What a race, what a race. First off, the weather could not have been any better. Sunny but not too sunny with a slight coolness in the air; temp at race time was around 65. Luckily, Sunday morning started off on the right foot for Miss Meg. Despite her inability to sleep Friday night (hotel noises), she was able to get some good shut eye on Saturday thanks to Mr. Sleeping Pill making a visit around 7:30; by 9:00-ish she was out. We had set our alarms for 6:00 but the excitement had me up by 5. I proceeded to make my bagel with almond butter and cream cheese (not digusiting, I promise) and take my act down to the front lobby, where I browsed the internet and read a little of 50-50; definetely got me pumped for the days events. Around 6, I made my way to Mc Donalds to get a small cup of coffee to give me that little extra boost, as if I needed it.
After getting my coffee, I made my way up to the hotel room where I arrived a little after 6. The wife and a tired puppy were laying in bed, in the process of waking up. We put on our race gear, took some photos, loaded our water bottles and snacks, Meg had her bagel (1/2 at 6 and 1/2 at 7) then we were off. Puppy wasn't too moody when we left, thank goodness. I must say though, she wasn't too happy when I returned to get Meg's sunglasses...understandable.
It was about a mile walk to the start line. The city streets were flooded with fellow racers making their way to the event, some preferring to run rather than walk. Perosnally, I like to conserve my energy...just saying. Slowly but surely we made our way through the crowds to our corral in the back, making a brief stop at the UPS trucks to drop off our gear bags. One good thing about starting in coral 19 of 22, the porta potties are plentiful; this was critical in my being able to run the entire half-marathon (yea!!). No one it would have happenned otherwise...I had to use the bathroom at mile 4 again, but was able to hold it to the end. After a 1/4 walk to the start line, the wife and I were off aroud 8:20. Philly, here we come!!!!
The race started off great. We both felt strong and motivated...the scenary was pretty darn good as well. As we made our way towards City Hall, the elites were already passing us by on their way towards Kelly Drive (Rowhouse Row). To give you an idea how fast they were, we had made it not even a mile and they were almost to four...WOW!! Bets part, we saw Ryan Hall! It was perfect, the wife and I looked at each other and blurted out - "was that Ryan Hall." As we learned later, yes it was.
Over the next 40 or so minutes, we continued to make our way through Center City, Phildelphia. Thanks to the buildings and Eagle fans (it is only fair to blame them as well) our Garmins were going haywire; distance, pace, etc. were all inaccruate. With the exception of total distance covered, these issues worked themselves out once we made our way towards the Schuylkill River.
In the end, we finished in 2 hrs 33 minutes (11:45 pace); a 16 minute improvement over Meg's previous time! Go Meg! Depsite "hitting the wall" around mile 11, she hung in their and finished strong. As usual, she made me very, very, very proud, showing the type of strong/determined woman she is. I must say, her tactic for race number two, the first being VA Beach, was brilliant. Rather than taking long walk breaks to rehydrate and Gu-itize, she took shorter breaks more frequntly on her way to shattering her previous race record. Again, go Meg! Along the way, I was able to achieve a personal mark as well. Before the start, I was determined to run the entrie race, which I did. When Meg would slow down for a break, I would move over to the side and run at a reduced pace until she could catch up. We plan to use this tactic for future races we do together.
After crossing the finish line, we grabbed some bottles of water and our medals before making our way towards the bag pickup area. After getting our bags, we took some post-race photos, threw on our sandals and slowly but surely trekked on over to Reading Terminal Market for the feast. Meg deserves another thumbs up here for running with a bloody toe (yes, I took at photo of it) and a foot/side cramp throughout the race...that takes guts. After the 1.5 mile walk to the Market, we grabbed our food (mac and cheese for Meg and a turkey sandwich for me) and proceeded to chow down. After taking some more photos (real cute one of Meg eating her carrot cake) and grabbing some goodies for later, we headed back to the hotel. Besides two trips to Subway, it was a night of relaxation and Giants football. No need to talk about that last part :(
All in all, it was a great trip and a personal favorite in terms of locations. Philly more than lived up to the hype. Most importanly, the experience was a much better one for Meg. Good thing the Philadelphia Half-Marathon sold out today, otherwise, we'd still be agonzing over whether to run OBX or make a return to Philly. Next stop Atlanta!