21 September 2009

2009 Philadelphia Distance Run Race Report

I am not going to lie to you. I am writing this post a week late. You did not miss it the day after the PDR, I am just predating it in an attempt to hide the fact that I am a major procrastinator. Especially when I have a head cold.

One of my favorite things about major races, is the race expo. The atmosphere at the expo can be exhilarating. The large number of runners, all bustling about in a cloud of nervousness and excitement. You can find some great deals on running gear, as well as some great freebies. And if it is free, it is for me.

I went to this expo on Friday afternoon, so it was not as crowded as they usually are on Saturdays. My highlight of the expo, and probably of the week to that point, was meeting Ryan Hall. I actually walked by him while he was talking to some people. I was not sure if it would be rude to interrupt, but I went over and said hello. We talked for a minute, but I kept it short because he was getting ready to talk to the crowd that was gathering in the runners lounge.

Here are some of the elites talking to the crowd. In the blue Asics jacket is Ryan Hall. In the red is Constantina Dita, winner of the 2008 Olympic Marathon in Beijing. And on the right is Catherine Ndereba of Kenya.

Ryan Hall ended up winning the PDR in 1:01:52 and Catherine Ndereba won the women's in 1:09:43.

One of the great things about running is that the professional athletes in the field are so accessible. See how close they are to the crowd. They talk directly to the spectator and back of the pack runners as well as to the other elites and pros. You can just walk up and say hi and on race day you are all running the same streets... although I was running way behind them. They were finished before I was even at the halfway point.

So then came race day. Going to the expo on Friday rather than Saturday was a mistake, because the excitement builds at the expo and then you have to wait an extra day for the run. Not too much of a problem, but I think I will go to expos on Saturdays from now on.

The morning was great. I rode my bike over to the art museum from the University of Penn Hospital. That was a nice start to my warm up. I met my brother and cousins and we hung out while we waited for the start.

We were in line for the bathroom when the race started, but our corrals were in the back so we were fine. I was in corral 16 and the rest of my group was in 18. I decided to just hop in 18 with them.

It took 30 minutes to get across the start line, but since I was so far back I was able to control my pace a little better. That lasted for only about a half mile and as I started passing people I started picking up the pace. It was nice to seem fast, but I would pay for it later.

I have raced two major races in my short time as a runner. The Broad Street 10 Miler in May and this, the Philadelphia Distance Run. The one thing I learned in these two races is that I cannot keep my pace slow enough in the beginning to run efficiently in the end. I always plan to start slow and negative split, but I always get caught up in the crowd and start too fast and end up slowing down at the end.

I was doing good through mile 7 or 8, then I started walking through the water stations. As the run went on, the walks got a little slower.

Mile 10 was a good point for me, because until now that was the furthest I had ever ran. This gives you a mental boost because every step from then on is further than you have ever ran before. With only 5k to go I picked up my pace again, but the high did not last long. I quickly slowed down as I came to the next water station. My legs were telling me that I could not hold a fast pace for three more miles, and I allowed my mind to listen to them.

The final mile was pretty incredible. As I was winding my way toward the finish, I could not help but get a boost from the crowd. They were cheering and shouting words of support, which was much needed for the back of the pack runners such as myself.

As I rounded the final turn for the finish I noticed my fan support. My Mom and Dad brought my sons up, and my Uncle was there with two of my younger cousins. It was great to see them.

My legs were dead for the last couple of miles, but I tried to give it a good kick at the end. I was able to sprint for the last couple of hundred yards, but after crossing the finish line I though my legs would buckle.

The key was to keep moving, and they had the finish area set up very well for that. Maybe it was because I was so close to the last of the runners, but there was no waiting in line for your medal, or for much needed refreshments. And they had the path set up so you walked around and out and it was not a mass of people aiming for one tiny exit.

My chip time was 2:24:12. I picked up a pace bracelet at the expo for 2:15 not really expecting to be able to do it, but I think now I could have. I just needed to pace myself better at the beginning and run negative splits at the end.

All in all I am impressed with the run and the way it was organized. Next year the Rock and Roll brand takes over so it is going from the ING Philadelphia Distance Run to the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Along with the name change is a price hike. Early registration this year was $55. Early registration for next year is $80. I paid $80 for the full marathon in November, so paying the same for a half marathon in the same city seems a little steep.

I am now halfway to 26.2. After this run I am feeling confident that the full marathon will be a good run. I am feeling good with my training and excited to give it a go for the full.

As I write this, I mentioned to my wife that the full marathon is 8 weeks away. She said "Are you sure you are ready for that?"

My only response was, "I will be in 8 weeks."


joyRuN said...


$80 is pretty steep for a half. Now I'm torn, because I've been doing the PDR for 3 years in a row now.

Victoria said...

This year, I ran the Harrisburg Half instead of PDR. It was much smaller (1100 runners), cheaper ($45 late registration) and flatter (along the Susquehanna River). I know it's further away, but just something to consider for next year.

lindsay said...

congrats on pdr! a strong race with all the extra stresses going on lately. hope your wife is doing better!

rock 'n roll events are wayyy pricey. i paid like $112 for va beach half. other races manager to charge half as much and provide the same goodies, so i don't get it. i probably won't run any RNR events again though... they're fun, but i don't really enjoy being ripped off.

8 weeks! better get ready! :)

Stacey said...

I totally love the Expos! I stock up on my favorite Gizmodo socks.

You're very lucky to have such a supportive family. It means so much when you have people cheering you on.

You did a terrific job!!!