Race Recap: Rock n Roll Philadelphia 5k & 13.1 2016

        There's a lot to squeeze into this race review: a hostel, a shooting, two races, no sleep and 5 medals. Epic ( or some other overly abused word that has become a cliche'.)
       This past weekend is proof that every race weekend is not created equal. Rock n Roll Philadelphia was really cool for me. First of all, I've never vacationed in Philadelphia. I have family from the area.  My grandfather grew up running from the rainbow skinners. We used to drive down from Connecticut for church conventions but I don't ever remember spending time downtown or sightseeing. I got that this time. 
    The plan was to run two races and take home 5 medals, meet up with some college friends, and meet a bunch of friends from Facebook, Instagram, BlackMenRun and WeRunSocial. 
     I made my travel plans late,.. but I wasn't completely out of options. I found a hostel to stay in. That's not a typo. A hostel has dormitory style living quarters with bunk beds in a room. Sometimes they can be sketchy. You can save cash if you're on a longer trip or traveling to different cities.... or if you procrastinated and waited until the last minute to lock in your travel. I might fall into one of those categories. 

     So, after a 6 hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive I rolled into the health & Fitness Expo with 5 minutes to spare. Then it was off to check in at the hostel and go out. 

       The hostel's name was Philadelphia House and it was nestled in Old City which is a very beautiful part of the city that is bustling with old world charm. It's an area between Penn's Landing and independence hall. Inside the building was cool. Common area downstairs. Living quarters and bathrooms upstairs. My hope was that I'd run into a couple of other runners here. There were only 4 of us. The rest were foreigners ( Germany, Sweden, Australia.) none of them were vagrants or homeless as some people tried to warn me. It's a pretty cool idea. I don't recommend it for family trips,.. but if you're going with a group of friends and don't have a hotel this might be cool. But--- and the is a big But,... bring your own sheets and stuff or sleep with all of your clothes on. 
     If you are preparing for a busy race weekend, you should always get as much sleep as possible. Yup, sleep is important.  Unless,...you're hanging out with good friends that you haven't seen in 15 years. If that's the case, you might get an hour or two of sleep. Yup an hour of sleep is plenty... especially if it's only a 5k. 
     None of that should be considered good advice. 
      But I had fun. That's all at matters. I did witness the aftermath of a shooting rampage in Philly Friday night. We happened to be parking near Penn Presbyterian Hospital when we heard and saw police officers block traffic and drive the injured officer straight up to the emergency room door. It was pretty swift and dramatic. 
      The suspect was killed after injuring the police officer and two other people. I pray for all of their recoveries. A reminder of the crazy world we live in. 

      Saturday morning, and I'm still running off of adrenaline-- literally. No sleep,..  up I'm ready to dig deep for at least 25 minutes. 
       Parking was easy and the walk to the start/finish line was nice and relaxing. Meet-up #1: BlackMenRun pre-5k stretch and photo-op on the rocky steps in front of the art museum. Those are the steps made famous by that whole workout montage in the "Rocky" movies. 
      You know I had to get the obligatory Rocky pose at the top. Group pic, group stretch and race to the start line. 

     The race was cool. I got stuck in the wrong coral and behind a bunch of walkers. So my first mile was slow for a 5k. The last mile was more like it. I thought I was going pretty fast at the end until I looked over and there was a guy pacing me in flip flops. So, I kicked it up a knot  hand he matched me. I'm a runner/former sprinter... so I kicked it up even more. We are full on racing at this point. The only thing slowing us down... weaving around slower runners. It's always cool to cross the finish and still feel like you had more to give. 

    Anyway, after taking a shower I returned to the Health and Fitness expo because I missed it the first day. Then off to the next meet-up with WeRunSocial at the Reading Terminal Market. I've never seen anything like it. More than 100 shops in one tightly confined space. I don't know how the do it. It's not just a food court it's everything and according to the website, it's been around for more than 120 years. 
    Cool location,.. cool people. 

     Now time to sleep, eat.. and prepare for the next race! The half marathon on Sunday. Saturday night was almost perfect. Most of the people in the hostel went out for a bar/pub crawl. So it was quiet until they returned. Then there was that guy that snored like a buzz saw. Easy fix : headphones. 

       On race morning, I'm good. I was going to take the train to the race,... but one of the guys from the hostel recommended taking the bus instead.  So the four of us did that and it was perfect. The bus dropped us off really close to the start line-- about a half mile from the start. Along the way, we picked up one more runner. She was visibly nervous and excited about her FIRST half marathon. She has a pretty interesting story. Way better than mine. She started running to quit smoking and after a divorce. She's done 5ks and a 15k but never 13.1. She says someone gave her the bib a week ago because of an injury. Anyway,... I hope she met all of her goals and expectations. 

    Sunday started out warmer and more humid than Saturday morning. Not bad,.. but not great. Random thought: " I wish I had done number 2 at the hostel"

    At the same time, I'm missing my Garmin. I left it at home by mistake. 
     On to the photo-ops with BMR and WRS. I hit a snag at gear check -- probably thanks to the bombs in NYC and NJ. I can usually just give them my backpack. This time, I had to unload my stuff into Rock n Roll's clear plastic bags. I appreciate the added security. 
     I don't appreciate the heat. To be honest, it's warm and humid, but at least the sun is hiding behind the clouds. If the sun did decide to come out,... it would be trouble. 
    So, I'm starting this race without my Garmin, but with my Apple Watch and phone.     
    Everything should be fine right? I told myself that I wasn't going to worry about. I wasn't going to ruin my race because of it. So I tried, but I didn't get nikeplus going in time for the start of the race. 
     Without frequent updates on my pace, I went out pretty fast. The first 5k in 26:50 (8:39/mile), 10k 54:59 (8:51/mile), 10 mile 1:36:33 (9:40/mile) 
    Final time 2:12:01. Not my best time. But that's ok.  
     I literally just ran out of steam at the end. 
     Oh, and my headphones died halfway through the race. 
     In two of the races that I've run at least one person has died,... including my first half. So, seeing people on stretchers and laid out on the ground may have had a mental impact on my level of determination toward the end. I made it across the finish line upright. It was a tough, amazing, long, fun,exciting weekend. 

     It's a weekend I'll never forget, but that I don't want to repeat any time soon.  
     After the race, we medal. And Rock n Roll likes to medal a lot. 
     List of medals: 
      1. 5k Ben Franklin runs too medal
      2. 13.1 the half marathon Liberty Bell and market street medal
      3. Remix guitar medal for doing the 5k and 13.1
      4. The Odyssey medal for running Washington, DC, Virginia Beach and Philadelphia 
      5. The Roadie bus for doing 5 Rock n Roll halfs or Fulls this year. 
   That weird sound on my way back to the hostel wasn't the chains from the host of Christmas Past,.. that was the sound of hard work!
     On to the next race. 

      If you want to join me here's a discount code! Let's go earn some heavy medals. 

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