Ready For GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Ready for GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Ready to race! (Phil Hospod)

Cue butterflies in my stomach. The GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon is my goal race. I’m running with Team GORE-TEX.

In my Fall Running Schedule: 13.1, 26.2, and 200, Oh My!, I wrote: “So this is it. I’m racing this one, baby. My time will start with a 1.”

Wow, I’m really good at talking a big game.

After struggling with plantar fasciitis for the last month, my doc has cleared me to run. Forward, march!

Ready For GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Shoes ready!

Ready or Not?

Am I ready to PR? The power-of-positive-thinking answer is: Yes. The honest answer is: I don’t know.

My training has been rough. I missed 5 days of training thanks to the flu. Then another 11 days thanks to the PF and bone spur. Even since going back to running, it’s been touch and go with my foot pain waxing and waning. I don’t feel it at all when I’m walking around or running at an easy pace. But when I put some speed under my legs, I can sometimes feel the ache in my heel.

The longest run I’ve been able to muster since my 13.1-miler at the Fjord Norway Half Marathon on September 5 is 9.3 miles. I ran the Fjord Norway Half Marathon at an easy pace, having hiked 9 miles the day before and collectively run, walked, and hiked 60 miles in 10 days. The race was the grand finale to my run around Norway, and I counted finishing in 2:20:55— having run a rock-steady and unwavering 10:45 pace from start to finish on an undulating course—a major win.

Ready for GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

At Fjord Norway Half Marathon

Then I ran 18 miles in 24 hours at New Balance Reach The Beach Relay two weeks later.

After that the flu struck, along with my foot problems. Those two ailments wiped out a chunk of October; I logged just 9 runs the entire month, the equivalent of 2 weeks of workouts. Whereas I logged 20 workouts in August and 18 in September. I’ve fit in 12 workouts in the last three weeks that I’ve been back to running, with the longest single run being 8.1 miles. I’m used to going into a half-marathon with a 15 to 16-mile long run under my belt. This feels scary. I just haven’t been able to build back up to double digit runs.

On the plus side, I’ve done a lot of back-to-back runs since then, covering anywhere from 10 to 13 miles in 24 hours. Plus, I’ve run more mileage overall than I ever have before. I’ve already surpassed all my annual mileage totals from years prior, and it’s not even December yet. So while my single run endurance isn’t there, my speed and volume are looking good.

My foot is feeling OK, too. I’ve been wearing a night splint for my plantar fasciitis, KT Tape on my foot during longer runs, and got a nice massage to work out the tightness in my calves, along with ice baths for my foot, rolling sessions, and lots of stretching. Is it 100%? No. Does it feel 100% with the KT Tape and all these efforts? Pretty darn close. So I’m going against my nature and choosing to be optimistic.

Ready for GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Been stretching a lot lately.

Here I Come

Considering all of this, I was tempted to say, I’m not going to attempt a PR. But…. I’ve decided to go for it. I’d rather crash and burn knowing I tried than wonder, “What if?”

Why? Two races haunt me. OK, I’m being dramatic. They don’t haunt me, but they were missed opportunities. They were both days were I went out to run a good hard effort and enjoy the race rather than PR. Then, late in the race I realized I was having such a great day that I could have PRed. But it was too late. I’d gone out too slowly and couldn’t make up the time.

At 2012 Tinker Bell Half Marathon I realized I could have easily run a PR if I hadn’t stopped for photos in the early miles. The weather was a perfect 50 degrees, the course was flat and filled with cheerleaders, bands, and other motivators, and I had my super-fast husband running with me for 7 of the 13 miles. It was a recipe for success. I ran 2:15:55, despite stopping for 10+ minutes for photos. My PR at the time was 2:07 and change. I didn’t know I was in such great shape. Had I known, I would have raced that one.

Fast forward to the 2014 GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon. I’d dropped down to the half from the marathon after missing 3 weeks of training thanks to the removal of pre-cancerous mole and resulting sutures. I’d assumed I wasn’t in PR shape because I’d missed so much training. I was wrong. I ran 2:05:46 after knocking out a 4-minute negative split with some miles as fast a 8:37 and 8:49, when my PR pace would have been 9:11 and sub-2 pace 9:09. Do I know that I could have PRed? No. But in retrospect, I wish I’d tried.

Ready for GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Training in NYC

What Would Deena Do?

I’ve decided to take a cue from Deena Kastor and think positively. Instead of focusing on what she didn’t do or didn’t accomplish in training, she says she remembers what she did accomplish. Before big races she says she commits to memory three reasons why she will succeed. So I will do my best to banish all the aforementioned from my thoughts and focus on the positive. Forget three, I’ve got five reasons why I will succeed:

1) I’ve covered more miles in training than ever before in my running career. My running volume speaks volumes.

