Sunday, June 14, 2015

2015 Odyssey Half Marathon Race Report

I ran the Odyssey Half Marathon this morning for the third year in a row.  Race reports from previous years:


Left the house around 5:30am and made it to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park by 5:50.  Found parking pretty close to the starting area and headed over.  It was nice arriving with so much time before the start of the race, because I had time to pin on my bib, apply Body Glide, do a warm up jog, stretch, visit the port-a-potties twice, and just sit around people watching.  I also met up with Tom from Who's Up and hung out a bit with him.

I had timed everything for a 7am start - bathroom visit, warmup jog, last bit of water and first Gu - but at 6:55 they announced a 30 minute delay due to runners stuck in traffic.  So it was rather annoying to get myself psyched up to begin and then have to wait more.  It was also supposed to be hot today, and any delay was only going to make for a hotter race.

Months ago I had targeted this race as a PR attempt, but as race day approached, I knew my training wouldn't cut it.  My secondary goal became to beat last year's time (1:33), but when I realized how hot it was going to get, this was scrapped too.

While waiting in my corral for the race to start, a man came up to me and asked if I was the guy who had BQ'd at Philly a few years ago and made a YouTube video about it.  He was ecstatic when I told him it was indeed me, and shook my hand and wished me luck.  It's always flattering to be recognized from the internet, so thank you sir.

At 7:25 we finally set off.  The first two miles absolutely flew by.  I had settled in with the 7:00 min/mile pacer and stuck with him until around mile 9 when he pulled away.  Is there anything more depressing than watching a pace group pull away and not be able to do anything about it?  I ran without a watch during this race, and as the only clocks were at the start, finish and midpoint, I wasn't sure how fast I was going other than following the pacer.

I was drenched in sweat by mile two, and my shoes started squelching around mile 9.  It was just a gross morning.  At mile 10 I saw a woman on the side of the road throwing up.  There was already a man kneeling beside her and a police motorcycle on its way, so I kept moving.

The course meanders around Fairmount for a few miles before veering down to the Schuykill River.  There are some nasty hills in the course, but the nastiest comes at mile 12 with a half mile slog up a cliff face.  Or at least that's what it feels like by then.

I remembered how great it was to finish early last year and have the beer garden almost to myself, and that was the only thing that kept me going this year.  The latter miles felt less like running and more like trudging, much like Boston last April.

When I reached the homestretch, I sprinted like a maniac past two more runners, and could have sworn I saw the clock at 1:33.  I was shocked to have run the same time as last year. But when I checked my official race results later, I saw that my time was actually 1:34:48.  I had finished in 47th place, but was later demoted to 53rd place.  Looks like some faster people started after me.

But no matter.  It was finally time for my favorite part of racing: the post race beer.

Nothing better than beer at 9:30am after racing 13.1.

Sly Fox.  Amazing stuff.
Like last year, I was one of only a handful of runners in the beer garden set up near the finish. We sat at a table in the shade and talked about the race while drinking Sly Fox beer in our new pint glasses.

The beer garden filled up quickly, but I'm happy to report that Sly Fox finally came up with a system to keep up with demand.  No ridiculous lines like years' past.  They were even giving out free refills.

Sly Fox is delicious, by the way.  It took every ounce of will power I had to resist a third beer.  I figured three beers before 9:30 would be pushing it, especially since I had to drive home.

Soon Tom finished, and we sat around talking for awhile.

Despite the snafu at the beginning of the race, the ODDyssey Half Marathon is a seriously great event.  It's well-run, organized, and fun.  And if you like beer after running (and what kind of person are you if you don't), you'll love the beer garden.  Put this on your race calendar, and I'll see you next June.


  1. You know on a good course and a good day you should be able to run a 1:26-1:27 half marathon based on you marathon PR- Joe from FL

    1. Thanks Joe. Yes, that's the dream, to renew my PR in the half sometime soon while I still can. Just a matter of putting in the right training and then lucking out with good race day conditions.


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