My 12th Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 09/15/2013

I left for the Rock’n’Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon at 6:20am, and arrived around 7am, but there was nowhere to park nearby. So I drove away from the start and ended up parking near Broad St and Spring Garden, which is about 1.5 miles from the start of the race. I don’t remember it being this crowded in the last 11 years I’ve done it, but I must admit that most often, Jeannie drives and drops me off at the start.

I spent so much time searching for parking, that I didn’t head to the start until 7:40. I stopped and used the port-o-potties along the course because I knew the ones at the start would have huge lines. I arrived at the start during the National Anthem. I stopped in my tracks and waiting for the Anthem to finish. Then I worked my way toward corral #2 but ended up in corral #3. This was no problem since I was wearing a chip, but in retrospect, it did keep from rushing out of the start too fast. I took my GU and we started at about 8:02:30. My first mile was about 6:55, which is slow for this race. The next couple miles were around 7:05. My lack of training was already showing.

I wore may Garmin GPS watch but it was off by 1/10th of a mile after the second mile. In addition, I tried to use the RunKeeper app on my iPhone to track my time, give me audible alerts, and let the family know where I was with RunKeeper Live. Unfortunately, it couldn’t get a satellite signal at the start, and so I just clicked “Start” hoping it would acquire the signal eventually. It started giving me quarter-mile splits right away so I knew something was wrong. I hadn’t even finished the first mile, but it had given me way too many quarter-mile splits, announcing that my pace was about 30 seconds per mile. Phenomenal! The voice was getting annoying, but I kept it on with hopes that it would help the family know where I was. Once I passed Jeannie, Matt and Pete around mile 4.5, I turned it off. Without the GPS signal, it was useless and distracting. After the race was over, I checked the RunKeeper website, and it reported that I had ran 28 miles when in fact I had only run 5 before I shut it off. Next race, I will be sure to get satellite lock earlier. It’s a great tool to have the audible alerts and they have worked pretty well in the past. Hopefully this issue is a one-time thing.

At the point in the race when I saw the family, I was running slower than expected. My miles were edging toward 7:30 per mile, and this is no surprise really. I didn’t train properly for this race. I told Jeannie when I saw her that I would be later than expected. I had high hopes of a finish between 1:30 and 1:35, but with 7:30 miles, that wasn’t going to happen. In fact, my knees were tight and giving me pain, as was my right hip flexor. And because I knew my finish would be slower than usual, I wasn’t very motivated. I took my second GU and was feeling down and wanted to quit at mile 5. But then I thought about all the people that can’t run but want to. I also thought about all the people that might have to walk parts of the race and wish they could have kept running. So, I pushed on. I locked into someone ahead of me with a red shirt, and maintained their pace until I felt comfortable and passed them, thanking them in the process.

The run along Kelly Drive was scenic, and I counted down the miles: 6, 7, 8. The Falls Bridge was a welcome visual from about a half-mile away — mile 9! I knew from that point, I was heading back to the finish. Sure, it’s another 4.1 miles but at least I was headed in the direction of the finish. I took my third GU and set my eyes on another runner ahead to reel in. I worked through the next few miles, trying to keep my tempo in synch with the music: miles 10 and 11.

At mile 12, I called Jeannie to let her know I had a mile left. I tried using voice commands with my iphone 4 to call her, but it wasn’t understanding “Call Jeannie Sconzo”. So, I swiped while running and made the call. Hopefully the iPhone 5s works much better at understanding voice commands than the 4 does, especially while running. With the RunKeeper failure and problems with voice calling, I’ll be glad to have a new phone soon — Sept 20!

As I approached the finish line, I was feeling strong and sprinted. Overall, the issue I had throughout the race was I just couldn’t muster consistent speed, but at least I felt stronger once I overcame my depression at mile 5.

I met up with Jeannie and the boys, and we walked the 1.5 miles back to the cars. I split off to head to a jump-rope seminar with PunkRope at 11:30.

The race, as always, was exciting and the course was well marked. There were several people dressed in fun colors, or costumes, like Elvis. There were lots of spectators, and the bands along the course were great. One negative was that the water tables seemed slightly overwhelmed. It’s possible there weren’t enough volunteers to man the water stations because as I went through, many runners were retrieving their own water from the tables which seemed to cause some backup in places. But that is my only complaint. Great race — looking forward to doing it again next year.

Now, onto the Citizen’s Bank Park Spartan Sprint on Sept 28, Tough Mudder on Oct 12, Princeton Half Marathon on Nov 3, and Trenton Half Marathon on Nov 9.

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