I had an event last night which delayed me getting this recap up. This is a super large post as I included the entire weekend’s activities meaning lots of pics and text. Here it goes!
I left Saturday afternoon to head downtown a little later than usual. Heading out at 3:30pm I figured we’d maybe get down to the hotel around 4:15pm at the latest. Wrong! There was SO much traffic. I completely forgot not only was the half this weekend, but also the Temple vs. Penn State game and Phillies game. Sigh. I nearly missed the expo, but managed to get my number, a couple pairs of socks, and some Gu gels before it closed a few minutes after I arrived. Talk about stressful.
I decided to have a quick drink and an app at the hotel bar before heading out to dinner. It was a good choice as I was hungry already! I decided to limit myself to two drinks over the whole night and I went with my current fave seasonal (it’s still summer for two days), the Victory Summer Love.
Following drinks we hailed a cab and made our way to The Victor Cafe on 13th & Dickinson St. We picked this place because it was Italian and it advertised live opera! We were meeting our newer friends Jamie & Rich who we met at my first half marathon.
The setting is true South Philly Italian and the place has a romantic feel as well. I was excited to see what the whole opera thing was about and was even more excited that it was the servers who sing!
I ended up ordering the lasagna which looked really good. Normally, I’d have gone with the gnocchi, but I didn’t see if offered and this grabbed my attention. The food is amazing and I recommend this place 100x over! It’s reasonably priced Italian and the place has an awesome history in music. Plus, you can make reservations online!
My dinner choice would prove not so wise a little later. At 2am I woke with some awful heartburn and felt nauseated for a good hour or so. No more red sauces pre-race. My heartburn happens so randomly it’s hard to predict what will set it off. Ugh. I managed to fall back to sleep and was able to wake up feeling okay.
I found pins to secure my number (they didn’t have any left at the expo) and hopped over the fence into my corral. The whole corral setup was awkward. If you didn’t walk in from the front opening and elbow your way back to your area, you had to jump over this wobbly fence.
A little after 8:00am I was heading across the starting line and off running. I forgot to clear my previous run from my Garmin and didn’t know how to set up a new run without deleting the previous run. So I just did that and got it started a minute or so into the run. No biggie. As I was making my way through the city, the first thing I noticed was that the crowd was not thinning out like I expected. I had my playlist going and tried to ignore the growing frustration every time I got stuck behind a wall of power-walkers.
The first water station was chaos. People were dodging and cutting each other off. I decided to stop at every station even if I didn’t feel thirsty. Water out of the way, we looped back to the parkway and onto Kelly Drive. This is where it finally opened up and I felt less claustrophobic. The first four miles felt pretty decent. The short bursts of energy to get around into open space was already taking a toll and I took a Gu at mile 4.5. According to my Garmin, I was averaging an 8:45 mile and for a little I had thoughts of a sub-2:00 time. This didn’t last much longer. I failed to check the time when we started which meant every time we passed a checkpoint clock I didn’t know how much to subtract.
At mile 6 things were still feeling normal. The first half of the race sort of went by in a blur, but soon something just wasn’t right and then things started going downhill. At mile 7 the slight ache in my arches started getting more noticeable. Around mile 8 the left ham started to get tight and I took my first quick walk break. I had never planned to walk, but I wasn’t going to kill myself either. We were now on the other side of the drive and heading to the home stretch. Miles 9 and 10 had more walking intervals. I grabbed water and whatever the other drink they had whenever I could. I kept wracking my brain to figure out how a race with little to no hills felt so fricken hard.
At mile 11 I just felt pain everywhere. My legs were sore in every place imaginable and I couldn’t run for more than a minute or so at a time. When I hit mile 12, I waiting for an energy boost and it never came. I just wanted to be over that line and done. When we hit the last 0.5 mile a couple girls tried to inspire me to run as I was on another walk break. I told the one girl I didn’t want to tear my sore ham (a true statement). The incline up to the finish line was not nearly as big as the one in Wilmington, but I didn’t push myself up it. I didn’t see a single person I knew the whole race. I guess I smiled as I crossed, but I don’t remember doing that at all.
As I grabbed my finishers’ medal I felt completely depressed which was likely due to the total depletion of energy. I skipped the post-race photo, the food, and just wanted to exit. I felt so off, sore, confused, frustrated, semi-okay, etc. It was a weird mix of emotions. I found an open spot to stretch out and watch some of the awards. The guy who won finished in under an hour. That’s just ridiculous. I took an obligatory photo with the medal and then we left.
We didn’t stick around for the after party, I just wanted real food and to get out of the crowd. They offered a free beer, but I never got my wristband and when I heard it was MGD 64 I wasn’t sad about missing out. The walk to the hotel was wobbly and awkward, but I rallied. The weather was even better than when we left in the early morning and I snapped a pic of City Hall as we walked by.
I loaded up our stuff in the car then walked to Varga Bar to meet a friend for brunch. I had a celebratory mimosa and went with the omelet for my meal.
I’ve always wanted to go to Varga Bar. They had really great food and an awesome craft beer selection. After the mimosa I had a pint of the Flying Fish Oktoberfish. I’m a big fan of this beer and it’s one of the good seasonals out in the fall.
We left shortly after brunch and did a little bar hopping around South St. I think the walking around definitely helped fend off some of the pain I was initially feeling. Fun moment? At one of the bars we did a shot of Jack Daniels followed by a pickle juice chaser! I know this sounds bizarre, but it was really good (and was my final drink of the day). ;)
I think there was some hot sauce thrown in? Anyway, that was my big adventure for the afternoon. When I got home I passed out at some point during the Eagles game (before they lost) and then went to bed for good.
So how do I feel about the experience? Still mixed. I made a PR with it. My finishing time was 2:03:38 which is more than respectable. However, knowing early in the race I was on pace to break the 2:00 mark, this was sort of disappointing. I won’t wallow, because then I just look like an ungrateful d-bag since I know this is not a bad time at all. I wasn’t fully ready for this race. I didn’t make every training run and the runs I missed the most were the speed builders. This would’ve helped greatly. I ate the wrong thing the night before, and I also think I failed at hydrating fully. I don’t know if I will do the RnR next year. The dodging was really frustrating to deal with. But, I won’t rule it out completely. I’m happy to add this to my collection.
And, I hope to add many more. I’ve already registered to return to the Delaware half next May. I’ve got one more planned race and that’s this weekend’s Dogfish Dash 10K. After that I am taking October off from running to work on rehabbing my sore ham. I know that played a major hand in my running Sunday and I need to fix it before it gets much, much worse. I completed my second half, and even though it wasn’t a dream race (not that I ever expected it to be), I’m glad I did it and am proud of all of my fellow blog-friends that also raced this weekend! We did it! :D