Part 2 Of My 2016 Birthday Weekend - Rock n Roll Philly Half!

When we left off in the tale of my 2016 Birthday weekend, I had a BLAST running the RnR Philly 5k with Briana and then hosted the We Run Social meet-up at the Reading Terminal Market.

How awesome are these shining faces? I am wicked lucky the internet brought these people into my life and that they were up for meeting me for a birthday beer! Unfortunately the space was a little tight, I need to make sure we have more room at the next meet-up!

Since we didn't have enough time to hang out at the meet-up and not everyone was able to make it, we had a WRS photo-op scheduled before the race. Who wouldn't want to kick the morning off on the top of the Rocky steps... if only it wasn't so foggy!

I was pretty darn proud of this photo-op. I mean this sums up WRS: love and smiles!

Pretty epic right? :)

Once the high-fives, hugs and selfies were snapped, it was time to head to the start corral. I was ready to tackle Half Marathon #41 and earn the rest of my bling (half + challenge medal). 

This combo of Sparkle Athletic skirt, PRO Compression socks and New Balance sneakers quickly became my go-to/favorite combo for my FALL races. I just wanted all the highlighter type colors in one place. :) It shocked me at first because for so long I hid behind black/dark clothing. Thank you weightloss/fitness journey for giving me the confidence to wear colors!

I was in corral 6 so I had a little time to pass while in the corrals, but not much. They were only giving a couple of minutes between corrals. Since I was way over by the Rocky stairs, I had to run to even make it up to where my corral started. 

Finally it was our turn! Let the humid fun begin. That's right folks. Even though it was September in Philly, the humidity made it feel like the peak of Summer. I was sweating before we even got to the Start Line. 

I didn't have any time goals for this race. I was hoping to go sub-2, but with the humidity I just wanted to go out and have a fun race to celebrate turning 34.

As we started the race, the course was starting to come back to me from 2013. I was keeping a lookout for any familiar faces since I know I have some friends that live in the area.

And then I heard a "Go Dani!" OMG it was Dre!!!!!!

Can you tell I was a little excited to see him? We met in 2012 through Fitbloggin (a bloggers' conference). I hadn't seen him since 2013 so it was soooo good to hug him. This man is literally the best hugger int the world.

Dre is also an awesome photographer. He snapped one of my favorite race photos of me ever during RnR Philly Half in 2013. This time however I didn't give him much to work with except sweat. Look at how much I was sweating and I was only about a mile into the race. Oof!

After giving Dre another hug (and laughing at the stares of the people around Dre who were confused why I would stop to chat during a race), I headed off and hoped I would see Dre's smiling face again.

Just after having these pictures snapped, someone threw their water bottle on the ground and I rolled my ankle on it. They were running in the middle of the road then threw their water bottle to the left-side of the road. Who throws from the center? Not cool buddy. I could feel a sting already and tried to ignore the pain from my right ankle as much as possible. 

Thankfully spectator signs know how to distract me from any body pain or worry I have.

It is pretty darn fun to run through historic Philly. 

Mile 1: 8:51
Mile 2: 9:06
Mile 3: 8:35

Thankfully Tori was going to be on the right-hand side of the road just after the Mile 3 marker. Phew! I needed to see her face and be reassured that the rest of the race would be fine!! 

It was so good to see her even briefly. It put me back in the right mindset and I headed back off for that 10-mile cool down. ;) 

And just after the wife, there was a group of high school cheerleaders and... MICKEY!!!

I know it wasn't the real Mickey (he is at Disney obviously), but I took the opportunity for a character stop anyway! Weirdly no one was standing in line behind me for their turn. :P

Luckily just before making the turn for the out-and-back portion, there were a row of port-o-potties so I took the opportunity for a bathroom break. Might as well! :)

Miles 4-5 have an out-and-back on Fairmount Ave. This was a chance for me to wave to some friends and have a snack break near the Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Sorry for the blurriness, but between taking this on the move and the humidity - this is what you get. Haha.

Ummm yeah this was about to be debatable. I was ready to wring my shirt out.

