Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label half marathon. Show all posts

May 11, 2017

What to Pack in Your Marathon Gear Check Bag

Disclosure: I received complimentary product from ShowerPill. As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


When you cross the finish line of a half or full marathon, the first thing you are thinking is YAY, glad that's over. If you are me next you are thinking where can I get a beer, water, banana, and sit down, PLEASE. If it's a big event or one where you plan on hanging out around for the post-race festivities that so many races have now, it might be a good idea to pack a gear check bag. I find this especially true if you're running a big race where it's going to take you a while to get back to your hotel/lodgings/house or you'll be hanging out in your post-race clothes for a while. 

After the Chicago Marathon the past 3 years the weather has been nice, and I've been feeling good so I hang out with friends, have a couple beers, and listen to the music in Grant Park. 
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Post-Chicago Marathon 2016 with a beer in one hand and my gear check bag beside me
Now, I'm the type of person that is usually cutting it close to getting to a race start or at least isn't giving myself much time beforehand. Even with marathons which are big deal to me, I still feel like maybe I should give myself some more time to get around. This is particularly true if you're running a huge race or one with security checkpoints. 

I usually hope that I have a friend or my boyfriend to carry some stuff for me until I finish. If not then sometimes I'll quickly navigate the pre-race area and drop off a gear check bag, if available. For some of the bigger half marathons and marathons I've run bag check is usually offered, and the process is pretty organized. Races give you a clear plastic bag at packet/bib pick-up (security reasons nowadays!). Then you can drop it off before the race with your bib number attached, and pick it up after finishing the race. It's not recommended to store valuables in there, because it's not like locked-in-a-safe secure. 

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Here are 5 items that I always pack in my gear check bag

1.Clothes
The type of clothes is dependent on you and the season, but I think having something not damp with sweat or smelly is a post-race must have. Even if it's summer I like to have at least a dry shirt to change into. If the weather is cold, I love having a comfy sweatshirt, dry shirt, and possibly extra pair of tights to change into. After hanging out in my sweaty clothes I usually feel extra chilly once my body starts to cool down and some fatigue sets in. 

2. Socks
This kind of goes along with clothes, but having a nice pair of clean, dry socks to change into after logging some race miles is great. It gives my feet some relief. Often I pack a pair of compression socks to wear to get a head start on recovery and to aid with circulation. 

3. Wet wipes
Having a travel-size pack of wet wipes is great to just wipe off my face and arms of sweat or dirt after a long run, particularly if I'm hanging out post-race for a bit. 

Since I discovered them a year or so ago, I've been loving ShowerPill wipes which are a thick washcloth-sized body wipe which kill 99.9 of germs and also contain hydrating vitamin E, witch hazel, and aloe vera. They come in single packets and are perfect for travel or gear check bags. 

You can save 20% off any ShowerPill order through 6/15/2017 with code LAUREN

4. Sandals
Oh yes, I've been known to rock some socks with sandals post-race. Actually my beloved Adidas sandals from my high school soccer days are falling apart and need to be replaced (not shocking). Again like the socks, it's nice to get my feet some relief and a chance to air out. Besides for comfort, I also like having sandals or even a spare set of shoes if the race has been muddy or wet. 

5. Favorite snack & drink
I always usually eat something offered post-race after I have my go-to recovery snack of a banana. If it's a long distance race or I'm not sure what post-race fuel will be available, I like to pack a small snack or drink that's a favorite of mine. That way I'm positive I have something that my body can easily handle and that I'll be able to quickly refuel with. 

For me this means a tube of Nuun Hydration that can easily be mixed with water and a Honey Stinger waffle. The gluten-free salted caramel  waffles are my favorite! 

6. Hair ties 
These are always just a good thing to have (for us longer haired gals and guys anyways). Possibly for pre-race if I (or another runner!) realize I've forgotten them or had one snap when fixing my hair (it's happened). Sometimes it's nice to pack some extra hair ties or a headband if I take out my sweaty pigtails post-race and want to look a little less like I just ran 13 or 26 miles 

Do you often gear check a bag? What's your must-have item to pack for post-race?

