Disclaimer: As a member of the Rock ‘n’ Blog team, I received free entries to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 5K and half marathon races. As always, all thoughts are my own and I #keepitreal.
This past weekend I was in Philadelphia for my first Rock ‘n’ Roll race of the year. Surprisingly I haven’t done a lot of races this year, but I do have a pretty busy Fall race schedule, so I’m excited about that. I participated in the race weekend last year and had a great time, so I was definitely looking forward to this racecation.
Philadelphia is not that far from me, so I worked a half day on Friday and then caught the train. Totally off topic but I’m not a huge fan of packing so I always wait until the last minute. This is what my suitcase looked like on Friday morning.
I have a packing list that I just whenever I travel, so luckily I was able to use that and get packed rather quickly (in about 10 minutes). We arrived in Philly around 4:00 pm, checked into the hotel and then went over to the Expo. Luckily the expo was within walking distance from the hotel.
There was literally no wait time to pick up my bibs and shirts. It probably took less than 5 minutes overall. I didn’t spend too much time at the Expo but their Brooks section was on point as always. I saw at least 10 things I wanted to buy, but I’ll have to hit the lottery first, lol. I went over the the Rock n Roll section to pick up my Tour Pass lanyard and take a look at the medals. I was super impressed with the medals this year and they were way better than the medals from last year!
I also took a look at the course map just to give myself a quick reminder of the course.
The goodie bags were okay this year – not a lot of items but what we did get was good, and I love those gummy vitamins.
I met up with some friends from college for dinner that night and didn’t end up falling asleep until after midnight. I woke up early for the 5K so that was a little painful, but it was worth it to hang out with my friends I only get to see a few times a year! Thankfully I already had my race-day outfits laid out so I didn’t have to worry about that!
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 5K
The race started at 7:00 am so my mom and I left the hotel by 6:20 am to give us enough time to get there. As soon as we got outside we could feel the disgusting heat and humidity – yuck! I didn’t really care that much because I knew I was running the 5K easy since I had to do 18 miles the following day.
The race starts and ends at Eakins Oval. I believe it was the same route as last year. It’s a very flat course except for a small incline at the end, so it’s great for a PR.
The race started right on time. I would say that within the first half mile I was soaked – just dripping with sweat. It didn’t get any better as the race went on either. There was a water station around mile 1.5 on the course. I probably should have stopped but I just wanted to finish the race. I somehow had a negative split run – I’ll never understand this. After the race I checked my phone only to see humidity at 96%. No wonder I felt like I was swimming during the entire run. My mom also ran the 5K and came in 2nd in her age group, but RnR doesn’t give out AG awards for the 5K – bummer! We each grabbed a bottle of water and some snacks and then headed over to the beer area.
After the race, my mom and I headed back over to the Expo to sign up for next year’s race. They had special pricing and you got a free shirt for registering at the Expo. I signed up for the 5K and Half Marathon again, and my mom signed up for the 5K. Here’s hoping that the 2018 race has WAY better weather!
Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
I was treating this race as part of my last long run for Chicago Marathon training. I woke up super early and got in 5 miles before the race. These miles actually felt good and went well. I was happy with the pace and felt good going into the race. Right before the race I was so happy to run into Briana, Dani and Kristin!
I really like this race course. Not only is it pretty flat, but you get to see some cool things along the way! During the race, you go down Ben Franklin Parkway and through the streets of downtown Philly. The back half of the race takes place on Kelly Drive and it’s really pretty. It’s kind of a long stretch so I can see where it might get a little boring, but the bands on the course help with that!
Again, the humidity was out of control (97%) but we thankfully had cloud cover for most of the race. I thought that would be helpful but nope! I was pretty much drenched by the first mile. Once I had to take a walk break at the 5K mark, I knew it was going to be a hard race so I just accepted that and tried to do my best. I knew that my pace was going to be much slower than I would have liked (30 seconds per mile slower) but I didn’t want to dwell on that too much during the race. I ended up having to take a walk break after every mile after hitting the 5 mile mark. I was having a very hard time getting my breathing under control the entire race. At one point I turned off my music and could hear how loudly I was breathing and it kind of scared me. The walk breaks did help a little, but it was still a struggle. Then between miles 12-13, my right quad decided it was done. I was running along and felt this weird pull in my right quad. I actually had to stop and try to massage my quad to make it feel better. It was super sore and tight so I just took my run down to a slow jog to make it through the finish line. I still don’t really know what happened – I’m able to walk fine and go up the stairs with no problem, but going down the stairs was super painful the rest of the day on Sunday and Monday. It started to feel better on Tuesday but I still couldn’t run. I’ll try to run again today. I don’t think it’s anything serious – just more of an annoyance, lol.
All runners definitely struggle with the humidity, but some more than others. For me, it really, really affects me in a negative way. I wish I could just power though and still have a great finish time, but it’s hard to do that when you can’t breathe well and your heart feels like it’s about to beat out of your chest. I almost feel like I can deal with running in the heat better if there is low humidity, which is strange. It’s a little frustrating because my body felt pretty good in terms of my legs/knees until mile 10 on the course, so if the weather was better, I think I could have had a good race. It wouldn’t have been a PR or anything, but just more enjoyable 🙂
Overall Pros and Cons (for both races)
Crowd Support – I really enjoyed the fantastic crowd support during the first half of the half marathon race. People were SO supportive and you could tell that they genuinely enjoyed supporting all the runners on the course. They were also pockets of spectators along the back end of the course.
Volunteers – I think I mention this in the “Pro” column in all my race recaps but it’s because I feel so strongly that volunteers are the backbone of a good race. Every single volunteer that I came across was smiling ear and ear and cheering on all the runners.
Bands – I think this Rock ‘n’ Roll race probably had the most bands, and they were good bands too! The music was awesome for both the 5K and Half Marathon race. They were really jamming and I saw a few runners stop to record the bands playing or take photos. It was appreciated on such a hot and humid day!
Cold Towels – Volunteers were handing out cold wash clothes at the finish line. I cannot express how much I needed this!
Race Shirts – I’m not sure why they made both the 5K and Half Marathon shirts gray. The 10K shirt was yellow. Wouldn’t it had made more since to make the 5K/10K shirts gray, and the half marathon yellow? Now I’m stuck with two gray shirts. I don’t mind the color, I just want more variety.
Expo – The actual expo is great, but I think they need more signage outside of the Convention Center to tell people where to go. The Expo is held at the Convention Center, which is huge and has many different entrances, so it can be a little confusing.
Post-Race Food – For both races, it just seemed like an odd selection of items. They gave out bottles of water for each race, which was great. For the half marathon they gave out Gatorade, bags of chips, gummy bears, chocolate milk, and bananas.
Age-Group Awards – I think it would be nice if they could consider this for the 5K. If not an award, maybe offer a a voucher for a free Rock ‘n’ Roll 5K race in the future. My mom has placed in her AG for a few Rock ‘n’ Roll 5Ks, but I always feel bad that she doesn’t get anything for it.
Like I mentioned earlier, I signed up for the 2018 races, so I’ll be back next year. I REALLY hope that we finally have some good weather because both race courses would be super awesome and enjoyable if I didn’t feel like a slug while running, lol.