Mile 4: 11:40
Mile 5: 9:40

Now that the out-and-back was complete, it was time for my favorite part of this race... running along the Schuylkill River. You run down one side of the river (until around Mile 9), cross a bridge and run back to the Rocky Steps area on the other side of the river. 

Yes yes i can do it even if I felt like I wanted to leave my right leg behind. The pain was sticking around in my right ankle and the pesky right knee was joining in on the fun. I knew I would need some aspirin/advil at some point on this drag.

Not only was I inspired on the course by wearing my Tedy's Team singlet and thinking about my #StrokeHeroes, but the runners around me were inspiring. This duo was running in honor of the gentleman beating colon cancer. 

Inspiring right?

I also saw Steff during this stretch. She was having a rough race as well. We gave each other some words of encouragement and kept on trucking.

I love how during this race you are running through the skyscrapers then next thing you know you feel like you have been transplanted to a small town in Philadelphia. Thank you race for offering the best of both in one run. I love having different scenery to enjoy.

I opted to stop at the Mile 9 first aid station for some meds. The volunteers were great and did a thorough job checking me in and out of the med tent. Plus it was a nice little stretch break. At the end of Mile 9 we would hit the bridge and it would be time to turnaround and head home.

The remnants of a well-visited waterstop!

Mile 6: 8:38
Mile 7: 8:56
Mile 8: 9:12
Mile 9: 9:55

The view from the bridge. 

Can you spot the cheer station? Toyota had one staffed with energetic volunteers and some great signs!

I may or may not have sent this to some of my friends! ;) Unfortunately most of them responded that they were in fact out of bed and on their own long runs. DAMN you active friends for ruining my jokes!

Arches two ways during Mile 10. I like the one on the left better. You?

Mile 10: 9:05

The annoyance level with my right leg was hitting max levels during Mile 11. I did a little run-walk tactic, threw in a snack break and a dance session.

Then I looked up and saw some members of Team Chocolate Milk. Since I was a member of Team Chocolate Milk for 3 years, I ran alongside the duo for a little while. Someday I would love to be a running guide for a visually impaired runner. It is definitely on my bucket list. 

Mile 11: 10:32

It's as if the race director knew I needed a pick-me-up in the final miles as they lined the last 2 miles with inspirational quotes form participants. 

It's like they were talking RIGHT AT ME!

And then I saw THE sign. I asked a stranger to take my photo. Man where are those Disney cast members when you need them.

With love in my heart and some tears in my eyes, I pressed on to the Finish. 

Mile 12: 8:38
Mile 13: 8:46

Seeing my wife on the side of the Finish cute, was the little spark I needed to cross the Finish Line.

FINAL TIME: 2:04:02 (9:28 min/mile pace)

I figured with all the veering I did for the bathroom and med tents that my distance would be a little long.

For how much pain I felt in my right leg, I was psyched with my finish time. While I was bummed I knew I should've finished sub-2, you gotta take what your body can give on any given day.

How awesome is that medal?

After meeting back up with the wife, we headed to the tent where you pick up your challenge/heavy medals. It wasn't easy to find, but thankfully other folks were being super helpful.

Ahhh BLING the best birthday present a girl can ask for!!!

And you don't have to ask me twice to share why I run...

We headed over to the post-race party area to catch a little of Tufts' own Guster perform. Since I don't like to waste calories/points on bad beer (I'm looking at you Michelob Ultra), we headed back to the hotel to clean up before getting some lunch and BEER.

A closer look at the bling.

Ohhh and the BEER!!!!

Overall the weekend in Philly didn't disappoint. The races were well run, the city was easy to navigate, there was plenty to see, I had some of my favorite people from around the country in one place and I got to enjoy a weekend away with my favorite sherpa. Net time I just ask the weather gods to be a little kinder with the humidity!

But if you are looking for a PR race, look no further than Philly! It is a great PR half course.

Have you run RnR Philly? What was your favorite part?


Disclaimer: I did receive complimentary entry into this race as a RockNBlog ambassador, but all opinions are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!