Looking for an early fall race with a PR-able course in a great city? Check out this Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon race recap to see if this could be the race for you.
I received complimentary entry into this race as part of the Rock’n’Blog team. All opinions are my own.
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After spending a nice day walking the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia 5K with my mom, I headed back into Philly the next morning for my first half marathon of the season. As I mentioned in my 5K recap, I was a little nervous going into the race. I knew I was undertrained, so I wasn’t sure how the race was going to pan out for me. What I did know is that Rock’n’Roll races are always a good time, so if all else failed, I could just take in the sights and the music of Philly. But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
Check out my Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia 5K Race Recap for details.
The Night Before
Time to carb load! My mom and I made gluten free spaghetti with meatballs for the two of us, my dad, my cousin and his new wife, who would be running the half with me (hi, Jess!).
We ate, we caught up on life and we all headed to bed early for another early wake up call.
The Morning Of
Our alarms had us up and out the door before the sun was even close to rising. We drove the 35 minutes to Philadelphia with the GPS set to the parking spaces we’d reserved on SpotHero. When we got into the city, however, the streets to get to the parking spots were blocked off due to the race.
I was frustrated 1) because I had specifically looked for a space that was further away from the start so as to avoid this problem, 2) we had already paid for the spaces and 3) this meant we had to scramble last minute to find a spot. We grabbed the first spot we could find, but it was about a mile from the starting line. Also, while the sign for lot said parking was only $7 on Sundays, the SpotHero app wanted to charge us $17. Oye. We didn’t want to drive around trying to find another spot for fear of not finding one or having to park even further, so we just paid. I resolved to call SpotHero later. (I did, by the way, and they had great customer service. I am no longer mad at them. Ok, moving on.)
We arrived at the starting area of the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon later than planned due to our parking debacle. I had hoped to meet up with the Kims (Kooky Runner and Running on the Fly) before the race, but now I was pressed for time.
The lines for the porta potties were nuts, but I had access to the VIP area. I figured there wouldn’t be lines there, but…. I couldn’t find the VIP area. I didn’t have time to try to find it and was about to give up on going to the bathroom before the race when I spotted a little building off a baseball field with a very short line. Bathrooms? I jogged over. BATHROOMS! I texted Jess, who was waiting in the long porta potty lines. She ran over, we both got in our pre-race pee, and we made our way to starting line as the National Anthem began.
By the time we arrived, the corrals had already collapsed. Everyone was packed in like sardines. We squeezed in where we could and then tried to weave our way up until we were surrounded by people with our same corral number. It was a bit of a mess, but I think that’s just because we got there so last minute. I barely had time to get my Garmin ready before we were off.
We started running away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art (home of the Rocky Steps) and toward the famous LOVE sign. It was a really nice little stretch. I should have paid more attention to the pretty surroundings, but instead I was focusing on go-go-going. I knew I was probably going to fast, but I thought, “hey, maybe I’ll magically have a great race despite being undertrained and having not run this pace in months.”
Spoiler Alert: that didn’t happen.
I saw Zoe about half a mile in. She asked if I had a goal for the race. I told her I was trying to keep the 1:50 pacer in my sights. Why? Why was I trying to do that? Race day adrenaline got the best of me, my friends.
Two miles in, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to keep up my 8:30 pace, and yet I tried to push through. I tried focusing on my surroundings. I was running through the heart of the city, energetic people and bands cheering on the sidelines. Those first few miles should have felt glorious. I knew my parents would be cheering for me at the 4.5 mile mark, so I told myself to try to keep it up until I saw them. Well, I did, and after that, it all went downhill.
As I turned onto onto Kelly Drive, my pace slowed dramatically. The course was surrounded by river which meant the crowd support was gone. Usually, the bands Rockn’Roll has along the course give me bursts of energy, but I was officially on the struggle bus. And the bus driver wasn’t going to let me off. As the 1:50 pace group disappeared from eye sight, my new goal became to finish under 2:00.
Well, a few walk breaks later and the 2:00 pace group caught up to me. Annnnnd then passed me. I tried to keep up, but I had to keep taking walk breaks, especially once I crossed the river and started making my way back toward the city. At this point, we (me and all the runners around me, that is) were in the final miles of the race, but the clouds had disappeared. There was zero shade. The humidity had dissipated, but it was replaced by heat beating down on us during the hardest miles. I poured water down the back of my neck at every water station, which were graciously place every two miles or so.
When I finally turned onto the final stretch and saw the finish line, I couldn’t even sprint. I always sprint the last tenth of a mile of a race, but I didn’t have it in me. I crossed the finish line in 2:01:37. In all honesty, that’s not a bad time. But it felt bad. This lovely, could-have-been-PRable-if-only-I-trained-properly flat course felt so damn hard.
I was happy to receive my medal, which, in Rock’n’Roll fashion, is pretty neat. The Liberty Bell is surrounded by the words “Rock” and “Roll,” which are written out like the LOVE sign, but whenever I look at it, I’ll remember the lessons I had to learn the hard way despite already knowing them: Stick to your training plan. Don’t go out to fast.
As always, Rock’n’Roll was handing out lots of goodies at the finish line (bananas, chocolate milk, chips, gummies, pretzels, hummus, water, gatorade) but all I wanted was water.
After making my way through the exit crowds, I found the VIP tent. I thought I’d get a nice massage there, but there were a few people ahead of me in line. I didn’t want to make my family wait for me, so I grabbed a few goodies (the VIP tent had bagels, cookies, brownies, pastries, a yogurt bar, sandwiches, coffee and more!) and went to find my cheer squad.
Before heading home to stretch, eat and drink all the coffee, we had to stop to pick up my Remix Challenge medal (for doing both the 5K and the half). It’s a guitar with a spinning pick in the center. How cute?!
Rock’n’Roll always puts on a post-race concert, but our spectators were on the verge of hangry. Instead, we made our way to Reading Market where everyone got some sustenance (and I got an oat milk latte). Then, we trekked back to our parking spot and were homeward bound.
Overall Race Pros
- beautiful course through downtown Philly and along the river
- flat and PRable (if you train properly)
- musical entertainment
- post race swag
- fun medal
Overall Race Cons
- not enough porta potties at the start
- as always with RNR races, they have so much post race swag but no bags to carry said swag
Rock’n’Roll has races all over the country! If you find one you’re interested in, RNRRNB2018 will get you $15 OFF any US or Montreal Rock’n’Roll Half or Full Marathon (excluding Vegas).
Have you ever been undertrained for a big race?