Philadelphia Half Marathon Race Recap

Feeling pretty bummed out today. Not only did I not PR, but I ran my slowest time for a half marathon. But not all races can be PRs and the best race ever right?

This one might be long, but here are the bullet points in case you don’t want to read ;)

  • Finished in 2:12. 3 minutes slower than my PR.
  • Felt great until around mile 7. My legs just started feeling heavy. Put in my headphones (First time I’ve ran a half with music).
  • Lots of weaving and sudden stopping due to narrow roads.
  • Feeling bad that I held my mom back and she probably could have PRed but decided to stay with me.
  • I probably wouldn’t run this race again due to how packed it was the entire 13.1 miles.

Alright, let’s get into the details.

The race started at 7am, which meant we had to be up at 4:45 to leave the hotel by 5:15. We stayed on the NJ side, about 15 minutes out. I didn’t get much sleep because my dad snores so much, but I knew that wouldn’t affect me much since the sleep you get the week leading up to it is the most important. So we got up at 4:45, got dressed, ate our oatmeal and drank our coffee, and were ready to go!


A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on

We got to the start area around 5:45, and went to the lines for the port-a-johns. This is one of my few complaints I have about this race. There were a lot of them, but signs said to form one line in front of each one. This meant there was a HUGE line of people waiting, and it wasn’t moving. I like how NYRR has just a few lines that go to multiple port-a-johns, so that if some are faster than others, you have a few options, as opposed to waiting for just one. This just really annoyed me.

We waited in that line from around 6:10 until 7:00 when the race started. The gun went off and we were still in the line. As we finished though, we saw our corral color was running by, so we just hopped in (we were in the line for corrals ahead of ours). The timing was fine, but I think there could be a better system for that.

Anyway, we crossed the finish and of course as I cross my Garmin screen goes back to the main screen as opposed to the timer screen. So I had to reconnect to GPS etc. once I started running, so I figured it would be a minute off the whole way. Who wants to do math while they’re running 13.1 miles?! :) I think I might have gone out too fast, because around mile 3 I was like “Hmm…did I go out to fast?” So yeah I probably did haha. But I really did feel fine until mile 7. I actually ran a 10K PR on the course! 1:01.

I don’t know my splits or anything since my watch was all weird, but the course was decent. There was one long stretch around mile 5-6ish where the road got really narrow and it was hard to run. A lot of people were hopping up on the sidewalks to run. The upside was that on that same road it was like running through a tunnel of people. Since it was narrow, the spectators were right on top of you, which did pump me up when I was starting to feel the fatigue.

Around mile 7ish we hit our first hill. I felt fine going up that one. Around mile 8-9ish, the second hill came in. This one was longer and a bit steeper…and also where I walked for the first time. I ran about halfway and just wanted to take a short 30 second break. My mom was ahead of me but stayed back and I told her to run ahead. She didn’t want to. So we kept going along.

At mile 11, “Work B*tch” came on, which is my motivational running song, so I thought to myself ok LET’S GO! ONLY 2 MORE MILES! I tried to speed up during the chorus of the song and easy run during the other parts, because my legs had just about had it.

Mile 12 I was done. My PR was way out the window and I honestly had a moment of thinking “What’s the point? I can just run/walk now since I’m going to get my worst time anyway.” I told my mom to just go on without me, that she might be able to get close to our PR time if she went. She said okay.  She left and I thought, no you know what, I WILL run this last mile as fast as I can and finish strong. I picked the 4:15 marathon pace group ahead of me as my target and tried to catch them. Who knows how fast I was actually running at that point haha. I didn’t see a Mile 13 sign so I had no idea how far I had left, but there was a huge crowd and I heard the announcer so I just ran it in as fast as I could. I passed a lot of people in that final stretch which felt good. I finished only 30 seconds behind my mom. I was sure glad that was over with!


A photo posted by pattyrivas13 (@pattyrivas13) on

How I’m Feeling

It just really sucks when you train for months for something and feel like you blew it. Last night I was searching for other half marathons coming up to see if I could find one and try again. I did find one in Brooklyn but I’m having a holiday party that day so it just wouldn’t be possible.

I’m running a 1 mile race this weekend, and a 5K on Dec. 6. If I can at least hit a PR for those and end the season on that note, I’ll be more happy.