April 14, 2017

Inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon Race Recap


My recap of this last April's inaugural Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon in Walt Disney World 2016 is here, just a week before this year's race. 

 As I mentioned in my post on my favorite Disney eats, my sister works at the parks so it was an excuse to visit her. My friend was also running this race as his first half marathon and had a place for me to crash which makes it more enticing because the price tag on this race was $185 which is A LOT for a half marathon, or a race in general. 

There is a 5K and 10K, and half marathon during the race weekend as well as the Dark Side Challenge (10K Saturday, half marathon Sunday).  

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Pre-Race

I stayed at the All-Star Disney Resort with my sister the night I got to Florida so getting to the expo was easy-I just caught a bus over to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  First there was a huge room where you go and get just your bib. I love when your name is printed on your bibg for races like this one. All of the cast members/employees I encountered were very nice and helpful. 


Next you head over to another giant stadium room where the actual race expo is. They had lots of fun vendors, but it wasn't too crowded when I got there early on Saturday morning. They had some cute things, but I don't really buy anything at most race expos anymore. I did end up getting Sparkly Soul headbands (Star Wars themed)- one for me and one for my sister.


I loved this graphic of the course map hanging up.  Everything in the expo was pretty well-organized. 


I did think it was really cool that there were stormtroopers patrolling the race expo. 


Here's a photo of the race shirt. RunDisney uses Champion products which aren't my favorite racing shirt style, but I do like the design of this shirt with Darth Vader on it. 

People are known to go crazy for the RunDisney race merchandise for sale at the expo. I tried to make my way there quickly and apparently some things had sold out, but there was still a ton available for purchase. I bought another cool Darth Vader shirt and a pint glass, but honestly wasn't too impressed with anything.

Race Day

The half marathon STARTS at 5 AM so that meant like a 2:30, 3 AM wakeup for me. That is damn early for a race morning for me. My friend and I ended up taking an Uber to Epcot and managed to use the bathrooms at the entrance to the park (score!). There were some photo op backgrounds up which was fun.  I was in the first corral which made me feel super speedy because for such a huge race with over 18,000 runners I was close to the front. The race had a fun start with a video and then fireworks!  


I didn't have any racing goals for this race and knew that because I wanted to stop to get photos with characters that my time would be slower. My only goal was to fully experience a runDisney race and have lots of fun! The race temperature at the start was in the 60s with 75% humidity, something I was not yet used to running too in April in Baltimore (that humidity kicks in there in the summer though!). 

The race course starts in Epcot, goes through the Boardwalk and Beach resorts area, through Hollywood Studios, to and through Animal Kingdom and then finishes at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex. One of the first character stops was R2D2 so I jumped right in line behind only a couple people and got a photo with R2D2-it was awesome! 

My race outfit was BB-8 inspired with a Sparkle Skirt, hand-painted visor and shirt. 


The first couple of miles took us around the World Showcase with all the different countries at Epcot which was one of my favorite parts. They had the parks lit up and many employees standing out and cheering. It was really fun to be running through one of my favorite parks with no one but runners there. 

Miles 2-4 have you going through the Boardwalk and Beach resort area which had a few more brave family members and friends cheering who were staying at those resorts and then we made our way to Hollywood Studios. I stayed at one of these resorts last time I was in Disney World with my family so it was fun running by these. I was having a great time so far!

Race photo on the boardwalk
I had been previously warned that due to the distance between parks, there were long highway stretches of races at Walt Disney World. The first 4 miles of this race were so fun and exciting that it was like a blur until I got to the long highway stretch to get to Animal Kingdom at Mile 9. Settling into miles 4-8 was a little mentally tough, but there were some characters as well as big video screens playing clips from various Star Wars films. 

Getting a photo with Chewbacca was super fun as well and one of my favorite photos. 


Running the ginormous parking lot at Animal Kingdom to get to the park entrance was killer. It felt like I was never getting any closer! Once we got into the park it was really fun to run through it, especially with all of the music, employees cheering, and wildlife due to the nature of the park. 
Miles 9-12 lead us through Animal Kingdom and back along the highway again towards the ESPN Wide World of Sports, with the last 1.1 miles going through the complex. 

