Catching up…at 88 miles per hour!!!

This is going to be a quick and rapid catch up as I can only use the ‘Wayback Machine’ for a short time.

With all the training that I was doing for my July half iron distance triathlon I let the blog updates sit on the back burner for a while. Something about the 3am wake ups and two a day work outs that finished around 9pm made me avoid logging on late at night. Strap in tight…this is going to be a very quick update.

June

Garmin Connect – June 2017

This was by far the biggest month of training for my half iron distance triathlon. I logged 398 miles (107 running/279 cycling/12 swimming).

Back in early June I ran in the Freedom Mortgage 5K. I was right in the middle of my triathlon training so I was feeling fit. Given that I had run this event well last year I was looking forward to returning. Also, this is the event that my wife was the race director for. As was the case last year I came down with the boys and my father in law. The race course was certified this year (it was long last year). I ran hard and ended up running the exact time as my previous 5K PR (from back in 2012). I was really pleased. I placed 1st in my age group and 15th overall. I earned my donuts that day.

My finish time for the 5K

We made it a family affair again this year.

At the end of the month my wife finally convinced me to participate in The Color Run. I have been hesitant to participate in these races although my wife has run the past few years. I only agreed to do this as we were going to run as a family. At the end of the day it was a fun time and my kids had a blast…until we got home and we had to scrub them clean in the shower.

Running through the Phillies stadium during The Color Run

In the midst of it all…

I guess this says it all

June was a really intense training month for the triathlon and I was more than happy to start my taper at the end of the month.

July

Garmin Connect – July 2017

The above calendar tells quite a story. In the end I logged 157 miles for the month (32 running/121 cycling/4 swimming).

July was my big event month. I had been training hard for the Rev3 Williamsburg triathlon and was looking forward to having the whole family down with me in Williamsburg for the weekend. As you can read here, the race didn’t really turn out as planned but it definitely was a memorable experience.

The rest of the month was pretty much me being sidelined. I ended up having to cancel my race entry to this year’s New Jersey State Triathlon. I had to rest my body as best I could. I tried running late in the month but I was a little too ambitious. I had to dial it back. However, I found a good compromise by using a sling and slowing my pace down…. a lot!!!

How I felt getting started again

End of July sling running

August

Garmin Connect – August 2017

Albeit very slowly, I logged 143 miles this month. Running only. It will be a while before I’m back in the pool and I’m staying away from the bike for now.

My actual training plan for this year’s Philadelphia Marathon began in the last week of July. By August I was just getting into the early stages of the plan and struggling a bit with pace. I would still be wearing my sling and by the end of each run I would be hot and tired due to the heat and humidity. I still gutted it out though. We had our family vacation in Myrtle Beach, SC during the third week of August. I was up early to beat the heat every day (not that you could really escape it) and despite my lack of pace I was able to pretty much stay on my training plan. By the end of the month I was running without the sling. Taking it easy still but getting back to form.

Free winging it

September

Garmin Connect – September 2017

This month I logged 182 miles of running.

September primarily consisted of buckling down to marathon training. I had chosen Hal Higdon’s Intermediate II training plan which is slightly higher mileage than the Intermediate I which I have mostly used. I thought following all the triathlon training I would be in a better position to do the higher intensity training. I hadn’t planned on my accident back in July and so hadn’t gone back to update my annual training plan. I figured I could do a couple of extra miles here or there. My mid-week runs are higher than on the Intermediate I plan and coming up in October I will be doing three 20 mile runs vs two which would be my usual training for a marathon. September therefore had pretty high mileage.

It was a very warm month with no break in the weather that one would expect for early fall so my pace was slower than would normally be.

During the month my wife and I participated in the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This year however we didn’t immediately sign up for the 2018 race so we shall see if this will be on our plan for next year.

October

Garmin Connect – October 2017

This was the big month of training as I get ready for the 2017 Philadelphia Marathon. I logged 203 miles of running.

I spent a lot of time on my feet running around. This month included the three 20 mile runs I mentioned earlier with three 50 mile weeks out of the month. I didn’t have much time to sit back and relax but all in all I was glad to get through the month uninjured and ready for the taper.

One change that occurred this month was that I finally changed out of my regular shoe after 6 years in the same type (Brooks Adrenalines – I’d worn models GTS 11 through GTS 17). I had been struggling a while in this shoe and the last two iterations (the GTS 16 and 17) just didn’t have the same fit and feel. However it takes a leap of faith sometimes to try something new.

