Monday, November 20, 2006

Philadelphia Half Marathon

Just to update you on my cold, I did feel better on Friday of last week. So that was good. Saturday was so so, but definitely much better than earlier in the week.

Anyway, Saturday night Akiva and I drove to Philadelphia to meet up with ShoreTurtle, who was kind enough to have picked up our packets at the expo. Apparently, we got there past Redhead Fangirl's bedtime, but we did get to meet the turtle himself, and his mom - a big part of "Team ShoreTurtle"!

Afterwards, we headed out to the burbs, where we met up with Sara, and her friend B. We stayed in a nice Mariott, with really nice beds. Too bad, none of us slept well. It wasn't my first half so I can't really say I was nervous, I just didn't sleep well.

(on TV in the morning)

So getting up in the morning wasn't fun. But at least we were in the neighborhood, and didn't have to drive in two hours. We took a cab about a quarter to 7 and got to the race site a little after 7. I forgot my phone at home, but luckily Akiva spotted ShoreTurtle out of the thousands of runners there. We chatted a little, and then got ready for the race.

Like usual, I was in line for the portapotties until the last second. That meant that we were lining up towards the back. That's actually ok for me, as it forced me to start slowly and not burn out to early.

It took me almost 8 minutes to hit the start line, and as you can imagine it was quite crowded in the beginning. The half marathon was combined with the marathon for almost the entire way.

The first mile went by in just over 9 minutes. Whoa. I was thinking I'd start around 10 min miles and then speed up. I didn't feel that I was working too hard, so I kind of stayed where I was.

Over the next mile, Akiva moved just in front of me. We had been running together, but now he started pacing us. As usual, he picked up the speed. I hung on for a little bit, but then felt like I was running too fast too early, and slowed down. I lost sight of him pretty quickly.

Just after the 2nd mile we went under a bridge. A bunch of runner's stopped to "water the cement", and I kind of felt like joining them. I was feeling pretty good, and it was still early, so I decided to hold off for a little bit.

Bad idea. I spent the next 5 miles thinking about my bladder, and looking for places to pee. At first we were on a long open highway. Then we were in a more residential neighborhood, with a cop at every corner. I was kind of annoyed at the situation, and thought about just running through it. But the truth was that I knew I wasn't setting a PR that day, and I wasn't comfortable.

Finally, just after mile 7, there was another "unofficial bathroom". (Ironically, it was just behind a water station.) I pulled off, and did my business. I really did have to go, and it took about a full minute. Good thing I wasn't too stressed about my time.

After my little break, I grabbed some water and also had a package of Sports Beans. For some reason they were tough to get down, and I found myself a little short of breath while trying to eat them. I was actually glad when the package was empty.

On we went through a street lined with all the fraternity houses. Some of the frat guys were out there banging on kettles and giving big cheers for whoever stopped to have a beer with them. It actually made me laugh, and invigorated me.

Then came mile 10. Everything I'd read about this course said that the course was flat. Um, had they just not noticed mile 10? It wasn't so steep, just a long slow hill that seemed to last most of the mile. It was tough this far in. I actually caught up (and passed) Akiva on this hill. I knew he wouldn't last at that speed, but it was his knees that caught up to him at the hill. He tried to run with me for a bit, but was really in pain and had to walk a bit.

I made it past the hill and through the realy station. I didn't notice anybody relaying in or out, but I saw people waiting around.

Just past that area the half marathon course veered away from the full marathon course. I was relieved to have a little space, and our own separate course finally. Unfortunately, about 2 tenths of a mile later, the courses converged again. That was kind of annoying. The courses actually then stayed together until the very last tenth of a mile where we split off just to make a 180 degree turn to run back to the finish line.

I felt pretty strong in those last few miles, and knew I was running well. My right arm was kind of numb, and my elbow was killing me, but my legs were ok. I thought about speeding up, but I knew my PR was out of reach, and I thought I was well ahead of my PW (personal worst).

When I hit the mile 12 marker I sped up a little, and then really turned it up toward the end. The last 180 degree turn was annoying, but I finished feeling pretty good.

My final time was 1:55:46 net, which in the end turned out to be a PW. (I was wrong about the timing of my first half in 2001.) I was 2 seconds slower than the race I'd run last year. No matter. I hadn't ben feeling great, and was just trying to finish under 2 hours. Running a 1:55 was fantastic for me on that day, and I was very happy with the result.

You can see I had a pretty good pace from the get go, 9:05 pace for the first mile. All the remaining miles were sub 9, with the exception of mile8, which included a minute bathroom break. Even the mile with hill (mile 10) came in under 9. I sped up towards the end, and turned it on for the finish. All in all, a pretty good race for me. (Notwithstanding the PW!)

(behold the champions!)

After the race I went to the VIP tent. Since I had signed up using an American Express card, I was a VIP - along with another 1000 runners and their guests. It was actually kind of cool; they had a separate heated tent, with food and massages. About 5 minutes after I got there I saw this Kenyan looking guy walking around, with the number 2 on his bib. I recognized him as the winner of the marathon. How cool! I asked him if he had just won this thing, and he nodded "yes". I congratulated him and we shook hands. That just doesn't happen in other sports.

Sara had to take off, but Akiva and I waited around to cheer ShoreTurtle to the finish. (Well we got massages, and then went to cheer on ShoreTurtle.) We didn't see him finish, but joined up with him afterwards. As you can read on his blog, he had a great race.

All in all, a great day. I felt pretty good the rest of the day, except for being exhausted. My legs are pretty sore now, but not terrible. I don't think I could have continued on for a full marathon at the speed I was going, but a little slower and I could have done it. A sub 10 min mile pace (4:22) is definitely in my grasp. (With a sub 4 in the future a definite possibility.)

Here's a few random pictures from the race:

(wearing operating room gowns to keep warm before the race. definitely a good idea for me to remember for next time!)

(random finishers)

(not exactly the most aerodynamic beard!)

(a couple of runners picked up their kids for the finish line. very cute.)

(the korean running team. these guys carried these flags the whole race.)

(i'm guessing this was "alan's" wife. this got a big cheer from the crowd.)

That's it for now. The official pictures should come out later this week. Check out this link from ShoreTurtle's blog to see local TV coverage of the race. (Click on the picture to see the video.)


Blogger redlib said...

Great job Danny! A thorough RR from the insider's view.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great job on your race. This sounds like a good race and we have family in Philly so maybe we'll check it out next year. Do you use SportTracks for your garmin data?

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Blogger kivster said...

great job danny! was a great race - glad that we all did it.

i'll get you next time time.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Blogger rivkayael said...

congrats! Really nice pics too. You'll definitely be able to break 4 in a not too distant marathon.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Rae said...

Great job!! That's really an awesome time and it's awesome you got to meet up with ST and family.

Love the pics!!! So are you thinking about any marathons next year???

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Blogger ShoreTurtle said...

Congratulations Dan! It was a fun day. The photos are great.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006  
Blogger Darrell said...

Nice job keeping up a consistent pace, even speeding up at the end. Impressive, especially coming off that cold.

Looks like you and kivster have a little challenge going on here.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006  
Blogger Curly Su said...

great job. sorry i didn't meet up with time...

Wednesday, November 22, 2006  

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