Name of the race: The Love Run
Where: Philadelphia, PA
Date: March 29, 2015
Time: 8:00 am
Distance: 13.1 miles
Terrain: flat with two big hills
Entry fee: $90
Swag: Finishers medal, mug, technical shirt, personalized bib and a voucher for two free Phillies home game in April
Post-race Food: PB&J Uncrustable sandwich, orange or banana, pretzel, chocolate-covered peanut and caramel candy, and TastyKake Krimpets
Performance:Overall 1186/6305; Gender 508/4188; Age (35-39) 90/621
Weather: 30 degrees, 31% humidity, winds at 10 mph
The Love Run was supposed to be my big spring race where I would try to get an ambitious 1:44 PR. It didn’t happen and I wasn’t planning on it because training got derailed by life. Considering that I hadn’t been able to run for two weeks (thanks to work – in fact, I’m still at work and am blogging as a mini-mental break), I’m actually pretty pleased with a sub 1:52.
Ben was pretty sick the week before and we weren’t sure if he could even go to Philly with me. By Friday he felt much better and decided that he would go and run with me. We decided to bring Bandit with us, so we had to find a dog-friendly hotel. We had a choice between staying at the Four Seasons, which was close to the start/finish line, or another hotel that was farther away, but much cheaper. I wanted to leave Bandit alone as little as possible, so I asked very nicely (Ben might say demanded) that we stay at the Four Seasons. It was a bit pricey, but it wasn’t too bad because we got the corporate rate through Ben’s work. The “special race rates” for the hotels that the Love Run had lined up weren’t good deals at all because for much less money than those quoted rates, we got a far superior hotel. We also saved some money by parking a few blocks away at Parking Gateway Garage, where overnight parking was only $5. This is much better than the $50 that Four Seasons charges.
Bandit loved the Four Seasons. She was very excited and ran around the room. She loved lounging on the bed and staring out the window. The Four Seasons delivered stainless steel food and water bowls, two specially-baked doggy cookies, and a bottle of water. I love that a bottle of water for Bandit was free, but we would have to pay for ours. Bandit went nuts over the treats. She was very busy doing her tricks (sit, lie down, and high five) over and over again without our asking in a zealous attempt to get more of the treats. We very carefully doled the treats out over the weekend so she could enjoy them as long as possible.
Another reason why I was glad we stayed at the Four Seasons was because of the convenience. It was soooo nice being able to hang out in the warm hotel as long as possible and heading out just in time to get to the corrals. Despite the fact that it’s spring, it’s still quite cold. The pre-race expo this year was at the Phillies Citizen Bank Park Stadium, which was less than ideal because 1) it’s far away and 2) it was outdoors and we were FREEZING. We raced through to get our race packets and fled. We warmed ourselves in the hot tub and then ordered pizza for delivery because we were too lazy (and it was too cold) to go out.
I had fun laying out Flat Elle. I’d seen other racers do it and post photos. But I decided to pose my clothes. Yes, that’s a tiger hat on top of my Headsweats/Simple Hydration visor. Ben thought I was crazy for wearing it during the race, but I thought it was cute and would help draw more attention to me. It didn’t do that at all. It was so cold and windy that I was glad to have something on top of my head to keep me warmer. And Ben got all of the attention because he was wearing his Ragnar shirt, so everyone was yelling, “Great job, Ragnar!” “You got it, Ragnar!” “Go, Ragnar!” Ben didn’t even realize that all those cheers were for him until halfway through the race because he had forgotten that he was wearing his Ragnar shirt.
The morning was freezing. I was prepared and brought a garbage bag for me to wear and an old space blanket from another race. In the hotel lobby I saw a couple wearing garbage bags of their own and I complimented them, “Black is always in.” They both laughed and the woman said, “It’s actually quite nice because it’s scented.” While Ben and I walked to the start line, we shivered and contemplated DNF’ing as the route went right past the Four Seasons. The trauma of the Chanukkah Chalf hasn’t left us. We only had to wait ten minutes in the cold (and in the meanwhile Ben got a pair of old sweats to wear from another runner who didn’t want them anymore).
Once we started running, it wasn’t so bad. I never got warm, but I stopped being cold. The wind blew, but it was only a bad headwind for a short section. The route is really nice because it goes past iconic buildings and then through Fairmont Park. I really liked the views of the river and enjoyed myself. I also liked how the route snaked past itself so you could see the front runners (I love cheering for the racers who are leading the race) and then seeing all the runners behind you. When I see so many racers out on the course, it makes me think of the race being like an animal – a swarm of bees or an army of ants. In addition the course was fun because the Love Run had several live bands out there playing music for us and there were pockets of spectators. I never felt that we were out there alone. I also really loved being able to have a personalized bib. I had mine say Run Simple, which is Simple Hydration’s tag line.
All the way to Mile 10 I was on track for a sub-1:50 (which would have been great). I ran a pretty good pace averaging between 8:10 – 8:25. There was a long hill at Mile 6, which I anticipated. I focused on the runners ahead of me to motivate me up the hill. What I didn’t like was the unexpected hill after Mile 8. It doesn’t show up on the elevation chart. I’m a bit better than Ben in looking ahead and seeing where the route is going. As soon as I saw the second hill, an expletive came out of my mouth, “Oh sh!t!” Ben got startled and asked what was wrong. A runner who was near us and overheard everything laughed her head off. Ben was confused until he looked up and saw the hill. The second hill was steep, but short, so it was fine.
I started to feel very tired at Mile 10.5 and was really looking forward to seeing the Mile 11 marker. I was feeling the lack of running. I held on til Mile 11. Then things began to fall apart. I slowed down considerably and at then with a half mile left to go, I was completely done. I hit The Wall for the first time. Because of the cold I hadn’t been drinking as much Gatorade as I normally do when I’m out racing. The lack of recent training and lack of sugar hit me hard. I fell apart badly. Ben didn’t realize what was happening to me and was yelling encouragements to me to get me to run faster. This is where our differences in personality show up. While Ben gets a lot out of these sorts of things, this is actually the worst thing for me in a race situation. I really hate hearing, “Go faster! The finish line is right there! Keep going!” When I’m at the end of the race, I’m giving it all that I got and when I hear those things, I internally interpret it as what I’m doing at that moment isn’t good enough, so I get demoralized and annoyed. Obviously Ben doesn’t mean it as that and for him, he loves cheers and encouragements at the end of the race. I fell apart even more and lost more time in the last half mile.
Finally I crept over the finish line and cried. I was so done.
It wasn’t the prettiest finish, but I finished.
In retrospect, I’m actually pretty happy with my result. It reflects my current fitness level and the amount of training that I was able to do. Normally I’d post up my mile splits, but with all the chaos involved with moving/unpacking, my Garmin is buried somewhere in the house.
Work is still crazy. I’m hoping that next week, work will become normal busy and not the crazy busy that I’ve been living the last few weeks. I have a few shorter distance races coming up. I’m going to do some speed work and tempo to get ready for those races, but I’m not committing myself to a training schedule.