2) I’ve been nailing my tempo runs, which had been a missing piece of the puzzle in years prior. I know my 9:00 pace. I own my 9:00 pace.

3) The last event I raced (instead of using it as a training or easy run) was the Boston Triathlon in August. I ran an 8:51 pace on my 4.4-mile run to close out the triathlon. That was after pushing for 55 minutes on the swim and the bike for a finish time of 1:33:56. That’s kind of like running 8:51 at the end a 10.5-mile run. By this measure, the McMillan Running Calculator says I can run a 1:58:03 half-marathon at a 9:01 pace.

4) Sure, that was 3 months ago. But a training cycle isn’t just about the last few weeks. It’s a cumulative effort over the course of months. And I came into this fall season with my best base ever. Save these most recent problems, I’ve had almost 7 months of good training and fitness under my belt, going back to May when I returned from my stress fracture. Since returning to racing 5 month ago, I’ve run two half-marathons, two open-water swim races, a triathlon, my first trail race, my first relay, and a 5K and 10K in the same day. Why not a half-marathon PR too?

5) I want this. Sometimes when you want something badly enough, you somehow, just somehow, make it happen.

Ready for GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

Night training

So I’m going for it. I’ve put together a conservative race strategy based on successful half-marathons I’ve run in the past and the particular undulations of the Philly course: go out slow, turn up the heat mid-run, hang on through hilly Mile 8 and Mile 10, then let it fly at the end. We’ll see if I’m able to execute.

I actually feel pretty zen. PR or no PR, Sub-2 or no Sub-2, I’ll feel good as long as I give it my all. My body will tell me what kind of shape I’m in on race day, whether my base and training will pull me through or whether my foot problems will slow me down. Honestly, it’s all good.

Til then…

GORE-TEX gave me free entry into the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon and a pair of GORE-TEX running shoes to train and race in. As always, all opinions and posts are purely my own. For more information, read my Disclosure Policy.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


11 2015

12 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Go for the PR Karla! It sounds like you would regret not trying for it more than you would regret a failed attempt. Best of luck!
    Kristi@BlogforanAverageRunner recently posted..Marathon Recovery DayMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Kristi! You were right! I went for it, I didn’t get the PR, but I fought hard, enjoyed it, and was really happy at the finish. Can’t ask for more than that!

  2. 3

    Hey, Karla! Good luck!!!!

    PR or no PR, have a wonderful race at Philly (with no injuries)!!!!

    I totally get your thinking. At Wineglass I pushed the pace for a 3:50 marathon and ended up at 3:54. If I played it more conservatively I could have possible gotten a time that was 30-60 seconds faster, but I would have always wondered, could I have made 3:50. I pushed it and didn’t make it, but at least I know it wasn’t there for me that day. Regardless I had a great race and I know I have the best race out of me that day.
    Elle recently posted..Post Marathon ThoughtsMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you!! I went for it! Put up a good fight, but melted against some tough wind and tired legs. I really enjoyed the process, though. I’m so glad I went for it. It was a big confidence builder to run strong and fight hard. All in all it was a great race for me!

  3. Pam #

    Have a great race tomorrow Karla. A PR would be awesome, but a strong race would be a fantastic accomplishment too. Most of all have fun and race well!
    Pam recently posted..Friday 5: Favorite Fall DrinksMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you! I didn’t get the PR, but I did have a strong race. Put up a great fight and actually had fun with it. So it was a win for me!

  4. 7

    I saw that you had a good race!! I’m glad you went for it. I think sometimes I’m afraid to go for it and I pysch myself out. Congrats on a good race!!
    Emily recently posted..2015 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas PartyMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you!! I know that I have psyched myself out in the past and I worked really hard to overcome that. This time around my brain put up a great fight, my body and the wind had other ideas. Now I just need my body, my brain, and the weather all working together on the same day!

  5. 9

    Karla, I am glad your race went well! Keep pushing for that PR, I know it is hard to come back from an injury. I just took a week off of my Disney half marathon training because I pushed to hard during a training run and ended up with a hurt knee, intense shin splints, and plantar fasciitis. Everything is healing well now but it is scary to push yourself knowing you may have an extended recovery period again. Be safe and keep running!

    Richie Goff

  6. 11

    Can’t wait to hear about your race! I am the WORST at thinking positively, and definitely struggle to get my mind and body in sync when it comes to PRs/setting time goals. I really do think my mind tends to fail me long before my body does in races. Glad to hear you had a strong race; I hate it when factors beyond our control mess with our plans!
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..Race Recap: New York City MarathonMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I’ve been doing more reading/practicing mental training than I have before and it’s really helped. It’s such a battle!