Category Archives: philadelphia marathon

Selecting a race: best and worst race experiences.

First up, workouts from last week’s Brooklyn Half “training:”

brooklyn half training

Selecting a Race

With a good chunk of races occurring in the fall (especially here in the Northeast), it’s about that time of year to pick a goal race if you haven’t already done so (like myself, whoops – I’ll get to it). Even if you’re not looking for a goal race but just a race in general, there are a few things to consider.

For me, the biggest factors affecting my race experience are:

  • Family/friends/spectators along the course
  • Course route
  • Organization (before, during, and after the race)

It’s these 3 main things that have made my past race experiences either positive or negative.

Best Race Experiences

Chicago Marathon

  • So much about this race felt EASY (not including the running, although, I did have a good day and the running felt great too).

chi marathon

  • Getting to the start line was EASY, finding my family along the course was EASY, it was EASY for my family to see me in THREE(!) different spots and barely travel a few blocks, getting my medal/food/foil was EASY, finding my family after the finish line was EASY. Chicago, you are doing it right.



  • It’s no surprise that Disney puts on great races. Everything is so well organized and free race day transportation makes getting to and from the race simple. While the routes do travel on local highways, they also include multiple character stops and the chance to run through Disney parks before they open. Also, it’s very easy to convince people to go to Disney World so you’ll either have a running buddy or a gang of spectators just for you.

NYC Marathon (2010, 2011, 2014)

  • This race is obviously near and dear to my heart but, I promise, this race is incredible no matter where you are from.

  • It’s my local race so whenever I’m running, I have people to look for throughout all 5 boroughs. I’ve learned as a New Yorker and a 4x NYCM veteran that choosing the ferry for race day transportation is the best option if you enjoy sleeping and not being cold on Staten Island all morning. The course offers amazing views of the city and runs through so many different types of neighborhoods and let’s not forget the spectators who are ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THIS WORLD. Seriously, be prepared to get choked up multiple times during these 26.2 miles.

Worst Race Experiences

Las Vegas Half-Marathon

  • I ran this the first year it became a nighttime race and it was a fiasco from start to finish (and beyond). I’ve since heard that Rock ‘n Roll has improved upon the issues from that first year but my experience was enough to make it so I’ve never run another Rock ‘n Roll race.

vegas half

  • The corrals were not managed properly, the course was not well lit in certain areas, there was a WAIT to cross the finish line (yes, you read that correctly), there were no signs in the finish area, I couldn’t find my family or the buses for a significant amount of time post-race, and I later heard that they ran out of water and medals for those finishing later. Eek.

Philadelphia Marathon

  • The only reason I was calm during the security line nightmare at the Philly Marathon was because it wasn’t a goal race and I knew I had Nicole with me for the entire 26.2 no matter when I crossed the start line.

philadelphia marathon finisher

  • Long line story short, the security line for runners barely moved, many runners missed their start time, and when the race started, it seemed security “gave up” and just started eyeballing and patting down runners as they walked ran through to try and get to the start line.

NYC Marathon

  • Are you confused? Wasn’t this on my list of best race experiences? Well, yes… and I want to put it out there that I truly believe that the NYC Marathon is one of the greatest marathon in the world (I’m only slightly biased, right?), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that can’t be improved.

4:11:09 (9:35 pace) - 13 minute PR

  • NYRR has done a lot to try and improve the finish line/post-race experience but the truth is, it’s still a bit of a mess. You can help yourself out by electing to not check a bag but even then, it’s one of the worst ways to end such an overwhelmingly incredible marathon. The walk out of the park is extremely long and the ponchos aren’t handed out until the very end. In 2014, I was freezing and on the verge of tears by the time I had my poncho and was able to make my way to my family.

I’m still in the process of finding a goal race for this year (and also mulling the idea of not  having a goal race). At this stage in my running game, I find myself getting pickier when it comes to which events I choose to spend my money (and time) on. I see an intense search in my near future.


What have been your best/worst race experiences?

Any race suggestions for me?

Visit Eventbrite for local events (remember my race day factor #1!) or to create your own event, visit Eventbrite’s Event Management page.

Happy running 🙂

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Filed under chicago marathon, half-marathon, ing nyc marathon, marathon, new york city, philadelphia marathon, previous posts, running, walt disney world marathon

Dancin’ in the streets: 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.

It’s been more than 2 weeks since the Philadelphia Marathon so I guess it’s about time to actually write a recap. It’s so easy to let time pass and not get anything down but I want to make sure that this is out there for everyone googling “philadelphia marathon recap” next year. #wealldoit

Even though this was never a goal race and mostly just a training run for January’s Dopey Challenge, I still had a really good day out there. It ended up being my second fastest marathon and my biggest negative split at the marathon distance (3 minutes).

