A Friend Who Inspires. Lessons & Thoughts from Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia


Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia Sponsored by Brooks Running

This past weekend I went to Philly for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon. I packed my Brooks running shoes and my favorite tights. I brought my go-to sports bra, best water bottle, and deodorant. I made sure the fridge was packed with yummy things for Garrett.

I was prepared. 

At mile one, I stood by a lady with a cowbell the size of my camera. Near mile three, I posted up next to a couple with a blowhorn and a family that had five signs. At mile four, I cheered beside a man in a lawn chair; three husbands with strollers; and a very tired looking woman holding not one, but two cups of coffee.

This was Alice’s first half marathon and Kat’s second. The race started in a layer of wet fog that clung to the tops of the buildings and settled on the wisps of my hair. It was my first trip to Philadelphia. The first time I witnessed a race. My first time standing at the finish line as weary souls came wobbly-kneed to a stop, water streaming from their bodies, turning the pavement at their feet a deep black.

Alice and Kat came through, dazed and dehydrated, their medals hanging heavy around their necks. If you ever want to feel inspired to work harder, to set goals and go after them — to be the beast of your own life — find a friend who is training for her first half marathon. Crush a box of donuts with her after a training run. Help her eat all the tacos. Give her plenty of space to foam roll.

girl friends

She’ll be tired. She’ll be sore. She’ll need to go to PT and to sleep and she’ll desperately miss basketball. And she’ll keep going. She’ll keep pushing and it will be painfully beautiful and you’ll find yourself pushing further too, doing more — making more out of your own day because if she can run 30-plus miles in a week, you can fit in a minimum of a 30-minute workout.

Thank you Alice. Thank you for letting me share in that with you. Thank you for being a constant inspiration.

Things I Learned About Marathons

  • I am definitely not a runner. (Though, I secretly want to walk a half marathon. Maybe a 2019 goal for when Alice runs next year?!?!)
  • Training requires beast-mode mental strength and induces teenage boy hunger.
  • The shoes you wear matter. (Brooks makes a darn fine running shoe.)
  • Cowbells are the preferred instrument for cheering.
  • Taking pictures during the race is hard. (I shot in Shutter-Priority, which helped. But it’s just so hard to find your friends before they’re running right past you!)
  • If your friends are running, they are easiest to spot in bright colors. (Pink is good. Orange would be better.)
  • Pre-race grubbing is best done with friends.
  • If you run, bring a change of shoes and socks for after the race.
  • Post-race cooldowns should definitely include cocktails, monuments, and pictures.

Brooks Gear: Top Picks (and a quick why I love Brooks, despite my early skepticism)

I probably never would have bought Brooks anything. Brooks was for runners and old people. It wasn’t for basketball players or has been basketball players or girls with really big butts.

I am a Brooks convert.

Brooks Fiona Sports Bra

It began innocently enough. Alice started working at Brooks. She brought over a few sample tights from five or six seasons ago. I tried them on, a healthy dose of skepticism coursing through my veins. It was love at first squat. The rest is history.

The following are my currently available favorites:

Greenlight Tight

The first pants I lucked into are no longer being sold. (They’re reversible and sooo flattering #hinthint.) But a few weeks ago, I bought a pair of Greenlight Tights. Within 30 minutes of finishing my first workout, I ordered another pair. The pants stay in all the right places. They slim and smooth problem areas. And, they hug the hips without causing extensive muffin-topping.

FineForm Sport Bra

Working out isn’t about being ‘sexy.’ (At least, to me.) Working out is about being supported and being able to move comfortably. When a sports bra offers both a bit of va va voom and function, that’s what I call an incredible win! And, the FineForm sports bra delivers just that.

Fiona Sports Bra

The Fiona sports bra is my go-to for function. It’s adjustable straps and adjustable hooks make it easy to tweak as needed. It gives me the stay-in-place control that’s perfect for a high-paced basketball game. Yet, it doesn’t pinch around the ribcage, meaning I can wear it throughout the day without feeling like I’m wearing a very small corset.

dash hoodie grey

Dash Hoodie

The Dash Hoodie, or as Alice and I have fondly dubbed it — ‘the wearable blanket’ — is super soft. It’s cushy. It flows around you with just a hint of sweat-wicking warmth for those early morning workouts or those long days relaxing.

Brooks Ravenna 9 Shoe

Ravenna 9 Shoe

Brooks’ has a run signature program. It’s an awesome running evaluation that uses cameras and sensors to monitor how your body compensates when you run to help you select the best shoe for you. They offer it at their Fremont store and at all their event booths, like the ones you’ll find at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons.

From the results, they recommended several shoes. As soon as I put on the Ravenna 9, I knew I had a winner. It offers the side-to-side stability for when I do agilities, while providing a sturdy foundation for squats, and cushion for what minimal running I do.

Coming soon…my Philly food and activity recap!


About Mikaela Cowles

I’m a food-gobbling, book-reading, aspiring photog. Born and raised in Seattle, I love dancing in the rain, bouquets of fresh basil and green grass between my toes. I like how kneading butter into flour makes my fingers soft. I’m passionate about all things sweet potato. I prefer my coffee black, my scotch on the rocks and my steak bloody. I hunt, when I have time; play basketball; and hike. I’ve been known to laugh so hard I hyperventilate. And, I’m the owner of Making Language Count, a boutique freelance writing business.

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