Philadelphia Half Marathon 2016 Recap

I think I might need to break up with the Philadelphia half marathon race.

My heart hurts to feel it and it feels weird to even say it because I always told anyone who will listen just how much I adore the Philadelphia Marathon weekend. I’m not usually one to complain but I’m bummed. Even with a PR, I’m bummed.

artmuseum

I have a deep love for the Philadelphia Marathon which roots back to watching Victoria completing her first full in 2010. There’s been 6 straight years of being involved with the race in some shape or form.

This year brought a lot of changes to the Philadelphia Marathon; I know that I can tend to be resistant to change but I tried really hard to go into it with an open mind.

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The train ride into the city at 5:40am. Chrissy participated in the 8k this year, which started at 10:45. She came in early with me so she could cheer for the half marathoners. The race began at 7:30.

The first change that was made was that the half and full marathons, which were usually both held at the same day and time were split. Which makes sense from a business standpoint. They added the Rocky Challenge, which is for those people who wanted to run both the half and the full races. Good on you, running all the miles folks!

The race weekend, once run by the City of Philadelphia, has been taken on by Philadelphia Parks and Rec (they manage the Broad Street Run as well). Communication prior to the race was a bit on the light side. People asked questions via email and Facebook, many went unanswered. I know there is a learning curve that comes along with these things but I was surprised that there wasn’t better communication, as this isn’t their first race rodeo.

The change that impacted me the most though was… they changed the half marathon course. I take issue with this because I know the old course and I really loved the old course.

I did not really love the new course. The old course is still run-able… as the first half of the marathon. It’s comprised of a nice mix of running through the city, through the streets near Drexel University, past the zoo, a small jaunt through Fairmount park, and finishing along the river in front of the art museum.

I knew the new course would be different but I wasn’t mentally prepared for just how different.

securitycheck

New this year is that they had shuttle buses from hotels to the start area. I didn’t utilize this because I stayed at home and took the train into the city but I’m thinking that was a benefit to those who took advantage of it.

The security check points were set up through which we all slowly filtered. I appreciate the efforts to keep us safe but I don’t understand why the Philadelphia race weekend has it and something like Broad Street, which has 40,000+ runners does not. I suppose Broad Street’s start line doesn’t really lend itself well to having check points?

Chrissy stared at an empty street near Love Park (currently under construction), waiting for all the runners!

Chrissy stared at an empty street near Love Park (currently under construction), waiting for all the runners!

I was in the blue corral, AKA, the last corral. I had big plans. I’ve been consistently training and I wanted to PR in a major way. I found my pal Christina and we caught up on each other’s lives while we wanted for our corral to start. The wheelchair start was 7:25, the elites started at 7:30, and our corral toed the line at 8:03.

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The first mile was very congested but I was feeling great and happy to be running! I noticed there was a lot of construction within this mile, which didn’t help with the squeezed feeling. I looked for Chrissy at the spot we picked for her to cheer but missed her during the first mile. I knew we’d be coming back the street on the other side so I held out hope I would still be able to see her.

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No big surprised that it felt a little squished with so many people!

I bobbed and weaved in the first two miles but after that I found a good spot and we all spread out. As I circled back around City Hall I knew I’d have the chance to see Chrissy and I wasn’t going to miss it. I hugged the right side of the road and found her! We blew kisses as I ran past and headed back toward the Art Museum.

Miles 1-5 were fantastic! Seeing City Fit Girls around mile 4 gave me a boost like you wouldn’t believe and I’m pretty sure I lost my mind when I saw them.

Running along the river was gorgeous. Boathouse Row is always beautiful and the fall foliage was in its prime. I continued with my 2:1 intervals and was exactly where I wanted to be pace-wise.

I took a GU gel at mile 5 and then heard someone in the crowd yell SCOOT A DOOT! I didn’t know it then but it was Kim, one of our buddies on Facebook and Instagram! It made me smile and I was still smiling, despite turning the corner and facing the first hill. I am no stranger to this hill; I’ve run it quite a few times in the past during races. It’s not my favorite but I was prepared for it and did the best I could.

Plus there was a sweet downhill that I knew was coming ahead so I focused on cruising down.

After that, it was pretty much uncharted territory for me as far as the course was concerned. There was a nice stretch of road and we all continued happily along our way.

Around mile 8 we turned to go up a hill and then it felt like we never stopped going uphill. It was hill.

After hill.

After hill.

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From a race that was touted as a flat course in the past, it really wasn’t what I expected. I hustled up the hills as much as I could but I watched my time creep up on my miles and my expectation of a huge PR went down.

However, I did see Dimity McDowell from Another Mother Runner during one of those horrible hills and I was so happy to see her; I thought she might be a mirage. That interaction put a pep in my step for a short amount of time, because you know, I was on a steep hill.