I read a review about the updated Saucony Omni 16 and decided to give it a go. I took them out on a 5 mile run and they felt fine. I was already experiencing difficulty in the Brooks shoe and to some extent my feet were feeling some pain points at the end of runs. On the day of my second 20 miler of the month I had run about a half mile before I had to turn around and go home. There was pain on the top of my foot from the Brooks overlays. I took a risk and ran in the Saucony’s after only wearing them for 5 miles the day before. They came through the challenge as did I. The shoe profile is slightly different (there is a lower drop in the Saucony vs the Brooks) but the stability was there when I needed it.  Needless to say I return the two unopened boxes of Brooks and replaced them with the Saucony’s. Fingers crossed this is the right move for me. So far so good. I ran the rest of the month in them including the third and final 20 miler.

Thanks for sticking with me on this. Time to hand the Wayback Machine to its real owners and get…

 

2017 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon – race recap

Back on September 17th, my wife and I ran this year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. This was my 7th time and my wife’s 6th time running this event. We seem to be ‘repeat offenders’ when the email from R’n’R comes out the day before the race, offering discounted entry for the following year. (Spoiler alert…we passed on signing up for 2018 for now). This would be our second R’n’R run for 2017 after the D.C. Marathon back in March and therefore we were eligible for a bonus medal (the ‘Double Beat’).

The Double Beat medal

So going in, this race review will probably be similar to the ones posted about 2013 through 2016 (with the exception of the year the Pope caused the race to move to October 31st). Rather than comment about the course (which was the same as last year) I’ll highlight the key parts of the weekend and any changes from last year’s race.

Our last 6 finishes together

Since I started my new job back in January I am much closer to Philadelphia so I made a trip to the expo on Friday after work (saving us a trip to the expo on the weekend with both boys). Interestingly enough, the expo seems to be getting smaller each year which surprised me. This year it was held as per prior years at the Convention Center in Philadelphia. I arrived just after 6pm (the expo was until 7pm on the Friday evening) so I had just under an hour to get in, pick up bibs and shirts and explore the expo.

Packet pick up with pretty uneventful. Very quick and easy as was the shirt pick up. They had an area for shirt exchange where I could sample a different size (although I kept my original). From there I headed to the merchandise area (again sponsored by Brooks Running). Some cute stuff but nothing blew me away that I would need to buy this year so I avoided the (smallish) crowd and headed out into the expo hall.

Arriving at the expo

None of the weekends races had sold out

Upon entering, everything was clearly signed

Bib and t-shirt pickup was pain free

Merchandise was the typical Rock ‘n’ Roll fare. Nothing that screamed out to be purchased.

Then it was quickly through and off to the main expo

I was very surprised by how small it seemed compared to previous years. It didn’t seem that there were as many vendors as prior years and even some of the bigger vendors had smaller booths. Well, at least I got home earlier than planned.

It seemed a much smaller expo than previous years

It seemed a much smaller expo than previous years

It seemed a much smaller expo than previous years

It seemed a much smaller expo than previous years

The morning of the race we arrived really really early. For some reason we told the babysitter to be there by 5am…we arrived in Philly at 5.45am and we didn’t really need to be there until 6:30am. Oh well, at least my wife had a lovely extra few minutes sleep until it was time to go.

Not quite ready

As usual it was fairly straightforward to deal with bag check and the port-a-potties were plentiful…as were the lines waiting to get in them. We arrived in fairly good time. I did get a chance to say hello to some fellow Team Shenanigans members before heading towards the corrals.

Ready for a nice run around Philadephia

Despite being early we are still smiling

Obligatory wife jump shot

We had a full agenda ahead of us after the race. We figured that we would be able to be done early as we were in corral 7. When we were in the corral people were moving up so we did too. No one was policing the corrals so we actually started up near corral 5 (that saved us all of 4 minutes).

In the starting corral

Okay, now we’re ready

It was a warm morning and once off and running we quickly heated up. What was noticeable was a lack of water early in the course. I know that this is a big race and they probably need to spread things out once the corrals are released but this was a warm and humid day (high 60s to low 70s) but the first water stop wasn’t until nearly mile 2.

Photo op on the course

The course was the same as last year (as mentioned above) so there were no real surprises for us this time around. We settled into our pace and were doing reasonable splits for the first 7 miles. We may have gone out a little too fast in the early miles and this caught up to us as the heat and humidity started getting higher around mile 9. It was a bit of a slog going into the last few miles but we persevered through to the finish in a time of 2:05.

