And here we go!
When I was considering which Run Rock ‘n’ Roll events I wanted to run, I had to take into account my already crazed calendar, my current race commitments and my travel budget. I knew going to Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah would be an easy (and obvious trip), but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for one or two more.
Philadelphia presented itself on a silver platter: the date was open, it was a manageable drive or reasonable flight from my home, AND I had a friend (a running friend) in the area! Granted, I had never actually met her face to face, but we have a mutual friend and we’ve been friends online for years.
I asked S if she would be interested in a guest for the weekend. She said yes. And voila: my Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Weekend Extravaganza was born.
I flew into Philly on Friday morning and S picked me up at the airport. I had made absolutely zero plans other than attending the expo and running the race, and I gave S free reign to show me all the things she loved about her home city. I will share more about the trip in a separate post.
On Saturday afternoon, we walked to the Convention Center to pick up our race packets and explore the expo. There was a nice crowd, but no major waits, which was nice. I was able to pick up a cute tank and a race souvenir for little man.
I confess we didn’t fuel beautifully on Saturday. I mean, we ate delicious things, but brunch, gelato and street tacos (I did have the presence of mind to order a side of rice for the carby goodness) wasn’t the BEST idea before a half marathon. We were having too good of a time sightseeing and chatting to pay serious attention to what we were ingesting (although I was on point with my hydration, so thumbs up for me).
We spent the night at a hotel right down the street from the start line. Even though S lived within 15 minutes, she didn’t want to stress about traffic or parking, and it ended up working out great. We laid out our outfits, toasted with a glass of red wine and hit the sack.
In the morning, we dressed and rolled out the door to Wawa so I could grab a bagel and Gatorade. I was a little nervous (partly because it had been so long since I did such a big race, and partly because I didn’t want to let down S, whose training has been going beautifully), but I was holding it together well.
After a quick pit stop at the port potties, we climbed the Art Museum Steps, where the We Run Social group was meeting for a picture. I was so excited to meet some blogging friends!
The view of the venue from the top of the steps was gorgeous. It was misty, but that added a little something to the ambiance.
S and I felt like we were ready to find our corral, and made our way over. I confess, the start didn’t seem incredibly crowded, for the number of corrals and race numbers. Maybe people had just moved all the way up, but we had plenty of room, and in fact, I kept checking over my shoulder to make sure we were actually where we needed to be and not straggling after all the other runners. It was a little unnerving.
The official race start was 7:30, and we didn’t get moving until right around 8. We crossed the start line and we were off into the heart of Philadelphia.
I’m going to say this: the weather was RUDE. On Friday and Saturday, temperatures were mild (even into the 50s in the early morning and evening) and humidity was low (50ish%). When we walked out of the hotel on Sunday morning, it was back to the 80s with humidity at almost 90%. WHYYYYYYYYYYYYY????
I told S that my strategy was to run as far without intervals as far as I could, and then just enjoy the rest of the race. I ensured her that she was free to go ahead or whatever made her most comfortable, but she said she wanted to stay together, and so we were in it for the long haul.
Miles 1-3 were fine. I went out pretty fast, but I think gravity lent a hand with a bit of a downhill grade. There wasn’t much crowding on the course, and aside from the suffocating humidity, everything was lovely. I usually run in the suburbs or near the beach, so getting to run in a city is a bit of a treat for me.
After that third mile, things started to go uphill. Literally. While S is used to the terrain, since she lives and runs in Philadelphia on the regular, it’s a bit different for me. The course is touted as flat and fast, and it is. For anyone who lives outside of Florida. Fairmount Avenue was most decidedly hilly, but since I wasn’t shooting for any particular goal, I didn’t mind that my legs weren’t prepared for the continuous up and down. I just took it all in stride, and listened to my body.
At around mile 5, we turned out of the city to run along the Schuykill River. The view was stunning, unlike anything I get to see normally, and I wanted to soak it all in. The road continued to roll up and down, and I just couldn’t seem to get into a running groove. On top of that, I was dripping sweat like you couldn’t believe. I had Gatorade in my handheld bottle, but it felt like I wasn’t retaining any fluid at all. I focused on the foliage, the water and the stone tunnels and underpasses, and tried not to worry about it.
We started making stops at every water station, and for the first time in forever, I was actually drinking water as well as additional Gatorade (water usually upsets my stomach). I also hit up the medical stations to get salt, which was available in plain packets, in water, or in Gatorade. Yes, please!
At around the nine mile mark, we crossed a bridge, and were on our way back to the city. Whoo hoo!
We picked up the running a little bit, but I continued to break way for more salted Gatorade to try to replenish the fluids I was losing. In these last miles, we started seeing a few runners down and being tended to by medical personnel. The weather was really no joke.
S assured me that we were close to the finish. We could see the clock marking 13 miles up ahead, and she swore the finish line was right around the corner.
What she didn’t mention was that the final .1 mile was vertical.
We’d come this far, and there was no help for it. We dug in and pushed up the hill. Her husband and come to the finish to see her and she ran to give him a kiss before we crossed that finish line! Yay!
The after party looked great. We grabbed some water and chocolate milk, but we really just wanted to get back to the hotel and into a shower. I was absolutely saturated, and even though I wanted a beer and some food, the promise of clean, dry clothes won out.
I hope to get to do this one again. Despite the elevations, I loved the city and the course, the volunteers and the music. Barring the weather, it was a perfect morning, and such a great way to start my last day in Philly.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia marked my seventh half marathon, and my official return to distance racing. I also got to add Pennsylvania to the list of states where I’ve raced. Can’t wait to be back!
What’s the thing you love most about running in other states and cities?
Have your done any Rock ‘n’ Roll events this year? Which is your favorite?
If you’re looking to join in the fun at any of the Rock ‘n’ Roll races for the rest of the year, don’t forget to save with my code!
*As a Rock ‘n’ Blogger, my entry to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon and Global Tour Pass were complimentary. All opinions are my own.