What frustrates me is that nothing hurt while I was running. My legs just weren’t going anywhere. I don’t know if maybe I didn’t eat enough the day before or morning of? Who knows. I also feel bad that I held my mom back.

What I’ve been telling myself is that although this race didn’t go as planned, I have dropped my 5K time significantly since I started training. I haven’t ran a sub 28 minute 5K in about 3 years, and a few weeks ago I ran 26:46. So I’m getting closer to that PR. A big thanks to Coach Marc for helping me improve on that, and have a great training season!

I’m just feeling bummed. I really wish I could run another half. I also just wasn’t a huge fan of this race due to how packed it was. My knees are pretty sore and I feel like the constant stopping and running around people might have to do with it. Who knows. But I do know that I want my next spring half to be a smaller field. I was originally thinking RnR DC but will probably find a smaller race.

But I’m happy my dad and my mom’s friend’s family (who also ran) were there to watch. It was a fun weekend, and my dad was really excited to post his pictures of him running up the stairs of the museum like Rocky lol.

The night before we bought this doll thing with a long stick? Not sure exactly what it is but it helped my mom and I spot him as we ran by since who else is holding up something like that.

Philly Half
He always comes to our big races to cheer us on, even if he only sees us for probably a minute total :) Oh and here are the shirts we wore. I had talked about these in a previous post, and some of you wanted to see what the final product would look like. We used double sided velcro as opposed to pins, and we got a lot of compliments!

Philadelphia Half Marathon

So that’s that. I’d love to hear some advice from you.

Have you felt upset after a big race? How did you deal with it? Did you run a “redemption race?”


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  1. meh, sorry it wasn’t your day. sometimes that happens and it’s SO frustrating. i totally get it. it’s too bad there’s not another half soon that works for you. at least you have a couple of races on the horizon. AND you finished strong, which is always awesome!
    Courtney @ Eat Pray Run DC recently posted…Pure Barre ReviewMy Profile

    • Thanks Courtney! Yeah it sucks and I wish I could do another half but then I really think about it and think about if it’s worth putting my body through that again so soon after this one, and what would I feel if I did the same or worse. so idk. But you’re right, I’ve got a few more races to go and will focus on trying my best at those!

  2. Sorry about not making your PR, I totally know that feeling and how disappointing it can be. But remember, you still finished a half-marathon which is a great accomplishment in itself and not every race can be a PR. Keep your head high, you are amazing!

    • Thanks so much Jen! I know I keep trying to tell myself not every race can be a PR or even a good race. There will be bad days. And you’re right, I am also telling myself, hey I finished 13.1 miles feeling pretty decent! Thanks for that reminder :)

  3. I’m sorry that you didn’t have the race you wanted. I had a season of that and have definitely looked for redemption races before. That’s the thing about racing that is hard to accept. Some times things just don’t go your way on race day regardless of how you prepared. You’ll get that new PR just wasn’t your day.
    Gianna @ Run, Lift, Repeat recently posted…A Week of Highs and LowsMy Profile

  4. I am sorry that yo had a bum race. I know what it is like to train for something, only to have it feel like everything was just off at the big moment (thus why I haven’t competed in a long time). I think that you have to remember (as trite as it always sounds) that this was just a finale, and though it was a bit anticlimactic, that doesn’t take away anything from the entire production. Find something to be proud of, in the midst of it all, regardless.
    Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…You know Susie is Sick when…. Weekend Recap and #mimmMy Profile

  5. Aw, I’m so sorry your race didn’t work out as planned! Try not to be so hard on yourself! It’s awesome that you and your mom are able to run together. I actually ran the Philly Half a couple of years ago and I was horribly undertrained… was my personal worst. But I just used it as a learning experience and was thankful for the very supportive crowd that kept me going! I hope you get that PR before the end of the year to boost your spirits! You still did a great job!
    Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…Weekly Recap: Philly Marathon and DC RunningMy Profile

  6. Sorry to hear your race did not go as plan – especially when nothing is hurting. It is nice that you were able to run with your mom and that your dad was there as part of the family cheering squad. I love the picture of the three of you and that green face on the stick is pretty funny!
    Jennfier recently posted…Charleston Half Training 11/17-11/23 – Week 3My Profile

    • lol the green head stick thing we found at a dollar store the night before. He was looking for something that he could hold up to make him stand out…mission accomplished! (no really what is that thing anyway??)

