RnR Philly Half Race Recap + Review

Sunday was an absolutely wonderful day for two big reasons. I PR’d the half…but more importantly was what happened AFTER the race: My adorable, huggable godson’s Christening Day!

Me + My godson + his parents + sister + godfather

Me + My godson + his parents + sister + godfather

After crossing the finish line at 9:32, I chatted for a few minutes with Mike, a runner who I managed to hang with through mile 9 (I think?) and then who negative split the heck out of the race and finished over TWO minutes faster than me. I got my medal, grabbed a water bottle, and ran the 1.5 miles back to the hotel – where my car was waiting {bags packed and already in the car too} at the valet. I drove the 80-90 minutes home to Staten Island, showered, got ready, and my husband, boys and I were at my sister’s house by 1pm. I may not have had the fastest race time of the day, but I’m fairly certain I would be in the running for the fastest transition. HAHA.  Thankfully, my husband is amazing and got both boys dressed and ready while I was concentrating on myself.

philly half2

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Now some race talk =)

Saturday

I made my way to Philly Saturday afternoon. After quickly checking in to the hotel (Embassy Suites in downtown Philly), I walked to the expo {~ 1 mile} to get my bib, tech shirt, and VIP bracelet {from Team Refuel}.  It was a HUGE expo and was packed. I didn’t stay and look around – I was hungry, didn’t want to spend too long on my feet, and I don’t enjoy crowds.

I picked up a few things I needed for that night/the next morning (water, banana, bagel) on my way back to the hotel and then got to spend an hour with Leticia who came over to catch up!

philly half3

By this point, it was close to the boys bedtime, so my husband called so I could see them and say goodnight.  Modern technology is beautiful!

philly half4

I had every intention of being a loner and staying in the room and ordering room service, but decided to not stress about the race and enjoy my night sans kids.  So I met up with Theodora, Jenn and Tara for dinner (Leticia joined us for a bit as well) at this yummy French restaurant about 1/2 mile from the hotel. It was a fun night out with some girls that I’ve been so lucky to have connected with through blogging and social media (and the crazy thing is that Jenn and Tara are from Staten Island!). PS. It was Tara’s birthday and first time running a half marathon -> she rocked a 2:11 finish!

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Photo courtesy of Jenn

I was back in my hotel room and in bed by 10pm. It was at this point that I realized that I was going to sleep – alone – for the first time in YEARS.  I don’t even remember the last time I spent a night without my husband or one of my boys with me. It was strange. It was a weird dichotomy of emotions. I was incredibly happy to be alone and carefree, but I was also feeling really lonely and sad to have no one to take care of.

philly half

Race Morning

Alarm went off at 5:45. It was a very stress-free morning. I was only about 1/2 mile from the start line and the corrals didn’t open until 7:30, so there was no rush to get there early (plus it was a chilly 50 degrees, I was not checking a bag and was wearing a tank top with shorts). Drank some coffee, pumped, got dressed, face timed with my boys again, ate 3/4 of a Cliff Bar and packed up the room by 7:15.  This is where I was thankful to be alone – it was nice to only worry about getting myself ready for the race.

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Obligatory race morning selfie =)

I did a 1.5 mile warmup on my way to the start line, beginning at a 9 min pace and gradually picking up the pace to about an 8:15 min/mile. I made my way to my corral (I was in the first corral!!) and spent the next 20 minutes trying to stay loose and stretch.

I was surprisingly calm. Yes, there were some pre-race jitters, but I wasn’t dealing with my usual pre-race nausea and worry that I had faced for the NYC Half and NJ Marathon. I think there are a number of reasons why I am less worked up (post coming soon about this!).  But it was nice to feel excited to race and not have high expectations.

The gun went off right at 8am. My plan was to start on the conservative side (7:10 pace) and slowly pick up the pace for the next few miles, find my zone and hang there through 10 miles and then race the 5k to the finish line.  Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Although I felt like I was running a 7 min mile, my watch beeped that I hit a mile in 6:40. I knew I wasn’t running that fast + we hadn’t gotten to the 1st mile marker. It took another 25 seconds for me to hit the mile marker.  Mile 1: 7:05

Same thing happened the second mile, although it wasn’t as much of a difference. My watch beeped at 6:33 – didn’t hit the 2nd mile marker for another 12 seconds. Mile 2: 6:45 (WAY too fast).

So I knew my Garmin was off. I needed to make a decision. I couldn’t rely on what my watch was telling me so I said screw the watch and decided to not give it a look until I hit the next mile marker. I was going to run on feel. I would speed up when I felt good and slow down when I needed to. {And, as it turns out, I lost satellite reception just after mile 2 – so my garmin was useless}.

