Philadelphia Half Marathon Recap

What a great experience! I can honestly say I enjoyed every minute of the Philly half – and not just because I got a PR of 3 1/2 minutes! But because I ran a strong race, I learned a lot and I was able to soak in the great crowds vibe, to be in the moment and enjoy the day!


With our boys safely tucked away with family, J and I flew down to Philly on Saturday. Thanks to the flight delay (seriously, US Air is a hot mess!), we didn’t get to our hotel until about 2:30. The hotel staff was super nice and was handing out gift bags to guests who were racing, which looked like pretty much the whole hotel! We quickly dumped our stuff and headed to the expo. There were so many people it was crazy! I got my number, shirt and swag bag and milled around for a bit. But by this point I was desperately hungry so we headed to the Reading Terminal Market (huge indoor marketplace) for a late lunch. We then decided to go check out the starting line and see just how long it would take us to walk there from our hotel. I have to say it wasn’t until I saw the corrals set up that it started to hit me just how many runners there would be. This was by far going to be the biggest race I had ever run in – that thought was both exciting and intimidating!

By the time we wondered around for a bit and then headed back to the hotel, the thought of sitting in a restaurant for dinner was really unappealing – I was toast! So J canceled the reservations and we opted for Subway and putting our feet up in front of the TV. I got my gear laid out, took one last look at the course map and one last review of the race plan the awesome XL at Taking It On put together for me (she seriously rocks!). I set 3 alarms (yes I’m that Type A) and was out cold by 9:30.

Race Day:

I was up by 4 and we were out of the hotel by 5:45. It was the funniest sight, all these people dressed in various forms of throw-away garb, tramping through the streets at pre-dawn. We made our way to the corral, hit the porta potties, chatted up people in line and took a short warm up run. It was already low 50s so I decided to pass off all of my throw-away stuff to J before leaving him to weave my way through the corral. As I listened to the National Anthem I remember thinking how crazy it was that I was so calm. I was just so excited to be there and I was ready to run!

The hardest part was waiting for our corral to move to the start (we went off 26 minutes after!). Given the size of the group, I really wanted to be towards the front to avoid as much weaving as possible. By the time we got to the start I had only one row of runners in front of me and I got a high-five and “Good Luck” from Mayor Nutter. We counted down and were off. I knew I would see J just after the first mile marker and again around 5. My legs felt fresh and while I knew I was going faster than I had planned, I was feeling good and was almost afraid to break my rhythm.

The first few miles seem to fly by – I was just rocking to my tunes and enjoying spectator signs. Before I knew it, we were at 5 miles and then I spotted J – he yelled that I was looking strong and I remember yelling back that I felt great. The spectators along Chestnut Street were 3-deep and really into it! Shortly after I hit the 10k mat, I walked briefly to take a couple of Chomps, get some water and rip off my KT Tape that had been flapping around my left leg (clearly gotta work on my taping skills!). I took the hill between 7 and 8 fairly well. The steeper hill between  9 and 10 was much tougher but overall I was still feeling strong.

When I checked my Garmin at 10 I knew I was in a great position. As I closed in on the 11 mile marker, my left leg announced that it was done – it felt like my leg seized up – I  couldn’t even tell what gave way first. It was just like the whole leg decided “Hell no  – we’re done with this!” I started bargaining with myself “OK just a short walk break then finish this thing,” but the other side of me was screaming “Don’t stop, you’re on pace!” I slowed to a walk and my leg really started to tighten up – OK, not good, keep moving. I passed the 12 mile marker, just willing my leg to cooperate for one more mile. Then on the bridge overhead, among a rowdy bunch of spectators was J. I could hear him yelling that I was almost there and to keep going, that I could do this. I allowed myself one last glance at my Garmin – I knew 2:30 was slipping away, but in that moment I told myself it was ok, now it was just a matter of how big a PR I could get. The crowd of spectators in that final stretch was a fantastic sight and I threw everything I had left into the final 3/4 of a mile to the finish.

I was ecstatic when I finished: Chip time – 2:31:40! As I got my heat blanket and medal you couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. I had run the race I wanted to and had a lot of fun doing it. While I hadn’t hit my biggest time goal, I had gotten a lot more out of my left leg than I expected and a PR! And, I know that when the time comes for my next race, not only can I hit 2:30, I can get below it!



  1. Congratulations on a great race and a new PR! You look like you are having a fabulous time in that 1st photo!! I’ve looked at Philly the past two years, someday I’m going to have to run there! Great job!

  2. I LOVE this recap 🙂 You did so well, Michelle! Really awesome. And now you definitely know sub 2:30 is right there 🙂 So excited for you!

  3. Congrats again! A PR on a dicey leg is especially huge. I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Bummed I missed you though.

  4. Congrats on your PR! You *will* get that sub 2:30. I looked for myself in your pics…I accidentally seeded myself in the blue corral and went off at 26 minutes also!

  5. Sounds like your true race started at mile 11! I was rooting for you w/ that leg of yours, and you clearly rocked it!

    Congrats on a PR, but more for gutting it out when things weren’t so rosy. That’s the best feeling ever when you somehow get past the yuck to get to the good stuff.


  6. Oh my word!!! Michelle I’m so happy for you!!! That’s a HUGE PR!!! You’ve worked so hard for this! I was routing for you!!! Horray!!!

  7. Awesome job!! Congrats on the PR!

  8. Great job!! How is your leg now?

    Congrats!!! You did awesome!

  9. Jody Cumming says:

    Congratulations!!! So happy for you!!!

  10. Congrats! It’s so awesome to see your dedicated training pay off. Enjoy your celebration!

  11. Great job Michelle! Congrats on an amazing race!

  12. Yay Michelle! So happy for you! You guys really had perfect weather that day for it. so glad the leg held it together for you.

    I used to live in Phila..isn’t Reading Terminal the very best?!

  13. Congrats on the great race and huge PR!! You looked great doing it, too 🙂


  1. […] in 2011 and by half way through the race I knew I wanted to come back (you can check out the recap HERE)! I loved the course, the great crowd support and the 3+ minute PR I snagged — I’m […]

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