Another finish line

At the finish line, in addition to the cool Benjamin Franklin medals, they provided us with towels dunked into ice water. That was a great relief, as was the chocolate milk that this race always provides. 🙂

Post race goodies to refuel

Our 2017 medal

As we were in a rush to be back home for the boys we just grabbed our stuff and headed back to the car. It seems strange that we treat this as a normal run these days and can pretty much predict our finish times so we can plan our day accordingly. Checking back on our previous years running this race we have run times consistently around 2:05 with our best being 2:00 and our worst being 2:07 (which was a much warmer and humid year).

I guess it is because we have done this race so many times now this seems not to be such a huge race for us as it used to be. Drop in…run…leave. Oh well, we might have to sit out a year or two on this one. We didn’t rush to re-sign up for 2018 as we usually would for that reason. Still it was another fun day and always a treat to be able to run with my wife.

Thank you for reading.

2016 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Race recap

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Here we go…

On September 18th my wife and I ran the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon. This was my 6th time running this event and my wife’s 5th time. We just seem to keep going back. Actually, we received a promotional email to sign up for the 2017 BEFORE the race and guess what…we are running this event again in 2017.

Before I get into the race itself, this is one of those weekends which pretty much represents the craziness which is me, my family and marathon training. It all started very early on the Friday morning before the race weekend. As some of you may know by now I’m pretty regimented when it comes to following my training plans. The weekend of the 18th my plan called for a 20 mile run. Usually I could figure a way to switch a week but as my wife is currently training for the New York City Marathon and I was only a couple of weeks from the Mohawk Hudson Marathon I would be too close to the race to taper into the event. So, up at 2.00am on Friday morning, time to run 20 miles before heading into the office.

Your eyes do not deceive you. Wake up time says 2:01am...I must have hit snooze!!

Your eyes do not deceive you. Wake up time says 2:01am…I must have hit snooze!!

It was early, it was a beautiful clear sky and a full moon. I had Tina Fey’s “Bossypants” (read by the author) on my iPhone and the 20 miles passed by easily. I ran while laughing which helped. I got my last long run of the training plan done and I could (after the half marathon) begin my marathon taper.

Done!

Done! Umpteen laps around Playwicki Farm

Okay, so here we are. I’ve run 20 miles. Great preparation for a half marathon. But we’re not done yet. Later that day my wife and I attended a friend’s wedding where we had a great evening dancing into the night (and not resting my legs). Going well so far with my race preparation!

Normally before the race we attend the expo. This was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center as in previous years. Unfortunately we had other commitments with a family friend’s daughter’s Bat Mitzvah in the morning and the party that evening. We wouldn’t have had to time go to the expo and get home in time for the evening event. Luckily one of my wife’s running friends who was also running was able to pick up our race packets and my wife went out that afternoon to meet up and collect them so we had time to get ready for the party that night.

Ready to party

Ready to party

The party was a lot of fun. It had a Disney theme and we were dancing all night. This was the first time my boys had been to a party like this and they had a blast. For the adults at the party there was a signature drink. a ‘Hakuna Martini’. I have to say it was nice and sweet. It would have been rude to say no. Luckily for me I was the designated driver so I had only one early in the evening and the rest of the night was just Diet Coke and water.

Certainly so

Certainly so

It was a fun but a late night. The party ended around midnight and we left before we all turned into pumpkins. The boys were both asleep in the car before we pulled out of the parking lot. Ha ha.

So, sleep…are rare commodity this weekend. Let’s see how we do tonight.

Should I worry?

Should I worry?

I didn’t even make 3 hours. So, now I’m just a little tired (an understatement). I know I’ve done slept worse than this during the Disney Marathon weekend, but hey, that’s Disney and every second counts. Some of us may have had a couple of extra Hakuna Martinis the night before. This was going to be a fun race.

So Sunday arrived (early) and we set out to drive downtown to Philadelphia. Upon arrival into Center City I missed my turn and passed the usual parking garage I use for races. Luckily there was another lot across the street (where I used to park when I worked downtown) so the walk to the starting area was the same as in past years.

The race was back to its usual mid-September date. It had been pushed to October 31st last year due to the visit of Pope Francis to Philadelphia last September. The last few times we have run this race (with the exception of the October date) were warm and humid days in late summer. This year the temperatures this year were great. It was in the 60s and cool at the start. It did warm up later in the day but the start was very comfortable.

