The following is a race report by a friend at work, John Altieri. He has a good perspective and has a wide range of races under his belt. I am happy to share his view of the Philly half marathon and look forward to sharing his future races as well, even if he doesn't know it yet :)
Last month, I decided to do one more half marathon before the end of the year. Through September and October, I had been joining friends as they trained for other races, including marathons (big thanks to you Gary!). Talking about everyone's racing plans was great motivation to get out there for another day. I had the long runs under my belt so signing up for Philly was an easy choice.
It's great to see how many people will come out to run far; big city races give you that. This was a solo trip for me, though you're really never alone at a race. Friendly folks in Philly, lots of cheering and some great signs. A good one said "Motivational Sign." Just true.
Heading to the center of a big city for packet pick-up, you may know, isn't the easiest, so staying somewhere downtown, or making a night of the pick-up can make it much easier. I guess I wanted to make it a little harder on myself (easier on my wallet) so I stayed just outside of town. night, instead of keeping my parking spot and getting dinner in the city, I made a trip out to the "Fermentaria" at Tired Hands Brewing Company for some "carb loading" and a bite to eat. The next morning I drove into town. Parking was really easy considering how many people were racing. One of the pay lots listed in the race guide was open with plenty of room just a few blocks from the start. $10.
Not long after that, standing in the first corral, the race started only a couple minutes late. Folks were really upbeat and a whole lot of cheering for wheelchair athletes and the police out to support the event.
Another change is the new course. We did 5k of racing downtown before the course brought you north of the city, leaving more mileage in the parks along the Schuylkill River. It would've been nice to spend more time downtown, but the change gives the course a new feel. At the 5k point we came back around and passed the starting line. I heard them sending off the penultimate wave of runners 20 minutes after the first wave. The "waved" start seemed organized and helped the foot traffic on the course.
Soon I came to a well known hill people speak of just north of town. I took it easy-ish. I was not expecting the three other solid climbs a little ways after that. One climb reminded me of trail racing, and had me thinking that a lot of us would be walking had we been on trails. This race sure put the "hilly" in Philly! ;-) My hope of breaking , usually a very doable goal, was in question.
With a mile and a half to go, the pace crew caught up to me. I was slowing down. My mile-by-mile calculations that put me just under weren't so accurate. My math abilities might have been compromised by my high heart rate. Hills! I heard the pacers discussing how the course was running long (I ran 13.4 based on my Garmin) and that the hills were slowing people down. I kept those guys in sight and came to the finish line in the usual red hot, huffing pain / joy. Finish lines are great thresholds.
Official time was . Ha! I didn't break - but it's a nice round number. A rewarding day. Results put me in a usual spot percentage-wise, so I wasn't the only one hurting on the hills. This is not necessarily a PR course, but still a really nice challenging race. Water stations were done just right, volunteers well trained and supportive, and the course was well marked, although a bit long. If I head back next year I'll probably stay in town. Thanks, Philly!