glad I started in a slower corral because no one was ever trying to rush up and pass me for going to slow. I was the passer. I’ll have to remember that for my next corral race.
For those who are curious here are my splits:
Mile 1 – 10:52
Mile 2 – 10:57
Mile 3 – 11:15
Mile 4 – 11:22
Mile 5 – 11:34 – taking in shots
Mile 6 – 10:41
Mile 7 – 11:41
Mile 8 – 10:44
Mile 9 – 12:00 – ever tried to run and hold a fizzing Nuun bottle?
Mile 10 – 10:15 – more shots whew
Mile 11 – 11:26
Mile 12 – 11:11
Mile 13 – 11:44 – there is that sun 😦
Finishing Kick – 10:08
I met up with my sister after and got my medal and goodies. At gear check I ran into Linda and got our post race picture:
I felt like I did my team and myself proud. I have never felt like more of a runner. Me! I ran a 2:28 in a half! Most people will probably call that slow. But I never thought I would break 2:30. Ever. My only half goal this year was to break 3 hours. My first half ever was last year at this time and it was 3:13:20. I can’t believe how far I have come in one year. One year and 45 minutes gone. One year and more 20lbs gone. I am getting faster, lighter, healthier, and happier. I am still in shock that that time belongs to me. For a slow person like me, it means a million bucks. I feel like real runners clock times below 2:30 in a half. It’s just amazing to me. And how I felt! I just can’t put it into words.
Now, if I can only repeat some of this glorious miracle at my half next weekend. Oh yeah, Thursday night I signed up for the Nike Hospice Dash Half this Saturday because there were only 20 spots left and I have the day off…..racing addiction…who me?
- NYCM to me: “you’re too slow!” (nyflygirl.wordpress.com)
- Philadelphia Rock ‘N Roll Half Marathon (bacurran.wordpress.com)
- va beach rock n roll half marathon – race recap (fluffernutterlove.wordpress.com)