Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Philadelphia: Pre-Race Exploring

Well, hello. There are many things I could catch you up on from the past three weeks but, instead, I'm here to tell you about about Saturday. It was the first of two days spent wandering the city of Philadelphia on foot during my first destination race weekend.

I'll back up and remind you that my training for the Philadelphia Half Marathon was somewhat haphazard. I started in August after riding my bike (and not running) for two months. It took me a long time to build up my mileage as I trained myself to run a new way and transitioned to minimalist shoes. I ran fewer weekly miles than most training plans would probably recommend but I supplemented my running with a lot of cross training: weight lifting, biking, soccer and frisbee. I did a better job than I ever have of foam rolling and stretching during this training schedule, mostly because of how sore my calves often were from the transition.

Philly. via @jbassettphoto

Then my taper was not ideal. The weekend before my race I did my last long run, played soccer, rode my bike 18 miles, and played frisbee; leaving me pretty sore only 6 days before the race. I did get a lot of consistent sleep, I didn't drink caffeine, I ate well, and I drank much water and little alcohol during the final taper week. Mentally, I was so normal, which is completely abnormal for me. Before every other half I've run, I've been a basket-case: full of nerves, blogging about every last thing that could go wrong or right. This time, I barely even thought about the race until Friday afternoon.

Then came Saturday morning. I woke up and I was pumped. Josh and I packed up and hit the road by 10am. We arrived at our hotel a little before 1pm. I wasn't aware when I registered that the hotels in downtown Philly book up on race weekend almost immediately. We were stuck staying by the airport. We grabbed a shuttle from our hotel to the airport and a rail train from the airport to "city center". By the time we arrived, it was after 2pm and we had yet to eat lunch. I was starving and the taper crazies started to set in- I was determined that not eating immediately would cause me to keel over and die during my race the next day. I was getting "hangry". We walked into Jake's Sandwich Board which had rave revues on yelp, to determine that they were "out of bread" and hoped to have more ready in 30 minutes. I wouldn't wait that long so I ducked into the nearby Cosi and ordered a Chicken TBM melt.

I have food in my cheeks.

After lunch, we walked to the expo at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. It was Josh's first race expo and the biggest I'd ever seen. I picked up the necessary goods and bought some neon accessories to keep me warm the next day.

Then I let my photographer lead the way on our walking tour. We went through Chinatown to Independence Square and I had flashbacks of my 5th and 8th grade school trips to this historic city.

When we got there, my legs and feet were feeling tired so I sat in the grass while Josh looked around. I was paranoid about wearing myself out. Like I said, the taper crazies had set in.

We'd both seen the liberty bell and opted out of the long line to see it again. Instead, we walked to the plaza behind Independence Hall and I sat on a bench under the beautiful yellow trees to rest my legs while Josh took pictures. He got a lovely one of me buried in a text message conversation, looking like Cousin It. I was so busy in my phone that I missed the bride he saw stroll through the square.

We went for a walk toward City Hall and came to a block of Christmas lights that reminded me of Little Italy in New York City. We also passed a run-down building with bay windows facing the street that had a lot of potential. One of my dreams in life is to own a home with a giant, sunny window seat so I declared that we should buy the place and fix it up.

We got to City Hall as the sun was setting and walked around it. We referred to yelp for a dinner recommendation and ended up at Zavino, a wine bar also famous for their pizza . It was delicious but a little frustrating to order the most simple pizza on the menu and no alcohol. Destination races are exciting but you can't really enjoy a city to its fullest the night before a half marathon.

After dinner, we walked by a boutique with a love statue ornament in the window so, obviously, we went inside. We wanted many things in this adorable store, Verde, but restrained ourselves and left empty handed. Before boarding the train, we stopped in a CVS for breakfast provisions. They appeared to be out of peanut butter but I found one jar that had rolled behind a stash of crackers. I also grabbed a box of granola bars and the last blue gatorade in the place. Runners love their last-minute peanut butter and gatorade apparently.

An alley spotted on our walk to dinner. via @jbassettphoto

After a long journey back, we arrived at the hotel by 8 PM. I laid out my clothes and was in our king size bed at 8:30. We left the TV on so Josh could watch football and I hoped it would soothe me to sleep on a night that I'd likely be tossing and turning in angst. By some small miracle, I fell asleep almost instantly and slept soundly through the night...

All photos courtesy of Josh Bassett Photography.

1 comment:

  1. love the bride photo!!

    PS - what is "taper" for us non-running idiots?