An early start. Still a little dark just after the sunrise.

An early start. Still a little dark just after the sunrise.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon is a really popular and crowded race. You get there early to avoid the crowds. Luckily we were up in an early corral (#8 of #20+) so we didn’t have too much time to sit around and wait. The race started at 7:30 and we set off at 7:39 according to my Garmin.

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Waiting in our corral to go

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Our view of the start line

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All these people were stacked behind us. The Philadelphia Art Museum and the finish line were behind us

Within the first mile of the race we ran into my wife’s childhood baby sitter. We ran alongside here past the first mile marker as they chatted…I was just along for the ride. We ran on at a comfortable medium pace for the next couple of miles. Around mile 3 my wife’s friend (who had picked up our race packets) ran past us. She was gunning for a new personal record for the half marathon (she ran a 1:53 race) and it was a quick hello and goodbye.

Like last year, the race course had been slightly altered. Miles 1-3 were slightly modified to run along Market Street but included a turn around 22nd Street (behind my old office building). The course last year took us on a short out and back around mile 3 via Spring Garden Street. This year there was another out and back but it was a little further up the course but still around mile 3. This year took us up and back past the Eastern State Penitentiary.

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This years course

Once the out and back was complete the course was the same it was typically in other years. It was up East River Drive/Kelly Drive, crossing the Schuylkill River at the Falls Bridge at mile 8 and then up West River Drive/Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

It had started to warm up but wasn’t sunny. In fact it was more humid than we expected and as a result my running gear which I have worn multiple times for multiple training runs and races actually started to bother me. Around mile 6 I had to pull over to the medical tent to get some Vaseline to help in certain places (shhh….) As I arrived at the tent I asked for what I needed and was told that the volunteers had to apply it. Wow. I wasn’t expecting that and informed them that I was a married man and my wife was only a few feet away…my wife saw what was going on and was cracking up. I was a little embarrassed. It wasn’t as bad as you might be thinking but certainly not what I was expecting. Modesty was maintained through the whole process…

I was also having a little discomfort with my shoe. Although they were not new shoes, my laces just seemed to be uncomfortable so I stopped a few times between mile 7 and 8 to adjust them. My wife hadn’t noticed I had dropped back but I soon caught up with her before the turn across the bridge. Once over the bridge there is a slight downhill before the long straight back into the finish line.

It was around mile 10 that my weekends activities started to affect me. For some reason I just started to lose a bit of my energy. I was taking my Hammer Gels at my usual intervals but my wife started to pull away from me. This was a combination of my 20 mile training run finally reaching my legs and also due to the fact that my wife’s intake of Hakuna Martinis probably started to wear off on her. Just before mile 12 she turned to me and said “I forgot you ran 20 miles on Friday, lets take it a little slower and make it to the finish together” I was relieved.

The camber of the road from mile 11 to 12 is fairly noticeable. First it tilts from left to right and then from right to left. It then starts a gradual uphill before the last quarter of a mile or so of the course which is a steep uphill to the Art Museum steps. If you are tired at this point you definitely feel the change in the road and the elevation. I’ve done this part of the course many times, the Rock n Roll races every year from 2011, my 4 Philadelphia Marathons and other races that take place along the river. Today I was just determined to get it done.

As we approached the finish line we picked up the pace (you have to make it look good in front of the crowd). Our last mile was 30 seconds fast than our previous mile despite the uphill terrain.

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As per usual we crossed the finish line hand in hand.

Our time was 2:07:24. Slower than in previous years. Given our current conditions it wasn’t terrible but we are both quicker than that having run a few races this year in the low 1:50s. Mind you, those races were not after 20 mile training runs, sleep deprivation or Hakuna Martinis. We still had fun.

As we crossed the finish line the temperatures were now into the 70s although thankfully the sun was still behind the clouds. It was warm. We received our medals and a bottle of water and made our way over to the post race refreshments. Before we left the finish line area we picked up some ice cooled towels. They were very welcome. They worked a treat at helping us cool down.

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Receiving another Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon medal

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The ice cooled towels were amazing

We grabbed some refreshments (yeah for chocolate milk) and made our way to pick up our gear bags that we had checked earlier before the race. As we were getting ready to head back to the car we received a text message from my wife’s sister who was with her daughter at soccer practice nearby. We would have to pass by to get back to our car so we stopped over to see them on our way to the parking lot.

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Always happy to see family at the finish line.

