2015 Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon Recap

April 2, 2015

Last year I ran the Inaugural Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon.

Image: Philadelphia Love Run Half Marathon

Despite the torrential downpour, I had a strong race and PR’d by 2 minutes (probably fueled by coldness…I am not going to lie..there were tears of “why am I running in the rain/cold”). 


On August 22nd CGI Racing (the lovely team behind The Love Run) opened registration with a discounted price.  If you signed up that day you were entered to win a free registration (the company would refund your money).  I was really hoping I’d win a free bib since they were choosing 25 people every few hours (I did not).  In the end a discounted price was fine with me.

Image: The Love Run Facebook

My good friend Rachel (and Saturday running partner) also signed up for the half and we made plans to run the race together. 

Packet Pickup / Expo 

Cliff and I thought it would be fun to spend an extra day and a half in Philly before the race.  On Friday we both took a half day from work and headed to the City of Brotherly Love after lunch.  Last year packet pickup was held at the Philadelphia Convention Center, which was so so so convenient because it is located in Center City.  This year the packet pickup / expo was held at Citizens Bank Park – home of the Phillies, so we decided to head straight there before checking into the hotel.

We parked by the first base entrance and there was no signage pointing runners to the entrance.  There was also a packet pickup for another race, which made it a little confusing.  Luckily I saw a runner walk by with a Love Run bag and he said I would need to head towards the third base entrance.  Once we arrived there was no shortage of signs.

We went up the escalators where bib pickup was located.

There were no lines when we arrived – I told the volunteer my number and showed him my ID.

We turned around and walked back towards the indoor concourse area to pickup the coffee mug.  A quick photo opt of the ballpark.

Obligatory bib shot. It was so windy/cold out there. 

We went inside to pickup the coffee mug, and were ushered downstairs to pickup the shirt.  I am glad they did not make us circle the concourse.  Here is the loot from the race – clear spike bag (seems to be a trend nowadays), coffee mug (last year it was white), and a long sleeved gender specific technical tee.  Not shown was a Penn Medicine gaiter or buff (like Survivor). 

Around Town 

On Monday I shared some photos from the weekend, here are some more Philly adventures.  Beiler’s in Reading Terminal Market – there were so many sweets to choose from!

We picked out three doughnuts: Oreo, Nutella and French Twist.

A memorial by Tun Tavern and the Benjamin Franklin Bridge in the background.

Another pretty stained glass mosaic from the Philadelphia Magic Gardens.

We met Rachel, her husband and mother for a pre-race sushi dinner.  It was pretty good!

Race Goals (“A” least probable and “C” most probable)

I did not have my usual A, B, and C goals for this race.  Rachel and I had two non-time related goals:

  1. Run the entire race (walk at water stops)
  2. Run up the hill between miles 5/6 without stopping

We knew if we were able to accomplish this and maintained a consistent pace, best times were attainable. I planned on wearing my Garmin to capture splits, but I did not want to look it during the race.

LOVE Run Philadelphia Half Marathon 

After a somewhat restless night (the hotel neighbors were extremely noisy), I woke up around 6:30AM to get dress, drink some water, and eat a Picky Bar.  The temperature was in the high 20s, so I went with a long sleeved tee over a tank (different color yayy).  We met my friends Rachel, Emily, and Nathasha in the lobby around 7:20AM to walk over to the start.

Pre-race photo with Emily, Nathasha and Rachel.  I ended up using the Penn Medicine buff that was in my race bag – it came in handy!

The start was about a mile from our hotel and located in front of the Art Museum.

The course took runners downtown towards City Hall for the first 4 miles.  Then runners headed north along the Schuylkill River (kind of like Rock Creek Park) for the last portion of the race.  The race was pretty flat except for one two hills (I will explain the cross-out later on). 

The race started at 8:00AM, which is always nice when it is cold out.  Everyone was bundled up.  Runners self seeded according to pace. 

The first 3 miles were a breeze – I really enjoyed running through city.  There were tons of potholes, so we had to be careful with our footing.  We were able to see Rachel’s husband, mom, and Cliff at miles 1 and 3.  The way the course is laid out, we would not see them again until the finish.  Below were our splits for the first three miles.  In parentheses are my splits from last year’s race for comparison. 

  • Mile 1: 11:31 (11:22)
  • Mile 2: 11:05 (11:28)
  • Mile 3: 11:19 (11:22)

Below is a view of Benjamin Franklin Parkway – the straightaway for miles 1 and 4.

Like last week, I started getting side stitches around miles 3/4.  Eventually they went away around mile 5.   I did not look at my splits the entire race, but we had an idea of our pace because of the race clocks (we were about 4 minutes behind the start).  Around mile 4 there was a small incline, but I would not call it a hill.  After passing mile 5, we knew the hill was coming.  Rachel and I made it to the top without walking – thanks to Rach for getting me up that one.  Last year I walked!

