This is how I felt about the Philadelphia Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon today. The weather was perfect for a race- about 60 degrees (slightly chilly) at the start and blue skies. I woke up in a good mood, had an easy commute into the city from my sister's house and felt the energy from the crowds and other runners.
I love Philly. And, when I visit, it's always sunny in Philadelphia. (Ya know, like the name of the TV show? Anyway....) Today, I made it a point of paying attention to where I was running and the sites around me. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I ran the Bronx 10 Mile race, and later he referenced something that we passed during the race. I had no idea what he was talking about. I never pay attention to what's around me, but I should do it more often! So today, I did that. And I loved it. I listened music, but turned it off when near (most...the good ones) bands to enjoy their music and be a part of the race, rather than just in my own head the whole time.
The crowd was great. There were some good signs like "This cat (insert picture of cat) says don't poop your pants"....why is a cat saying that?! And "Run Total Strangers, Run!", lots of cheerleaders and cheering in general.
I loved the course (although a few roads could have used some paving) and it was a good mix of city streets and running along the river with lots of trees and shade.
I had a rough week this past week. I woke up with a sore throat on Monday, felt worse Tuesday, felt even worse on Wednesday and Thursday, then finally started feeling better on Friday. My runs were bad. They weren't really fun, they were hard while totally congested and I felt super slow. Because I was sick most of the week, I ended up taking a spin class yesterday morning, so my legs weren't fresh or rested for today.
But even with all of that, this race felt great. It was the first half marathon where I didn't want to collapse on the finish line. I even ran 3 more miles after the race to get up to 16 for today. At the end of all my other halfs (halves? What is it when referring to multiple half marathons?! I know halves is the plural, but it feels wrong in this case!), I didn't want to run one extra step, and am not sure I could have even if I had wanted to. Today I only stumbled mentally for a few brief moments. I felt strong physically, I had fun and loved every minute of it.
I ran the first 8 or 9 miles totally comfortably.
Once we crossed over the river and started heading back towards the finish, I picked up the pace to finish strong.
I haven't done the math to see if I negative split- I think the first and second halves were pretty even- but honestly, I don't even care if I did or not, because everything about this race felt comfortable. It might be the first time that I felt like I ran a smart race. My goal was to run on the faster side of marathon goal pace. I didn't go into the race hoping for a PR, but I ended up running my second fastest half marathon. One of my New Year's resolutions for 2012 was to run a sub 1:45 half marathon. My first half marathon of the year was 1:45:56, and that felt really hard, physically and mentally. My second was 1:43:23. That felt even harder. Today, I ran 1:45:05, didn't go all out and felt great the whole time. I had more to give, but this wasn't my A race.
I'll save my A race for the next time I run in Philadelphia. And after this race, I can't wait to get back and run there again! I now think that I might even be capable of running a marathon. Maybe. Bring it on, Philly Marathon! 61 days!
Did you run this Rock 'n' Roll race? Did you like it? What's your favorite half marathon course? Tell me!