As usual for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon we had a great time. I didn’t get the chance to meet up with any of my Mickey Milers team mates as we didn’t have time to hang around (we had a baby sitter on the clock) but it was nice to bump into some of my wife’s friends along the way. We will be back in 2017.

Next year we are actually venturing further afield with our Rock ‘n’ Roll races as we are set to run the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon in March. We probably might consider another Rock ‘n’ Roll event next year if the logistics work out for us. We shall see. They do put on a good race.

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Our reward for another half marathon completed

Thank you for reading.

November 2015 – Month in review

November 2015 – Nike+ Summary

November 2015 – Nike+ Summary

November was a busy month. Running miles were 115, 18 miles on the bicycle and 1.3 miles in the pool. There were no business trips during the month but a few races and of course the 2015 Philadelphia Marathon. Running distance was less due to the taper and rest and recovery days around the marathon.

The month started off with a bang. I was coming off from the Marine Corps Marathon in late October followed up a week later by the Philadelphia Rock and Roll Half Marathon on Halloween. Because Pope Francis had visited Philadelphia in mid-September this race had been pushed back to Halloween which then collided with the Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge 10K run the day after. My father-in-law had signed up for both not realizing the proximity of the races so we looked to transfer his bib for the 10K over to me so as not to lose the race fee as he didn’t want to run back to back races.

The only slight downside of this was that the clocks changed back on November 1st and I ended up getting up early the day after a half marathon while everyone was still in bed taking advantage of that extra hour. The weather was cool and it was still a fun race. I carried over my Halloween weekend costume with my Ink N Burn Boba Fett shirt which I matched up with a recent addition from the Disney Store to complete the look. I met up with a fellow Mickey Miler (Matt) before the start of the race. I ran a respectable time considering it had just been a week since the Marine Corps Marathon and only a day since the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon.

With fellow Mickey Miler Matt before the race

With fellow Mickey Miler Matt before the race.

The race recap

The race recap. Pace much faster than previous runs this year. Felt good.

Post race...getting a little 'Bounty Hunter' attitude on.

Post race…getting a little ‘Bounty Hunter’ attitude on.

The reward for a little pace work.

The reward for a little pace work.

This was ‘part’ of my so-called taper up to the Philadelphia Marathon. Not sure I was really resting my legs fully…as you can read in that race recap. But with the pace I hit I was feeling confident going into the race. Unfortunately the race didn’t go according to plan but still, crossing the marathon finish line is still a success. Marathon number 14 was complete.

Marathon number 14 complete.

Marathon number 14 complete.

There were a few days of rest before my wife, my father-in-law and I attended our local running club (Bucks County Road Runners) Thanksgiving 5 Miler. It was a little chilly but not as cold as it had been in previous years. We soon warmed up. Our pace helped warm us up to. Nice to have everyone back and running together. My father-in-law was nursing a sprained ankle so he volunteered this year so he was still with us at the race. It was a good start to our Thanksgiving weekend.

Waiting for the race to start.

Waiting for the race to start.

Race recap - we ran side by side and held a good pace. Felt strong.

Race recap – my wife and I ran side by side (she’s fast) we held a good pace. Felt strong for just a few days post Philadelphia Marathon.

Together with my father-in-law who was volunteering on the day.

Together with my father-in-law who was volunteering on the day.

Waiting for the Thanksgiving 5 Miler to start.

As soon as the race was over we grabbed a quick cup of coffee and headed home to partake in our usual Thanksgiving household tradition, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade (on DVR…we planned ahead) and then Mickey Mouse waffles with the boys. Fun times.

Mickey Mouse waffles. A family Thanksgiving tradition in our house.

Mickey Mouse waffles. A family Thanksgiving tradition in our house.

Mickey Mouse waffles. A family Thanksgiving tradition in our house.

Mickey Mouse waffles. A family Thanksgiving tradition in our house.

It was nice to have plenty of family time with all the business travel and races we have been doing over the last few months. While my wife headed to the mall on Black Friday I took the time to go see the new Pixar movie with the boys. It was a nice change of pace.

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I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I apologize for being late with my month in review. I’m just squeaking this under the wire before the end of the year.

Thank you for reading.

 

October 2015 – Month in review

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October 2015 – Nike+ Summary

My Nike+ app shows that I ran 143 miles this month. You can see that there is a gap just before the marathon towards the end of the month. I took a few days off before the marathon as my wife was in California and I was looking after the boys and also to rest up my body before the race. I was tired. It’s been a busy year of running already and I was approaching my 3rd marathon of the year combined with a lot of business travel.

