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Delaware & Lehigh Heritage Half Marathon Race Recap (#2halfs1wknd Race 2)

5 Nov

Last we left off, we left Philadelphia and drove up to Slatington, Pennsylvania (near Jim Thorpe) to a local high school to pick up our bibs and shirts for half marathon number two of the weekend!

Packet pickup only went until 3pm but luckily we made it there with plenty of time, despite hitting some traffic leaving Philadelphia (typical, ha). My dad and I were starving so after we grabbed our bibs we went to a local pizza place to eat a few slices for a belated lunch. Then we went to the hotel and recovery/preparing for day two commenced. I spent the next couple of hours setting out my clothes for the next morning’s race, rolling my legs a ton with the stick and forcing myself to take an ice bath (and subsequent hot shower).

D L Half (1)

We ate a local italian place so we could get our pre-race pasta and then went back to the hotel and relax more. My dad and I were both asleep by probably 9:30 and with the time change we got a TON of sleep which was awesome.

The next morning we woke up around 6 and my dad told me he decided not to run the race. His knee was really bothering him and with a another race this month (Rock n Roll Savannah) and plans to do the Bermuda Triangle Challenge in January it wasn’t worth potentially injuring himself more for this race. Instead he promised me he would drive to various points on the race course to cheer me on.

The race started at a local high school at 8. We got there around 7:15 and had plenty of time to use the real(!) bathrooms before the race started.

D L Half (2)

I was honestly feeling pretty nervous for this race. Even though my legs were feeling pretty good thanks to all the stretching I did the previous day, I had no clue how it was going to feel to start running again.  I knew I would make it to the finish line, but with the faster times I’ve been finishing in I felt a whole new type of pressure. I didn’t want to completely give up and come in significantly slower than I have been.

Since this was a smaller race (about 900 people) that also had special accommodations for walkers (including walker-only awards) they provided pace groups and encouraged runners to line up accordingly. I lined up in between the 2:20 and 2:30 pacer. I don’t enjoy having to keep up with or chase someone – it makes it feel much tougher for me. But I figured I would stay ahead of the 2:30 pacer as long as freaking possible and then try to keep her in my sight if she eventually passed me. I also decided that I did NOT want to see that 2:45 pacer at all, so I would try my hardest to stay as far in front of her as possible.

The race started right at 8 and I took off, planning to run the first mile and then settle into my intervals – the same strategy I had the day before. Unfortunately for this race there was a huge steep hill towards the end of mile one. The RD had warned us about it and promised that it was the only hill on the entire course (the rest was flat or slightlight downhill). So when I felt myself pushing too hard up the hill, I slowed to a walk. Everyone around me did as well. My mile 1 spilt was 11:33.

Once we crested the hill and started heading down I sped up a lot, miles 2 and 3 were in the 10:30 range.  I was feeling good but also could tell that my legs were by no means feeling as fresh as they did during yesterdays race.

I saw my dad at mile 3 which was a nice boost.

From there we started on the D&L Heritage Trail. It goes right along the Delaware river, which is gorgeous, and it’s crushed limestone which felt nice on my legs, compared to asphalt.  My pace slowed a bit but I was feeling good. I took my gus at my planned times and tried to focus on running as fast as possible to stay ahead of the 2:30 pacer.

I opted to wear my Camelbak for this race because there were only four water stops, and I need to be able to drink more often than that. I was pretty impressed by the water stops they did have though – there was always water, gatorade and gus from the very first one on. The volunteers were very friendly too. There was a lot of crowd support for such a small race – a number of folks were driving to various points on the course to see their runners like my dad did.

Around mile 6.5 I heard the 2:30 pacer behind me. I was determined to stay ahead of her as long as possible, and I did. Until she passed me at mile 7.5.  Mentally that kind of hit me a bit – I saw my dad at mile 8 and remember saying to him “the pacer got ahead of me.”  But I also tried to focus on the fact that I was probably still in a great place to finish under 2:45, and 2 months ago I would have paid a million dollars to finish that quickly.

Miles 9 through 11 were pretty rough. My feet started hurting, I started to chafe on my arm, and mentally I was pretty shot. I kept reminding myself that I was basically on mile 23 of 26.2 in two days, and that in and of itself, was something to be proud of.  I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I saw my dad again around mile 11 and knew that we would soon be moving off of the trail and onto the road for the final stretch. I did the math and knew I would be well under 2:40 at this point.

Once we got off the trail and entered a neighborhood and then a park I knew we were close. I turned the corner and saw the finish I pushed myself as much as I could to completely empty all the energy I had left. I crossed the finish in 2:35:20. A mere 4 minutes and 30 seconds slower than RnR Philly the previous day! I was thrilled I managed to come in as fast as I did.

