Monday, September 24, 2012

Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

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Wow ... an unexpected PR is always nice! This race was not part of my racing program. I had a terrible run the previous weekend at the Delaware Diamondman Triathlon.

I signed up for this race to be part of the William Way LGBT Community Center's new fundraising running team. I figured 1:45 would be my realistic time, and actual wore a 1:45 pacing bracelet. One thing that I did differently for this race was to depend on my heart rate monitor to pace myself. This was a new toy. Based on limited data from the DDT run the previous weekend, I decided that I should be able to stay at a heart rate range of 160-165 bpm.


The morning of the race, I met up with a fellow Philly Fins swimmer and walked to the start of the race. Met up with members of the Philly Frontrunners and Team WayGay RunWay for photo ops. I think I was too distracted by all these activities that I checked my gear that contained a water bottle I needed. As national anthem went on, I picked up a discarded water bottle so I could take my salt pills and pre-run gel.

UntitledI started in Coral 4, by the way, along with my Fins buddy. I was assigned to be in Coral 1 based on my seeded time of 1:29. Coral 4 seemed to be my realistic pace group.

As the race run started, I felt good. I started to surge through the crowd. I was very aware of my heart rate so I knew I wasn't going out too fast. There was a problem, though! After the first 1/2 mile, I realized that my GPS wasn't turned on. I was getting my heart rate but not my pace and mile count! Luckily, I was able to keep running at the same pace while turning on the GPS function. My device started to receive my location around the Mile 1 marker. My first mile pace was around 7:15.

Rock N Roll Phill Half MarathonI studied the course map the night before, so I knew the course very well. It has changed slightly since its hey day of the Philadelphia Distance Run. I helped that I had trained on a large portion of this course for the past 8 years. I felt great turning back to the Art Museum area. I gained confidence as my device was finally functional. I adjusted my pace based on my heart rate while being aware of my pace.

Once I reached Kelly Drive, I stuck to the river side of the road so I covered the minimal distance of the course. Everything was working out so well. I passed one runner after another. My triathlete buddy/rival Vinny in his usual Spiderman costume. Shirtless Kevin of the FRP. Many nice female runners actually cheered me on as I passed them!

I executed my nutrition plan perfectly: Gu every 30 minutes, water every station!

I felt strong crossing Falls Bridge onto the Martin Luther King Dr, or West River Dr as most of us still called it. Four miles to go. I was running sub 7:00 pace. At this point, I figured I should be able to go under 1 hour 40 minutes, even if I slowed down a little. But I never slowed down. My heart rate started to inch north of 165 and I decided that I could take it.

One mile to go, I saw my partner taking photos of me! At this time, I started to feel the intensity of the race. I didn't even smile for the photos. I pushed on, and ran a 6:45 for the last mile!

Rock N Roll Phill Half MarathonAll I could say as I crossed the finish line was ... 'oh, my god ... oh, my god...' After I stepped on the electronic timing mat, I felt onto my knees. I crawled to the right side and stayed on four for a minute. A concerned volunteer came over to ask me if I was ok. I said yes, and I only needed water. I found a bottle of water and started making my way through the exit chute. Picked up some more fluid bottles and some food. I drank and ate everything in sight, and slowly came back to life.

My official time of 1:32:54 was a personal best for a half marathon. Unofficially, I ran a faster half marathon split at Steamtown Marathon last year in the downhill first half.

I still can't believe I ran this well without much training. This run gives me confidence as I decided to train hard for the Philly marathon this year.

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