This past weekend was HUGE for me. I took my first trip by myself. No friends, no mom, no husband and I had the time of my life. When I first booked the flight and decided to go I knew this was going to be situation and I was nervous. Every once and a while I would say I was nervous about it but when the time came to go…I wasn’t nervous. This was a totally different experience for me and it was a journey I needed to take for myself. I’m glad I did go because I was forced to navigate a city on my own and talk to people. This was a lesson in stepping out of my comfort zone. I had the time of my life. I LOVE Philadelphia!
I went to Philly to run the Rock n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon, which is my 7th half this year, and this was going to be the first time I would be running with my Team Refuel-mates. I was very excited to meet everyone and I was uber excited to meet Dani from weightoffmyshoulders.com. I’ve been reading her blog for a long time so that was a huge highlight of the trip for me.
I did a LOT of walking. I also walked this path a lot. No matter where I was going I always ended up walking down this serene beautiful street. Probably wasn’t the best idea since I was running a race you know, but I can safely say I walked 6-8 miles on Friday and 10+ on Saturday and then I ran on Sunday and walked more. On the first day I went to pick up my packet from the expo and then to Reading Terminal Market and then on to Whole Foods! Reading Terminal Market is a fabulous place with lots of different things on the inside, mostly food. There are fresh produce vendors, counter restaurants, bakeries, tea shops…whatever. I knew I wanted to get dinner from there because it was quick and something I could eat in the room. Little did I know this was probably going to be the trend. I tried scrapple, but forgot to take a picture. That’s the only bad thing about being on a trip by yourself, no one to take pictures of you doing stuff. I had to rely on the kindness of strangers at some points.
Philly is a great city! It was clean and orderly. I only got accosted by the homeless four times the entire time I was there. I’m a scary person so walking the streets at night as a single female was something I tried to avoid to do. But on Saturday night I let time slip away from me and I ended up walking pretty late, but not at pitch black night…it was dusky. But I saw the sights, Congress House, George Washington’s house, Love Park, Rocky Stairs (no picture boo!) and the Liberty Bell! I probably didn’t see as much as the average person because I walked everywhere. What can I say? I’m cheap and I didn’t want to pay for a cab and I definitely wasn’t going to go on one of those tours. Every place I went was walkable and I like to be outside so I enjoyed it. The only sketchy park of Philly for me was Love Park. There were lots of questionable people hanging out there and they were offering to take pictures for tourists which I thought was really odd. That is the reason I didn’t have a picture at Love Park in front of the sign. I didn’t feel right handing off my camera to anyone. I probably should have gone after the race though! But there was a nice African man at the Liberty Bell who took my picture. He had a really nice camera so I trusted him to take a good picture of me and he did a great job!
I went to the race expo at the convention center. It was a lot of fun but it was smaller than most of the expos I had been too. So far, Dallas has been the biggest and best of all the expos for me. Brooks had an “Happy Island” theme going which I enjoyed. There were lots of little things to do in their area. I also enjoyed the Westin booth, because the people were so friendly. Mazda had a cool thing going on too. They were giving out free lemonades and taking fast race pictures of everyone. I didn’t get one of those though because it was a super busy booth. The ING orange booth is something close to my heart. They were taking donations for their cause which is to fight childhood obesity. I gladly donated my money and got a tech tee that says “I Run For Something Better”, but I also could have gotten orange shoe laces too.
The Refuel booth was booming as always. Shout out to the ladies working the booth. They were super nice to me and made me feel very welcome! It looked like a lot of people were interested in getting sponsored which made me happy! They had lots of cool things going on there and fun props!
There were tons of fun picture ops there. I was excited to do all the Refuel stuff since I was there to represent! And I got to wear my new jacket for the first time and it was greatly needed because Philly was kind of chilly!
The morning of the race I woke up and was ready for breakfast. The hotel refrigerator had different plans for me. Everything in the fridge was frozen come the morning. I made overnight oats the night before but it was rock solid the next morning. I had to defrost it in my sink! It was funny experience.
