April 29, 2012 Yes, I am woefully behind. Don't judge.

After getting into PHL late Friday evening - technically Saturday morning as it was 1 a.m. After picking up a car (had no choice in the matter) I made my way to my host for the evening in a sketchy part of town (no offense Philly).

One little fact about me is that I have this internal compass and sense of direction. Drop me off in the middle of nowhere and I could find my way back to civilization. I was made for the show Survivor or Amazing Race ;).

After taking everything out of the car - including car charger - I was all too happy to fall asleep. It was 2:30 a.m. After a few hours of sleep I was wanting to go refresh with a free yoga class, but my host got busy chatting. He cycled across the states a few years ago so we had plenty to talk about! Then I went to wander around downtown for a bit. I've been to Philadelphia a ton of times but I never tire of exploring! The funny thing was that you could tell I was the tourist as I was the only one wearing shorts! It was colder in Pennsylvania than in Colorado! (I don't consider myself a tourist but an adventurer or road warrior ;)).

I love searching for healthy food options while traveling and although the Reading Terminal is not typically a place that screams "health food," if you dig around you can find fresh veggies! These photos prove it! I bought some fresh blueberries, yellow cherry tomatoes and green beans to munch on while I drove up to Allentown later that day.

I walked around the city (since I missed yoga it felt great to stretch my legs!) and one street I found a graffiti-like wall. The words drew me in. See if you can make them out. Although it was a chilly day, the Rittenhouse Square Farmer's Market was open and of course I had to check it out. Farmer's Markets are a great way to see the surrounding area! I also found a cute vegan-inspired food shop called Pure Fare. Although I am not a 100 percent vegan, I generally look for vegan options as they tend to have more fresh, plant-based food that is also dairy free (I avoid dairy). I got a wheat-berry and beet salad that was full of fresh veggies and some deviled eggs (not vegan) and an avocado chocolate cookie (vegan). YUMMY!  I took my lunch and had a little picnic on the river watching the rowers. It was perfect.

But I had to get my drive on, so I hopped in the car and started making the trek up to Allentown. I arrived at the expo and met some cool people then drove to find my hole-in-the-wall motel for the evening. The kind were you want to sleep with your shoes on :). I was starving so I went over to an out-of-place town center in the middle of nowhere and got a fresh salad where the cashier was like you must really like vegetables! Michele and her husband and baby daughter came over and we talked for a while before we decided we should get some sleep!

Race morning dawned sunny and beautiful. A complete turnaround from yesterday. It would be a great morning to run! I drove to the race start and was excited to help Michele finish her first 13.1 race! We met in the high school gym then made our way to the race start. The race announcer asked the crowd who's first half marathon it was and lots of people cheered. How awesome to see new runners tackling the distance!

The course started on a downhill so it was easy to start out too fast. But once we got on the flat section I made to sure to even our pace out. Since the 12x12 Project is "your race, your pace" I run whatever pace they want. Michele was seeking a sub 2:30 half marathon time and I knew she could do it.

The race course was really beautiful and the water stations friendly. Families were out cheering their loved ones and friends on- always love the parents with sleepy kids in wagons, strollers or backpacks holding signs for mom or dad!

The course had a few hills and I encouraged her to take them slow. It is always best to save your energy for the last few miles. Now I've run a lot of races with crazy elevation (hills) and because I train at altitude I didn't think the course was all that hilly. But I guess it is all subjective, because there were a few runners around us who kept complaining about the hills. People will find a reason to complain (word I would like to use would not be appropriate here) about anything. It was a beautiful day, no rain, not humid...a hill here and there. Hills don't break you- they make you stronger! Moving on now. The course wound by the river and through a red covered bridge. I didn't get a photo because my camera battery died. THEN. A mile later I realized I had my iPhone with me! I really wanted to run back and get a photo of it!

I kept encouraging Michele and she pushed on. Soon we could see and hear the finish line and she was running sprinting on the track toward the finish line. She did it! She just started running in October 2011 so I was incredibly proud of her! I had to rush back to Philly because I had a flight to catch that evening so after a photo I was driving back to get a quick shower before a Sunday afternoon drive. I really wanted a nap.

Made it back to Philly, found something to eat and wandered around the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Row House Row before heading to the airport. Another trip down. May the adventure live on!

Full photos from the weekend can be found here.