(If you want to know what else I did in Philly besides run, then wait patiently for my travel recap!)
Pre-race: I stayed at an airport hotel and had a (cheap) rental car, so I had to drive in the morning of the race. The website provided a map of downtown parking garages. I got downtown over an hour before the race, and everything was full. So I’m driving around downtown Philly, totally lost, just looking for somewhere, ANYWHERE to park. So finally I find this lot, maybe a half mile away from the start.
(The sign says, if the attendant is not on duty, pay $15 in the slot. So I did. Later on, when I came back to my car, the attendant chased me down and accused me of not paying. I told him where to shove it and threatened to call the cops, and then he left me alone.)
By the time I pay, it’s 7:46. The race starts at 8. Shit. So I run with some guy from the lot (haha I ended up beating him in the race too) to the start line. I get there in the middle of the national anthem. It took my Garmin until I stepped to the start line to find its position, and then we were OFF!
Mile 1: The first several miles run a loop around downtown, hitting basically all of the same sites that I did the day before. The weather is absolutely perfect – sunny, without a cloud in the sky, and nice and cool. Very minimal wind, and not humid at all. I’ve been looking forward to this race for a couple of weeks now. Huh, this must be how people with goal races feel. Best mile of the day. 7:43
Mile 2: The sun is right in my face. With the race after mile 4 being an out-and-back along the river, that means back will be in direct sunlight. What a day to choose a Sweaty Band over a hat! I’m such an idiot sometimes. 7:59
Mile 3: My favorite band on the course was this one – a little old man band, with random instruments, all wearing Eagles jerseys, playing Fly Eagles Fly over and over and over again. NFL Sundays are totally the best. I feel like I should be wearing a Bears jersey, or shorts at the very least. I decide to make it a mission to get a dri-fit Bears outfit for my race in Rhode Island in 2 weeks. (And for St Louis next month, because even though the Bears have a bye that week, annoying the crap out of St Louis people makes me so incredibly happy.) 7:44
Mile 4: During this mile, I encountered the Philadelphia version of Pete. This guy on the course knew EVERYONE. People kept coming up to him to say hi, and he would whip out his iPhone and take a selfie with them, and then carry on running. It was awesome. I made a mental note to put this in my race recap, so here ya go.
It was also during this mile that I saw the greatest sign ever – “Run like a hot guy is in front of you, and a creepy one is behind you.” Holy awesome. 8:17
Mile 5: I actually feel really, really good. What a difference it is running when the oppressive summer isn’t trying to kill you. If 2012 was the year when I discovered trail running, then 2013 is the year that I discover that I am actually a winner. As my mother always says, “You can always put more clothes on… you can only take so many off.” 7:50
|And then someone's arm photobombed me...|
Mile 6: You know that Elton John song that has a chorus with something like “Philadelphia freedom…”? Well, it’s been stuck in my head ever since I got here. And now, even with my iPod jamming away in my ears, I’m singing Elton John in my head. This cacophony is driving me nuts, and I’m grateful for the water station. Maybe I can slosh the song out of my brain? I dunno. I’ll try it.
I really have to pee, and there’s no line, so I jump in on that. I have no time goals, and my only goal is to have fun, so I don’t mind. I will have a lot more fun if my bladder isn’t screaming. 8:58
|I look... Asian? My mother is so confused.|
Mile 7: In case you have never been to the northeastern part of the country, let me just tell you how pretty it is. Tall trees, lots of green, and mossy rocks are just a few of the things I spot at every mile. Just running along a river, which in Illinois would be ugly and stupid (hello Fox River Trail!), in Pennsylvania, it’s majestic. This is probably due to the amazingly beautiful bridges that we keep running past. I see a huge blue-ish suspension bridge, but there are no runners crossing it. This makes me sad. I wanna cross a big bridge! 8:04
Mile 8: I still feel tremendous. It’s really amazing. I pretty much slacked off and whined for all of August, and then here I am, rocking out a half marathon and it feels so EASY. (It’s okay, when those thoughts first went through my head, I hated myself too.) I’m pretty sure that the pizza and beer I had for dinner the night before, and the donut I had for breakfast, were magic foods. (The fact that my donut was covered in peanut butter frosting didn’t hurt a bit.) 8:03
Mile 9: The best aid station on the course was during this mile. Junior high/high school kids, with their parents, screaming their heads off. They were fun, and they looked genuinely excited to be handing water to sweaty runners. Much appreciated.
Also, the moment I had been waiting for all day finally arrived… 8:34
|I'M ON A BRIDGE!|
Mile 10: So, I actually looked at both the course map and the elevation chart for this race, and I am wondering where the hills are. It seems like all we are doing today is going downhill. When is up? Not that I am looking forward to it in the least, but I am just curious. Either I’m so badass of a hill runner that I don’t notice them anymore, or they do not exist. Hmm… 7:51
Mile 11: Hard to believe that I only have 2 miles to go. It’s been a beautiful day. The majority of this course was in the shade, so it was nice and cool. I’m sweating like crazy, but that’s only because I’m a beast. 8:12
Mile 12: Spoke too soon about the shade, because the last 2 miles would basically be in the sun the whole time. Autumn sun is different, though, because it doesn’t try to melt you.
|Worst (or wurst?) race photo ever.|
Have I told you yet how much FUN I am having in this race? Even with my toilet break, I’m on pace to go way under 1:50, which makes me so unbelievably happy it’s amazing. I’m not stressing about my limited drive/shower/return rental car/board flight time. I’m in the moment, enjoying the fact that I am able to do something like this. I don’t pat myself on the back enough for getting out there every single day, even when I don’t want to. The race is the reward. 8:22
Mile 13: This is the mile where all of my dreams came true. My IT band, which had been screaming at me off and on since mile 8, miraculously stopped. A lady on the side of the course handed out Utz pretzels. I stopped to walk and eat my pretzel, and I saw a group giving out Free High Fives. I told them that I wanted a hug instead, and they obliged. So yes, I hugged a stranger. (It would have been better if they were strangers with beer – but nobody had any beer! #PhillyFail) 8:22
|Are we there yet???|
Mile 13.22: Oh, okay, this is where the hill is. It’s straight up, reminiscent of the end of the Marine Corps Marathon. But I’ve run half the distance this time, and it’s really half a hill, so I sprint up and enjoy the downhill that guides me to the finish. State 16 = conquered! 1:39
|Thumbs up to Philly!|
FINAL TIME: 1:47:27
AVERAGE PACE: 8:08
2013 PIKERMI / OVERALL PIKERMI: 16 / 77
MEDAL / FINISHER AWARDS: Medal, which I love. I am so proud of it that I wore it on the airplane flight home, like a giant dork.
RACE SHIRT COLOR: Red
ROCK IDOL STATUS: 5 = Rock Star. 5 to go!
NEXT RACE: St Michael’s Oktoberfest 5K, 9.19.2013, with the WRCE. Can’t wait!
Post-race: I took a little detour to my car - meaning, I stopped and ran up the Rocky steps. With my medal on, and a bottle of Gatorade in each hand. Like a champion. Then I walked down and picked up my Heavy Medal, and went back to my car.
Like the ninja I am, I had 75 minutes to drove back near the airport, shower, put gas in my rental car, and make it to the airport. I did that, with 17 minutes to spare.
A little brat on the airplane ride home, who was screaming her head off, was also ogling @OrtonPants. I told her that if she was very good and didn't wake me up, that she could hug him. Well, she woke me up, so @OrtonPants remained child-free. We both landed in Chicago to rain, our favorite, and an inevitable Bears victory.
A nice little Sunday, indeed.