Not much cross training. I think I had one session in the pool early on in the month. I had been traveling to Atlanta early in the month and then to Scottsdale. As soon as I got back home my wife had to head to California. Tag team parenting as well as tapering for a marathon has never been so chaotic…but we survived.

Early in the month I had my final long run planned before the marathon. It was supposed to be the first weekend in October. We my niece’s 3rd birthday party early Saturday and my wife was running the Princeton Half Marathon on the Sunday additionally they had predicted Hurricane Joaquin to make an appearance along the east coast. I had little choice but to get up early in my hotel and armed with a Powerade and a bag of Swedish Fish, knock out a 20 miler on the hotel treadmill before breakfast.

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Prepared for the storm!

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Does that really say 2:06am?

This wasn’t my favorite run. I was trying to break in my new shoes for the upcoming marathon. I had bought the newer model of my usual shoe online. Same size. I’ve been in the same shoe for 4 previous models. This model apparently runs a half size smaller. Yup, one heck of a blister. First time ever with this brand. Luckily I was able to go back to the running store and get this remedied before race day.

Once all the training was done we headed to Virginia to run the Marine Corps Marathon. It’s such a great event, regardless of our own personal experience this year. I highly would recommend you look toward this if you have any interest.

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At the Iwo Jima Memorial after completing the 2015 Marine Corps Marathon

The week after the Marine Corps Marathon we ran the 2015 Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. It was on Halloween so it was a great excuse to run a race in costume. Although it wasn’t a runDisney event we still managed to run in a Disney theme, Alice in Wonderland. Not much of a surprise there. It was a great day weather wise and a great return to finding our pace which did not seem to come with us on our journey to Washington DC!!

Our costume choice - Alice in Wonderland and the King of Hearts

Our costume choice – Alice in Wonderland and the King of Hearts

At the end of the month the early registration opened up for the 2016 New Jersey State Triathlon. If you’ve been following my ‘adventures’ in triathlon you will know that this was to be have been my first event. As it happened it was cancelled mid race and I never got to finish. The organizers offered those who competed and were unable to finish discount towards entry for 2016 which would work in the pre-registration period. I decided to enter again but this time for the Olympic distance in 2016. Fingers crossed. Lots of training to do over the winter to keep my fitness up on the bike and in the pool.

November brings me to the end of my racing season. I have the Philadelphia Marathon coming up the week before Thanksgiving. A very special race for me. It was my first marathon back in 2011 and also the first marathon where I ran under 4 hours back in 2012. I ran again with my wife in 2013 but we missed last year due to being in Florida for Thanksgiving. Hopefully it will be another great race weekend this year. Looking forward to it.

Thank you for reading.

2015 Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – Race recap

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On Halloween my wife and I ran the Philadelphia Rock ’n’ Roll Half Marathon. This is a race I have run since 2011 and my wife and I have run together since 2012. Every year we seem to say to each other that we should probably skip this race as we have done it so often but somehow we always find a reason to sign up. I will point out that we have already signed up for 2016 thanks to a $50 registration offer that was emailed to us the day after this race. What can I say, I guess this is going to be part of our annual plan going forward.

What was different about this year was the actual event date moved from mid-September to October 31st due to Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia falling on the usual race weekend. I guess he has priority (although judging from the pictures when he was here there were far more port-a-potties for that event than the half marathon!!!). With the race falling on Halloween that was just another excuse (should we really need it) to run in costume.

We were unable to attend the expo this year as the race fell on a Saturday and not a Sunday as was always the case on the original dates. My father in law was kind enough to go down to pick up our bibs and race packets on the Friday when we were at work so that was a big help. It’s tough for people coming from out-of-town to do packet pickup for a Saturday race especially of there is no general race day pick up option. They did offer a $30 day of race option but that was limited to 750 participants (out of the 15,000 expected).

Another change in the event was the course this year. On the same day that the race was taking place, Temple University were playing a football game against Notre Dame University. ESPN hit town and they had set up around Independence Mall with an all day pre-game show. The course traditionally (well at least since I’ve been running this event) takes you down past Independence Hall and back up through China Town (behind the Convention Center) up Arch street and back up to the Art Museum. This year the course had to be changed and I hadn’t really taken notice of this until my father in law pointed it out the night before the race.