I don’t have my exact splits for miles 3-6.  My garmin was going in and out for most of those miles. My body did a pretty good job at staying consistent. Every mile was between 6:45-7. Based on the official results, I hit the first 5k in 21:24 (6:54 pace) and the 10k in 42:52 (6:55 pace) – so almost even splits.

philly half10

I knew I had gone out a bit too fast though. Plan was to start conservative and hang around 7:00 through the 10k, then pick it up a bit through 10 miles and then race the last 5k. I was feeling pretty tired already and the thoughts of How am I going to run another 7 miles at this pace? and Why the heck do I put myself through this pain? began to enter my head. There was a big part of me that just wanted to stop and call it a day. To swear off racing forever.

I started to focus on one mile at a time. Just run one more mile at this pace. Hang with that personCatch that person. It worked.

My Garmin began working again (and was giving me accurate splits). Miles 7-12: 6:47, 7:16, 6:59, 7:09, 6:59, 7:02. There was a small hill (I don’t even know if I can call it that) at 7.5 and again just past mile 9.  The slower miles were a bit slower than I wanted to see but I was able to recover and get back on track with 7 min/miles.

philly half12

The last mile was not fun. I wanted nothing more than to finish strong and fast but I had nothing left.  My legs felt like they were ready to give up. I had just under 8:30 to run the last 1.1 miles (about a 7:43 pace) to get under 1:32. My garmin stopped working again and it wasn’t until I saw the finish line clock when I was about 200m away that I saw how close it was going to be. I sprinted with every ounce of force I had left to cross in 1:31:57.

Sprint to the finish

Sprint to the finish

 

SO happy to be done (and have a new PR)

SO happy to be done (and have a new PR)

 

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Race Review

Pros

  • Well organized. It’s clear that this is not the first race that Competitor has put on. Everything was a breeze – from picking up race bib, to t-shirt, to the race start and finish.
  • <Lots of crowd support. Definitely a good race for runners who like cheering and want some moral support along the course. The start line and finish line areas were packed with spectators.
  • Water. From mile 2 or 3 on, there was a water point almost every mile.
  • Corral System. There were 25 corrals that started 1-2 minutes after the previous corral. Much better system than having corrals and then doing a mass start. From friends I have spoken to that started a bit further back in the corrals, the course was not overly crowded.
  • Course. Race website touted the course as being flat and fast and it did not disappoint. Once we got out of the city (mile 4), it was a straight (and flat) out and back along the river. The only two small inclines that I remember was just before we made the turnaround on that stretch (we had to run over a bridge) and a small incline at the end. That was it. Huge difference from the last half I ran.
  • Huge Race Expo. I didn’t stick around at the expo, but just from having to walk through to get out, I was amazed at the number of vendors. Anything you needed or wanted was available at the expo.

Cons

  • Corrals. I passed the start line at mile 4.5 and there were still runners who had not yet started. I understand why they had not yet started (see above), but it was over 30 minutes from when the first gun went off – just seems like a long time for those runners to be standing around waiting with no water, access to port-o-potties, or fuel.  I think it would be a good idea to maybe make mention of that on the race site so those runners know to come prepared to the race start. 
  • Water stations. They didn’t seem very well-manned. For a race that has 25,000 runners, I expected there to be hundreds of volunteers passing out water along the course. Several of the water points appeared to have 1 or 2 people pouring water and a handful handing out the cups. While it wasn’t a huge issue when I went through, it may have been a bit more chaotic when corrals that started after me went through.
  • Crowd support for miles 6-11. These miles were along the river and there were virtually no spectators present. For a first timer or someone who needs a bit of cheering, these miles would have been tough. {There were a few bands along the course during these miles.}

Have you run a RnR race before? What are your thoughts on the experience?

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    27 thoughts on “RnR Philly Half Race Recap + Review

    1. Pingback: LA Marathon Weekend + Goals

    2. Congrats on the PR! Was that your 1st time doing Philly RnR? I knew there were water stations that looked a little desolate by the time I ran by (Corral 7) but interesting to see they never had it together from the beginning. And yet some of the later water stops had upwards of 20 people and knew what they were doing. Maybe just not good volunteer leaders?
      Sara @ Running in Pink recently posted..Getting Here and Going ForwardMy Profile

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    4. Congratulations again on going sub 1:32! It sounds like a good course too. I have never run a RnR race yet. Mostly because they are all so stinking expensive. (My sister paid $130 several months in advance for Nashville RnR half.) I may do one when I can get a comped elite entry but I think I have to go sub 3 for the full or sub 1:25 for the half- which I hope will be this fall! We’ll see… :-)

      This was a good race report for me to read because I have a half coming up this weekend. I haven’t run a half since February and it did not go as well as I’d hoped. I’m sure I will be reminding myself to “stay in the mile” like you did. Great job pushing through even when your watch malfunctioned on you. Hate when that happens!!
      Tia @ Arkansas Runner Mom recently posted..Not Boston Bound 2014My Profile

    5. I actually volunteered at one of water stop, and could not believe how disorganized it was. We set up a bunch of cups in the beginning, as instructed by our leader, but after things got going there was NO direction. I thought from the beginning that we did not set-up enough cups, but the leader stated that we would probably have enough, and we could just set up more later. WELL, turns out that he did not give much direction at all and I had to take it upon myself to start setting out more cups and pouring water while other volunteers just stood around aimlessly. Yet another downside of a huge corporate race taking control of a local event. Sorry to say I will not be volunteering there again thanks to the lack of leadership and direction.