  • Mile 4: 11:20 (11:30)
  • Mile 5: 11:16 (11:29)
  • Mile 6: 11:25 (12:28)

I was pretty happy with that particular split, a minute improvement from last year.  We were able to recover for the next two miles and there was a nice descent between miles 7 and 8 (really liked the mile 8 split). We were running on a straightaway following mile 8 when I noticed runners were heading up a small hill towards a bridge.

  • Mile 7: 11:12 (11:24)
  • Mile 8: 10:57 (11:14)
  • Mile 9: 12:08 (11:30)

What?!? I thought there was only one hill? I made a rookie mistake and assumed that the course was the same as last year.  When I viewed the 2015 course map I did not notice the changes to miles 9-10 (last year we continued straight).  I was definitely not mentally prepared for this hill and while I did make it up with the help of Rachel, I was spent.  I needed a walk break so I told Rachel she should go ahead. 

Of course what goes up must come down, so there was a nice downhill portion to reach mile 10 and then the turnaround.  I was tired and I wish I was still with Rachel.  For the next few miles it was a bit of struggle-fest, I used the same 2:00/0:30 run/walk intervals I used for Shamrock.  Around mile 11 the 2:30 pacer passed me – bummer!

  • Mile 10: 11:16 (11:25)
  • Mile 11: 11:42 (11:36)
  • Mile 12: 11:58 (11:59)
  • Mile 13: 11:49 (12:12)

As I passed mile 12 there were beautiful views of the Philadelphia skyline.  I could hear the finish line crowds as I approached the museum.  By the time I reached mile 13, I knew I had a PR….and I could see the clock ticking..2:30, 2:31…don’t let it go past 2:32:59 I thought to myself! I tried to pick up my speed, saw Cliff, and finally crossed the finish line.  My Garmin indicated I ran 13.32 miles in 2:32:37 or 11:28min/mile (I know…I know… I did not run the tangents).  

My official finish time was 2:32:25 or 11:37 min/mile, which was a minute PR from last year.  After volunteers handed us our medals and heat sheets we were directed to the food tent where I literally ran into my friend Nathasha as I was texting her.  As you can see bags were already pre-packaged with a banana, PB&J Smuckers sandwich, and Tastykake.  Pretzels, soda and water were also available as we exited the tent. 

Exiting the finisher’s festival – with a nice view of the Art Museum.  The UPS trucks for gear check were located to the right. 

 Another view of the Art Museum. 

Picture with my friend Nathasha, who just ran the Savin Rock Half Marathon in Connecticut the weekend before. 

We found Rachel, who finished with a best time…yayy! Thanks Cliff for bringing my change of clothes. 

The pretty finisher’s medal – with a spinner. 

Final Thoughts 

  • I think I paid $65 for the half during early registration (pretty good considering all the perks in this race).  If you signed up in March the fee was $99. 
  • There was ample parking at Citizens Bank Park, but I wish it was held at Convention Center since we were staying downtown.  There was a dance competition and volleyball tournament that weekend too, which may have been factors in the move. 
  • I liked staying a mile from the start – it is a good warm up and cool down.  Hotels were almost at 100% capacity (ours was), due to all the events that weekend…so it would be a good idea to reserve a room ahead of time. 
  • In addition to all the nice swag (mug, shirt, bag) the first 10,000 runners were also eligible to claim 2 free Phillies tickets at the expo (I did not since I am not a Phillies fan).  
  • One of my favorite half courses – a good mix of city and nature.  Plus it is flat and fast. 
  • There is a nice cool breeze along the river.  
  • Waterstops every other mile (including ones right before the hills).  Volunteers also handed out gels.  
  • Results were updated right away – I pulled up mine during lunch. 
  • Thank goodness for that Penn Medicine buff (not everyone received one).  It kept my ears warm for the first few miles. 
  • Lesson learned – always re-read course maps, even if I ran the course before! 
  • I really really really need to incorporate more hill work. 
  • Work on finishing strong – my splits for the final 3 miles were not that great. 
  • City is small enough to explore over a couple of days, but large enough where there is plenty to see and do. 
  • I didn’t get to visit the Rocky Steps again… next time! 

I think Philadelphia is PR city for me! I would highly recommend this race (especially if you are looking for a fast course).  I am not sure if I will be back next year (there are a few other races I would like to try that are held the same weekend), but I will be back one day! 

Here is my post race lunch – a Turkey BLT on wheat + fries. 

Have you run a race in Philadelphia before?

Hill workouts – any recommendations?  


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      1. Run Jenny Run

        During my summer long runs I would skip the Capitol HILL as well… Just looped around the front and made my way towards the Smithsonian (flat flat flat). Last year I loved the hills, need to do more of them (most likely Meridian Hill for me).

