On Sunday, I ran my last big race of the year – the Philadelphia Half Marathon. This one was sort of a surprise add to the schedule. Some friends were running and had room in their hotel room, so I said, “Hey, why not.” Plus it helped me continue my unplanned pattern of half marathon racing:
2010 – 3 halfs
2011 – 6 halfs
2012 – 9 halfs
For those of you wondering, no, I will not be running 12 halfs next year. 9 was enough for me. My wallet can’t handle any more races. Plus I’m running a full marathon and two triathlons next year.
This race was a great time all in all. We arrived on Saturday afternoon and it was clear the whole section of the city was prepping for the race. Our room keys were even advertisements for the race! The expo was smaller than I expected, but I found a new pair of gloves and some new fuel gels to experiment with. Honestly, it’s probably best that I didn’t find a lot of things to buy. My poor wallet can’t handle it!
Saturday evening, we met up with a group of people for dinner, which is always fun. I have met some of the nicest people through running. It helps that they don’t look at me like I’m crazy when I say I’m going on an 18 mile training run (though they do think I’m nuts for getting up as early as I do to run before work).
Race morning arrived and the joke was that I actually got to sleep in. Getting up early to train does make those early race mornings just a little easier. The forecast was mid 30′s to low 50′s, with very light winds. I wore a running skirt and my long-sleeved Team New Skin shirt. I worried that I would be too warm in the long sleeves, but didn’t feel like wearing the tank and arm sleeves.
Let’s just say my instincts were right. It was cold. I had purchased a cheap blanket at IKEA to wear before the race and I was so glad I did. I wished I had kept it for the first mile or so.
But on to the running.
Now, here’s the problem. I get race brain. I tend to forget courses almost immediately. It’s why I have no problem running the same race over and over again. I don’t remember that I was there.
The course was enjoyable. Jen and I started off the race together. Unfortunately, the streets for the first mile or so were a bit rough. Lots of patchwork. I didn’t have any trouble, but somewhere between miles 1 and 2, Jen and I saw a girl who had clearly face planted. She was bleeding profusely from somewhere on her face, and they were bringing an ambulance for her. She was conscious though, and I hope she’s okay. Lesson? Make sure you pay attention to the running surface.
The crowds for this race were awesome. Lots of cheer groups out, and hilarious spectators with GIANT signs with their friends’ faces on them. I’m glad my friends haven’t made a 3 foot tall cutout of my head. That would be terrifying.
I was really impressed with the number of volunteers. Maybe I just noticed them more because of the color of their sweatshirts and because our friend Suzanne was volunteering, but they were everywhere! Definitely a good thing.
It’s a hilly race, but I like hills. What goes up must come down, and I love the feeling of flying down a hill.
Around mile 9.5, Jen told me to go ahead of her. Since I’ve been marathon training, this was a step back week for me, and I think I was pushing her a little too hard. I felt bad leaving her, but I wanted to try for a sub-3 to finish my racing season strong (I’ve been lollygagging a lot of my races as of late, and I need to get back to taking it seriously).
I had a great finish. I came in at 2:52:45. No, that’s not fast by any means, but my PR is 2:48:33, so this was an awesome race for me. It turns out it’s my fourth fastest half, and in the three faster races, I had set out to run PR races. To run this fast as a surprise feels awesome! I know it has a lot to do with marathon training – having run 16 miles the weekend before, 13.1 didn’t feel so scary. I think that next fall, I may try to run this race again and work for a PR. Not committing to anything yet, but I think it’s possible.
After the race, I grabbed a heat sheet, though I didn’t think I would need it. Oh my goodness, I am glad I had it. Sometime during the race, the clouds showed up and the wind picked up. It was COLD. Jen noted while we ran that my legs were bright pink from the cold. I didn’t even notice. After the race, they had hot chicken broth, which sounds so strange, but it tasted so good!
All in all, an awesome finish to the 2012 distance racing season. Next up, marathon.