By the end of the race the sun was up, and the weather was warming up quickly. Overall the course was fairly flat with a couple inclines on the highway stretches. 

I appreciated all of the photo ops with employees willing to take photos with my phone (although many of those from the beginning came out really dark i.e. my Chewbacca photo above) as well as the PhotoPass professional photos. I've heard that the lines can get long which can be annoying unless you just expect that it's part of the experience. The start and stop of running can be a little weird feeling during a half marathon too. 

This was one of my favorite photos from the race,trying to look as boss as possible in the emperor's chair. 


There weren't as many characters out as I expected, although there were some fun photo ops that put you in scenes from the movie. During the highway stretches there was some music and video screens including a DJ playing remixes of Star War music, but I was expecting more entertainment. 

This movie scene photo op I wasn't thinking straight and posed wrong and should be going away from the monster, haha. The photo then gets flipped over so that I'm like Luke hanging in the cave in Empire Strikes Back, which I did not understand at the time it was being taken. There was another fun scene photo op in the trash compactor from A New Hope


By the end after the long highway stretches, I was ready to be at the finish and enjoyed myself that last mile. 


I finished the race in 1:49:12, 11th in division and 497 overall out of over 18,000 finishers,  which is pretty solid considering I stopped to take a bunch of photos and was running this for the whole runDisney experience. That also gives you a sense of how many people run this race. 

Once I finished I was handed a medal and picked up a Powerade, water, cold towel, and box of snacks. 


Now I will say that the medal is pretty freaking awesome. It's heavy and Darth Vader middle part spins. 


I finished fairly fast so the finish area in one of the big parking lots wasn't too crowded yet. There was a big screen so you could watch as people finished. Here they had more photo ops including the big man himself, Darth Vader.  They had all of these next to each other, and the queues quickly became pretty long. 


Dressed up as BB-8, this was the first photo line I jumped into. I love this photo, although I wish I could have like hugged BB-8 or something. 




As I said, the morning heated up fast. I ended up waiting for my friend to finish his first half marathon and then journeyed back to the hotel for some snacks and a nap. I headed out to the parks later that day. It was fun to see other's wearing their medals around the parks. 


Overall Race/RunDisney thoughts

Positives 

-Great photo opportunities: You can get lots of awesome photos during and after the race. I also thought getting photos with the characters was very fun! 
-Awesome medal: If you care about your race bling, a runDisney race is definitely the place to grab some awesome, unique race medals. 
-Unique experience: I think it was a unique experience with fireworks at the start, character stops, and a fun theme throughout (especially if you are a big Star Wars fan like I am). Running through the parks before they are open is also really fun. 

Negatives

-Price: I still think for the pricetag that Disney could offer runners 10% off park tickets. The price for tickets only keeps climbing, and I think it would be nice to offer SOME sort of discount on park tickets. 
-Highway stretches: There are long stretches of highway during the races, based on how far apart the parks are and the race course. Here you aren't getting really getting any fan support or as much excitement as I expected during this race off the park premises. 
-Early start: I was pretty tired after the race so it wasn't the day where I was going to have a long day at the parks. I can't imagine doing that wake-up multiple days in a row for the challenges. 

Something that could be positive or negative is the race size. The Disney World races have a capacity upwards of 20,000 runners. It was fun to be part of such a large race,and get to start the race with the energy of a crowd of people. It also makes the expo, race start and finish, and parks/resorts more crowded at that time. My friend who started in the back because he didn't have a time to put in when he registered said it was really frustrating trying to get past many people and the start was really crowded. 



You can find information about the race and this year's events on their race website here

Have you ever run a runDisney race? Do you like big or small races? 



March 8, 2017

5 Spring Race Day Tips

Even though the weather can’t make up its mind, it will soon officially be spring. In the Mid-Atlantic region, that means ALL the races as the weather warms up.  I know many people are running the Rock ‘n’ Roll DC Marathon and 1/2 Marathon this weekend. I have the past three years (2015 race recap here), but am holding off a couple weeks before racing long distance because I haven’t quite built my mileage up enough.

