Monday, September 22, 2014

Philly Rock and Roll Half Marathon

a cool keepsake from the expo
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, the awesome company Bibrave, who I'm an ambassador for, offered me a spot in the Philly Rock and Roll Half to help promote the race and Bibrave. Even though I have a big 12 hour race only 7 days after the half, I was really excited to take it on. I haven't raced since May so I've been eager lately to race and since becoming a Bibrave Pro, I've been eager to do a race representing them.

I knew a little about the Rock and Roll series as I ran this same race in 2011 and of course I always see a lot about the various races on social media. The Philly race used to be the Philadelphia Distance run before it became the Rock and Roll half therefore it's pretty popular as it's been around a long time. This year at least 20,000 runners were expected including Kara Goucher and Deena Kastor, I was pretty excited to be running a race with those two amazing ladies.
Deena broke the Master's World Record! 

Just the way things worked out, I ended up taking the kids with me to the expo Saturday morning while Emir was out playing on the trail with a running group. The kids were excited, they like going into the city as we don't do it all the time. We found parking pretty easily and headed in. I had 3 main goals for the expo. Get my race stuff, talk to the race pace group and sign up for the Runner's World Hat Trick. I have been delaying signing up waiting for some kind of discount to appear. And then Emir saw the tweet that advertised early bird pricing if you signed up on site at the expo!
got my bib and race shirt

Picking up the number, shirt and a few freebies was easy and quick. There was a large section of Rock and Roll gear from which we then exited into the main expo. I couldn't remember what the expo was like in 2011, but this was big, with tons of major running companies present which of course made me excited. After satisfying the kids with free popcorn, water, lemonade and toy cars we saw Spiderman. Niko was SO excited! He got his picture with him. I knew he had run the 5K because he was wearing the medal. Later when I posted the picture, I realized it was actually someone that I am instagram friends with and he was running the half too, pretty cool.

He ran the entire 5K in full Spiderman costume!
Next, we got our picture taken in front of the green screen. Then I set off on my mission to find the pacing group and Bart Yasso to sign up for the Hat Trick. I passed lots of booths I would have liked to look at but with the kids by myself it's not easy and probably better for my wallet anyway ;-) I found the race pacers group. They were really nice and gave me the info for the 1:45 group. My current PR was 1:49 and even though I was not supposed to give this race my A effort, I was still hoping that I could beat 1:49. After that finally I found Bart! I explained to Niko who Bart was and that he would be at the Runner's World kid race that Niko is running as part of the festival weekend. Niko just lit up with excitement and had a whole conversation with Bart about the race, it was so cute. Niko was still talking about Bart later when Emir eventually came home from the trail. 
Niko and Bart

After that I was ready to go but on our way out we passed Altra and at the last second a table labeled "everything on this table $55!" caught my eye. I was going to be ordering the Paradigm in the next couple weeks as I am in need to start working in another pair of road shoes and my Altra ambassador husband suggested these would be a great fit for me and easy on the wallet with the ambassador discount. But I knew $55 was an even better price. I took the chance and asked the man if any of those shoes were the Paradigm. Low and behold there were 3 pairs and one was my size!! I felt like I made money at that expo with the deal on the Hat Trick and now the Paradigms! 
Smarty Pants package
On our way out I was also able to stop and say hi to the Smarty Pants Vitamin people. I just joined their team the week before and they sent me an awesome package. All in all, a very fun and successful outing!
made out like a bandit at the expo! New Paradigms and Hat Trick entry

That night I drove back into the city to stay at my sister's house. It's very close to the start/finish area for the race. No one was home so I had the house to myself for the night. I ventured out to find some food and ended up at a place that Cindy had mentioned was good, honeygrow. They have salads and stir-frys with fresh, local ingredients.  I got one of each. It was delicious! I had a relaxing evening with my yummy dinner and a beer then went to sleep early. I missed Emir and the kids but it was really nice to have such a low key evening before the race.
my sister rocks
Nothing like Bioskin, beer and stir fry the night before a race

In the morning I walked to Wawa got some coffee and breakfast, I got dressed and headed towards the race. Coach had assigned 15 minutes of warm-up so I ran to the race area with my bag that I was going to check strapped to my back. I started sweating immediately. It was cloudy and not overly hot but it was definitely humid, ugh. I wasn't too thrilled but nothing I could do about it. My legs felt good during warm-up and I was feeling just ready to go. I checked my bag in which was very quick and easy. I was feeling like I just wanted to use the bathroom one more time even though I had just gone at the house before I left. I checked the several areas with pottys and all the lines were just too long. I really didn't feel like I had to go, it was more of a mental thing so instead I headed to my corral. I was supposed to be corral 6 however the 1:45 pacer was supposed to be in corral 4 and then eventually I found him in corral 5 which is where I started. I had some nice conversations with a few other runners while the corrals ahead of us started.
Ready to go!
Next thing I knew, we were off. As I said earlier, I was not supposed to give this race my A effort as I have a 12 hour this Sunday however Coach Caleb did approve B+ effort. Knowing how I am, he also gave me some extra miles to run the week of the half so that I wouldn't be able to give full, A+ effort. Even though I had decided to go with the 1:45 group, I had some serious doubts about what kind of speed I could run. It wasn't just because of the extra miles in the week leading up to the race or even just the sheer amount of miles I have been running weekly in general for a long period of time now. It was because during my training lately, my pace is always in the 9:15-10:30 range and often even that feels pretty strenuous. Yes there are times I do speedwork and I can get my pace down below 8:00/mile but that's for 30-60 seconds at a time, not miles. Caleb had assured me that he thought I would be pleasantly surprised at what I could do that even though I was running slower, technically easier miles, I was running a lot of them. This did make me feel better but still you never know how it's going to go until you get out there. I was hanging around with the pacer group and it felt SO easy which was good but after the first half mile, it was getting on my nerves so I just went with how I felt. I went at a steady pace that didn't feel overly hard but not super easy either.