Pretty sure you can tell EXACTLY where the hills were located, looking at this.

Pretty sure you can tell EXACTLY where the hills were located, looking at this.

I saw Christina a few times throughout the course and it helped to have a familiar face to look for in a sea of people. The last 3 miles were pure survival mode. I knew I wasn’t going to get the time goal I wanted, which was disheartening.

That said, as I was bopping along with my music and I realized that despite not getting the time that I wanted, I was still feeling really good. My legs didn’t hurt, I was still able to do my intervals, and I was grateful for a good day of running!

I finished a minute faster than my old PR (which was back at the 2014 Nike Women’s half) and while I know were it a different course, I might have gone faster, a PR IS A PR!

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The finish line area was sort of a mess. I got my medal and then immediately started looking around for water and food. I finally asked a few fellow runners where to find it and they pointed off to the side where a tent was set up.

They had a great assortment of food for us, including the soft pretzels and chicken broth that I’ve grown accustomed to having after the race but no bags to put everything in.

I found Christina again after the race and we made plans to meet up and run soon, which I’ll be holding her to (it’s in the blog post so it must happen!).

I got to cheer Chrissy as she came across the 8k finish line and she felt really good! It was awesome to be there for her finish and to see many familiar faces from #run856 as they crossed the finish line.

merandchrissyfinish

Overall, this race wasn’t what I expected and that’s odd to say, coming from someone who has done the race multiple times. Even though there was a PR that was involved, the race wasn’t what I envisioned so I guess that’s why I’m a little whomp whomp regarding this race.

Maybe next year I’ll do the 8k again. Maybe I’ll get over my disappointment, train on hills, and try the half marathon again. Maybe I’ll get really crazy and run the full. I guess I’ll see where 2017 brings me!

Did you race this weekend? Have you ever had a good but disappointing race? I’m feeling really conflicted with my emotions.

What’s next? A local little fun run called The Light Run to look at holiday lights. My older child has agreed to do this one with me and I know we’ll be seeing a lot of friends there too. Yay!

14 thoughts on “Philadelphia Half Marathon 2016 Recap

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about your race experience 🙁 I noticed that a lot of my friends on social media said the exact same thing about the hills. It seems like they really changed the course, which is never a good thing!

    • Thank you, Kimberly. It was definitely a change to what I was used to and while I’m feeling less salty about it now (literally and figuratively), I’m still sad for the change of a once great course!

  2. That’s so frustrating! I heard they changed the course But didn’t know just how much. The reason I signed up for the marathon was because I did the half last year and running through the city was so amazing! Running up and down Kelly drive or MLK drive is not what I would consider fun. Congrats on the PR…that means you’ve gotten so much faster that even those hills can’t stop you! Looking forward to a fun chili run next year with you 🙂

  3. Meredith you are amazing. I could never do what you do. I WALK my Bella May around the block each day and 3-4 times a week she gets a WALK with my sister-in-law’s pack of 3 pups. I do it because my pup deserves a daily walk and I know it is good for me healthwise to walk. But RUN…….not in my genetic make up. I do know why I love you though……..we both feel exactly the same about CHANGE. If something works well, why screw it up by changing it? Anyway, I am very proud of you!

  4. I was in blue corral TOO! HOw did I miss you!
    I can see your disappointment with the course, but when they said the new course will be mostly in Fairmount, for me, it’s a given that there will be hills. So I did a handful of hill interval training sessions and feel like the hill training and track training TOTALLY AMPED UP my game. I felt incredible going up those hills because I expected them. The only thing I didn’t know was exactly how many. Also, going up the mile 9 hill, I saw a bald eagle and started flipping out LOLOL. People thought I was LEGIT NUTs. Those last survival miles, I kept saying to myself, BOATHOUSE ROW? WHERE IS BOATHOUSE ROW? Then when I saw them I started sobbing because I knew we were almost done. The weather was a life saver. It made the whole day easier. I’m going to put another order for that weather next year!

    • Jen!!! I didn’t realize that you were in blue too – I’m sad that we missed each other but I’m so happy for you and your time, you KICKED ASS! I need to find a group of running folks like your in my area so that I can practice more. I didn’t see a bald eagle on the course but that’s AWESOME! There’s a couple of bald eagles that like to hang out at Alycon Lake a lot (you know, if you want come down this way!).

  5. We’ll see you in AC in 2017! We will keep it fast and flat… and way better FINISHER medals! We look forward to enhancing our finish line food. Are there other items runners are looking for post race?

    • You’ll definitely be seeing me in April! I want a big ol’ PR and I know the flatness will help me hit my time goal. AC has a great finishers village and the BEER is always a highlight for me.

      I know that something that always helps runners at other races is having a small bag to put goodies in post race (if they haven’t checked a bag) so that might be something to consider. 🙂

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