Hi everyone! If you’ve been reading my blog lately you’ll know that since Disney Princess I’ve been struggling to keep up with my training plan for the Love Run Half. Some weeks I was logging less than 10 miles per week and spending all my time at Barre3 since my legs were so tired. Most of the time I was just doing stuff to prepare for my big move to Alaska in less than 3 weeks. And the 2 long runs I managed to do in the last 5 weeks were both 8 miles long so I was feeling less than prepared. Pair that with my recent weird foot pain and I was a total mess leading up to yesterday’s Love Run Half Marathon in Philly. In fact, for the 2 nights before the race I had nightmares about it and was barely able to sleep. Ugh. On Friday after work I drove over to the convention center to pick up my bib, shirt, and mug. Packet pickup was super easy and there were barely any people there at 4:00 pm so I was in and out in only a few minutes! Bonus: I had enough time on the parking meter to hit up Reading Terminal Market for some pre-race Shoo Fly Pie with my coworker!
Saturday night I forced myself to go to sleep at 10:00 and woke up at 6:30 to get ready for my second half marathon! I’d been stalking the weather all week and to my absolute horror I realized I was going to be running this thing in the rain. It had been raining in Philly for days and I was just hoping that the rain might let up a bit during the 3ish hours that I was going to be outside. Just to be safe, I wore my new super thin waterproof North Face jacket with a thin long sleeved shirt underneath, fleece-lined moisture wicking leggings, and wool socks to prevent blisters. I also brought my new gloves that were supposed to be water and wind resistant as well as my trusty Lululemon head warmer. I was terrified that I would be too cold but since this was my first time running in a waterproof jacket I figured I would play it safe and wear a thinner shirt (note: I know I’m not supposed to try new things on race day but this was an exception since I figured not wearing waterproof layers would make me even more miserable. I need to train in the rain more!). I also wrote my Grandpa’s name on my arm to help keep me motivated during the race.
We ended up leaving a bit later than expected since we live so close to the race, but we also seemed to underestimate how many people would be trying to park in Fairmount near the Art Museum! Andrew had to actually drop me off at the starting line because he couldn’t find a spot in time! The good news is that I only had to spend 10 minutes shivering outside before the race started. I chose not to take my phone because I was afraid it would get wet so we just figured we’d meet up after the race. Before the race started I had made the decision to try to run near the 12:00/mile pacer even with all my training and foot injury worries. I knew doing that would give me a better chance at a PR and would motivate me to keep going if things got tough. I told Andrew so that he could watch out for me on the course. When lining up in the corral I couldn’t get close to the pacer so I started off in front of him and figured once he passed me I’d catch up. Funny enough that never happened…
Miles 1-4 were super fun and I seriously wish the whole race had taken place in center city! Even with all the rain/fog the view of all the buildings was awesome and I loved running towards City Hall. We ran down to Independence Hall and then ran back towards the Art Museum, passing iconic Love Park that gave the half marathon its name. I wish I’d had my phone so I could have taken pictures! Running towards the Art Museum was my favorite part – there were so many people out in the rain cheering us on and it’s such a cool view! I also saw Andrew right before mile 4 and he was so surprised and happy to see me. At that point I realized I was going really fast. My Garmin actually confirms that the first 3 miles were all in the late 10:00/mile pace range, which is waaaaaay off from my usual 12:00-12:30/mile training pace. I was feeling pretty good and was afraid to slow down, so I figured I would try to sustain that pace for as long as I could. After running past the Art Museum we headed down MLK drive along the Schuylkill River. It’s such a pretty view and I loved how flat it was! During mile 5 we ran up a hill into Fairmount Park. Mile 6 took us past the Please Touch Museum and I realized as I ran through the halfway point that I was going way faster than planned. My Garmin told me that I had been running for 1:15, which would put me on track for a sub-2:30 finish! That’s my ultimate dream goal and I never thought I’d be able to do it, especially so soon after my 2:49 finish at Disney! So at that point I told myself that I was going to keep up this pace and not slow down unless I really felt sick or injured.
