Sunday, September 16, 2012

RNR Half Marathon, Phildelphia, PA. 9/16/12.

Woke up at 4:15 to drive  to Philly, feeling unsure.  A long time ago, I thought maybe this race could be a PR race.  After all, with the exception of my first half, I have set all my half marathon PR's on this course and nowhere else.

Some Race History:
The first time I walked into a corral at the Philly Half in 2007 (Philly Distance Run, PDR, back then), I stepped on the course as "Someone who likes to run." But after running a 20 minute PR (1:41:44 at only my second half and the very first time I ran 13.1 miles non-stop), I walked off as "A Runner!"

The next year I ran a new PR at 1:39:32 in 2008, then a 1:34:29 in 2009.  At this point I stopped running the PDR because it conflicted with the National 24 Hour Championship.

I also stopped running the PDR because I didn't want be disappointed. I was pretty proud of that 1:34.  I raced my friend Susanne and we were both on fire!  It was one of the most exciting races of my life.  We ran hard, pushing ourselves beyond what either one of us expected to be able to do at the time.  I think we both set PR's in every distance as we split them, from 4 miles, 5 mile, 10k, 15k, 10M, 20k through half marathon as we when along.  It was an amazing race!

So after a 2 year break, I decided to go back.  I was not set up for anything spectacular this time.  I ran 90.5 miles the seven days preceding this race.  I ran an easy paced 16.6 miler the day before.  I even raced a 3:27 marathon one week ago.

Today's Race:
Today's race was no longer the PDR, but now the Rock and Roll Half Marathon. It was the presence of Brooks Running as a sponsor of this race that inspired me to participate.  I was assigned to Corral 2, behind Corral 1, and behind the Elite Corral. Just before the start, a man dragged a rope in front of me and announced that he was dividing Corral 2 from Corral 3.  Wait? What?  I am in 2, but he just put me in 3.  However, I actually would prefer to start at the front of 3 than the back of 2 so I stayed.  Many others around me appeared to have felt cheated out of starting in their "more prestigious" or "faster" corral, seemed to frustrated and ducked the rope to get back in Corral 2.

The Gun goes off! And all the runners in the street in front of me move.  Overflow runners from the side of the corral file in and fill the empty spaces left from those now in motion.  When all those runners moved through the start, my new Corral 3 buddies start flipping out, yelling GO GO GO! Runners start jostling and many duck under the rope and start bolting towards Corral 2 runners who got those few seconds "head start."

As Corral 3 runners slip under the rope to my left and to my right, and the guys behind me continue to yell AT ME, to GO GO GO, I finally submit and duck under the rope as well. Just behind me I hear the guy in charge of the rope command the rest to "Just Wait!"

I wasnt about to turn back.  Within seconds, I was trapped in the wall of people, many of whom should have never ever lined up in the first wave.

As I watch my Garmin throw fits between buildings, reporting 9 min miles, then 5 min miles, I just ran how I felt.  I hit M1 in 7:20.  Oh boy.  I remember my best PDR, where  I called out our mile 1, mile 2, and mile 3 splits as all sub-7.  Today's 7:20 start did not put me a good place to run the best half of my life.

The next mile was more roomy and I was able to make up some time.  M2 clocked in at 6:50.   Knowing that I was at least sub-7:12 (my old PR pace) helped.  But having only 2 seconds per mile was not enough considering how I faded to a 1:34:29 when at my best.

At this point I began to notice a man sticking to me like glue.  If I cross the street to hug a turn he was right at my side.  If I crossed back, so did he.  We were both seeking out the tangents, so it made sense that he was running the same lines, but he was just so close.  I mis-split my watch at M3, so M3 and M4 were useless to me.  All I knew is this guy was hanging and we had found a steady rhythm together.  I was starting to get used to him.

By M5, M6, M7, M8 I knew I was hitting 7:10s within a second or two.  But at 8.8 we started to head towards the bridge and my guy faded back for a gel.  I pressed forward wondering where he went.  All this time, he was right at my side... So close... No eye contact... No words... and suddenly he was gone.  So sad....

As I crossed the bridge, I looked back and saw him.  I raised my hand, and called out "Get up here!"  He called back, "I'm coming!"  I was happy again!  LOL.

He caught me on the down hill and I said, "We are doing good together. Good energy!"  He said, "You sure can nail those 7:10's!"  I said, "I'm trying!" and then I introduced myself.  He told me his name was Patrick.  I then decided talking was tiring. "No more talking until we are done. 4 to go! Lets do this!"  He gave me a nod and we picked up the pace.  We used any decline, hugged the turns, found the best lines to get through clusters of people.  We moving better than almost everyone around us.

I felt good, but wondered if I would crumble at 10, 11, 12...  I wondered when Patrick would start his kick and if I could hang. I wanted to run hard through the finish. We hit M9, M10, M11 and the pace was 7:05 or better.  I felt good!

We hit M12 and I knew I had more to give.  I picked it up from the start of the mile and tried to hold it. I passed a woman who passed back.  She was just out of reach.  I was trying to get her.  It was like she had eyes behind her head and knew that I was trying and would not let me near her, but was not pulling away either.  I didn't have it in me to catch her.  I felt defeated, but I figured I likely started behind her, so technically I was probably beating her.  And then I saw the M13 and felt a new life in my legs.

There was an incline to the finish.  I felt strong, so I made one last push and passed her fast. My last 0.1 was at a 6:00 pace.  I was proud to not give up a place because I felt defeated.  I dug and there really was something there.  I had more when I thought I did not.

There is no better feeling than believing you are empty and finding a false bottom!

I hit stop as I crossed the line and saw my reward: 1:33:42. New Half Marathon PR.

Once home I got to see the beautiful results of my work today: my masterpiece of pacing --->

661 out of 15,116 OA
128 out of 8843 Women
10 out of 1528 in my AG


  1. Beautiful run.

  2. Very impressive 1/2 marathon !! Keep rocking those miles and inspiring !!