  7. I am sorry you didn’t PR but your time is still a good time. We can’t all get PRs every race. I’ve had races where I’ve trained and then get super bummed when I don’t PR. Now a days as long as I gave it my all then I am satisfied. My times range anywhere from 1:45 to 2:27. Funny thing is that my absolute favorite race happened to be my worst time.
    Daisy @ Fit Wanderlust Runner recently posted…Tips For Running At NightMy Profile

  8. I am sorry you didn’t do as well as you wanted to but to quote T.Swift “shake it off”, there are more races out there and you will do better next time. You can’t win them all! Focus on the positive like spending time with family and running a half marathon with your mom!

    • I love this! I will shake it off and try again in the spring :) You’re right, you can’t PR every race, and I know that…I guess it’s hard to swallow for a race that takes months to train for. 5K is easier since it’s like, oh whatever I’ll run another one in like 2 weeks. If only you could do that with a half!

  9. No matter what, you should be proud of yourself for even the ability to run that distance and finish. I truly think its amazing and am so in awe of every runner and every race story I read. I just went on a run Monday night for the first time in 10 years. 1 mile. All I know is I want to keep practicing now and one day do a race like this. Simplely amazing no matter what! XOXO

  10. Awwww that sounds like a tough race, but you did a great job! The course was crowded so that’s probably the main reason you didn’t PR. I still think you had an awesome finishing time, and it’s really great that your 5k times are going down! I need to work on that :)
    Kristen recently posted…So Thankful To Be A RunnerMy Profile

  11. I have a hard time accepting that I can’t/won’t PR at every race. I know I could have run faster at NY a few weeks ago but the circumstances were not ideal. I now feel like I want to redeem myself in a way. But you worked so hard and do have success to show from it with your 5k time! The bad runs make the good ones feel great.
    Emily @ My Healthyish Life recently posted…Let’s ChatMy Profile

  12. I was a little disappointed in my time as it was more than 5 minutes slower than a PR last year, but I try not to put too much emphasis on PR’ing every race, it’s just not going to happen. Those hills were killer though, and even though it was definitely crowded I definitely prefer a bigger race. (although if I’m completely honest I had a free weekend in December to do a half, I totally would try to redeem myself). Good job overall and also congrats to you mom too!!
    Dietitian Jess recently posted…Turkey Day Workout My Profile

    • Thank you!! We will redeem ourselves in the spring hopefully. You’re right- I prefer bigger races too. I like the crowds of spectators…just not the crowds of runners :)

  13. Hey Patty.
    First off ,congrats on your 1/2 Marathon finish (y)
    Ya know, I look at a Finish and a Finishers Medal as a win. Things can always
    go way worse then that :) I’ve had some fast times and also some not so fast
    either. Like waaayyyy off my pr. lol. And ya know what. it’s how you come back.
    Come back at just Ace your next Half. Run lots :) A recent article in Runners
    World stated ” those who run the most run faster”. Elite runners or otherwise.
    High millage = faster races. Not faster training runs. Take care Patty.
    Jerome Gerrior recently posted…Jerome Gerrior Running / RacingMy Profile

    • Thanks for the kind words Jerome! I have been reading up on how to get faster and everywhere I look it says to run more miles. Going to try to do that – it just obviously takes up more time! But you gotta do what you gotta do. And you’re right – it could have been way worse. If I had not finished at all I would have been really pissed. I am happy I was able to run 13.1 miles – that’s an accomplishment in and of itself!

  14. I can totally understand feeling disappointed. I felt the same after running the NYC Half earlier this year – felt like I trained well and felt good going into the race but then my legs just didn’t want to cooperate on race day. While yes, rationally we know that it happens it still hurts and that’s OK. I agree that the race was super crowded especially in the first 7 miles or so, it was hard to get into a comfortable pace. And that bathroom lines!! I almost missed my start because I was still in line. Congrats on all your hard work and congrats to your mom too.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted…12 Days Of Christmas Kettlebell WorkoutMy Profile

    • The bathroom lines were the worst! I think that was so poorly organized. Why is there only one line for each bathroom. I don’t get it. But yeah, I was disappointed – now some of it has gone away. Though I do feel a twinge of it come back whenever I see that medal!


  1. […] crowds and am scared another race just won’t compare. Though, at the same time, I ran the Philly Half in November which was a bigger race and kind of regretted it. It was packed on the course which can […]

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