    1. Congrats on the PR! I have never been to Philly and this looks like a great way to see it! There is a hill near my house on the way to Catholic University, I run that one sometimes but WOOF I hate hills! After my last half I found that weights/squats/HIIT to train instead of JUST running made the hills way easier!
      Lindsay T. recently posted…Spring Running ClothesMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Lindsay! Oh if you get a chance Philly is so close (and you can find some good deals on megabus etc). That is good idea to incorporate more weights/squats/HIIT.

    1. Jenny, I love your recaps! This looks like a really fun event and what a beautiful day; of course, I can say that while sitting inside in the warmth, while you all were freezing out there – ha! Your pictures are just beautiful and everything looked really pretty. Sounds like the race was organized well and y’all got some pretty good perks for the cost of the race; I’d definitely pay that much for this race! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and CONGRATULATIONS!
      Tara @ Running ‘N’ Reading recently posted…At the Water’s Edge by Sara GruenMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Tara – I really enjoy reading your recaps as well (my favorite types of posts). I am curious what their other races are like, I’ve read some pretty good reviews. Have a great Friday!

    1. CONGRATULATIONS on your PR! 🙂 Great recap! I really enjoyed the course, too — I felt the same — first few miles went by so fast. The downhill stretches were nice and long. I love your photos! I’ll have to get my recap up soon (but you know me… always a little slow with that. haha). So glad we got to do another race together!
      Nathasha recently posted…7/50 – Connecticut: Savin Rock Half MarathonMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks and congrats to you too! Looking forward to your recap. It is so FUN talking all things running with you haha 🙂 Have a great weekend.

    1. Congrats on the PR! Good point about checking the elevation map even for races you’ve done before. I haven’t spent much time in Philadelphia but I’d love to do a race there at some point. I’m going to have to look for opportunities 🙂
      Chaitali recently posted…Aerial Yoga reviewMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Chaitali! Like DC races any of the halves (RnR, Philly, or LOVE) share similar routes. Hope you get to go there one day 🙂

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Beth! Definitely a favorite race of mine 🙂 Have a great weekend!

    1. Congratulations on your race! It sounded like a great race and I wanted to sign up when the registration fee was low but did not know my work schedule then. But I’m glad I didn’t bc I didn’t end up having off. That medal is so cool. Love the spinner ones. No Phillies? That was one of the main reasons I wanted to run it. Now I gotta pay for tickets this spring.
      lacey@fairytalesandfitness.com recently posted…Things this Runner is doing differently in AprilMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Lacey! Haha I know… I would have given the Phillies tickets away to friends, but you had to choose games during the expo and I had no idea which ones were offered (I thought they would give vouchers at first). Have a good Hot Chocolate race this weekend.

    1. Congrats on your PR! Looks like a beautiful day and much nicer conditions than last year, plus a fun trip overall 🙂 What races are on your list for that same weekend next year?
      Jess recently posted…April 2015 GoalsMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Jess! Usually there is the MCM 17.75K and the B&A Trail Half Marathon. The Publix Savannah Half looks like a good one as well.

    1. Congrats on your PR! I can imagine the excitement of coming up to the finish line & knowing you’re getting a PR! This sounds like an awesome race all around. I love that they had the post-race snacks packaged for everyone!
      Jennifer @ Running on Lentils recently posted…Goals Update: AprilMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks Jenn – it was certainly a nice feeling (I’ve had the opposite when I’ve seen it slip away). One month away until PGH! Excited for you 🙂

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Agreed! I think all the races share similar routes as well. CGI did a great job, one day I would like to run the Perfect 10 – which you have done before. Thanks for the congrats and have a good weekend!

    1. So jealous! I miss Philly so much 🙁 I ran the race last year and I’m so glad to see that you had much better weather this year. It’s actually my current PR race so it holds a special place in my heart!
      Kristen recently posted…Running FavoritesMy Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Aww – I would miss it too. I know you will eventually be back in Philly for the LOVE Run (or other half). I really like the Philly courses. Have a good weekend!

    1. CONGRATS on the PR!!!! You did it!

      I am seriously so jealous of you still having nice cool weather and getting to run half marathons. It’s been really warm here (mid 80s) all week. I know soon it’ll be in the mid 90s so I need to enjoy this weather while it’s still here!
      Kristina @ Blog About Running recently posted…I went for a run!My Profile

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thank you, friend!! Kudos to you for running in the 70s-90s for so many months of the year. I probably seem like a wimp when I start complaining about the 70s + humidity 🙂 Maybe we can run a half together up here one day!

    1. congrats on the PR! I have started hill work as I am not that great at them and also need to get in a bit of work before a hilly half I have in a few weeks. I have just been finding a hill and doing repeats on it. Recording my splits up and then my splits on the way down and trying to get faster with each one.

      1. Run Jenny Run

        Thanks, Juliana! That is a good idea to record the splits going up/down… will need to try that 🙂

    1. Congrats on the PR! That’s a beautiful recap. I hope to run the Philly Love Run one day as my first ever half-marathon. Until then…miles to go!! #puntotallyintended

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