I will be, however, be running the KELLY Shamrock 5K with most of Baltimore on Sunday, and can’t wait (2015 race recap here). It’s not going to be fast, but that race is pretty easy-going. I've run it 4 years, and it's always a fun, city-wide event. Spring may mean the first race of a new racing season for many runners. Here are some of my tips for the first race of the spring racing season.


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5 Spring Race Day Tips

1. Lay out your clothes and gear the night before. 
I do this before every race, but it’s especially important if it’s been a few months since you’ve raced. Make sure all your gear is together and that you aren’t forgetting anything. Charge your phone, running watch, or iPod if need be too! You don’t want to be scrambling around in the AM looking for your fuel belt, headphones, gloves, or clean running clothes.
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2. Run with friends. 
I love running with friends in general but especially for the first race of the season it can help keep the pressure off yourself and keep things fun. The first race of the season is usually not a goal race for me. I look at it as more of a warm-up for the copious other spring races. Keeping pace with a friend can keep you motivated and help you pace yourself in the beginning of the race.

3. Start slowly. 
The first race of the season can be super exciting, especially once you are the start line and have the energy of the crowd and fellow runners. It’s super easy to get caught up in starting too fast at the beginning instead of pacing yourself. You don’t want to use up all your energy at the start or it could be a longgggg race. Trust me.

4. Dress in Layers. 
At least in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, spring race weather is very unpredictable. I’ve run races in March and April where it was freezing cold or unseasonably warm. I always grab some throwaway clothes from Goodwill. I also have few pairs of arm warmers that I love to race in when it’s cool at the race start, but not cold enough for long sleeves because I can pull them down during the race. Dress in layers you can easily take off and toss as well as have layers like a pullover available at the finish line for when you cool down after the race.
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5. Have fun. 
The first race of the spring season I am usually a bit under trained after taking some time off and adding more cross-training into my routine. That is even more true this season as I’m rebuilding after an injury. This first race of the season is a benchmark for where you are at so learn from it. Reflect on where you are right now and what your goals for the rest of the year are, but don’t get discouraged. Think about the positives, decide what you want to work on after the race, and stay motivated through the season. Have fun and enjoy the race! 

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Yet again, this will be me after the Shamrock 5K!
I linked this post up with the Half Marathon Race Tips link-up below. Check out all the awesome posts!




Do you usually run your first of the season for fun or to target a goal? What's your first competition or race this season? 

February 2, 2017

ZOOMA Annapolis 2017 Is Coming!

Disclosure: As a 2017 ZOOMA Women's Race Series ambassador, I received complimentary registration for the events and a unique discount code. As always all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

I am back as a ZOOMA Women's Race Series Ambassador in 2017 for the third year in a row and am more excited than ever. I first got involved with ZOOMA because I was attracted to a female-centric race series that was really catered towards womens running. Now I also love all the people I've met behind ZOOMA including Brae who started the series. ZOOMA has taken lots of feedback from last year and is always trying to improve their race experiences. 

I have run the ZOOMA Annapolis half marathon race in 2015 and 2016 so I'll definitely be back this year.  This year is actually the 10th anniversary of ZOOMA Annapolis so it's going to be an extra special event.  

The half marathon and 10K start at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium and then takes you through lovely downtown Annapolis then up and over the challenging Naval Academy Bridge before ending back at Navy Stadium. The race course is open for 3.5 hours for both races. 

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Same courses in 2017 as last year!
I always loved the open and relaxed After-Party Expo at the race with live music, wine, and recovery yoga. The weather and humidity in June always make this race a little challenging, but it's a great weekend with awesome perks such as a great swag and FREE race photos. It is a women's race series, but men are welcome to run! 

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My free race photo as I crossed the finish line at the half marathon in 2015 
This year for the 10th Anniversary celebration there will be a Virtual Half Marathon or 10K option which lets your participate virtually and still receive swag including a shirt and medal in the mail.

