Friday, September 26, 2014

Runners Stand. Records Fall - Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia 2014

One of our quests came to an end last weekend. We sat on a plane in late 2010 having completed a total of 9 Rock 'n' Roll events over 5 years and made the decision to race in every location on the tour at least once. At the time, there were 14 locations and we had checked off 4. What we didn't know was that Competitor Group was going to go on an expansion binge that kept us busy for five more years. CGI added locations in Europe and Canada and even more recently, Mexico

Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia is known for being fast and elite athletes from all over the world came in search of national or world records. Americans Deena Kastor, Kara Goucher and Bernard Legat were among the many stars in for the weekend.

This year, Competitor started offering a 5K race on the weekend of the marathons for the chance to earn a "Remix" medal for doing both, similar to the Dumbo Medal we got at Disney a few weeks ago. This was a good way to get used to the timezone change, but it also let us get familiar with the last mile and a half of the course. 

Pre-5K dinner was at Pete's Famous Pizza, whose stromboli's were featured on the Food Network. The meatball version (and the customer service) definitely lived up to the reviews! Dinner was tasty and not as filling as I expected looking at the size. 

I remember when we got really psyched up for a 5K back in the day. This was already Ron's second race this week having done the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge with Clorox on Wednesday. The luster hasn't worn off completely, but we tend to relax our preparation a little more.

Susan broke out a shirt she hand-made back in 2011 when they started adding cities to the tour. We met up with our friend Rick and Rhonda from Nashville.
The start of the 5K and Half Marathon was a short half mile from our hotel. The route took us near a lot of the wonderful fountains in the city.
We ran into a handful of the Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies. Ron is conspicuously absent from the shot because he forgot his Garmin and ran back to the hotel to get it. (Front: Sherry, Drew, Beth, Michelle, Susan. Back: David, Jim, Ted).
The 5K was pretty low key compared to the Half the next day. There were maybe 2000 people in the 5 corrals and it promised to be a crowded, relatively leisurely pace full of pictures.

Beth and Susan probably have all the same pictures on their phones.
The out and back course let us see the battle for first place. And something we rarely get to see was the awards ceremony (because we're usually just finishing or still out on the course).   Bernard Lagat was just 7 seconds off the American Record for the 5K (13:24) and finished second by 2 seconds to his training partner, Kenyan Lawi Lalang. 

Having done the double at Dumbo recently and with Ron wanting to push the Half Marathon the next day, we knew to take it relatively easy. Susan and I had an all out race walk sprint for the last 100 meters that I wish we had on video. The Marathon Foto proofs somehow were able to split up our pictures even though we were right next to each other down the stretch. We finished with a reasonable 35:47, right on pace for a 2:30 Half. 

The short 5K gave us plenty of time to shower, change and even take a quick nap before lunch. We met up with Kevin and Joe at the Expo before heading off to do some exploring downtown.

The two most decorated Rock 'n' Roll Marathoners. Joe Harris (92 races including RNR Philly), Kevin Gonzales (75). Susan and I pale in comparison with 51 and 50.
A quick lunch at the Reading Terminal Market. This is a great touristy stop with total sensory overload and lots of good choices. We went back after the Half for cheesesteak and our usual multiple desserts.

A photo op with a lot of crazy Fanatics and Maniacs
(Back: Nicole, Rocky, Tawni, Tammi, Rhonda. Front: Ron, Kevin, Susan, Rick)
I have no idea why I look so serious here. It seemed like the right thing to do. The Libery Bell history was fascinating. Independence Hall is seen in the background. 
Of course, we had to take a picture at Love Park on the way to dinner. It was a little tough knowing that my 30 year High School reunion was going on that night close to home. Thanks to Facebook, I got a lot of updates. 
Dinner at Fratelli's was actually quite good once we got the waiter changed out. Let's just say Brotherly Love wasn't high on his list of qualities, but the manager made it right. We even scored a few boxes of Power Bar wafer bars because the vendors at the table next to us had extras that they didn't want to lug home. Win!

Our hotel balcony had a great view of the starting area. While the weather was supposed to start muggy and in the 70's, we caught a break with the overcast. It held through most of the race.

