Thursday, September 22, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

Part One: The 5k

On Sunday morning Kat and I woke up early and got ready for my 18th half marathon. I started getting ready, not even thinking about the weather since Saturday was so beautiful. As I was getting dressed Kat told me it was already over 70 degrees (it's 6am) and about 85% humidity. Oh man, this isn't going to be good.

I decided I would be a game time decision on running in my singlet or a sports bra. Usually when it's that warm out I just woman up and rock the sports bra, but I have only raced in a sports bra once and wasn't sure how I would feel.

Flat Steff!

The gang met down in the lobby again and we walked over to the art museum for the We Run Social picture. It was fun to meet/see some of the people we didn't get to see at the meet up. I had decided to keep on my singlet and rough it out.

Photo from Dani

Kat and I

Note the humidity fog. Yep, this was going to be interesting.

I was starting in corral 5 so I cut out a little early from chatting and weaved through 30 corrals. It was crazy. While I was standing in the corral I was just sweating. I thought it was more because of the amount of people standing around me. For being a faster corral, there was a lot of fun going on around me. For example, three men behind me decided to sign up for Brooklyn while in the corral! It was awesome!

Anyway, as the start was getting closer I was pretty excited for how good I felt. My foot was cooperating and my sweating was calming down. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad.


It was finally our time to go. Focus Steff. The plan was for the first three miles be around 8:30, then settle in to an 8:45ish pace for as long as I could. There were some slight hills within the first 8ish miles but mostly downhill after that. Plan intact, let's do this!

First two miles felt fantastic. I think I was at 8:30 and 8:15 respectively. Right after I went pass the mile two marker I knew something wasn't right. I was just sweating.

Dani's wife Tori said she would be somewhere on the course and I was secretly hoping I would see her soon. I passed by Andrew and Briana and waved to them. Soon after I looked to my right and there was Tori! I stopped and took off my singlet and she held it for me. (Seriously the greatest thing that could have happened). This was right before the three mile mark so add in some crazy time for me to take off my bib and pin it to my sports bra.

5k split: 28:45

Next up was a slight out and back with a little incline to start. I'm feeling much better since I ditched the singlet. I saw GB and he was not smiling which made me sad, but I completely understood.

On the way back down I looked over at this little restaurant and I saw a friend from high schools parents (the same one I was suppose to run with on Saturday). So I yelled hello. Her mom proceeded to pick up a bull horn and starts screaming to me. It was awesome! Everyone looked and I waved like the prom queen. Hey, I needed the smile.

At mile five I stopped to take my chew. When I started running again a dog lunged at me! Luckily nothing happened, and I don't think he was being aggressive more wanting to run with me. Either way, little freaky.

A little after the five and a half mile mark I looked at my watch and it said 52 minutes. I knew today was not my day to sub-2. So I had two choices, I could ride the struggle bus through the next eight-ish miles of this race or just start doing intervals and enjoy myself. I went all the way to the left of the road and stopped my watch. Saved what I had already done and started over with my 4:1 intervals.

Shortly after this I saw Dani. I told her how Tori had my singlet and I stopped racing. She was having a rough time too. I texted Joe, just in case he was tracking me, and told him what was happening. I said that I felt fine but it was too hot to race. I never heard back so he must not have been tracking me. It was around this time that I took as second with myself. I was so "happy" that I stopped focusing on this race a few weeks ago. If I would have really been focusing and this happened I would have been so angry.

10k split: 59:50

So now that I am enjoying myself, I can just take in how beautiful this course actually is. When I ran Philly in 2012, we did not run this part of town. We were along the river and it was just beautiful trees and landscape. There were spectators and bands and I really enjoyed all of it. Mind you I'm still really sweaty. I walked every water stop because it was a cluster. Not from the people working it, but the runner who do not understand water station etiquette. I also made sure to take Gatorade every time it was offered.

Around mile eight was a little bridge to take us to the other side of the river and back towards the finish. Yay, downhill! It was soon after I saw Phil again. He was still taking over the Rock 'n' Roll Snapchat and we decided to tell everyone how miserable we were. I was getting ready to take a walk break when I saw my friend from high school and her brother!  I decided to skip my walk break and run over to them.

If she could have punched me I think she would have. I'm just chatting about how I saw their parents and how I stopped racing a long time ago. I think I'm running about a 10:15 pace now, and I use the word running loosely. I didn't want to be a distraction to them so I started moving along.

10 mile split: 1:41

Almost done! I finally saw the Brooks Running rocker dude so I needed to take a picture of him.

I kept seeing Phil too so that was fun. We would say hello and keep moving. It was around the 11 mile mark when I saw him and noticed he needed a buddy. I told him the intervals I was running and asked if he wanted to join me. He said sure. Within the about two miles we ran together we saw people dropping. Literally dropping on the side of the course. It was really scary. We (I mean me) are cheering on other runners, because I feel fine. I am so happy with me decision to run/walk so I could enjoy this experience.

Phil ended up leaving me when I took a walk break somewhere in mile 12. I wanted to take some pictures so I took the walk break.

I was high-fiving spectators, cheering people on, thanking everyone and just really enjoying myself. I have no idea what my time is, and I don't care. I am so proud of myself for making it this far.

As the final hill came I knew it was the finish. I ran a little faster and gave out some more high-fives. Crossed the finish line and stopped my watch. No idea what time I ran, but I knew I finished my 18th half marathon!

Finish time: 2:14.

Am I proud of what I did? ABSOLUTELY! I finished another half marathon! I ran smart and finished what I started. Considering the conditions, I was really happy with what I did. I finished another Remix Challenge weekend and had a blast the entire weekend.

When I completed the race I also finished the Eastern Odyssey Challenge. This challenge was for running Rock 'n' Roll DC, Virginia Beach and Philly. It was my first limited edition medal from RnR and I love it.

I can't share a course map or elevation chart with you guys because I don't have a full race. I can tell you it is relatively flat and with the right conditions could be super fast. Today was not one of those days for me. Some people did really well!

Overall thoughts on this race, it was great. The crowd support was awesome, a really great course and tons of water stops (I believe there were eight).  Do I wish things went better time wise, of course, but it's not all about that. The experience was incredibly humbling and I am happy with the decision I made.

Disclaimer: I was provided entry to this race as part of the Rock 'n' Blog program. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


  1. Your photos even show how hot it is was. I thought the crowd support was great and I like that we went by the start around mile 3. I felt as though it was motivational. Which weather did you think was worse? Virginia beach or Philadelphia? I'm leaning towards Philly...

    1. Philly. Hands down. VB was fine until the end, I thought. The temps were similar but the humidity was nothing in VB.

  2. You are smart! I wish you'd have been with me in the Montour Trail HM to give me the great idea of doing intervals & enjoying the rest of the race instead of riding the struggle bus the whole way!

    1. Sometimes you have great thoughts while running. This was one of them. One of the best race decisions I ever made.