This year ZOOMA Annapolis falls on the June 3, 2017, the same day as the Baltimore 10 Miler again so I wanted to get the word out there to peeps in the area. I am just starting to feel more comfortable in my injury recovery with making future race plans so I marked it on my calendar officially. I'll also be coaching the ZOOMA 10K training group out of the Charm City Run Baltimore location in a few months which will be super fun as a race ambassador and someone familiar with the course too. 

Registration is open for the Annapolis race and prices increase May 21. 
Use my code LAUREN2017 to save 10% off your registration. 

ZOOMA also has a great podcast about all things health and fitness that you can access through their website here

I'm excited to have a fun summer race already on the books! 

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Do you have any big summer races planned yet?

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! 

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Pre-Race

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! 

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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. 

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

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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.

August 27, 2016

lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap

If you don’t read anything else, I’ll just let you know that the lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon was AMAZING. It is WELL-worth the money and the trip if you can make it a little racecation/vacation in my opinion. If you are interested in more of the details, let’s continue. Also I’ll just say that I have a lot to say and thought about splitting it up into expo and race but figured I’d put off the post if I did that so here’s my attempt to not be too wordy yet give you all the details. 

lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon 2016 Race Recap


Registration for this race was $128 Canadian which is like $95 ish dollars US. That’ pretty much the cost of a lot of the bigger half marathons these days AND instead of a race shirt I may or may not ever wear I got a pair of awesome lululemon shorts in a special edition Seawheeze print (I chose the speed shorts because I love them) plus extra goodies before even running the race. ) which are like over $50 in store anyways. I received my entry through a giveaway last minute so I picked up my shorts at the expo but other people had theirs mailed to them ahead of time which is sweet.

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Pre-Race

I took an Amtrak train from Seattle to Vancouver (first time to Vancouver or BC!) for around $34 with an early bird fare which had pretty views and was nice because I could relax and nap too. Friday morning I went to the November Project-Vancouver Pop-Up workout which was super fun-so many tribes were represented!

The event has a Showcase Store of lululemon items in a special limited-edition print. It opened to runners from 7-11 and then to the public and apparently people camp out. The line was ALL the way around the building at 6:29 when the NP workout started, and we all high-fived everyone in line. 

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I even finally met this lady Carlee at the NP-workout! 
After the workout I grabbed my gear at check-in at the race expo area at the Vancouver Convention Center which was super-fast. You received a wristband, a really cute, nice mesh bag for gear check as well as sunglasses, a tube of Nuun, a water bottle and your race number which was two timing chips for your shoes and a number for your bag-no traditional bibs for this race! 

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They also had lots of little tents outside with the vendors and hair-braiding stations, places to get temporary tattoos, and more-it reminded me a lot of the Nike race expos which don't have any non-sponsor, more traditional race vendors. 

June 10, 2016

ZOOMA Annapolis 2016 Half Marathon Race Recap

Disclosure: I am a 2016 ZOOMA Women's Race Series ambassador and received complimentary registration for this event.  As always, all thoughts & opinions are my own. 


In my 2015 ZOOMA Annapolis race recap I described my race experience as hot, humid, and hilly. Those rang true again this year!  Although I said I would not be running the half marathon again and would do the 10K, I found myself running the half marathon again, whoops. Despite the conditions this time of year, ZOOMA always puts on a nice race weekend for women in Annapolis. This year in addition to a half marathon and 10K, a 5K race was added.  


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Pre-Race

Friday evening after sitting in terrible traffic from Baltimore to Annapolis after work, I finally made it down to the ZOOMA Annapolis race expo at the beautiful Loews Hotel in downtown Annapolis. The expo is really small, but there was some nice women's running vendors and packet pickup looked easy (I grabbed my bib the night before in Baltimore). 

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I grabbed dinner and a drink with many of the ZOOMA ambassadors, most of whom I've met before or were ZOOMA ambassadors with me last year.  It was fun to see everyone and especially those people whom I've never met in person or those who I interact more with online through social media. Those running the 10K and 5K got to have a few more drinks and a little bit more fun, which also made me regret signing up for the half! 


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I finally had the chance to meet Cori (She's Going the Distance) who was nice enough to let me share her hotel room after realizing a couple weeks prior that I had not booked anything and didn't feel like driving down 2 days in a row or the morning of. I think we're similar so we vibe together pretty well, and I was happy to meet her after lots of social media interactions. 

