It’s funny how I can get hung up on numbers. Weight on a scale. Budget vs. revenue. Running stats. It’s funny to me because I’m a language girl, not a math geek.  But the thing high school math teachers so rarely explain is how numbers tell a story.

So my Philly Half’s numbers look like this:

  • A goal was 2:05
  • B goal was 2:10
  • C goal was to not get upset with myself for not reaching my A goal
  • B-tag results: Net time of 2:09:09
  • runmeter app results: running time of 2:08:18, with 1:15 of “stopped” time with a total run distance of 13.36 miles.

And stories behind these numbers?

Saturday is always a bit chaotic chez Sato–this weekend, the Mister had karate in the city all afternoon, so the plan was that I’d sherpa Thing 2 to a birthday party at 3:30 (for a 4pm arrival), then Things 1 & 3 and I would head to Philly, pick up my race packet, check into the hotel and carb load.  Thing 2 and the Mister would join us later.

All went according to plan, except there was construction all around Philly, causing a bit of worry as to whether or not we’d arrive before the expo closed.  We made it, just barely, but not after I rammed the back of the prius into one of those well-positioned garage pillars, breaking the tail light and scratching up the rear fender.  (and yes, if you’re counting, this is my second “automotive mishap” within one week’s time.  everyone just needs to stop counting. I’m really not that bad a driver).

We made the expo by the skin of our teeth, checked into our hotel, and went to dinner, which was lovely.  I love having a 17 year old and a 9 year old together–the conversation ranged from the reality of unicorns to applied mathematics.

Back at the hotel the Mister & Thing 2 arrived, and I fell asleep.  Or at least tried to. It’s hard to have 5 people share a room. 4am arrived quickly (race organizers recommended arriving by 5am for the enhanced security check).  My hotel arranged travel to the start, and in the lobby at 5am there were nearly 20 of us lined up.

At the venue, we got through security amazingly quickly and then were left to our own devices for nearly 1 hour and 45 minutes. We ate some bananas and then made our way to the porta-john line. Which took hours.  At 7am when the gun went off, I was still 6 people away from the porta-john.  Lucky for me I’m not an elite runner.  Oh, and fun of all fun? As I’m running from the porta-john to the starting line, I get a shout-out: “Paige! I love your blog!” Such a great way to start a race!

Miles 1-3–very crowded.  The weather was mild (52F at the start) and overcast. Absolutely perfect for a run. The Mister and Thing 3 were at mile 3 (in front of our hotel).


Things 1 & 2 were still sleeping.  I didn’t expect anything different. My coach expected me to complete this in 29:00.  My time (according to my app): 28:55

Miles 4-7–this was through the heart of Philly–lots of crowd support. The more of these events I do, the more I realize how much I love running through cities.  Always so interesting… My coach estimated my time at 6M to be 57:30.  My app time: 57:57

Miles 8-10–the climb.  In bits and spurts.  Up a bit, then leveling off, then up some more, culminating in a huge climb between miles 9 and 10. This was tough. It was a park and sparsely peopled.  At 10M, coach had me at 1:36:30, my app had me at 1:36:08

Miles 10-13: this is where I should have made up some ground lost on the hills, but I couldn’t.  First, the roadway narrowed, so when the hill crested and finally started downhill, there was a bit of a loggerjam as people jockeyed for position.  Then at mile 11.5, I felt sick to my stomach.  Don’t know why, and I stopped for a little under a minute. Kept walking, but I think that did me in. My coach had my last 5k at 29:00, but my wheels came off and my last 3.38 miles’ time was upwards of 32 minutes.

I’m gonna be honest–I wanted that 2:05 finish time.  But my official 2:09:09 is PB for me by 06:21. I’ll take it.  I’m left with that same feeling I had after my first half in Phoenix in 2012–I know I can do better.  It’s just hard figuring out how I can practice for my weak spot: miles 10-13.  My next half is in mid-March, in Virginia Beach.  I will definitely have it figured out by then. Sub 2:00–I’m gunning for you!

After the race, the Mister came to pick me up (! nice!), and after a shower and meal, we made our way to the Barnes Foundation.  OMG! If you only have one chance to ever visit any museum ever, choose this one.  If you’re ever going to get to NYC, then set aside one day for a side trip to Philly to see this collection. It’s amazing. It’s amazing because the collector, Albert Barnes, had such a clear vision of what he was trying to do.  You may not agree with it, but it was his vision, and that it’s available for public consumption is truly an amazing gift.  What flabbergasted me was that Dr. Barnes collected 166 Renoirs! 166!

The day finished with Thing 1 taking the wheel of our (newly scratched) prius and getting he and I home safely.  Things 2 and 3 were in the other car with a more experienced driver–the Mister.  While Thing 1 studied and passed his written permit test way back in 2011, he expressed no interest in driving until a few months ago.  And I wasn’t pushing. Last week was his last instructor-led driving lesson.  Somehow I got corralled into letting him drive us out of Center City, Philadelphia to the NJ turnpike and then home.  Let’s just say I’m much grayer now.  But he did a good job.  There are zero new scratches on the car.

So there are numbers.  And there are words. Neither stands alone. Together they make one hell of a great weekend.


  1. Fantastic race-and weekend-report here, Paige! Great going on the PB! And especially glad that you and your family notched up some very fond memories of Philly.

  2. Great report Paige and well done on your PB – 6 minutes is a pretty impressive improvement. Miles 9-12 are my weak spot, but the last half I did after less mileage training ( due to injury, weather, work etc). I found by taking a slow start I did not hit a slump till mile 11- which is a kind of improvement:)
    Anyway I reckon there is something to be said for maybe doing fewer miles but including speed work to give you strength in later stages.but then I am no trainer and my half marathon PB is 2.16 – so I would love to get to 2.10!
    Glad you had a good post race art feat- 166 Renoirs, how lovely !

    • I find with each race more and more variables get thrown into the mix. I agree more speed work is necessary, otherwise it’s nearly impossible to train for those double-digit miles so late in the game.

  3. Congratulations on your PR..that hill is a real killer, it even looks ominous as you wind your way up it! I am the kook who yelled out to you in the porta potty line, realizing a second later it was a little bit creepy! It sounds like you had a great day in Philly overall!

  4. Great job! Glad you had a good time in our fair city (car mishap et al). The Barnes is truly a treasure (although with its share of controversy–it is Philly, after all). We just live a few blocks away from it, but don’t go nearly enough. Where did you have dinner? Maybe next time your in town, we could all share a glass of wine…

    • oh, I’d love that! We ate at Pietro’s–walking distance to our hotel and kid-friendly (plus the concierge was able to get us a reservation for 7pm on the night before the race).

  5. Congrats on the PB. I’m impressed that you walked the Barnes Foundation after a tough 1/2. I would have settled for a brief nap then some refreshment. Haven’t been to the Barnes since it moved from the somewhere around Marion Township. It was tough to get in then, advance reservations etc. Time to check it out again.

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