My wife and I had just completed the Marine Corps Marathon the Sunday before which had been a little rough for us, so heading straight into a half marathon was a little unnerving. Don’t get me wrong, my wife and I had done the Goofy Challenge earlier this year but the difference in that event was that we were feeling great. We struggled the week before during the Marathon. I had realized that my issue was self-inflicted (shoe laces too tight) and I had some nice recovery runs during the week but I was concerned about my wife and how she would hold up.

On race day we picked up my father in law around 5:15am and drove into Philadelphia. We made pretty good time and parked in my usual spot, a parking garage a couple of blocks away from the Art Museum area. It’s about a 10 minute walk from the parking garage to the pre-race area. We arrived just after 6am and my wife refused to get out of the car. I guess she was still tired from her recent trip to California and also still in recovery mode from the previous weeks marathon. My father in law also chimed in and said we didn’t have to be the first people there. Around 6:30am I turned the engine off and reminded them that Rock ’n’ Roll are notorious (at least from my experience and some friends experiences) for being very short on providing port-a-potties. Why take the risk? Last year there were long lines and this is always a big race packed into a small starting area.

It was still dark when we headed out. It was a little colder than planned. My father in law was not in costume and wasn’t very surprised that we were. I’m not sure he totally appreciated our efforts as I was getting into my costume in the parking lot (judging by the eye roll when I put it on!)

Making our way to the starting area. Still the middle of the night if you ask my wife.

Making our way to the starting area. Still the middle of the night if you ask my wife.

Partial costume reveal while my wife is trying to stay warm.

Partial costume reveal while my wife is trying to stay warm.

As we got closer to Eakins Oval where the race started and finished it began to brighten up and we immediately got in line for the bathrooms and then on to bag check. It was a little crowded but we were able to have a bathroom break and gear check done and we went over to one side to stretch before the run.

Sun was breaking as we arrived

Sun was rising as we arrived

My wife and father in law keeping warm pre-race

My wife and father in law keeping warm pre-race

Our costume choice - Alice in Wonderland and the King of Hearts

Our costume choice – Alice in Wonderland and the King of Hearts

As it happened, we were not hanging around too long. We had just finished stretching when we saw a whole bunch of folks sprint past us. People took a quick look and asked who they were. I noticed that they had different bibs from ours and I realized they were the elite athletes who were being transferred from their warm tent somewhere to the front of the corrals. Sure enough, as soon as they passed us we started to hear the National Anthem being sung. We were not even in our corral yet. I was surprised how little time we actually left ourselves pre-race. Not my style really. I’d rather be there early than stress out. We were in corral 10 and my father in law was in corral 22 or 23. We got into our corral and couldn’t see how far back my father in law had to go, so we pulled him in with us. No-one was checking our bibs and he was still wearing a trash bag. Listen, I’m sure he wasn’t the only one in corral 10 who was supposed to be further back, but as I’ll get to later it worked out well.

Waiting for the word to go

Waiting in our corral to be released

The starting line with City Hall in the distance

The starting line with City Hall in the distance

That's a lot of corrals behind us.

That’s a lot of corrals behind us.

I knew there are bunch of people from my running team (the Mickey Milers) in this event and as it was a local race for us there were plenty of other people we knew who were running the event but it was so crowded and we had very little time before the race that we ended up not seeing anyone 😦 although I did bump into Sarah and Matt pre-race which was nice. I got to wish them congratulations on their recent engagement.

The race announcer was British and his name was Ian. I liked him for some reason. Anyway, it was soon our time to go and we wished each other a good race and went off on our way.

I knew early on that the course had changed because there were a tight turn to the right within the first mile. I hadn’t seen the new map but I actually preferred the new route to the event this year. As we could not run down to Independence Hall we now took a route up John F. Kennedy Boulevard and turn back down Market Street before rounding City Hall. In previous years were would have started off similarly but we would have gone down towards Independence Mall and then turned left to go behind the Convention Center. Here the roads are pretty narrow and there are cobble stones (I recall) and some tight turns. The new course took full advantage of the wide streets around City Hall and after the loop around took us back towards the starting area.

Normally we would be hitting the starting area around mile 5 but we had just reached mile 3. They were still releasing the corrals as we passed by. I think it was number 22 at this point and there were more to go. Wow. What a long wait. I’m glad we pulled my father in law in with us. He would have still been waiting to go as we were already 5K in.

