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Rockin’ and Rollin’ and What Not: A Race Recap of the Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon

Posted Sep 20 2011 6:19pm

Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K. I got to say it was a good day…” – Ice Cube 

It was one of those days where everything fell into place. If you looked up “Perfect Race Day,” in the dictionary, you would see the words September 18, 2011, Philadelphia Rock & Roll Half Marathon, and my goofy-ass picture. There is nothing about this whole race experience that I would change.

I had met Jamie, Denise, and Sloan at the expo the day before. Remember them? They brought a friend, Jill, who was also running the race. We lollygagged around the expo together for a while and got our goof on a little…














…and set our plans to meet at Rocky the next morning in front of the Philly Art Museum, and then parted ways. See you ladies (and Sloan) in the morning.















Hubby and I then explored the farmer’s market in downtown Philly, where I bought a New Orleans style muffalata sandwich. It was huge and the kids, Hubby, and I all shared it when we got back home.
















That night, I ate one slice of pizza, drank two beers, laid out my gear, got the girls all situated and in bed (Son was sleeping over at a friend’s house and would not be joining us on this little adventure), and was in bed by 10pm.

The next morning, the alarm went off at 4am. It took me a minute to shake the cobwebs off, but once I did, I was ready to go. I felt energetic. My stomach felt good. My head was clear. My running clothes were comfortable. I felt ready for this race. I drank about 8 ounces of water, drank a cup of coffee, and ate one of those mini Lara bars they had given away at the expo the day before.

I bustled around rallying the husband, Daughter 1, and Daughter 2 to get up and out the door early.

Hands on hips…let’s go!






























There was minimal traffic on the way into the city. We arrived at the Philadelphia Art Museum with time to spare, and Hubby found a parking spot that was not only free, but was close to the race start/finish. Before getting out of the car, I chugged a little more water and ate another free sample of a Lara bar. Then we hopped out of the car and headed toward Rocky.

I was nervous but very excited.














As you can see, my daughters were “thrilled” to have their picture taken with me in front of Rocky. I waited for Denise, Jamie, and Jill.


















And there they were! (You don’t see them?)













Is that better?












The weather was gorgeous. Race-Day Perfect. 58 degrees, dry, and just enough sunny to lift you up a few inches. Look at that sky.












The city looked beautiful and clean.












The race was well organized. There were plenty of port-o-johns, the corrals were clearly marked, and the runners were amped up and friendly. Sloan was working a water station at Mile 5, so I wasn’t able to see him before the race. But Jamie, Denise, Jill, and I gathered into our corral and waited, among all the other runners, in the cool morning breeze, while dance tunes pumped through the speakers.

Jamie and I both wanted to finish this race in 2:00 or less, which meant a maximum average pace of 9:09. This would be a huge PR for both of us, as we both had the same existing PR for the half marathon of 2:09. But we trained hard for this and both felt confident we could do it. Denise and Jill decided to run the race at a slightly slower pace than Jamie and me.

Jamie and I reviewed our game plan. We anticipated that the first 5k of the race would be crowded and that we would probably be forced to run the first few miles at a much slower pace than our target while we weaved in and around the slower runners. We knew that we would need to make up this time later, so we tried to mentally prepare on working a few 8:30 or 8:45 min miles in somewhere during the second half of the race.

Finally, 21 minutes after the elites started, our corral was released onto the course.



















Jamie and I were both pleasantly surprised that we were able to settle into our target pace quite easily.  There were a lot of runners around us at all times, but we had plenty of elbow room. Jamie and I clocked the first 5k averaging a 9:03 pace. Nice! And while we were doing this….

























My husband was keeping the girls occupied. They walked around a bit while my husband took pictures.

He took pictures of buildings.












He took pictures of sculptures.












He took pictures of fountains.












But mainly he took pictures of the girls.

…in the coffee shop.













…in thoughtful poses.




















…front of fountains.












…sitting on the grass.












Ouch! We call this “the look!”












And Lucy had fun playing on the fountains while waiting for me to finish the race.








Meanwhile, back in the race, Jamie and I were more or less nailing our splits. We hit the 10k mark in 56:17. I started to feel the race at about the 8-mile mark, so I downed a Gu Roctane. Those have 35mg of caffeine, which normally I would avoid during a race, but my belly was feeling good so I took the chance. I definitely felt better after eating this and was able to plug along fairly steadily.

10 mile mark: 1:31:03; Somewhere around here, I drifted slightly ahead of Jamie.

The last 5k was tough. I kept repeating to myself: Less than 3 miles, less than 3 miles. Hold the pace. Hold the pace.

At about the 12.5 mile mark, I saw Sloan in the crowds. He and I waved to each other.

“Where’s Jamie?” he asked.

“Not far back,” I panted.

I saw him head off to find her and run her in.

As the museum came back into view, all I could think was “Dang, it’s so far away.” But I resumed my mantra, “Hold the pace. Hold the pace. Less than a mile. Less than a mile.

Then the crowds got thicker and I could hear the announcer and music blaring over the loud speakers. Then I saw the Finish arch, and I felt that crazy end-of-race surge of adrenaline and just gunned it through. 1:59:17. I was THRILLED! I PR’d by .

A few minutes later I found Jamie. She finished in 2:00! We were both so happy! Denise and Jill followed not long after us.

I was still grinning ear to ear when I found my family.






















We didn’t hang around to see the Bret Michaels concert that was going on at the finish line because…























All I could think about was this:
















Looking back…













…there is nothing I would change about this day. I feel like I trained well for it. But that’s only part of what you need to have a great race. There are all those other crazy variables that come into play that we simply have no control over, and today, they all just fell into place. Why? I don’t know. The weather, the organization of the race, the support of my family, my running friends whom I have just come to adore…all these things came together and helped form a perfect race day that I will remember for a long time…and I didn’t even have to use my A.K….nice!


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