“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon race as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!”
I traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Rock and Roll Philadelphia run weekend, and I enjoyed myself. I opted to drive from NC up to Philadelphia because I am rather fond of road trips, but due to some mis-scheduling, I ended up having to make this trip all by myself. Wasn’t sure how I was going to handle 7:30-8 hours in the car, but I have made a road trip to Jacksonville, Florida on several occasions in the past (7 hour drive) so I figured I would be ok. I rented a vehicle that turned out to be a Dook blue 2018 Toyota Camry. Loved everything about the car except the color, but I dealt with it. The trip up took almost 8.5 hours due to the dreaded Washington traffic. It never fails that traffic is always backed up in that area and for no apparent reason. My Waze app sent me on a detour so I got to see some of the countryside of PA headed into Philadelphia. Wouldn’t you know it; I arrived in Philadelphia right at their RUSH HOUR. After leaving NC around 8:30, I finally arrived at my hotel around 4:20pm. After resting a few and admiring my view of the Ben Franklin Bridge from my window, I decided to head to the expo. It was a pleasant surprise to find out that my holiday had a free shuttle for guest that takes you anywhere within about a 1.5 mile radius, and the Convention Center (expo) was about a mile away.
First thing I did upon arriving at the expo was head over to the register area. I was signed up for the half marathon, but there was also a 5k that was being run the day before that I had been back n forth about signing up for. Ultimately, I decided to do it. It was a remix weekend so by signing up for the 5K, I guaranteed myself 2 more medals. Let’s face it, we love the bling. I am a bling chaser. If we are being honest, I was a little disappointed in the “expo”. With it being Philadelphia, I was expected lots of vendors, booths, etc., but it wasn’t. There were vendors, but there seemed to be a lack of excitement and vendors seemed confined. The expos for Rock and Roll Raleigh and Virginia Beach were both better than Philly.
The first thing I ate once I got into Philly was….a cheesesteak. I mean, you can’t go to Philadelphia and not try a cheesesteak. A coworker, who is from Philly, told me to check out Reading Terminal. Lucky for me, Reading Terminal was right across the street from where the expo was being held (Pennsylvania Convention Center). I walked in not knowing what to expect, just knowing I wanted a cheesesteak; I was completely overwhelmed. Reading Terminal is like a huge warehouse with nothing but food vendors. There was every different type of food you could want in there, from Asian, to pizza, cheesesteaks and desserts. The desserts looked AMAZING, but I just couldn’t afford to partake of any with the 2 races looming. I settled on a cheesesteak and tater tots from one of the vendors, and it was amazing. I decided to only eat half of it before I called for the shuttle to come back and pick me up. I finished the other half in my hotel room once I got back.
ROCK AND ROLL PHILADELPHIA 5K
Saturday morning welcomed the Rock and Roll Philadelphia 5k. I got up around 4:30, and ended up downstairs at 6am to catch a lyft. Unfortunately the free shuttle didn’t start until 7am, so I couldn’t take advantage of that luxury. I arrived down at the starting line at around 6:30, which came me a little time to look around. The start and finish line were right by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the same museum that Rocky famously ran up its steps during his training in the movie Rocky. There is even a Rocky statue right outside. (Of course I had to run up those steps before I left) The directors for the 5k were very organized, they had everyone in their corrals and the race started exactly at 7am. I had my mind set not to actually race this event, and to use it more as a training run for the Chicago Marathon. The 5k was an out and back along the side of the Schuylkill Channel/River. Beautiful scenic route, although it was more humid than what I envisioned for PA. The route was 95% flat with a small hill leading up to the finish line. I kept a steady pace for the first 2 miles, but I decided to push the tempo a little on the last mile. I finished with a time of 22:58, which was good for 5th place in my age group.
Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
The half marathon began about 100 yards away from where the 5K started the day before, near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. There seemed like close to 10K runners out there, as everyone began their pre-race routines. I think there were a total of 26 corrals, I was settled in comfortably into corral 6. Pre-race I actually ran into a couple IG friends that I had never met in person before, so that is always cool. The race started on time, with what seemed like a 2 minute break between corral starts. I started out pretty steady, I was not expecting for it to be humid in PA. I believe the humidity was around 90%, but I was prepared coming from NC where I had been trying in 95%-98% humidity. The course first takes you down through the downtown area, pass all the famous museums before you turn onto Kelly Drive. Around mile 3, we began to see all the elite runners coming back towards us. I was able to catch a glimpse of Gavin Rupp, and a few other Olympians who were running the race. Kelly Drive takes you down the side of the Schuylkill River and you get to see all of these big expensive boathouses. That stretch is coined “Boathouse Row”. I had never see boathouses that big before. You run along Schuylkill into you reach mile 8, then you cross over the river and head back down the opposite side of the river. The course was 95% flat except for a few inclines and one decent size hill around mile 5. There were a few awesome bands along the backstretch that kept the runners pumped as they prepared to bring it into the finish. I tried my best to refrain from “racing” but I know I increased tempo the last mile. I ended up finishing with a time of 1:51, but my watch had me going 13.4 miles so my half time was probably somewhere around 1:49. Solid time. After finishing, I really had no time to sit too long since I had to be checked out of my hotel by 11am, and I wanted to make sure I got in a shower before driving back. I sat down and enjoyed a few of the finish line goodies, before picking up my remix medal and starting my trek back. My plan was to take an Uber back to the hotel but I neglected to think about one small issue…..I would be sweaty and stinky. Rather than stinking up some poor person’s vehicle, I decided I would just try to speed walk/walk back to my hotel. My navigation said it was about 1.6 miles away. Surprisingly I didn’t get many awkward stares as I was walking through the heart of Philadelphia in my running gear with 2 medals clanging around my neck. I reached my hotel around 10:20, and had time for a good shower before finishing packing and heading downstairs. I had hoped to catch the tail end of the free breakfast but they had already stopped by time I got downstairs. I jumped in my rental and put Philadelphia in my rearview window. Thoroughly enjoyed Philadelphia and I know I will be making a return trip, especially since I have family that leaves right across the bridge in New Jersey. Philadelphia is a nice city and the Rock and Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon is a great race, I would recommend you adding it to your race calendar in the future.