Race morning was very chilly but I was pumped to meet some new people and sit VIP at the race. There weren’t a lot of team members there but the only person I knew was Jesus. Before the race I met two lovely ladies Erika and Dani!
My goals for the race was just to run it. I’ve been struggling with my runs and I won’t lie I was a bit disappointed that my marathon training plan said I was running too slow! It’s been really HOT and HUMID and I know it’s been slowing me down so this race was the perfect opportunity for me to test out how my training was going. The weather was perfect for a race! I was trying to PR (2:13:09) but I came up a little bit short, but I also wasn’t trying to blow it out of the water. My last three halfs haven’t been on par with my expectations (Rockwall 2:22, San Diego 2:18 and Alien 13.1 2:24) so I wanted to do better than that. I knew I was capable of pulling a 2:05 half but Willie told me not to break myself trying to get there because that will come eventually. In fact, I exercised some good self control here.
I finished the race in 2:14:58 which is my second fastest half and my that was my 7th half marathon this year. I’m really proud of this! There were a lot of people running this race! I was kind of bummed out that a couple of water stations I rolled up to in the first 3-5 miles didn’t have water out, probably because of so many people running. I either had to pass it up or wait on water. The first 3 water stations I passed up which was a mistake because I wasn’t taking water the way I should have. Anything after 3 miles and beyond no matter what the weather is like I HAVE to take water so when I finally got to mile 4 I had to wait on water because I really needed it at this point.
The route was so pretty though and the crowd support was awesome. I can’t really speak too much about the bands along the way because I didn’t really listen! I ran pretty steady and that’s all I could ask for in the race. I kept around the pace I wanted and I did exactly what I wanted to do. Highlights of the race: the person dressed as Mr. Incredible and the little Mickey Mouse. Those were great moments and the view! We don’t have pretty runs like this in Southeast Texas and it makes me jealous that people get to run in these places all the time. It just makes me appreciate things so much more when I get to do what I love, run (just in case you didn’t know), and run in beautiful places.
It was a great race that I plan to run again next year! I was really impressed. Thanks to Team Refuel for everything because it really made the experience that much better. And for the first time I stayed and listened to the band a little…and they weren’t bad at all! The medal for the race is by far my most favorite medal I’ve gotten this year (sorry Louisiana Marathon folks, RnR Philly knocked you off so late in the year)! Isn’t it awesome?
And just in case you want to know what I ate while I was away:
Like I said, I tried scrapple but no picture. Friday evening and Saturday afternoon I went to Reading Terminal Market. I had yummy cabbage, jasmine rice and chickpeas for dinner. And Saturday I went to a middle eastern place inside the market and IT WAS THE WORST FOOD EVA! I hate wasting money but I hate wasting calories more than that so I took a couple of bites and left the food there and went back to the same place I ate Friday night. This time I got jasmine rice, spinach and the cabbage again…along with a spinach and feta samosa! It was delicious, I should have just trusted my first instinct. I went to the Hummus Grill the night before the race and had the best falafel sandwich EVA…with tabouli and baba ganoush! You know I can’t go anywhere without getting this stuff. It was so good, that I wanted to go back last night but they were closed. Everything in downtown Philly closed around 5PM which totally sucked. I thought I was going to have to eat Subway and that would have been a big bummer at the end of the trip. Luckily, the Falafel Shop was on the way back to the hotel and I stopped and order some food and ate it at the hotel. That place has the BEST baba ganoush I’ve ever had!
After the race I decided I was going to pamper myself. I got a massage and got my hair did! The place I got my hair done was super cute and everyone was so friendly. Blo/Out in Riddenhouse is a really great place and I just loved it. I definitely will go back when I’m in Philly. I realize I don’t really take care of my outward appearance like I should because it was never a priority for me when I was overweight. I always tried to blend in the crowd! Let me tell you, the men of Philly really loved me. I had a garbage man stop his truck get out and come talk to me and I had a lot of whistles!
All in all, this was the BEST three days of my life even though I went at it alone. I met a lot of nice people, fell in love with a city and got to run a race with Team Refuel. It was great. Thanks for the memories Philly!