Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap

18 Dec

On November 22nd I ran the Philadelphia Half Marathon. This race has been a bucket list race for me for years, but for some reason it never quite worked out with the timing. I have run Rock n Roll Philadelphia three times but knew that the official Philadelphia Half (and Marathon) would be a totally different experience.

I  was so exited to be in Philly for this race. I met up with a friend of mine (I worked in the Philadelphia suburbs for close to 5 years after I graduated from college) and we grabbed lunch in the ‘burbs before taking the train into the city for the expo. One benefit of staying in the suburbs is being able to pay for a MUCH cheaper hotel (which usually includes free parking).  You just have to be willing to wake up super early to get into the city on race morning…details on that soon.

Anyhow, we took the train in and got off at Jefferson station and it was a quick easy walk to the expo at the Philadelphia Convention center. Packet pick up was easy, and I even got to change my corral since I’ve had some recent PRs! The tech shirts are nice – they are long sleeved charcoal grey and have the course map on the back which I love.

We walked around the expo getting samples before heading out into the city to walk around a bit and get some coffee.  Philadelphia was also being decorated in its holiday finest with small holiday markets everywhere and an ice skating rink by City Hall. We had a good time walking around and then met a couple of friends of mine for dinner at Barra Rosa. My dad and I ate there for Rock n Roll Philly and there was no wait but this time we had to wait a good 45 minutes.  It was fine though, the non-runners had some drinks at the bar and we hung out talking. The food was worth the wait too. I love that place!

After eating my friend and I took the train back to the ‘burbs and she dropped me off at my hotel. It was a looong evening, especially since we had to wait a bit to eat. I got back to the hotel and after applying my K-Tape, and getting all of my stuff ready for the next morning it was close to midnight.

I had issues sleeping all night, I’m not sure why. I just could not for the life of me fall asleep. I tried everything. Got up from bed and stretched, download an app to help me fall asleep, turned the tv off, turned the tv on, read, etc. Nothing worked. I got maybe 1.5 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I hope I never have issues like that before a race again, seriously. Or really on any night. ha.

My alarm went off at 3:30am. (Told you it was early.) I wanted to give myself ample time to get ready and drive into the city, just in case (I ate my breakfast in the car). The race corrals opened at 5 (the race at 7) and we were told to expect delays because they were doing security screenings for all runners.

The roads were empty driving to the city as I hoped, and no roads were closed yet. I had previously  reserved parking at a hotel my other friends were staying at through Parking Panda, which was the best idea ever. I had guaranteed parking so I had nothing to worry about. I met up with my friends in the lobby of the hotel and was able to use the (real) restrooms a few times while they ate breakfast. After that we walked through city hall and down to Kelly Drive by the Art Museum for the start.

As promised, they were screening anyone with a bag of any sort in order to enter the secured area that spanned a block from the race course in either direction. Spectators could enter too which was nice.

It was pretty freaking cold at the start – low 40s I’m guessing.  But standing in my corral you could get a beautiful view of the city in the early morning light.

Philly Half (1)

I had plenty of time to find my corral, grab a cup of water and use the porta-a-poties. I tried to keep moving to stay warm and was so thankful I had a throwaway sweatshirt and gloves.

Philly Half (4)

After opening remarks, the national anthem and a quick hello from Mayor Nutter they sent off the first corral. It took about 30 minutes until they got to my corral and I held onto my sweatshirt until the very end.

My plan was to run the first mile and then start with my intervals and I did just that. I took off for the first mile and ran it in 9:56.

From there my pace gradually slowed (positive splits FTW! ha). I was feeling REALLY crappy. My body could not get acclimated to the temperatures, and I was cramping constantly. As soon as a cramp on my right side would go away one on my left would appear. aaaand repeat. I’ve dealt with cramps before but this was a whole other ballgame.  I literally considered dropping out around mile 2 when we were running along the Delaware river. But then I told myself to get to 5k and see how I felt.   I never really felt much better but the crowd support was amazing!!! There were groups of people cheering everywhere! I even saw a Pope Francis look-alike. Running through center city, the historic areas, south street, etc were so awesome. This race course showcases Philadelphia in a great way.

I hit the 10k mark in 1:10:08 – which is faster than the time I PRed the Hershey 10k in. But I knew I couldn’t keep up the pace, and I was okay with it. This race was not about a PR or a negative split. It was about seeing Philadelphia on foot and finishing up my fall race season on a positive note.

At mile 7 we entered university city and all of the college students were out sitting on their porches and drinking and cheering us on. From there the race passed the zoo, and went up along the Schuylkill river towards the Please Touch Museum.  This was probably my least favorite portion of the course because we were out of downtown and going up hill around mile 10. ugh.

Luckily we made a u-turn and were rewarded with a glorious downhill before going back up towards the finish along the river.

There is a full marathon that turns to the left to head back along the other side of the river at mile 13, while the half-marathoners turn right to head to the finish. I was so glad to be doing the half!  I finished in 2:38:27 – a pretty respectable time given how crappy I was feeling. A year ago I would have finished a crappy race in a much, much, much slower time.

Philly Half (3)

I really enjoyed this race, except for my cramping issues. I plan to run this one again in a few years and hopefully feel better so I can really take in the awesome course and crowd support.

If I’m being honest though, I was glad to be done with half marathons for a little while.  Philly was my 6th race (5 halfs and a 5k) in 5 weeks and my legs were done and ready to rest. And my shoes were too.

This fall was about pushing my limits and my fitness and I proved to myself I was far stronger than I imagined and I was grateful to finish the year in the city where I ran my first half marathon. 🙂
Philly Half (2)


4 Responses to “Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap”

  1. Darlene December 18, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    Sounds like the Love Run course (which I ran in the rain). I definitely want to run another in Philly. Maybe this one??

    Congrats on a decent finish. They all can’t be fast.

    • Becca December 18, 2015 at 11:52 am #

      Darlene I definitely recommend it!!!

  2. Patrice Nissen December 18, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    Congratulations, Becca🏆! I’m always pleased if I finish my half in at 2:38! I think your body must be very tired, and maybe that’s why you got cramps. That is a lot of racing in a short period of time! Nice job on all your recent PR’s !


  1. Rock n Roll Philadelphia 2010 (#tbt Race Recap) | Diary of a slow runner - February 4, 2016

    […] before halfs (a veggie burger and shrimp salad? no. haha) I love that Rock n Roll Philly now holds my half marathon PR (from last year). […]

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