Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, September 2016

Last year, I rounded up some friends to do RNR Philly. The race was at the end of October due to the Pope’s visit to the city in September. This year, I was not planning to do RNR Philly.

A couple months ago I started hearing rumblings about some bloggers I follow planning to be in Philly. In the last two weeks, I have done two half marathons and a 5k. Philly would make three race weekends in a row, crazy, right? Or was it? I registered a week before Rock n Roll Virginia Beach and had an awesome run. Then last week, I did Bird in Hand 5k and half marathon, which I’d been registered for since registration opened months ago. As I was seeing chit chat about Philly on social media, I knew I just couldn’t stand to be at home without plans when a mere hour and 15 minutes away there was a race. I registered last Friday, before online registration closed.

Yesterday, I had plans of taking Septa to Philly to go to the expo and go to the #werunsocial meetup. We Run Social is an online community of all types of runners from all over the place. They often have a ‘meetup’ surrounding a race and I’ve been bummed that there haven’t been meetups at races I’ve attended. Knowing that there was a meetup in Philly cemented that I needed to run Philly. I got up, fairly leisurely, went for a run, and headed to the train station. I was heading to a stop that wasn’t terribly far but it wasn’t the closest to my house. The closest stop does not have as many trains on the weekends so I decided to drive a bit farther to have more schedule flexibility as to when I came home yesterday afternoon. On my way to the train, I noticed my car seemed to have an exhaust leak, ugh. Luckily, I hadn’t passed the closer train stop yet and I was almost certain there was a Midas or something of the sort across the street from the train. I called Dan, told him I was dropping the car off and would pick it up on my way back. Good plan! I was just in time to catch the train and it would get me to Philly just in time to hit the expo and head to the meetup at 1pm. Turns out that it was a Goodyear across the street from the train but I dropped the car off, they said they would call me with a price, and they closed at 7pm. I was glad that I averted a near crisis. I crossed the street, headed to the inbound platform for trains going to Philly. I had about 10 minutes so I sat on the bench and ate the sandwich I thankfully packed.

There was a train at the other platform and I was watching the clock thinking it should be turning around anytime now. Since it’s the last stop on the line, it goes past the stop and turns around before leaving. I thought it was odd that I was the only one there but hey, I was in the correct spot. All of the sudden, the train left and headed to the city! Wait what? Why did an inbound train just leave from the outbound platform?! I checked the schedule and great, the next train wasn’t for 2 hours! At that point, I had dropped the car off at the garage so I was stranded and I was so upset and I could feel tears of disappointment and frustration. I googled cabs and called the first number I found to ask for a cab to take me to the station I was originally going to drive to. They said they’d have to call me back if they had someone in the area. Ugh, I needed to be on the way now if I was going to make the next train from that station. In the meantime, I called Dan to give him and updated on my terribly unfortunate string of events. He said why don’t you just take Uber? I was afraid to take Uber by myself. I have no idea why I wasn’t afraid of a cab but for some reason that seemed safer. While I waited, the garage called to say it was going to be $1,700 to fix my car. I gave them Dan’s number so they could talk to him directly. The minutes were passing I just wanted to get on my way. I remembered the very next stop the train line is also serviced by Amtrak. I checked the schedule, the next train to Philly was in 30 minutes and the stop is about a 7 minute drive. Okay, standing here is not doing any good so I opened the Uber app and requested a car to get the Amtrak train. ‘No cars available, try again later’ seriously? I kept pacing. Tried Uber again, and bam! Nathan was on his way. A few minutes later, Uber driver Nathan showed up. I jumped in the car and we were headed to the next train. Thankfully, I got on the Amtrak, without incident. The small silver lining was that after all the issues, my phone needed charged and I needed to go the bathroom and Amtrak has power outlets at every seat and a restroom in every car.

I finally made it to the meetup, which was inside Reading Terminal Market, at almost 2pm. I was almost an hour late. It was tough and I felt some social anxiety because people were already in groups talking and seemed to know each other. Had I gotten there on time, it would have been easier to be the newbie. Thankfully, someone asked me my name and I easily rolled into conversation with some of my favorite bloggers that until this weekend I only knew by social media. So cool the meet them and actually talk to them in person!

We sang 'Happy Birthday' to Dani from 'Weight off my Shoulders'

The gathering broke up around 3pm which gave me plenty of time to walk across the street to the expo before it closed at 5pm. I picked up my bib and t-shirt and walked around the vendor area a bit. Once I left the expo, I made a few other stops I was planning while in the city and got back on the train. I texted Dan and he headed to the train station to pick me up. Luckily, he had a total fit when the garage called him with the $1,700 estimate and said absolutely not, this is why I don’t go to chain mechanics. His friend who lives a few minutes away and has a trailer thankfully spent his afternoon picking my car up and taking to it an independent shop to be looked at on Monday.

After the ordeal that was making it to Philly I had a fantastic day but was dead tired when I finally got home. I prepared my race stuff and went to bed with my alarm set for 4am.

Expo Time!

This morning I was glad that I had my clothes all ready and my stuff ready to go. I got ready and was headed back to Philly, this time by car…a different car…with no exhaust leak! The early morning drive was nice and traffic free. I had prepaid parking in a parking garage a little less than a mile from the race start. Parking was easy and I walked to the art museum area where the start and finish lines were. I found the rest of the We Run Social group as a pre-race photo was planned. After the photo, I had plenty of time to get myself prepared, check my gear bag at the gear check, and get in the bathroom line. The race started at 7:30 but I was in coral 24 so I knew it would be after 8 until I started. I made it to my coral in plenty of time and we started moving closer to the start. It was fairly hot and humid so I had been sweating basically since I got out of my car at the parking lot.

I was off on the course and I knew from last year that the first half of the race is awesome. The first half is in the center city area. The second half is on Kelly Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, which run on either side of the Schuylkill River. The second half is nice and fairly flat, like the first half, but the miles feel terribly slow. There generally aren’t a lot of people other than the runners and race staff and maybe a few runners or bikers on the trail next to the road. There are very few, if any spectators and there isn’t the normal city life that keeps going on the first half the course. My pace slowed in the second half but was still pretty good. There were a few points where I thought about just finishing and not caring about the time because I didn’t think I could make my goal. I knew I’d be disappointed if I didn’t at least give it my best shot. I’m glad I kept trying to hit my time goal because I was only 47 seconds off of where I wanted to be.

After a half marathon, I usually am able to carry on with my day but today it took quite a bit out of me. I picked up the bag I checked which I was glad had flip flops in it. I got some food and drink and it felt good to the take my running shoes off. I knew I’d be fine after an afternoon at home doing nothing but it’s been quite a while since I needed a post run nap. Three half marathons and a 5k in two weeks must be the qualification for a nap!

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