Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

16 Sep


Yesterday was the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, and my first half marathon in three years. I picked up my race packet on Saturday afternoon, and laid out all of my gear Saturday night. It is interesting to me how something that seems so simple, I mean, you just run, requires so much planning and “stuff.” You have to pin the number on your shirt, and put the timing chip on your shoe, make sure you have an outfit you know will be comfortable (now is not the time to try out some new shorts or a new pair of shoes), pack up your running arm band with your ID/debit card/etc.

Alex and I got up at 6:15 and I had my usual breakfast of two pieces of peanut butter and jelly toast, and a banana. We snagged the 7:00 a.m. Broad Street Line north to meet my dad at his hotel. This was the second time that he’s run the race as well, so we were both excited. Together the three of us walked over to the race start at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The scene you come upon when you walk up to one of these races makes you think “I’ve never seen this many people in one place.” I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that there were 20,000 participants.

I was in corral 21, so it took awhile for me to cross the starting line. I figured it out to have been about 36 minutes after the race actually started. I saw Alex at the starting line and high fived him as I went past, and then I was on my own. My plan for the race was to do intervals running 4 minutes and walking 1 minute, but I ran the entire first mile without headphones and just took it all in. The views, the spectators, the cheers, I just let it all wash over me. The course took us down the Ben Franklin Parkway, and then over JFK Blvd through the financial district. We looped back around on to Market Street and ran towards City Hall. I remember looking up at the building as I ran towards and thinking, “this is my city.” I seriously love Philadelphia. After looping around City Hall we continued on Market Street down to the historic district, and then looped back towards the museum district by running through Chinatown.


That’s Alex’s hand, ready for the high-five!

Alex was waiting for me at the mile 4 marker for another wave. I might have missed him if a dude hadn’t been standing in front of the time clock. I care about my times and I needed to see what the clock said, and this dude was seriously, completely blocking it with his entire body. As I considered yelling at him I saw Alex standing two people over from the sign. I yelled his name since he didn’t see me and then waved like a maniac. The next mile took me back to the Art Museum, and the streets were still lined with spectators. I kept looking at the crowd, seeing if I knew any one, and reading their creative signs (“Run like there’s a hot guy ahead of you and a creepy guy behind you” and “Motivational sign.”). I welcomed and embraced the distraction because I knew once we got on Kelly Drive the crowds would thin out.

Miles 4 through 6 went well, I got a little tired but I knew I could keep pushing. Around mile 6 I started doubting myself. I had some looping thoughts like “I’m not even half way done.” “There’s over an hour left of this.” “I can’t do this.” I tried to stop thinking in terms of how many miles were left and began to just take it one mile at a time, so instead of getting to 13 I needed to get to 7. That worked, and the next thing I knew I was at mile 8.

At Mile 8 they had a GU station. I haven’t trained with GU but I took some anyway, because I was feeling a little sluggish and I knew it would help. GU, for the unfamiliar, is a gel/goo substance that is full of carbs/electrolytes that is defined for quick-on-the-go consumption. I made a mistake. The GU I took was Vanilla Bean flavor. I’ve never thrown up while running, but I came really close after consuming the slightly warm, vanilla, gel packet. Gross. And of course after seeing water stops at what seemed like every single mile, there wasn’t another water stop until Mile 10.

I hung strong down West River Drive after crossing the Falls Bridge. Around Mile 11 though, I started to fall apart again. Funny that you can run 11 miles and then think that two miles was too much. 11 miles seemed like nothing, but that last 2? Who can run 2 miles? Not me I was sure. During a walk break I texted Alex, I needed reinforcement that I could do this. He told me I could do it, and since I was half way between mile 11 and mile 12 it was only going to be 16 more minutes. That helped, and I ran the next four minutes. During the next walk break I looked at my email and saw all of the messages from my friends on Facebook telling me that I was inspiring them and that they were proud of me, and then I knew I could do it.

Finally I got to the 20k point, which is 12.4 miles. My limited math skills told me that I was .7 miles from the finish line. The subway stop that I walk to everyday is exactly .7 miles from my house. So I meditated on that, “you just have to get home from the subway, you do that everyday.”

The last .1 of the 13.1, arguably the hardest part of the race as it is, is uphill. Uphill, into the sun. I personally think it’s pretty cruel. But it is what it is. I came up this hill and saw Alex on the sideline and couldn’t have been happier. I crossed the finish line a few seconds later with a big fist pump and a smile (or so I thought, the photographic evidence from the MarathonFoto people shows me making a pretty ugly face).


I’m smiling in this photo, so we’ll take that.

My goal for the race was 2 hours and 30 minutes, and I finished in 2 hours and 32 minutes. My final pace was 11:39/mile. I’ll take it!

I’m so glad I did it, and can’t wait to start training for November. But for today, I’m sticking to the couch.


4 Responses to “Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap”

  1. Donna Russell September 16, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

    Yay Jess! I am so proud of you! Love you!

    • Jessica Main September 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      Thanks!! I can’t wait for the next one, I’m really hooked 🙂

  2. Leah Felicity Lucci September 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    Awesome! I’m so glad you chose to rock it out!!! A+ work! xoxo!

    • Jessica Main September 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm #

      There was a guy that ran the race while dribbling two basketballs. On his back someone had written (scrawled really) Follow me: @doctordribble. Which is how we decided that MainlyRunning needs a logo, which will promptly get printed on running tank tops for race wear!

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