Quick group selfie pic before the starting line. Ron started warming up a little more seriously since he was going to pace with Kevin, a notoriously fast starter.

This was Kevin's 4th Rock Idol, earned after finishing 10 Rock 'n' Roll races in a calendar year. Those of you who know Kevin will appreciate that I got him to crack a real smile.
Susan had an interesting observation. We were assigned corral 18 by virtue of our projected 2:25 finish time. I moved up to start with Kevin in corral 9 and Susan started with Rick and Rhonda in corral 13. Back in our assigned corral, we usually end up being passed by one or two corrals in the first two miles, stay in step with most people in the middle miles but then pass a LOT of people in the last 5K. As walkers, we keep a consistent pace while most of the folks in corral 18 are Galloway run/walkers who seem to  do a lower run/walk ratio in the back half.  In corral 9 - 13, we easily kept pace with the folks in the later of the race. Towards the end of the race, these earlier corrals tend to walk less and run more overall as compared to the runners in corral 18, and at no time did we feel like were were clogging up the course. Something to note if you're looking for others to support you at your overall pace.

Kevin and Ron started with a 10 minute mile and kept a good 11:05 average for the first half until Kevin's hip started acting up at the turn on the bridge. Kevin encouraged Ron to go ahead and Ron finished with a 2:27:34, getting closer to his 2014 goal of walking 5 sub-2:30 half marathons. The time is also an age-graded 60.61%, comparable to running a 1:47:43 half. (I'll take it!). Susan finished a relaxed race in the mid-2:30's which put this race in her top 10 finishes also.

And the elites?  Deena Kastor broke the WORLD Master's Record for the half marathon at 1:09:35, a full 20 seconds faster than the previous record. She also set records for several of the split times (5K, 10K and maybe the 10 mile). Kara Goucher was working her way back from an injury and hit her goal time with a 1:11:40.

We have six more Rock 'n' Roll events left in 2014 and if all goes well, we will earn a spot in the Heavy Medals Hall of Fame. I really hope my suitcase can handle all the bling!


Rock n Roll Philadelphia was originally the Philadelphia Distance Run, established in 1978 and acquired by Competitor Group in 2010. According to the cool digital event guide, there are an amazing 26 legacy runners who have raced in all 37 years of the event. There were 15,580 finishers in the Half (median finish time of 2:13 which make this a faster than usual RNR race) and 1,805 finishers for the 5K (median finish time of 31:40).  The total weekend numbers were down from 2013 where there were 18,137 finishers for the half. This was the first year the 5K was offered.

The 2014 course starts on Benjamin Franklin Drive south of Eakins Oval, heads south to make a loop around City Hall before heading back north to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. It then heads north along the Schuykill River, crossing over the Falls Bridge before returning along the other side of the river. The finish line is at the Museum at the Rocky Steps.  Temperatures started in the high 60s and climbed into the mid 70's by the end of the race. Quite a few of our friends were feeling the humidity in the last 5K.
We've now visited every location on the North American Tour at least once. We are signed up for Rock 'n' Roll Vancouver in late October and are contemplating Rock 'n' Roll Mexico City next March (the day after Rock 'n' Roll DC. Urk.). We have NOT been able to get to any of the European locations yet, but feel good about staying ahead of at least one continent!

2006: San Diego
2008: Arizona
2009: San Jose, Las Vegas
2010: New Orleans*, Seattle, Chicago
2011: Dallas, Nashville, Providence*^, Virginia Beach, Savannah*, Miami Beach*^
2012: Pasadena*^, Washington DC, Portland*, Denver, Los Angeles
2013: St. Petersburg^, San Francisco*, Montreal*, Cleveland*^, Brooklyln^, St. Louis, San Antonio
2014: Raleigh*, Philadelphia. Vancouver* in October

*Inaugural event
^Race discontinued.
We also signed up for Palm Desert, Lexington, and Pittsburgh, locations that were announced, but cancelled before the inaugural race.

We haven't signed up for RNR Philadelphia 2015, but liked the event enough to put on our priority list for future years.

No comments:

Post a Comment