      Glad you got that PR!

    6. I’m late getting my post up, but its so interesting to read your experience vs mine, who was definitely still waiting to start when you passed the start again.

      I’ve run 3 RnR races this year, and love a lot of things about them, but the badly manned water stations are my least favorite. It happens every race as you get further back in the corrals. For those of us that it takes 2 hours plus to run a half, that’s a long time to not have good hydration opportunities.
      Cyanne (RunStretchGo) recently posted..Three on Thursday: Do more of what makes you happyMy Profile

    7. I just signed up for my first half marathon (cue freak out!!!!!!) which is going to the the Rock&Roll in DC in March! I’m really excited, although super nervous as well. Anyway, I’d love to the Philly one someday too! I would definitely need the crowd support though! Hope there’s crowd support the whole way through DC :)
      Lindsay @ Lindsay Weighs In recently posted..Friday Things #3?My Profile

    8. Congrats on a great race and a HUGE PR, and sounds like sunday was a great day all around for your family.

      I did my first RNR race on Labor day weekend in Virginia Beach. Honestly, I don’t see the big deal about their races, and I’d be hard pressed to actively search out another one. I just don’t feel the hype of RNR races was worth the extra money paid for their races.
      Laura @losingrace recently posted..Article Reaction "The Slowest Generation"My Profile

    9. Awesome job! You really did run a great race, start to finish. So rewarding to see your hard work pay off, I’m sure.

      You also just got a good flavor of the Phila marathon course..you will be coming back down the last six miles along the river on the art museum side. There are definitely some quiet, lonely stretches in there, so just be prepared for that. But it’s also a nice, fast course.

      I love Phila and would have loved to have joined you–next time!!
      misszippy1 recently posted..The things I carryMy Profile

    10. COngrats on a great race!!! Can’t wait to see waht you can do when you incorporate more speed work!
      I actually ran RNR Savannah the first year and RNR St. Pete.
      I hated them both. Or were not my avorite I should say. For RNR Savannah I did the full. There wasn’t any water around mile 5 (all out) not enough bathrooms along the course, there were no spectators except in the main parts of town, and we ran along the highway for far too long. I felt there was no motivation to keep going because I was alone and bored.
      RNR St. Pete was a little different because I was injured and walked it. I liked the course, there were spectators but I didn’t like how you have to pay to get shuttled back from the start line. That is only a half and if they were to have it again I would walk. With low entry they actually cancelled it a few weeks ago. Sorry If that was a vent!
      But love your recap and hopefully being by yourself allowed you to care for yourself! I don’t think I have gone to a race alone and slept over ( I would just drive that morning) but that sounds like a steller idea and for a less stressed beginning!
      genna recently posted..Designer Whey Sustained Energy Review + GiveawayMy Profile

    11. I totally agree with your assessment of the race. I am (much) slower than you and started at 8:20am. This didn’t bother me so much, but the water situation was a hot mess. Many of the stations had run out (or they hadn’t filled fast enough) by the time I got there, which made me very cranky.
      Congrats on a fantastic PR!
      Laura @werkitinnyc recently posted..Race Recap: Philly Rock N Roll Half MarathonMy Profile

    12. Congrats on your PR! My twin and I did the RnR Philly Half as a training run for the Chicago Marathon next month. I also noticed the water station volunteers were a bit sparse. Otherwise, we enjoyed the race.

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    14. Amazing job on your PR!!! I had a hard time letting go of not racing this race and just using it as a training run… My “A” race is a full next month! I wish my morning was as smooth as yours haha!! Congrats again!!!
      Stacey@derunningmom recently posted..RnR Philly Recap:My Profile

    15. Congrats on the PR! That’s awesome that you’re hitting PRs while lactating! I laughed at the being lonely by yourself at night part because that’s my fantasy. In my fantasy, I’m too busy sleeping to be sad haha
      Kara recently posted..Lettuce stop this madnessMy Profile

    16. Love reading your race report. I’m actually struggling with putting all my eggs in two race baskets this year and wondering how I will feel about it. Usually I run a half marathon every time my plan calls for 13, but I passed 13 somewhere in the summer and of course in Florida in August- no races. So I have one half that I strong armed the coach into and the goal race full. I think being alone on full day may help me..though its a local race, sooo.

      SO proud of your PR, it’s a great feeling!!!! your outfit was super cute too! (ok so thats just girly talk.)
      Holly recently posted..Rocking Speed work…My Profile