Philadelphia Half Marathon was yesterday and it was pretty awesome, despite the issues. This was my 17th half marathon, and I almost DNF’d.
It was overcast, cold, and slight windy. I wore a long-sleeved running shirt, full-length running tights with compression sleeves underneath, and running gloves with hand warmers inside them. I took my space blanket and a hat, which I gave to my brother who accompanied me to the race. It was SO cold!
I was in corral orange, which is the penultimate corral. Having missed a lot of training runs due to my hectic schedule – work 36+ hours/week, followed by clinical once or twice a week for 8+ hour days, some days it’s 14 hours – I was not going for a personal record. I’m freaking exhausted, friends. As a result, both my chiropractor and running coach suggested not to run at a specific pace – the goal was just to finish strong.
The cold wind had my legs tight and frozen. It took me about 1/2 mile until my body started feeling warm. I was running “blind”, meaning I wasn’t looking at my watch for my pace, I was running by effort. The issue was that I forgot that I was using the online tracker that my friends and family used to track me, well it alerted me pace and estimated finish time every mile. After I crossed mile 2, it alerted me that I was on pace to break a record by 10 minutes. If only…
Mile 1-3 were great. After taking off on the Ben Franklin Parkway, we took a turn around Love Park, past City Hall and down Market Street until 6th Street, where we turned right before the Liberty Bell and passed Independence Hall. That run was hard because we ran on cobblestone. I remember turning my foot a few times on those uneven stones. Then we ran up 5th St, past the United States Mint, towards the Ben Franklin Bridge and made a right turn on what I believe was Race Street, down to Columbus Blvd. Passing Penn’s Landing on our left, we ran down until Washington Ave, where we made a right turn and a huge cheering squad was there. The cheers started to come through my phone around this time, from friends and family who tracked me, and I started to cry.
I was feeling great until past mile 4. Pins and needles were a nuisance on my right foot. I didn’t ignore it, I wiggled my toes to keep circulation moving and checked to make sure my laces weren’t too tight. Right after I passed the always-make-me-happy Humane League squad in front of Blackbird/Dottie’s Donuts, I came to a full stop. I couldn’t take another step without feeling severe pain on my right foot. Wiggled my toes and this time the pain was unbearable. Leaning on a tree for support and balance, I removed my shoe and deeply massaged my foot. Returned to the pavement at a slower pace; the pain was still there, just not as intense.
When the pain returned, I almost called it. It would’ve been my first DNF (did not finish). Thoughts raced through my mind, taking me back to 2013, to a time when during my first full marathon I managed to sprain my ankle at mile 20. The difference this time around was that I was hurting at the beginning of a race. Telling myself to just “run the mile you’re in”, I continued one mile at a time. The pain returned every 3-4 miles, each time stopping to massage the foot and carry on. Couldn’t think of what was causing this, except I noticed this during my last long run (12 miler). The only things that changed were my running socks and the fact that my doctor put me in orthotics.
Walnut Street was ON FIRE!!!! From the Gayborhood all the way down to Rittenhouse Square, it felt like the whole city was out supporting the runners. It was amazing! Spotted my brother at mile 7 with a cheering squad and got a jolt of good vibes and energy all the way to University City. The sun was out, and while the wind was a headwind, it was SO refreshing.
The Philly Half course changed since my last Philly Half in 2015, so I was unfamiliar with this new course but thankful not to have that horrendous hill at mile 9. You know, that one on Briar Sweet Road? Grrr
There was a slight hill around Drexel University, but since it was close to a water stop and after mile 8, I decided to reserve my glycogen stores by walking up the hill and refueling/hydrating.
All flat/down from here on out!
Passed the Philadelphia Zoo on my left to a long flat stretch of road that was heaven to my legs. Not too many spectators after this point – it was a bit lonely, however, we passed historic buildings which I didn’t know existed; it was quite interesting. Turns and more turns…
Running on Kelly Drive is always a breath of fresh air. It’s not only scenic, but it’s a reminder that the end of the race is really close. I loved seeing my running coach at mile 12. I was feeling sore and tired and she gave me the last push towards that finish line.
I didn’t PR, but damn, it was close. I had my Strava on auto-pause and had I not stopped 3x to massage my foot, I would’ve PR’d by 11 seconds! I’m far from upset about it – I know my body is capable of doing it, I just need to not miss any more training runs and continue with rehab.
Next race: NYC Half if I get in. Everyone I know that ran it said it was cold AF, so I don’t care if I don’t, lol! If not, Broad Street 🙂