Race Reports: Fetch & Pounce 5k NJ and Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon

1 10 2017

On September 16 and 17, I ran my 19th half-marathon and completed states number 36 and 37 in the quest to race (any distance) in all 50.  Overall, the experience was okay.  It wasn’t great but it wasn’t bad either.  The races would have been more fun if the temperature was cooler, and the experience would have been more enjoyable if travel back and forth had been easier as well as parking in Philly cheaper.  But I’m glad I did it, and will always remember the weekend.

I flew into Philadelphia and went straight to packet pickup on Friday, got my stuff and then headed towards North New Brunswick NJ after eating an absolutely excellent grass-fed burger at the BurgerFi across from the convention center.  The 60 mile drive in the dark that followed was an adventure in construction, poor signage, unyielding fellow drivers and wrong turns, but eventually I picked up my 5k packet and then found the hotel.

Opening my packets, I found the 5k goody bag to be among the best I have ever received because it contained mostly dog and cat products.  The Fetch & Pounce race is held to benefit the Karma Cat and Zen Dog Rescue Society, and since all of my animals are rescues I was definitely happy to support them.  The race started near a dog park and circled a lovely local nature preserve a couple of times before finishing near the field house.  I had told myself I was going to walk, but then once I got started and it was so hot and sunny out I went ahead and jogged it.  I didn’t want to run all out because I hoped to be preserving my energy for the half marathon the following day.  So my stats are unimpressive but my dogs and cats were happy to see me when I got home with gifts.

Fetch Pounce

Back in Philly, I wanted to get a cheese steak and go to see the Liberty Bell after checking in to that hotel but parking was expensive everywhere downtown and when I decided to go ahead and walk, it started raining.  So I ended up eating Chinese dim sum by the hotel instead and got to bed early.

Like all Rock ‘n’ Roll events, the Philadelphia half marathon was crowded as well as star-studded.  Galen Rupp was running and I happened to see him streak past me as I was shuffling to the start line in my corral.  Of course, I didn’t get my phone out of my sports bra in time to take a picture but at least I laid eyes on someone who is about to be very famous in the world of running.  And, like when I did the same race once as Deena Kastor, I can tell people forever “I ran with Galen Rupp once.”

Philly Runners Take Off

In researching everything I could about this race as we often do when we’re excitedly getting ready to run, I found the words “fast and flat” on the event’s website in no less than five different places.  So in my mind’s eye, I was envisioning myself streaking along towards the horizon leaving my past finishing times in the dust.  Um, it wasn’t really flat though.  Some of it was definitely uphill and some pitched definitely downward but a lot of the time as I was slogging along in the 82 degree heat hoping to find something easier about my journey, I kept finding the road rising ahead of me instead of seeming level.  After the race, I looked up the actual course elevation:

Philly course map

I’m aware the elevation change was not much in terms of feet, but it wasn’t exactly flat either.  Anyway, that’s really my only gripe about the race itself.  It was hot out (but thankfully overcast) and my hope of flatness was continuously dashed step after step after sweaty plodding step.  Course entertainment was great, as always. The course was pleasantly scenic as we wound through various neighborhoods, past the infamously haunted Eastern State Penitentiary and along the Schuylkill River in Fairmount Park.  And the motivational signs were inspiring.


Eventually I crossed the finish line in front of the Rocky Steps, not with the PR from a “fast and flat” course I’d been hoping for, but happy to be done nonetheless.

Philly Finish

So I grabbed a medal, had water and some snacks, then began my walk back to the hotel just as as Big Head Todd and the Monsters were finishing their show as headliners for this race.

This was my third “5k then a half on consecutive days” weekend, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it.  The first time, the 5k was at night and I got to bed late.  The second time was this past summer at high altitude, and I know that slowed me down.  And this time there was the heat.  I guess I’ll keep trying until I get it right because it’s certainly an efficient way to race in two states and only pay for one trip.

Here are the not-so-great numbers that illustrate how I slowed down as I went:

Philly Stats

Philly medal

But that’s the usual story of life at the back of the pack anyway.  I’m always slow, sometimes not-so slow and some times slower than others.  One of these days I’ll surprise everyone and come in under 3 hours in a race that’s not completely downhill.  One of these days for sure.



2 responses

1 10 2017

Congratulations! No matter what your time!

1 10 2017

Thanks! I hope you’re doing well. I look forward to hearing how things are going.

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