4:21:35 (9:58)

4:21:35 (9:58)

Philadelphia Marathon: The Recap


As my and Nicole’s families were driving into Philly in the morning, it was super convenient that Parking Panda allowed for runners and their families to reserve parking spots near the start/finish lines. We pulled into a lot about a mile from the start line before 6am, knowing we’d have plenty of time to get through security and into our corrals for the 7am start time based on previous runner’s experiences.


We got to the start area and got on the back of a monstrous line. It was pretty obvious within the first few minutes that the line was barely moving and we were not going to make the 7am start. Thankfully this wasn’t a goal race for either of us so our nerves remained pretty calm. As it got colder and windier and the line was still barely moving, I found myself getting more and more frustrated. There are definitely ways to keep things moving efficiently without sacrificing safety.

As it approached 7am, the line really started moving (seemed like security stopped whatever they were doing and just started patting down runners). We decided to make a port-a-potty stop (where I ran into a BC friend on line – BCMB is everywhere!) seeing as though we’d rather start late than have to make a pit stop along the course.

Luckily for us, the start was a little delayed and we ended up making our wave time. This definitely helped as we didn’t have to worry about weaving through slower runners at the beginning.


First 13.1M

The first 13.1 miles of the course are a lot of fun. At one point, I turned to Nicole and said that this is a great half-marathon because the crowd support is fantastic for almost every mile. I had my headphones with me just in case I needed them throughout the marathon but didn’t need to turn them on once. This is where I should probably thank Nicole for listening to me yap for 26.2 miles. Thanks, lady!

running buddies 1

Nicole’s mom had texted her with everyone’s exact location at mile 1 so we were on the lookout for the fams pretty early on. Once we passed them and gave out some quick high-fives, we resumed our conversation, happy that we were going to see them again in less than an hour.

We spotted our fans for the second time somewhere between miles 6 and 7. The crowds here were thick and Nicole only spotted them because her father is tall and stood out. I gave my mom another high-five and kept on running along.

Our family was supposed to then travel to see us around mile 13 so we were looking forward to that. Unfortunately, mile 13 came and went and we didn’t see them. We thought that perhaps it was because they were where the half-marathoners cut off from the full marathon but turns out, they had issues navigating through the finish line set-up and weren’t able to get to where we would be running through. As much of a bummer as this was, there was nothing to do but continue on, knowing that they’d be tracking us and making sure they saw us at the finish line.

These first 13.1 miles were very enjoyable. The course is mostly flat with some hills and the crowd support is fantastic. Nicole and I were keeping a steady pace while chatting up a storm and dancing through every music station. Did you know that some marathons are for racing and some are for dancing? Now you know.

Second 13.1M

The second half of this marathon is really challenging. Yea, it’s a marathon so obviously you expect the second half to be more physically challenging but that wasn’t even the issue here. The second half of the course is mostly an out-and-back, meaning that you spend roughly 6-7 miles looking at runners who are ahead of you. Bleh.

At first, it wasn’t so bad because we were watching the first men and women runners coming down the final stretch and it is incredibly inspiring to cheer for them. But then came the “regular people” who are just really, really fast… and instead of incredibly inspiring, it’s incredibly mentally defeating.

Mile 18-19 was the worst because we were running on one side of the street and saw mile 19 on the other side and were all “Hey! Look at that! The turn-around point isn’t all that far away!”



Anywho, while the out-and-back was rough during this half, I managed to keep a positive attitude throughout. I think I’m definitely more physically and mentally equipped for the marathon distance than I am for smaller distance races.

running buddies 2

I began starting conversations with other runners on the course, shouting things like “We can do hard things!” and counting down the number of minutes left in Netflix episodes. I ran (quite literally) into a former TFK coach, a former TFK teammate, and a gentleman running his 70th marathon on his 70th birthday (BADASS!).

What works best for me in the latter miles of a marathon is breaking these miles down into chunks. The first hurdle I identified to Nicole was mile 20. We just had to get to mile 20. That was our “finish line” for the time being. Then after a “DO YOU HAVE 6 MORE MILES IN YOU?!” scream, I split the remaining miles into 20 minute chunks.

I couldn’t wait to get to mile 24. I needed that mile 24 so badly. And when it came, I nearly burst. I turned to Nicole, “DO YOU HAVE 20 MORE MINUTES IN YOU?!” Not-so-spoiler alert: she did.


Having missed our families at mile 13, we were very concerned we were going to miss them again near the finish line. We had no idea where they were and were starting to worry that we had passed them when we saw the finish line straight ahead. But there they were… literally right next to the finish line. We did some celebrating in front of them before running through the finish. We high-fived, we hugged, I fought back some tears. #marathonemotions

philadelphia marathon finisher

The finish area was very easy to navigate and we were able to get our medals, blankets, food, and drinks without issue. We took some finish line photos that are well, finish line photo fails (link to Nicole’s funny post about these).