As soon as I made that decision, it started pouring. Like really, really hard. It was pretty shocking at first, but I soon got used to it and even enjoyed how it felt to run in the rain! I didn’t have to worry about getting sweaty, running through puddles and making my feet wet, or about how much it sucked when the volunteers spilled my water cup on me (it happened but clearly didn’t matter!). I just kept pushing and was able to maintain my pace even with all of the rain in my eyes. Everything was going well until 2 small things happened: my shoe came untied for the first time ever, and the rain began to make my bib disintegrate which caused it to fall off. Tying my shoe caused my legs to feel weird and painful for a few minutes, and having to walk while attempting to re-pin my bib on (with wet, numb hands that didn’t work correctly) put a pretty good chunk of time on my finishing time. In fact, my bib fell off 4 different times! That could seriously have been another minute off my time! Despite these distractions I was able to keep up a pretty fast pace while drinking water at each aid station and fueling with Sport Beans at every other aid station. Although my legs and feet hurt a little, I was feeling really good overall. I kept checking at each mile and realized that I was still on pace for 2:30, but that I’d have to really push at the end to get in under 2:30. Just knowing that my super crazy goal pace was attainable powered me along, even though I knew I’d just be happy to PR at all. The last few miles were filled with a lot of people walking – not as bad as Disney, but I still had to weave a lot and it was starting to tire me out. In mile 13 my race bib fell off for the 3rd and 4th time, and after wasting so much time reattaching it only to feel it fall apart in my hands I just gave up and decided to hold it in my hands when I crossed the finish. At mile 13 I knew I wasn’t going to make it in my crazy goal time (stupid bib!) but I still pushed as hard as I could and crossed the finish in the most insanely unthinkable time!
I was so happy to have PRed by 19 minutes in only 5 weeks! It’s so crazy how much stronger I am after training for Disney Princess. I need to have more faith in myself! I have never been so happy to see a finishers medal – I really earned that thing!
After getting my medal I immediately grabbed a mylar blanket and some water. Then I was herded farther down Eakins Oval to the food tent where I was given a cute little bag filled with a banana, an Uncrustables PB&J, a bag of chips, a soft pretzel, and TASTYKAKE BUTTERSCOTCH KRIMPETS! My favorites!!! I had to ask one of the volunteers to open my water because my fingers didn’t work, and then I set out on the long and terrible quest to find Andrew. Literally 99.9% of people there had black umbrellas, but Andrew had an orange one so I thought it would be easy to find him. Unfortunately 2 other guys had orange umbrellas, so I spent a lot of energy running through massive puddles of mud in the pouring rain thinking I had found him only to discover that it wasn’t him. After about 15 minutes I did find a hot chocolate tent and stopped to get some before bursting into tears because I was so tired, scared, and alone. I realized my lack of planning was causing me to be so miserable and lost. Note to self: always plan a meet-up spot! As I was crying I noticed an orange umbrella across the massive mud pit and realized it was him! I ran through ankle deep mud screaming his name and I basically threw myself at him sobbing. He was so proud of me and said he didn’t expect me to finish that soon so he’d missed me crossing the finish! Thank god for runner tracking which let him know I had finished! Then we had to somehow get out of the finisher’s area and back to the car which was another 10 minute walk. I was so cold that I began to hyperventilate and couldn’t breathe so Andrew suggested that I wait in the lobby of The Philadelphian while he got the car. It was so warm in that lobby, but a lot of old rich people came up to me to ask if I was okay and to comment on how wet my clothes were. Um thanks, I had no idea I was wet. Luckily the door man didn’t kick me out and I was able to jump right into Andrew’s warm car for the ride home!
I honestly have to say that the Love Run is now my #1 favorite run of all time!
What I liked:
- The awesome places we ran through in Philly! I’m planning on doing a “goodbye Philly” run that includes all the iconic Philly locations before I leave, but this race knocked a ton of them off my list already! We ran past the Liberty Bell/Independence Hall, City Hall, Love Park, the Art Museum, Boathouse Row, Please Touch Museum, and had awesome views of the Schuylkill River!
- The cheering crowds that were out despite the rain!
- The amount of runners – about 10,000 signed up and I think over 7,000 actually ran so while I was always surrounded by other runners there were no major overcrowding issues and I only had to weave at the end.
- If it had been nice out the finisher’s festival would have been awesome! I did really appreciate the hot chocolate and the pre-packed race bags with awesome snacks!
- The race swag was awesome! We got a shirt, a mug, and the biggest and shiniest medal that I own!
- Most of the race was flat and the hilly sections were manageable.
- Despite the rain, the weather was much better than Florida (and I was probably just as wet as Disney with all that humidity!)
What I didn’t like:
- How muddy and confusing the finisher’s festival was, but I know that all that mud couldn’t be helped due to the rain!
- That the harder miles of the race took place on MLK drive with almost no one to cheer us on and keep us motivated. I think that finishing in center city would have been better because the crowds would have kept me in a more positive mindset.
- The material they used to make the bibs – I don’t know if they were less sturdy than other bibs out there, but mine partially disintegrated and I had to hold it when I crossed the finish because it wouldn’t stay on!
Overall this was my favorite race due to the location, views, and awesome PR! If you’re looking for a Philly race to add to your 2015 race schedule you should definitely choose this one! And now I can’t wait for my next half marathon – I might just be able to beat that crazy hard goal next time!
Have you ever run for hours in the pouring rain? Have you ever lost someone at the end of a race? What’s your biggest PR amount between races?