It was a perfect weekend for racing the Philly Rock N Roll Half Marathon. We really couldn’t have asked for a better day. That, combined with a couple months of intense training led to a race I am pretty damn happy with. But let’s back up and start with Friday.
It is said that the most important pre-race should actually occur 36 - 48 hours pre-event, so I always eat my pasta 2 nights before. My stomach is pretty sensitive to sauces - I shy away from tomato sauce because of the acidity, and definitely can’t deal with an alfredo - so I typically make this meal at home. I threw together what turned out to be a pretty awesome dinner, which I plan on making much more often. I tossed together some whole wheat linguini with cooked organic ground turkey, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, grated parmesan, black olives, basil paste, and fresh squeezed lemon juice. The basil paste is a new find – I love it and highly recommend it. It’s much more flavorful than dried basil, but is more convenient than fresh basil. Plus a jar of it should last me awhile. Accompanied by some greens and veggies, of course.
I finally slept well on Friday night – thank God. Saturday was pretty low-key. Joe headed out for his 20-miler (yikes) while I enjoyed an easy 3 along the Schuylkill. Our friends Mark and Kelly came in the afternoon to stay with us – Kelly also ran in the Philly Half, so it was so nice to have some company to ease the pre-race jitters. We enjoyed a casual meal at Serafina’s here in Philly – and we were in bed by 10 like good little runners.
Slept great on Saturday as well and was awake by 5:30 AM. I require a lot of time the morning of a race to eat, digest, and pull myself together. Pre-race meal: WW toast, PB, banana, cinnamon and a yogurt bowl of organic plain yogurt, berries, almonds, cinnamon, and chia seeds. Plus coffee. Oh, that is my new Yankee candle: Pumpkin Buttercream – it is simply divine.
Gettin my gear on. Representin’!
We all walked along the Schuylkill to the starting line – about a mile walk. It was a perfect early fall day – a little chilly but nothing that a long-sleeve couldn’t handle. It was so great to be able to walk to the start from my house for a change. I enjoyed a Picky Bar during the walk, and found a porta potty with a smaller than usual line.
I did about ½ mile warm-up, stretched, and headed to Corral 1 where I finally met Megan from Runners Kitchen! We enjoyed a little pre-race banter, and before we knew it, we were off. (Congrats on your PR, Megan!!)
My racing strategy was to maintain a 6:45 min/mile for as long as I could in order for me to run a sub 1:30. The first couple miles were fast, as is usually typical for me. I tried to restrain myself as best I could, but the adrenaline always gets me. I ran with my Joe's new Garmin 610. As was expected, I lost signal in Center City between miles 1 and 2. So these were kind of a free-for-all. Once we headed out of Center City around miles 3 or 4, I figured out that my Garmin was two-tenths of a mile fast and it was pretty consistent for the rest of the race. As we passed the Art Museum again, I saw Joe and Mark at about mile marker 4.5 – which is always a huge mental boost.
I like to break races up into chunks. So, my next strategy was to continue to restrain myself and maintain a 6:45 min/mile from miles 4 through 7. I was feeling pretty good so my splits were still fast. At this point, my mind was seriously going crazy. “You’re going too fast. You’re gonna feel this soon.” I would attempt to slow down a bit, but as soon as I saw my average pace on my Garmin creep up to 6:50, I would freak out that I wouldn’t achieve my goal. But I continued to feel comfortable here, so I just kept moving.
Finally I made it to mile 7. Miles 7 through 10 are what I consider the “meat” of the half, and the scariest part. These are the miles that will make or break it. Once you make it to 10, you’re heading back to the finish line and just knowing that makes it mentally easier. My strategy for miles 7 through 10 was to stay right at 6:40 – which I have to say I nailed pretty well.
The only pain I felt during the race was right around mile 8 or 9. Randomly - only when I race - I’ll experience a Plantar Fasciitis “flare-up” in my arch. Yesterday it happened in my left arch. Every time that this has happened in the past, it always goes away – I just have to remember that. After about 2 minutes of a near mental breakdown and some pretty gritty pain – it stopped. I have no idea why this happens and I honestly never feel this while training so I’ve never felt the need to “fix” it. But I’m definitely going to start researching this more and figure out some strengthening exercises. Thankfully, as always, the pain stopped by the time I reached mile marker 10 and I was psyched. With some extra confidence, I increased the pace because I figured, why not - I feel good.
I took Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews at miles 5, 8, and 11. I LOVE those things.
Like I said earlier, my Garmin was off by 2/10ths of a mile. But, here are the official stats: 1:27:46!
…which means it was time to celebrate! After we took showers, made some recovery smoothies, re-hydrated, and re-grouped back at our place, we headed out for – what else – burgers and beers.
This evening I have a ONE HOUR LONG sports massage at Phila Massage. Natacha at Phila Massage also ran the Philly RNR Half – which makes her an incredible sports masseuse because she understands. (haha) Looking forward to having some post-race banter with her.
So. I have no idea what’s next. I have the Philadelphia Half Marathon in November. This was kind of my contingency plan if yesterday didn’t go well. So I’m not sure what I’ll do. Run it for fun? I don’t know. Sub 1:25? Yikes? One thing I would definitely like to work on is understanding my pace a little better. I still don’t feel like I know what is comfortable, what is too fast, and how fast I could potentially go. Sometimes I feel like my pace is all over the map – so I would like to get smarter here.
And I may or may not be getting marathon fever again. We’ll see.
Congrats to all who raced this weekend! Any awesome runs??? Let’s here it!