D L Half (3)

My #2halfs1wknd challenge was a complete success. I completed both races faster than I thought possible, managed to PR during race #1 and overall my body felt pretty good!

If you want to read my recap of day 1 at Rock n Roll Philadelphia, click here.

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Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon Race Recap (#2halfs1wknd Race 1)

4 Nov

On Saturday October 31st I ran the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon as the first part of my challenge to do two half marathons in a weekend.

My dad and I got into Philly and to the expo on Friday evening around 5:30. I was shocked at how empty the expo was! We easily picked up our bibs and shirts and I also bought a shot glass and some body glide. We spent a good amount of time walking around and trying samples and seeing all the booths set up. Check out the awesome halloween themed race bib!

RnRPhl 2015 (1)

The race started at 7:30 on Saturday. We stayed in a hotel right off the Ben Franklin Parkway so we were able to walk down to the start area very easily and had plenty of time to use the porta potties, check a bag and hang out before getting into our corral around 7:00.

Usually Rock ‘n’ Roll Philly is in September but this year it was moved to the end of October because of the Pope visiting Philadelphia in September. I had no complaints about the date change – the weather was going to be perfect, high 50s/low 60s once the sun came up!

RnRPhl 2015 (2)

My dad moved back to my corral because his knee had been bothering him, and knowing we had a race the next morning he wanted to take it easy. I on the other hand, felt like I wasn’t really going to be able to hold myself back. My plan was to run the first mile as comfortably as possible to warm up (it was in the low to mid 40s before we started), and then start in with my 1:30/0:30 run/walk intervals.

We finally crossed the start line around 8:10. This is a HUGE race, so they let runners go one corral at a time to keep the course from getting too crowded. We saw the elites coming back towards us (they were at mile 4ish) before we even crossed the start.

We finished the first mile in 10:39, and frankly I could have gone faster but had to do a fair amount of weaving, which was probably a good thing to make me slow down some.

Somehow we managed to do the second mile in 10:38 – I had some great power songs coming on my iPod and felt generally pumped up.

From there we settled into a more comfortable pace.

We crossed the 5k timing may at 34:29 which felt really good.

Around mile 4 the course takes you out of downtown Philadelphia and past the art museum, and down along the Skyukill river. I knew this. and I knew that we had a bridge to cross at some point to get over the river before heading back towards the finish at the art museum.

Oh. my. god. The 4-5 miles it took for us to get to the bridge to cross the river felt like FOREVER. I don’t know what it was, but mentally I sort of lost it around mile 4.5. The tongue on my one shoe kept sliding to the side and felt really uncomfortable, I was having some mild cramps and in general I was feeling really pissed off. I’m not sure exactly why I was feeling this way, but I just was. I just wanted to get the race over with!

It was definitely not the best way to feel that early into 13.1 but I just kept one foot moving in from of the other, following my run/walk intervals, and occasionally saying to my dad “where the f*** is that bridge?”

Somehow we hit the 10k mark in 1:10:31 which I realized was close to the time I hit it during the Monster Mash Half a few weeks prior (where I PRed).

Finally we saw the bridge in the distance and crossed it and I felt 10000% better. At this point I was looking at my watch and feeling like the pace was in a pretty good place. We hit mile 10 in 1:54:02 which was FASTER than I had done two weeks ago, so even though I mentally felt crappy my body was still performing, which was a great feeling.

My dad and I started to do the math and for some reason thought we had 30 minutes to do the last 3.1 (when in fact we had 40) to finish near my PR time. I said “well at least we’ll be under 2:40, I guess.” We were definitely mentally exhausted.

Around mile 11 my dad’s knee started to act up. He told me to go on ahead, which is always a tough situation to be in, but I did as he said. I looked at my watch and realized that our previous calculations were wrong and I had more than enough time to finish ahead of my previous PR! It was a great feeling and just what I needed to give me the final boost to power through the last few miles.

I finished in 2:30:50 (official time). That’s a 3:53 PR from the Monster Mash Half two weeks ago! My Garmin measured the course a little long.

RnRPhl 2015 (5)

I was thrilled that I managed to PR on a race when I was feeling mentally spent for a majority of it.

RnRPhl 2015 (3)

It proved to me that even if your mind is not feeling it your body is much stronger and can power through and surprise you.

RnRPhl 2015 (4)

After the race we headed back to the hotel to shower up and drive an hour and a half to packet pickup for race #2 of the weekend!

My race recap of #2halfs1wknd race #2 is here!