It was super easy to find our families and we were walking to the cars within minutes of finishing, albeit slightly slower than the walk earlier that morning.

Philadelphia Marathon: The Review

The Good

  • The course is pretty “easy” as marathon courses go. It is mostly flat with some hills.
  • Parking was extremely easy and efficient and we were able to drive in and out of the city without any issues.
  • The course is spectator-friendly and your fans can see you in multiple locations without moving around too much.
  • The finish line is very organized and finding spectators after the finish was simple.
  • The medals are awesome. They have the Liberty Bell on them and actually ring. Fun!
  • It is the perfect marathon to use for Dopey Challenge training because it falls 6 weeks out, making “training” between Philly and Dopey easy-peasy!

The Not-So-Good

  • The security for runners getting into the start line was a mess. Hopefully they’ll have figured out a better system for next year.
  • The course is by far the most mentally challenging marathon I have ever run (compared to NYC, Chicago, and Disney) because of the out-and-back nature of the second half.
  • Water stations are not always on both sides of the street, creating congestion and unnecessary sideways movement.
  • It’s a late November race which means that you need to be prepared to run in any kind of weather (true for most fall marathons but especially true for late fall).

philadelphia marathon medals

I don’t know that I’d ever run the Philadelphia Marathon again unless I decide to run the Dopey Challenge again (completely possible because I am apparently quite dopey). The timing is truly perfect and my “training” for the Dopey Challenge is even easier than last year.

If anything, I am most likely to run the Philly Half. It’s a great course with lots of crowd support and definitely very spectator-friendly for those who want to see their runner multiple times.

Thanks, Philly, for the 26.2 mile tour.


Next up: 48.6 magical miles. 


Filed under disney, marathon, marathon tips, philadelphia marathon, running

The recap before the recap: 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.

If you follow me on social media, you know the following:

  • The Philadelphia Marathon was this past Sunday
  • I ran it
  • I basically treated the course like a 26.2 mile dance party
Tour Philly on foot: CHECK

Tour Philly on foot: CHECK

This was never a PR race for me. I had no intention of racing this course in the slightest. I did no speed work and was completing 2-3 runs per week, with all weekday runs somewhere between 2 and 4 miles. And somehow, this was still my second fastest marathon. It’s also the second time I negative-split the marathon distance (first time was in Chicago). WOOT WOOT!

What I did during the Philadelphia Marathon:

  • Chat about life and random things with Nicole for 26.2 miles
  • Strike up conversations with other runners along the course
  • High-five as many people as possible
  • Randomly scream out stuff like “We can do hard things!” and “Have you got XX more minutes in ya?!”
  • Literally dance in the streets every time I ran by music

By the numbers:

  • Finish time of 4:21:35 (9:58 pace)
  • First 13.1M in 2:12:06 (10:05), second 13.1M in 2:09:29 (9:53)
    • Negative split of almost a full 3 minutes
  • Runners high of infinity


Stay tuned for a full Philadelphia Marathon recap after the holiday!

I will never feel less guilty about enjoying copious amounts of holiday food 🙂


Filed under marathon, philadelphia marathon

Goals for 2015 Philadelphia Marathon.

Workouts from the second week of Philadelphia Marathon tapering:

philly marathon taper

Goals for this Sunday’s Philadelphia Marathon:

When I originally registered for this marathon, it was just to have a training marathon under my belt by the time the Dopey Challenge rolled around in early January. While that’s still the case and I haven’t been training for this marathon the way I would if this were a goal race, I’d still like to give it my best shot out there on Sunday.

Aiming for THIS happy at the finish line... with a tad more clothing on.

Aiming for THIS happy at the finish line… with a tad more clothing on.

Goal #1: Run the strongest race I have in me

  • This was never a PR marathon for me and I don’t expect to PR on Sunday. I do, however, expect to run the best race I can given my current fitness level. I want to cross that finish line knowing that I gave it my all out there.

Goal #2: Smile for the cameras my loved ones on the sidelines

  • Even if I’m hurting, I want to at least look like I’m having fun when I pass my parents and Justin along the course. If all goes well, I’ll be able to see them at least three times! Yay for spectator-friendly marathon courses!

Goal #3: Smile for the cameras

  • Yea, it’s important to look good for the fam, but it’s what the cameras capture that will be posted for everyone to see. I’m going to spend the rest of the week carb-loading and perfecting my “this hurts so much and I have no energy to smile” smile.

It’s taken me a while to get pumped up for this race but I’m definitely there now.

See ya, Sunday, Philly.

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