March 30, 2016

Asheville Half Marathon at The Biltmore 2016 {Race Recap}

In March each year, the Asheville Marathon & Half Marathon is held on the historic Biltmore Estate grounds. Biltmore is America's largest home and is a private estate owned by the Vanderbilt family. It's over a 7 hour drive from the Baltimore area down to Asheville, NC so we decided to fly and make it into a little trip for my spring break.  This was definitely the prettiest race I've ever run!    

Asheville Half Marathon at The Biltmore 2016 {Race Recap}

The race is at capped at 1,400 runners in the half on Saturday and another 1,400 runners in the marathon on Sunday, as well as the option to run a back-to-back race challenge over the weekend.  The Expo was pretty small and a little unorganized but convenient to get to. I picked up my bib on Friday and then spent the rest of the day relaxing in Asheville.  

Pre-Race: My boyfriend's sister was running this race as her first half marathon so we got to the race extra early. We bought tickets to take the shuttle from a local hotel onto the race grounds to be safe and avoid any traffic or parking issues getting on the estate grounds.  

It was actually pretty nice because we hung out in the Biltmore Village on the grounds so I got to use a real bathroom and had a place to sit before heading to the start line. It was a little chillier than I expected before the sun came up, but I knew that temperatures would be close to 70 degrees as the high for the day. 

 I was rocking a Lululemon Run Swiftly tank, Lululemon speed shorts, Pro Compression shamrock socks, Bondiband headband, November Project buff, and the Mizuno Wave Catalyst running shoes.    

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As the sun came up over the grounds, it was already scenic and beautiful! 

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I was really excited to #sharethespark with my boyfriend's sister and give her a little Momentum Jewelry motivation for her first half marathon! 

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I got to meet some fellow Team Nuun ladies and snap a quick photo with them before the race, which was so much fun! I had a banana and peanut butter along with some Nuun as I was getting dressed and then ate a Munk Pack squeeze before heading to the start line. Since the race was limited to only 1400 participants, there were no corrals and lining up was very quick & stress-free.  

November 17, 2015

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon 2015 Race Recap

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

It's no secret that I love Philadelphia and love racing there.  I was excited when the date for the Philly Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon finally got sorted out (the pope's visit caused some scheduling issues with the city) and could register thanks to my Rock 'n' Roll Tourpass School made scheduling things a bit of a mess later in this year so I was glad to be able to use this perk of being a Rock 'n' Blogger

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It was also a really special race because the Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon was my first half marathon ever. It was pretty surreal running it again 3 years, countless miles, and many awesome running adventures later. I had a really great race which was especially ehanced by the fact that I had VIP access for this race. I'll review just the VIP package perks for the race separately after this race recap.

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Pre-Race

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I stopped by the expo Friday afternoon down at the Convention Center. It was easy enough to get to and the big Rock 'n' Roll expos are always fun to shop around in. It was an extra fun because the race was actually on Halloween morning so there was some spooky decorations and bowls of candy when I picked up my bib.  Brooks Running is the gear sponsor and always has such cute race gear for sale, but I tried to restrain myself from dropping more money. 

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It was around the time that people started to get out of work so the expo was busy. I grabbed a pair of running capris on sale (plus a coupon!) at the Sports Authority booth and made sure to stop at the VIP table to grab my wristband that I needed to get into the VIP area on race day. Of course I sampled all of the snacks and looked at more running gear I don't need.  Honda had a fun interactive area where you sat in 3 different vehicles for three different activities for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip with friends to a Rock 'n' Roll race.  There was a fun photo booth car where they actually emailed you a little gif. 

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I didn't have any expectations for the race, especially since it was only 3 weeks after the Chicago Marathon and my running had been on the lighter side.  I got up earlyyyy running on not that much sleep, to make it into the city from NJ. It was fun taking the train in on a cold, dark morning and seeing who was wearing costumes. A guy dressed up as the running Forrest Gump sat next to me-he had no idea how running 13.1 miles in a pair of khakis was going to be!  