city hall
The first part of the race goes into the city a bit and is pretty fun. There's nice amount of spectators and of course a bunch of bands along the course. There was a lot going so it went by fast. My watch seemed to be off in terms of mileage so I was just going by the mile markers and my overall time which I then checked against my pacing bracelet that was for 1:45. I was consistently about 30 seconds ahead of it. I was feeling pretty good, no pain, not struggling to breath. I would grab water at aid stations as needed, which were plentiful, well stocked and well manned. It was easy to access as well due to the nice spacing of the corral starts the race never felt overly crowded. They actually were still starting corrals when I made my way back past the art museum to head out on Kelly Drive which was about 40 minutes after I started. Around mile 9 I felt that maybe I was struggling a tad and maybe slowing down a bit but I was still ahead of pace. Next thing I knew the 1:45 pacer blew past me! I was like "what?!" For a minute I really let that get to me. I felt like I must be bonking if they caught me like that. After a couple minutes, I regrouped and checked my paces. I was still under the times for 1:45 so I realized that it was the pacer who had speeded up a lot not me that had slowed down a lot, whew! The last few miles I let the pacer man lead the way and I just hung around creepily nearby. At this point I knew I could do it, I knew I could PR but of course in usual Amy fashion, 1:45 would not be satisfactory, I knew I needed to speed up at the end to get under, I just really wanted my pace to be under 8:00/mile, just sounds better ;-). As the 13 mile marked came into view, I took it up a notch one more time to bring it home, passing the pacer and coming in at 1:44.39 which is 7:58/mile. I was needless to say, VERY happy! After crossing the finish line I received water and my medal. I then was able to get a few pics taken by the photo people. The after race food consisted of bananas, tiny bags of pretzels, granola, power bars and chocolate milk. I guess this is standard after race food but I have a pet peeve about Philly races not having soft pretzels! Come on people, it's a Philadelphia staple for goodness sake! I just think that these big races should be able to work something out with one of the pretzel companies to have them at the finish. Ok I'm done ;-) 
I conquered the half Rocky style ;-)

After that I needed to do a 10 minute cool down. I was able to retrieve my checked bag really fast and then headed to the beer garden, a free beer for finishers ( I guess kind of makes up for no soft pretzels)!
Just happy
sweet reward

It was somewhat anticlimactic being by myself but I was going to be meeting up with an instagram friend who I had never met before and I was very excited. Finally as I finished my beer she texted me that she was done and we met finally!
My Croatian Instagram friend, Zrinka!

All in all, I had a great Philly Rock and Roll experience. I thought it was well run and well organized. It's definitely a fun, upbeat event. The course is fast and fun for the most part. There are a few sections along Kelly and MLK drives that are pretty quiet however they aren't really easily accessible to spectators during events like these due to all the road closures, etc. It's exactly the same during the Philly Marathon in these sections so it's to be expected. I enjoyed all the bands along the course and at the finish. They definitely give you a pick me up during the race. The only criticism I have is how much the race costs. I was lucky enough not to have to pay for this race however I would definitely not pay the well over $100 it costs to run it. It is fun and everything however I do not think it should cost that much for a half marathon. But over 20,000 did pay for it so I suppose the pricing will not change anytime soon.
Totally couldn't resist wearing my brand spanking new paradigms!  They were AWESOME!

I'm very glad I ran this race, thanks again to BibRave and the Rock and Roll people for the opportunity!!!

Now I have a few days to rest up for the Sloppy Cuckoo 12 hour!!!!!!!!!


  1. Thanks for sharing your race with us and congrats on the PR. FWIW, I totally agree on the soft pretzel thing. For all they charge for this race it would be great to show some respect for where they are and who paid those fees. Keep smiling and keep moving - Paula

  2. Thank you Paula! I appreciate it :-)

  3. Congrats on the PR! That's awesome!!! I had the same feeling regarding the price for a half marathon. I did the race in 2012 but the high cost is what has kept me from coming back to it - I enjoyed it but didn't ABSOLUTELY LOVE it. I'll save my money for the Philadelphia half. :)

    1. Thank you Meredith! Yes the Philly half and even full marathon both cost way less

  4. Love your writing and love what you wrote about the Key West Half Marathon. We want you to write about us and come back this January!!!

    1. Hi Evan! Thank you so much! I would LOVE to come back but I don't know if I'll be able to.....