It’s Not Complete Without Philadelphia: A Preview

Welcome banner! 16 Nov 2012

Philadelphia Half Marathon 2012 Preview

Race: Philadelphia Half Marathon
Location: Philadelphia, PA
Distance: 21.1 km (13.1 miles)
Date/Start Time: 18 November 2012, 0700
Distance Travelled to Compete: Negligible – 1.8 km (1.1 miles)
Weather Forecast: 50s/low 60s. Clear to sunny.
Course conditions: Flat through most of Center City and South Philadelphia. Turns into Powelton Village and Mantua, where a hill picks up at Mile 8 and another at Mile 10 leading into the concourse at Fairmount Park. Wraps around MLK Drive and finished back at Eakins Oval, in front of the Art Museum.
Preview: I was registered and supposed to run the full, but conditions related to health and stress upended things in October. I was able to recover and salvage my year, and I should have no problem rolling the half.

Convention. 16 Nov 2012.

The Expo:

In 2010, when I ran the 8k, and 2011, when I ran the Philly Half again, I was disappointed by the lack of variety in the vendors and products to check out. It didn’t – and after looking through this year’s Expo today – doesn’t match the variety of the Rock n’ Roll Half Marathon in September.

At a #runchat on Twitter a few weeks ago, it seems that for large-city (or high fee) marathons, a good expos with a good number of products on display or freebies is what people want to see. There were definitely more vendors – mainly to sell various running gear, but definitely the number of vendors out with us trying their products was lower. A LOT lower. In fact, if I remember right, it is probably the lowest I ever recall in my 2.5 years of road racing. Not as much as some people mind you, but compared to some of the other places I’ve run…

Packet pick up was very organized. No issues queuing up, showing my paper, getting my t-shirt. The swag bag though – despite (IMO) the ugly shade of green – was definitely better.

Race kit. 16 Nov 2012.

The variety of vendors was another story though. The vast majority – again – were running shops, hydration kit sellers, promoters for other races. And unlike last year, there WERE more vendors, but less variety. No kidding.

On the upswing, I did gather more information from other races to get a better picture of what running some of the potential ones on my bucket list would be like. The Unite in New Brunswick, the Atlantic City Marathon (and its spring April Fool’s Marathon), the Vermont City Marathon, a tour operator for international races, and so forth.

As for products that I ran into that stuck out? The Nirvana water (because it was the heaviest thing in my bag hah) and the Snyder’s pretzels – because the honey mustard pretzels are just THAT good to the extent I might get a bag later on. That I’ll admit. But after that? I’m having a tough time…oh yes, the Clif Bar section never disappoints. Granted I do buy quite a few of their products.

At the Clif Bar area, I got my pace tags. Confirmed with the pacers they’d be running even splits. Finally, I saw a number of products I could sample and for the first time I tried out the chocolate mint protein bar. That was amazing. Coconut chocolate bar on the other hand? Dull. Just really really dull. The rest were in between.

Clif gels? Being sensitive to caffeine, I figure I’d avoid Mocha (1 cup) and the Citrus (1/2 cup shot) gels, but thankfully for me, the raspberry and vanilla (which tastes like frosting for the record) are free of it.

The Marathon also ran their seminar series. Being short on time, I could not stay for any of the seminars. However, what did disappoint me looking at the schedule was not seeing an elite runner. I love meeting them; meeting Ryan Hall was one of the highlights of MCM last year. I would hope that if Philadelphia wants to expand their field and expose to more runners, that they would invite or ask an elite to speak. Male, female, nationality, doesn’t matter.

And How I Feel?

Whilst annoyed that I didn’t recover in time to keep my body primed for the full, at the same time I understand it could have been much worse. I thought that since I buckled down for MCM with so many more commmitments that running the Philly Marathon would be a breeze. However, with increased demands from professors, it proved to be a major problem and even now, being burned out from school and still not getting sleep I should have is making it difficult to train. Taper week was annoying trying to squeeze what I needed to and you’d think it would be the easiest week. But stubborn as I was, I got in the miles I needed.

I feel ready for sure to clean my mind on Sunday, definitely should have no problems running. My muscles in of themselves feel fine. I just need to get enough work done and enough sleep on Saturday. It sounds like the weather is brisky enough and I don’t have to worry about stopping if I catch a cold.

The course itself is mostly flat, it has an interesting rise between miles 8-9, in Mantua before it drops off after that. The infamous sharp rise at 13 that nearly did me in during September’s Rock n’ Roll is still there, but people will not be all sprinting like they did for the full. After the halfway point, it is nearly completely flat. Last year I had completed the half 3 weeks after MCM and whilst my muscles felt dodgy, I completed the race without injury.

This weekend, I’m not even aiming for a PR, just want to finish this race and more than anything after this race, it’s time to hit the PR button and find a way to tackle all of this, offseason training and such with the same credit load next semester.

So all that said, I hope there’s a lot of cheering, a lot of crowds and a lot of noise, just like there was last time. We need encouragement on the hill in Mantua because last I recall that one wasn’t fun. And for those people running the full, they need all the help they can get in Manayunk and the East Falls.

Here’s hoping for a good one on Sunday and good weather to show me the mercy that school has failed to do. Two hours of peace (more or less) is better than nothing.

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