Todd and I ran this race last year, when it was still the Philadelphia Distance Run. 2010 is the first year where it is officially part of the "Rock & Roll" series. Last year, everything for the race was just perfect. The weather, my training, the course, the race itself, everything. I ended up running 2:37, which was at the time an unthinkable half marathon PR and I even felt great at the end!
So, I signed up for 2010 only a day or two after the race, and we went back up this year to race again.
First, we decided last year that we wanted to see more of Philadelphia, so we booked the hotel for Friday and Saturday instead of just coming up on Saturday afternoon. Friday after work, we headed up to Philadelphia (surviving both Baltimore and Philadelphia traffic), and had dinner on Friday night at my roommate from college's house. It was so good to see her, and it was great to see her house as well! :) After that, we headed to downtown to our hotel
A slight note about the hotels: Last year, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Downtown. It was very nice and we liked it, but it lacked the kitchen that we usually like to have on race mornings. Instead, this year we booked the Residence Inn Center City, right next door to the Courtyard. I think the Courtyard is the nicer hotel, but doesn't have the nice kitchen that the Residence Inn has. The Courtyard only has a fridge. The Residence Inn has a full breakfast, but it irritated me that they didn't start it earlier on race day. It also really annoyed me that I requested late checkout when I reserved the room, when we checked in, and the night before the race, but they wouldn't commit to letting me check out later until race day. I was only asking for one hour, it seemed ridiculous that I had to go so far out of my way to get it.
Saturday, we slept in some, had breakfast in the hotel, and then headed over to the Expo. We bought fleece sweatshirts (as if I don't have enough of those), and Todd gave Yurbuds a try. It was a pretty good expo, with lots of things to see and buy and such. I can't say too much about it, though, as it was pretty much the same stuff you'd expect from a large half marathon. Nothing spectacular or unusual.
After the expo, we dropped our stuff back off at the room (waiting for a while for the maid to get out of it, and then deciding we'd waited long enough and went into the room to see her on her cell phone in there). Then, we went sight seeing. We went to the usual historical sights in Philly - Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, etc. And, I did some Geocaching. Everything was so crowded. We had a cheese steak as well, and then headed back to the hotel room to rest up before dinner.
Dinner was at Portofino. The food was good, but the service was a little slower than I would have liked. However, it was great. We were a party of 16 because we just had so many people running the race (pretty much my entire running group), so it's understandable that things were a little slow. Then, it was back to the room for resting.
We met in the hotel lobby at 7am, and then headed over to the starting area. We finally met up with everyone, and I went ahead up a bit in corrals to my corral so that I could get the best start possible. This worked well. It was about 30 minutes before we crossed the starting line, and the leaders were even passing by just as we started (they were on mile 5).
Todd and I started out with two others, but by mile 2 we were by ourselves. The beginning of the race is in the downtown area, and while I was doing ok, I was already feeling hot. It was about 10 degrees warmer than in 2009 (last year, I was shivering at the start, this year I was comfortable). The sun was hot. I kept it at about a 12-minute pace, though, which was what I wanted. I really wanted to do a 2:37, which was last year's time for this race, and my miracle time was a 2:33, which would match my half marathon PR that I set at Lehigh Valley in April.
We headed down into the second part of the course, which took us out along the Schuylkill River. They had reversed the course from last year, so that we went out along the river on the opposite riverbank that we did in 2009. Someone said this was more shaded, but I thought it made the course a lot more boring than the year before, and also resulted in the last half mile or so being uphill.
On the riverbank, I kept it at a 12 minute pace, but I was frankly fighting to keep that pace up and I started to doubt I could really beat last years time. We crossed the river and I had a couple of slower miles. I felt like the other riverbank was uphill slightly, where the first riverbank was not. It was getting hotter and I was struggling. I told Todd that I felt as if I was working just as hard as I was at Lehigh Valley, but that I was slower and that was frustrating. Of course, it was raining and 48 degrees at Lehigh Valley.
When we were in the sun, it was hot. Between mile marker 12 and 13, I started getting nauseous. I feel like I ran Annapolis fine (and at about the same pace), and it was hotter. I don't know, it didn't seem like it was that hot, but I wasn't prepared or something, and I felt like I was frying in the heat. It reminded me a lot of the Baltimore Half Marathon in 2008 - that race was also not as hot as Annapolis, but started late and I was sluggish and unhappy.
I still managed to push through, and I admit that the only thing that got me through the last 2 or 3 miles was that I just wanted it to end as soon as possible. I finished with a time of 2:40:17, pretty good, but slower than my goal. I can't help it, I still feel disappointed by that time.
So, some things that might have contributed to me not having that great of a race:
- Hydration. I tried to hydrate, but I think I didn't hydrate as much as I could have on Saturday. I don't think this was my biggest issue though. I definitely felt thirsty through most of the race, and I probably should have gone ahead and brought a water belt for this one. I typically don't wear one for half marathons, though. I would drink at the water stops and then I would feel OK, but then I was very, very thirsty by the time I got to the next one.
- Food. I brought my usual gummy worms, but I would get so thirsty that I didn't want to eat. Then, by the time I was nauseous at the end, I really didn't want them. I only ate about 4 of them, and I should have eaten more like 10-15. This may have given me more energy. Then again, I have completed half marathons without eating anything, too, so who knows.
- Heat. Like I said, it was hot, but didn't seem that hot. I don't know what the daytime high ended up as, someone said 84. So, I guess it felt like I should be pushing it and so I tried, but it was a little too hot and I should have just slowed down.
- Belize. I went on a vacation before the race, which disrupted my training schedule. I did do the best I could at getting the runs in, but I don't know if it was good enough.
- Weight. I weigh a little more (maybe 5 pounds) than I did in 2009. I can't find the statistics now, but I believe Jeff Galloway has said before that it something like 2 minutes added to a half marathon time for every 5 pounds of weight gain -- so that's about right.
- Long Run. We did our last long run (17 miles) on August 14. I felt like that was far too early and it really should have been at least 2 weeks later, but probably 3 weeks later. The schedule just wasn't right for us for this race this year, and that was really annoying.
So, I had some things to keep in my head for this year, but in the end 2:40 is very respectable and I'm Ok with it.
After the race, we headed back to the hotel for a shower and then drove on back to Baltimore.
Nearly my entire running group ran this race, and most of them set new PRs. I am so happy for them, because that was my biggest goal for this year. YOU GUYS DID GREAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(This is part of my running group after the race - I'm carrying my Spibelt and some fruit cups that I'd shmuggled from the post-race area...)