September 29, 2016

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

Disclaimer: I received a free 3-pack Tourpass through my Rock ‘n’ Blog ambassadorship. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own.

If you read my blog or follow me you know that I love Philadelphia and run multiple a races a year there! Thanks to school stress, I wasn't looking forward to trekking up to run the  Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon that I was able to run thanks to my Tourpass perks as Rock 'n' Blogger. Of course once I got into the city and visited the expo that all disappeared, and I was excited to run! 




Like I mentioned, school gets in the way of my mini adventures and weekend plans this semester, so after a late afternoon class on Friday and then coaching my 10K group from Charm City Run on Saturday morning I finally packed up and hit the road to Philadelphia. After coaching I was feeling really nauseous and out of it, which aren't good signs when everyone seems to be getting sick at the first sign of Fall around the corner.

I ended up getting to Philadelphia Saturday afternoon to stop by the expo and grab my packet as well as have some fun taking photos. There were lots of nice vendors and the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia specific gear was especially nice this year. Going to the expo always gets me excited for the race! 


After the expo at the Convention Center we stopped at the nearby Reading Terminal Market to grab some lunch and some doughnuts from the Amish market. 


Yes, my boyfriend and I ended up eating those 6 doughnuts over the course of the afternoon. Whoops

Swag from the expo

Race Day

Last year I was running this race 3 weeks after the Chicago Marathon, and I was running 3 weeks before the Chicago Marathon so it was a very different race experience for me. 

It was also a really special race because the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon was my first half marathon ever.

I woke up feeling better than the day before and was sure to hydrate with some Nuun and ate a HoneyStinger waffle and a banana. This year my boyfriend dropped me off in Fairmount Park as I ran a couple miles to the start (had to get in some extra miles for marathon training!). I have been unsure what shoes to run my marathon in so when my package of the Brooks Running Launch 3 shoes came in Friday I broke a rule I always say and decided that wearing the brand new shoes on race day to try them out would be a good idea.  

I met up with some Rock 'n' Bloggers and the We Run Social crew for a fun photo at the top of the Art Museum steps.

 I was in Corral 4 so I didn't have to wait long to start. 
The first couple of miles were really crowded, but that is to be expected with around 10,000 runners! 


The weather was really humid, and the sky was overcast. It wasn't supposed to rain, but the city sure looked foggy and gloomy.  I ate my Honeystinger gel right before the start, which is something I've been trying at races lately to get in some more fuel. 

Miles 1-6 
The beginning of the race has you running down the Ben Franklin Parkway (one of my favorite stretches anywhere to race!) and into Center City.

Next you make your way down to Fairmount Avenue and have a couple little turns to keep things interesting. I had started the first couple miles at an 8:00 minute pace to run the race tempo at my goal marathon race pace. I ended up feeling okay and was running closer to 7:40 miles and decided to let myself go. In the back of my mind I wanted to run a 1:39, but didn't want to put any pressure on myself. In this section of the race I decided to let myself run faster instead of pulling back, which I usually do. I played some mental games with myself and was internally repeating "I am comfortable. I am strong" in hopes that the positive talk would actually make my body calm and comfortable.  
Miles 7-10
These next miles when you are on Fairmount Drive with a couple little hills and coming down Kelly Drive to the East Falls Bridge didn't feel as tough to me. Many races in Philly have you coming out and back on the MLK Drive side so I liked the change of scenery.  I was feeling really strong and staying around a 7:20-7:30 pace. I was drenched in sweat and had been since mile 2 but was still feeling really strong and oddly comfortable with my pace.  Crossing the bridge was a relief to be at the turnaround, but I knew I still had miles to go before the finish. I took a Honeystinger gel around mile 7.5 to give me an extra boost.  I tried to only look at my watch every so often but not focus on the numbers too much, which helped me mentally stay focused on my running, not stressing out about my pace. 
Miles 11-13
Coming back down MLK Drive towards the Art Museum feels like a long stretch. I knew not to get too excited until I could see the museum, but it felt like forever. In most half marathons, I am usually done and over it mentally by mile 10 so this was no different. I was starting to feel my pace and had to repeat my mantra many more times to myself. I was excited to be feeling so strong and close to my A goal for the race so I kept pushing those last few miles.  I finished STRONG in 1:38:54 which is only just over 30 seconds slower than my half marathon in PR in April (yes I still need to finish my recap for that race!).  Having 2 sub-1:39 halfs in 2016 is a big confidence booster than I am getting and can get faster and stronger.  The shoes felt good, and obviously I loved my time so I'll be running my marathon in the Launch 3.  
Finish right in front of the Art Museum is always fun and great for photo. I love the Philly-centric medal this year with the big liberty bell. It's super awesome! 


After drinking some chocolate milk and eating a banana, I decided to wander over to the beer garden/concert area to grab my free beer. It was a little confusing to find, and I would've liked more signage from the finish line area. Michelob Ultra is one of the downsides of the Rock 'n' Roll races for me because it tastes like water, but I knew my boyfriend was probably still napping in the car so I figured that chilling with a cold beer sounded like a good idea. 

Side note, the heat had gotten to a lot of people and I saw some dehydrated looking folks and one person receiving medical attention.Always try to be proactive and make sure you have your medical info on you or your bib when running! 


Perks of finishing fast include having lots of space to hang out in the beer garden!

After enjoying my beer and hanging out, I decided I really wanted to get out of my still-soaking wet clothes.  Instead of fighting brunch crowds in the city, all I really wanted was a hot cup of coffee and a huge Jersey diner breakfast so that's exactly what I got. I ate every last bite, and it was amazing. Diners are definitely what I miss about growing up and living in New Jersey! 


This race was a huge confidence booster for me going into taper for the Chicago Marathon, although I still crossed the finish line wondering how I'd run 13.1 miles TWICE in a few weeks!

Overall Thoughts

Overall I love this race, and it was one of the better Rock 'n' Roll races IMO.  The atmosphere is fun, and there is lots of crowd support. There were plenty of fueling stations and fluids along the course as well. I loved the expo, customization of bibs with your name on it,  swag, and the medal. The only cons are that the race can be a bit boring if you run a lot of the Philly races that run along the Schuylkill River. Also I already stated that I dislike the Michelob Ultra beer at the end of the race and also found the finisher's area really confusing and not clearly marked.  However I still love this race and will continue to run it whenever I can! 

Have you ever raced in Philadelphia? What do you love to eat after a race near your hometown? 


  1. oh man i'm getting excited for the philly full! you're on fire! come back from chicago healthy and i'll see you in less than 2 months!

  2. Congrats on such an awesome race, especially after a bad tummy day the day before! I hope this sets you up for a fantastic day in Chicago!