Like all races, this one was filled with emotions. It was one heck of a weekend that left me completely exhausted. After an easy run Saturday morning my mom and I drove to Lancaster to catch a train to Philadelphia. We got to Philly around 1:30 and quickly dropped our bags off at our hotel before heading over to the expo. I picked up my packet and then walked around for a bit. I ended up getting a new pair of headphones and a long sleeve shirt and shorts on clearance. After the expo we went over to the Reading Terminal Market to pickup some lunch. I hadn't eaten since breakfast. I was already pretty tired so we just hung out in the hotel for the rest of the evening before going to bed around 10.
I was able to get a banana and a bagel for breakfast from the hotel's complimentary breakfast, which worked out perfectly since I forgot to pack anything for breakfast. I woke up at 6:15, ate breakfast, and was out the door by 7:30. I decided to run over to the start to get in an extra mile for the day and also so I could get some stretching in before the race. Once I got to the race start I got in line for the bathroom and stayed there until around 8:10. I was supposed to be in corral 9 but didn't think I would make it because of how slow the line was moving. Luckily I was able to hop into corral 9 just as they started the count down to cross the start line.
I didn't have a super specific plan for this race but I wanted to keep my pace relatively easy for the first 5 miles. I wanted negative splits and really wanted to push the pace during the second half. The first 5 miles pretty much flew by. The first few miles were a little hot with the sun beating down but it was still in the low 60's out. It was really cool seeing the elite runners going by approaching mile 5 as we were in the first few miles still. Definitely the best inspiration.
I saw my mom somewhere between miles 5 and six and loved seeing a familiar face. Miles 5-11 were in a park where there was shade everywhere. I was having trouble breathing throughout the entire race but really noticed it during these miles. I felt like I could only take shallow breathes and consequently my stomach felt a little off as well. I took a strawberry banana GU around mile 7, which only made things worse. My stomach didn't necessarily hurt and I didn't feel sick but I just kind of felt off.
I made sure to stop at all the water stations and drink at least a few sips of water since I normally drink a fair amount during longer runs. I did skip the final aid station because I was feeling a little nauseous though. Miles 5-11 overall felt really strong. I picked up my pace and was passing a fair amount of people. I didn't feel sore or tired at all. My legs felt great and even like they could have pushed harder if I wasn't struggling so much to breathe. I also had a pretty bad side stitch off and on throughout these miles which made it hard to keep the pace up.
Once we left the park there was only about a mile until the finish. This mile had no shade though and everybody suffered. My pace slowed dramatically and I felt as though I was shuffling along. I was glad there was only one mile left because I felt pretty shitty. I tried to sprint as much as I could to the finish line but my body didn't actually go much faster. As soon as I crossed the finish line I sat down and stretched out for a minute. I grabbed a bottle of water but the thought of eating food made me feel sick. I walked around for a little until I found my mom and then drank a bottle of chocolate milk.
This was a pretty weird race for me. Normally it is my legs that feel tired and weak but yesterday they felt strong and capable. But based on how I felt during that last mile I'm not sure I could have gone any faster. I crossed the finish line in 2:08:36 for a 13 minute PR. I am really happy about my time but I really did think I had it in me to go closer to 2 hours. This was a great course for a PR and a beautiful way to see Philadelphia. This is a race that I would definitely consider again. Overall it was a great experience and now it's time to really ramp things up to the NYCM in November.