Monday, January 20, 2014

Race #9, State #9 PA

Race #9, State #9 PA

September 15, 2013--Philadelphia, PA

Andrew and I were excited. This was our first real “travel” race. We both had to procure airline tickets to get there. We were venturing out! I thought it was a good omen that our hotel was located on Race Street. We were within walking distance to the start/finish area of the race. It was also our first Rock and Roll series run, the Rock and Roll 1/2 Marathon in Philadelphia. 
The pre-race expo and number pickup area was fun. It was full of music and vendors and a fun photo booth where we could mug for the camera. We met up there, as Andrew arrived from the airport via train (such an easy & cheap way to get from the airport to the city center--brilliant Philly!). I had actually arrived before Andrew and already had picked up my number, checked in to the hotel and scoped out the area a little bit. Right across the street from the convention center was the Reading Market...a virtual world of food choices all under one roof. You name the food. They had it. What an amazing place!
That night we walked to an out of the way Italian restaurant a college friend of mine recommended. I was hoping to meet up with him that weekend, but unfortunately he was out of town. Anyway, thank you Mike G. for the terrific restaurant suggestion. We strolled leisurely from our hotel to the restaurant and gave ourselves a little self-guided tour of Philadelphia, including taking in an outdoor festival in Chinatown. When we got back from dinner, it was time to get organized for the early morning wake up time.

The hotel was abuzz with runners the next morning, so much so that they ran out of coffee! Luckily, I never leave that to chance, scouting out a Starbucks and buying my venti brew the night before. All I need in the morning is the hotel microwave. Lucky me! I met some nice folks in the hotel lobby as we grabbed our morning bananas and other breakfasts. Then we were off! 
Philadelphia is beautiful! We walked toward the starting area, passing a gorgeous fountain, the Rodin Museum, a gorgeous tree and flag lined avenue, the main public library and all with the backdrop of the amazing Philadelphia Art Museum, complete with the Rocky steps in front. The start area was jammed with runners, and it was the first race where we missed being in the corral at gun time. We were still in line with countless others waiting for our last port-a-potty visit. Luckily, plenty of runners were still in the corrals when we finished, so we just joined right in with them. No real time lost. 

The route was really nice. We ran along the river in an out and back route. It was picturesque and there were bands playing music all along the way (hence the Rock & Roll part of the race). The temperature was perfect, a nice cool start with a mostly shade lined route. Everything was going well for the most part. I had a couple of minor the mile 5 water stop, I grabbed a cup from the table that was empty! Oh no! I had to turn back and grab another which broke my rhythm. Then when I went to take my GU packet out of my bra strap, I dropped the GU on the ground and had to stop to pick it up. Ugh! So frustrating to me and to the runners who probably almost tripped on me. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but these two things slowed me down and I’m not sure I ever really got my groove back. 
We crossed a bridge and started heading back toward the city. The temperature was warming up, and now we were running in to the sun. Somewhere after the turn at the bridge, Andrew caught up to me, looking strong. I shouted some words of encouragement and told him to run. Good for him! Meanwhile, I was starting to fade a little. I kept going as strong as I could, and was glad to see the finish line. My finish time was 1:49:58. I was grateful to still be in the 1:49s, just by the skin of my teeth. I found Andrew in the finish area where he was rested and so excited about his finish. I was excited for him, too. We enjoyed a beer in the beer garden, walked up the Rocky steps and around the art museum where we snapped some cool photos and then did a walk through the Rodin sculpture garden. Absolutely beautiful.

We ended our time in Philly back at the Reading Market for some real Philly cheesesteaks, regular for me, vegan for him. What a perfect post-race meal. 
I hope I get back to this wonderful city for some sightseeing and playtime with my husband and kids sometime. I really enjoyed Philadelphia. 

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