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Race

Once I got the race start area by the Philadelphia Museum of Art I walked up to the VIP area which was near the finish line. It was awesome because I got to grab a pre-race bagel from the continental breakfast and use the VIP port-a-potties (I literally waited only a few minutes!).  I also loved having the small VIP gear check right there so I said hi to Cynthia and waited until I had about 5 minutes to get into my corral. It was a pretty chilly morning, but I was just glad it wasn't raining or anything like the DC half marathon earlier this year.  Corral 6 was farther up so I had to speedwalk to get up there but eventually made it into the corral.  It was exciting to hear the elites start because many were trying for Olympic qualifying races! 

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I was a modified Minnie Mouse because temps were pretty cold plus I wanted to sport my Rock 'n' blog tee. I also really loved my matching Bondiband and Rock City Skirts sparkly skirt which went perfectly with my Minnie Mouse ears. I was worried the ears would bother me, but they stayed put and didn't move around at all. 

 My favorite part about the race was seeing all the costumes people were running in.  I saw animals, Star Wars characters, Disney princesses, and superheroes out on the course.  My plan was to see how my legs feel and keep it around an 8:00 min/mile pace. I know I say this often, but I really just wanted to have fun.  

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I felt pretty great for the first 6 miles and warmed up quickly. It's a flat and fast course which makes for great PRs. I had a weird twinge in my right calf all week so I had some KT tape on it, but luckily it wasn't bothering me. The race starts on the Ben Franklin Parkway and has you run through Fairmount Park on the right side of the Schuylkill River.  

Around Mile 8 once you get through parts of Fairmount Park there is a turnaround near over the Falls Bridge which has you running back towards the Art Museum on MLK Drive on the other side of the river. I was starting to feel a little tired but finished off my bottle of Nuun that I carried and ate half of a salted watermelon Gu packet.  The only thing about Philadelphia races is that most of them include those long, straight stretches along the river which can be boring or bad for your mind games. 

There was only a few bands on the course which seemed typical for the Rock 'n' Roll races. I always bring my iPod so it wasn't a big deal. There were some a couple groups like a school and cheer squad out there, which was awesome since it being a chilly Halloween morning.

Mentally miles 8-10 were tough, which is typical for half marathons for me.  Once I hit mile 10 I knew I didn't have much longer. I was running close to a 7:45 pace during the race, which felt comfortable. I kept telling myself that 3 weeks ago I ran freaking 26.2 miles so I could definitely finish half of that.   It's definitely when I needed to find my jams to bop along to as I ran. 

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I felt strong finishing and definitely pushed it that last 1.2 miles, finishing in 1:41:48. I'm always happy with a top 10% finish and had a better race than I expected! 

I was hungry and knew I'd finally be able to have some food! You finish right in front of the Art Museum and the infamous Rocky steps. The announcer for the race did a great job and called out names and some different facts about some of the finishers. It was easy to shuffle through the corral chute and there was plenty of food. The only thing I wanted was a bag to hold all of my snacks in because that was annoying.  

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Post-Race

I drank some chocolate milk as I walked to the VIP area again, which was not very long because it was right at the finish. Not too many runners were there yet so I immediately signed up for 10 minute massage (shout-out to Phila Massages-you rock!). My calves were really tight so it felt great to get them loosened up immediately after the race.  

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Afterwards I indulged in a mimosa (or 3) and a plate of hot breakfast food from the buffet, followed by multiple cups of coffee. Gin Blossoms were the concert after the race, and I got to catch a few of their songs, which was fun. I enjoyed hanging out in the VIP area before taking the VIP shuttle back to the host hotel with Cynthia before heading out of the city.  

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Overall

This race was an awesome start to my Halloween and is still one that will always be near and dear to my heart. 

I love how organized the event is and how it's such a great course. The medal and shirt are always fun-I especially loved how the medal is Halloween themed with a little witch on a broom.  I think it's a great race to run with friends or if you are looking for a fast, flat course to get a new half marathon PR on!

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This post was linked up with Tuesdays on the Run

Did you run any Halloween races? Have you ever run in costume? 
 
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