Running in Philadelphia is great fun; eating there, even better. A perennial favorite, The Philadelphia Distance Run, took place on Sunday, 9/20. Next year, the race will be “rebranded” as the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. Even road races are beginning to resemble suburban malls……
The Race Expo takes place at the Philadelphia Convention Center. We listen to a panel of marathon winners (they muse over the concept of luck in racing). I have my picture taken with Catherine (the Great) Ndereba, currently the 7 time winner of the Distance race, an Olympic medalist! The lovely Ms. Ndereba radiates serenity and benevolence.
Kismet! Monica wins a pair of Sir Isaac Newton sneakers (the next, big thing in running). Newton’s are engineered to mimic the advantages of barefoot running. We try the sneakers on and my feet are immediately transformed. I rue my 2 newly purchased pairs of Asics. We find KT Tape in the goodie bag. I try it out and experience immediate relief from a nagging sore knee. Crazy!
We have lunch across the street at the Reading Terminal Market. The market is the heart and soul of Philadelphia; gritty, urbane and comfy with a European flair. So many choices: Amish roast chicken and soft pretzels, Thai salmon, Italian Market cheeses, remarkable breads and hearty turkey sandwiches. We enjoy our Pakistani kabobs while catching up on the world, big and small.
On Sunday morning, Kerry, Kim, Ann and Jill are poised to run their first half marathon. They are at once apprehensive, bubbly, confident and ready. Last minute decisions abound: we mull over iPods, sore knees (I decide to wear my magic tape and feel good throughout the race-and afterwards!) and throw-away clothes.
What is it with the pre-race porta-potty scene? We arrive at the start 45 minutes early and line up. The line is eternal. The wheelchair racers start off. We inch forward. Kerry remains optimistic; line anxiety takes our mind off of pre-race panic. Goal finally accomplished, we enter our corral with seconds to spare.
The day is glorious autumn; sunny with a crystal clear sky. The breeze is crisp and cool. We run past the regal Museum of Art on the Benjamin Franklin parkway, passing fountains, statues and the Rodin Museum. We run into Center City via City Hall (the world’s tallest masonry building) and Independence Park. Finally, we complete an 8 mile loop around the Schuylkill River. The River is sparkly, the color a vibrant blue-green. A welcome change; the race offers Cytomax, less sickly sweet that Gatorade.
Kerry and friends run a terrific race. They decide to document the moment. Kerry has her picture taken with the winner, the extraordinary Ryan Hall. The group induces amiable strangers to take our picture.
A celebration is in order. We stroll (in running clothes!) to the chic brasserie, Parc, in the elegant Rittenhouse Square. The restaurant is breezy and sun filled. The space conjures up Paris. Mercifully (and purposefully?), we are seated outside among fellow Distance runners. The cocktails are exceptional; Kerry and I enjoy one (actually 2!) with lemon and vodka. The food is straightforward, the ingredients impeccable, the company incisive and buoyant.
Time to plan another lunch, I mean run, in Philadelphia!