The ODDyssey Half Marathon: Race Review

Why hello there! It’s a gloomy Tuesday here in Washington, DC, but I am hoping that a storm will help kill off some of the current humidity. Living in a swamp is no fun.

 

Sunday morning I was up bright and early around 5:20am. The night before, I laid out everything I needed:

  • Tutu (number one necessity)
  • Sneakers
  • Shorts
  • Tank
  • Socks
  • Kinesio tape
  • IT band support band
  • Garmin watch
  • iPod shuffle with headphones
  • Trendy fanny pack
  • Items for fanny pack: Black Cherry Clif Shots, Cold medicine, extra socks

After I got dressed and gathered all my belongings, I quickly ate a banana with some peanut butter, and then off we went! Vroom vroom!BpmtJ7CCcAAxaPX

This was my ride to the race. Just kidding. My lovely brother and the Beer Beard (Chris) drove me to the race. A giant thank you once again to two of my favorite supporters.

There weren’t many parking spots left, so Chris and Timbo dropped me off about a half mile from the race. I visited the porta potties immediately. The lines were long, but they went pretty fast. If I haven’t told you before, my number one race fear is having to go to the bathroom during the race. After getting through the long lines, I headed to the start line, which was right outside the Please Touch Museum. The ODDyssey Half Marathon is a much smaller race than the Rock’N’Roll series races, so there were not any numbered corrals. While the corrals were definitely necessary in the Rock’N’Roll, they weren’t necessary with only 3,500 people, so I am glad that they didn’t have them. I didn’t feel the pressure to stand in a certain area or the anxiety that I was standing in a corral that was too fast or too slow. This also worked out well for me because I stood behind a group of ladies who were wearing leis and they gave me one to wear, too! 🙂

IMG_5755The race started a couple minutes late–at 7:03 instead of right at 7–but there were so few people that I still got over the start line by 7:05. So at 7:05 I was out of the gate and moving my little legs. During my Rock’N’Roll half, I essentially sprinted the first 3 miles. By 24 minutes in I had completed a 5K. I knew that I should control that a little more this time, so I kept my pace around 9:30 minutes/mile. I felt good at that pace.

And then, at mile one, my IT band started to nag me. I knew this wasn’t good news. I was really hoping the tape job and support band would get me through the race, but it didn’t look like they were going to be much help at all. For the first six miles, I distracted myself with the random music I found on my brother’s iPod. Since it was a shuffle, I had no idea what song would come on because there’s no screen on those. Around mile 4 or 5 I was really struggling. My left knee hurt with every step. Then, a song came on that changed things around for me a bit. All of a sudden I heard the lyric “in a mile you’ll be feeling fine,” and I just kept repeating that to myself in my head. In a mile you’ll be feeling fine, Abby. In a mile you’ll be feeling fine. (The song was Son’s Gonna Rise by Citizen Cope.) At mile six, the iPod lost all it’s juice and I was left music-less. At first I was bummed, but then I realized this was the perfect time to work on my mental game. By mile 7, my right IT band started to act up as well. I kept alternating which leg the support band was on, but for the majority of time I just held it in my hand because I didn’t think it was doing much. I’m sure it will work much better as a preventive measure–I think I was just already outta luck this time and my IT bands were already too mad at me to be controlled by a support band.

The course was beautiful–I tried to look around as much as possible. We crossed two bridges and each time the view over the Schuylkill River was breathtaking. We ran through Fairmount Park, which has some great running trails, a ton of huge, beautiful trees, and a great riverside view. Despite the beauty of the park, I still missed the crowds that amount while running through a city. It’s a different experience, and I appreciate them both the same, however, I find it a little easier to keep on keeping on when the streets are filled with people with funny sounds and noisemakers. I think that as I run more races I will get more used to different types of courses. Eventually, I hope I’ll be able to really enjoy a less crowded course and not need the sideline motivation as much.

Grumpy cat confession.

One of my favorite parts of the race was that every couple miles there was a different game to play–giant jenga, beanbag toss, etc. I didn’t stop for any of them because I was already going slow enough and it actually hurt to stop and start again more than it hurt to just keep on going, but it still made me smile to see runners take a quick break to play a game. My FAVORITE favorite part of the race was that, though it was filled with serious runners, it was also filled with funny costumes. I saw a man dressed as a giraffe, two people running in sumo wrestler blow-up costumes, ninja turtles, batGIRL, one man juggling AS he ran, and so much more. It was such an awesome environment–I think I would definitely do it again. I myself wore a tutu, as you know 🙂

Another part of the race that I actually ended up liking was the fact that there was an INSANE HILL at mile TWELVE of the race. Yes, mile 12. As I was running it I thought “this is so cruel!!” and “whoever placed this here has never run an inch,” but after the race I really appreciated it. ODDyssey half marathon is a race with serious fun, but it is also a race for a serious RUN. Life doesn’t stop throwing you curveballs and hills just because you’ve already had some tough times in your life…and this race mimicked that. The course had some small inclines and hills earlier on, but that didn’t mean they weren’t going to throw a last minute HUGE hill in our faces, right?

This hill was just as bad if not worse than the huge hill in my first half, but somehow it was easier to tackle and I think that was because it was near the end. Because I think that, instead of saying “okay, finish this hill and you are halfway done,” I was saying “okay, finish this hill and you are DONE.” Plus, when I got to the top of the hill, guess who was there? MY MAMA!!!! I was so happy to see her. When she saw me coming up to the finish line, she started jumping up and down and waving a huge sign. The sign was a large version of the picture below (hellooooo senior year of college!) with the words ‘RUN ABBY RUN’ at the bottom. She’s the best!

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I had a bunch of supporters at this race and I am so happy to have such great people in my life, who get up early and watch a bunch of people they don’t know trot by in weird costumes just so they can catch a glimpse of me limping running for two seconds. Keepers.

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The medal was awesome as well. I think it’s awesome that it is shaped like the Liberty Bell and can be turned into a bottle opener. I guess I am a bling runner.

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After the race, we all went to brunch. On the way to brunch I captured a great pic of the Philly skyline peeking through the trees (I TOLD YOU I LIKE SKYLINES!).

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Brunch consisted of the perfect post-race fuel:

  • Grilled cheese
  • Pastries (they gave our table extra because I ran a race!)
  • Orange juice
  • Coffee
  • Water

Thanks, Tavern 17!

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Overall, I have great things to say about the ODDyssey Half Marathon. The course was beautiful, the staff was great, the ambiance was perfect (maybe that’s just Philly?) and I am all about things that have a main priority of ‘fun.’ I think I may run it next year!

I am excited to run again (which is saying something after a hard race)….I just need to rehab these IT bands first!

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