I was intrigued as to where they would get the extra mileage from as the loop around the East River and West River Drives is 8 miles. As we approached the Art Museum we took a right hand turn up Spring Garden Street which turned out to be an out-and-back. It was a nice gentle uphill with wide areas on both sides of the median. I actually enjoyed this so much better than the old course. I hope they decide to keep it. We ended up back at the Art Museum at the 5 mile point and from there the course would be the same as previous years.

Course map for the Half Marathon

Course map for the Half Marathon

The changes to the course for 2015

The changes to the course for 2015

With the new course, the great temperatures (now that the sun was up) and the fact that the streets were wide (one of our complaints from the prior weeks Marathon) my wife and I were actually running a decent pace. Where we had both struggled last week it seemed we were different people. It did help that our costumes were getting us a lot of shout outs from the spectators. It’s good to be the King.

We had a very enjoyable run from mile 5 to 8 up to the Falls Bridge. I mentioned that I was looking forward to hearing the rocking bag pipes band that we had seen every year and just as I said that we saw that they were just getting on the stage we were passing. Sadly, we were too fast this year to hear them!!!

The race at this point was no different from prior years. The course was the same. The only difference was that with the timing of the race being in October it was much cooler and less humid than prior years (note – it is back to the original time period of mid-September in 2016) and that there were plenty of people running in costume which was fun. Some were very creative although this was not a runDisney event where you see many people run in costume. For some reason we saw a lot of ‘Waldo’s’ so it wasn’t really hard to find him at this event. The other major difference was that we were kicking it!!!

I ran this race in 2011 and this was my first sub 2 hour marathon. The course is fairly flat and fast. We have run as a couple every year from 2012 and run anywhere between 2:02 and 2:06 together. We were looking at being close to 2 hours at our current pace as long as we could hold it together.

Seeing the 'Rocker' towards the last 5K of the course.

Seeing the ‘Rocker’ towards the last 5K of the course. He’s a lefty.

Enjoying our little costumed run

Enjoying our little costumed run.

With the last couple of miles ahead we focused on our pace. I think my wife was a little uncomfortable. I know she was having a hard time running directly into the sun the last few miles and regretted not bring her sunglasses. Something to do with them not matching her costume. That’s dedication. Me? Sunglasses always…I couldn’t look any worse.

If you haven’t ever run this race before, the finish line is at the bottom of the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art (think Rocky). However, the last 0.2 miles are uphill. Very uphill. Yup, we had to power up the hill but we did and crossed the finish line together again. We just missed out on the 2 hour mark with a final time of 2:00:35. So close. Considering how we ran the week before I thought this was an awesome time and we both felt very good so that’s what was great about our final time.

With our medals after crossing the finish line.

With our medals after crossing the finish line.

With our medals after crossing the finish line.

With our medals after crossing the finish line.

Our splits for the half marathon

Our splits for the half marathon

As we made our way out of the finish line area and back to the post run finishers festival we saw two runners who passed us in the last couple of miles. I know there was a costume contest as part of the event and if they were entered I truly hope they won. Awesome costume…especially running a half marathon in jeans!!!

Party on Wayne and Garth!!!

Party on Wayne and Garth!!!

There are always lots of food choices post race but by far my favorite is the chocolate milk. So glad they have this at the finish line. Good stuff.

We went over to pick up our bags and stretch out a little. It wasn’t too long after that my father in law came over. He ran a 2:23 half marathon. I guess putting him up in the higher corral worked to his benefit and he ran a great time.

With the afternoon being full of activities for our boys on Halloween we didn’t really have much time to stick around. The headline act at this Rock ‘n’ Roll race was the Gin Blossoms. My wife knows their music as I think they were big in her high school or college years. I was still in England in those days and was unfamiliar with them so I wasn’t too upset either way. I’m sure it would have been a fun event.

We all had a great run

We all had a great run

Father/Daughter combo

Father/Daughter combo

It's good to be the King

It’s good to be the King

What was nice about the medal this year (after finally using nice ribbons last year) they actually themed the medal around the change in date and it had a Halloween theme to commemorate the event being run on October 31st. Nice touch Rock ‘n’ Roll group.

Our Halloween themed medal

Our Halloween themed medal

As I mentioned very early on in this post, we have already signed up for 2016. We say every year we are going to pass. We figured at the $50 entry fee we may as well sign up. If one of us cannot make it then we are not too much out-of-pocket as the full cost is around $90 I think if we have to decide later. At least we have something on the calendar to work towards. It’s a local race so no matter what I’m sure we will end up running it again the year after too 🙂

Thanks for reading.