I just noticed that this is my 200th post, so I think it is very fitting that my 200th post is a marathon race report! I may stray from talking about running when I really get into the thick of work, but running really is my favorite…it’s something I can always come back to. So, without further ado, let me
walk run you through my 26.2 miles on Sunday, November 22!
Philadelphia Marathon 2009 Race Report
Maybe we should rewind to Saturday, as we all know that the day before a marathon is definitely a key part of the race! Actually, let’s go back to Friday night. (I apologize to all the guys out there for the next few comments!) I’d been waiting for my period to come all week. Like wishing and praying that it would come so I wouldn’t have to deal with it during the marathon. No such luck, as it showed up Friday night, ensuring that I would have some fun stuff to deal with come Sunday morning. Fantastic. Or not.
Okay, Saturday. After a
quick short two mile jog, I alternated between feeling like I was going to vomit (see above) and packing to go to NJ to meet up with the Rocket Scientist. I finally got myself together enough to head over to NJ so we could drive down together. We ate lunch and then headed down to the expo in Philly, where I spent much time convincing myself that I’m diabetic. (I’m NOT…thank goodness. That’s for another post, however.) Once I got over that scare, we wandered the expo, I bought some gloves (which I would come to LOVE on Sunday), and felt important picking up our numbers that were on the low side! I felt pretty snazzy walking around in my Chicago Marathon jacket…although a little less snazzy when I spotted people in Boston jackets. Next year, my friends!
The bags we got were quite nice (although super large), and I like the shirt despite the small still being too big for me. I promise I’m not even that small of a person (there are certainly people smaller than me!) so I wonder why marathons don’t end up with smaller shirts, but oh well. I’m not making any fashion statements. I picked up a cup from the Shamrock Marathon (I love those cups, and they always have them!) and a magnet from the Flying Pig Marathon. Basically, the expo made me want to run every marathon next year. We shall see.
At the expo, we also checked out the course map, which I actually didn’t pay much attention to and therefore had NO CLUE where I was on Sunday. I just knew there would be a turn around somewhere around mile 20, which is all I really cared about. Outside of that, I just followed the
bikers (ha! I wish!) runners in front of me.
After the expo, we headed over to the Rocket Scientist’s friends apartment where we would be staying for the night so we didn’t have to wake up crazy early and drive into the city. His friend is a really good cook, so he made us mushroom risotto with some bread and salad on the side. Not your typical pasta, but it was tasty! We prepared for the next day by laying our stuff out…it was going to be an earlyyyy morning!
Fantastic. The Rocket Scientist then headed to bed since it was going to be earlyyyyy. I stress EARLY. We had a 5am wake up call, and since I work 3-11pm, I haven’t seen 5am in an amazingly long time. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
I slept okay through the night, although I definitely kept waking up randomly. Not the best sleep ever, but I did hop out of bed quite easily Sunday morning. I downed my typical peanut butter toast (saved my banana for later) and threw on a couple layers of clothes to combat the cold. Race day clothing was still up in the air, so I threw an extra option into my bag. I couldn’t decide how cold it was going to be! We took a cab from the apartment to the start, which was the BEST idea ever. We didn’t have to worry about parking, and we were dropped off right at the start! Can’t beat that.
It was dark. And a wee bit chilly. Not too terrible, however. I hit up the port-a-potties a couple times, ate my banana, and pondered my race day attire. In the end, all four of us (me + Rocket Scientist + his two running buddies from school) ran in shorts + singlet/tank top + gloves. PERFECT. So glad I went with this over a shirt with sleeves, although there were plenty of people in tights/long sleeves/etc. I think it was in the low 40’s at the start, but it warmed up to the high 50’s by the end of the race.
Speaking of the race, this is a RACE REPORT. Let’s get on with it.
We lined up in our corrals, and the Rocket Scientist was in the one in front of me, so with a hug, kiss, and one last good luck, I was on my own. I decided to line up around the 3:30 pacer (why not?), so I found them and stood my ground. The woman next to me started chatting…she was looking for a BQ (which she CRUSHED with a 3:23), and she had the best cheering section throughout the marathon. I was by her for the first 15 miles, so I was excited to hear her fans! Waiting for the start, I looked around for Miranda and Denise, but I didn’t find them. Standing in the corrals, it still hadn’t hit me that I was going to run a marathon in a few minutes. After some announcements from a very enthusiastic announcer, we were off!
Miles 1-5 – The “Pace Group Miles”
Splits: 15:51 (avg pace 7:52), 7:48, 15:47 (avg pace 7:51)
I decided I would just hang with the pace group, which I actually found to be a bit of a challenge, I get in the mindset that I need to be right up with the pace group (as does everyone else..), and I’m not a fan of the giant crowd around the pacer. It’s hard to keep your stride comfortable when you’re constantly fighting for position. This is especially a problem when approaching slower runners (not sure why they were ahead of us…oh well), but overall I had a good first few miles. The pace felt fine…slow, even…and I was quite comfortable in my shorts + tank top + gloves. Not hot, not cold. Good to go.
Miles 6-13 – The “Paul Miles”
Splits: 7:44, 7:37, 7:53, 7:40, 7:48, 7:55, 7:38, 7:48
A little after mile four-ish, I decided that I was tired of fighting the pace group and thought it would be a good idea to run slightly ahead of them but still within range. There was a big of a gap in front of the pacers, so it seemed like a good idea. However, I also started running faster, so I soon lost the pace group. Oops! Oh well. I would also like to note that my garmin miles were ranging anywhere from 0.01-0.07 longer than the actual miles. Sad! Anyway.
I call these miles “The Paul Miles” because somewhere around mile five-ish, a guy pulled up next to me and commented how exciting it was to have random people cheer for you…since our names were on our bibs. Well, we continued to chat, although I was a little slow on the uptake since I’m generally a solo runner. After a mile or two, we clarified that he was running the half and I was running the full, so he would be around until mile 13. Let me tell you…this was the BEST thing to happen to me! These miles absolutely flew by. I really need to consider having a running buddy for my next marathon. I don’t remember these miles at all, except for the fact that they felt easy, I had a buddy to chat with, and there was one hill. Other than that, it was all a blur!
The best part about The Paul Miles was that he said he worked at CHOP (the children’s hospital, it’s kind of well known…haha), and I immediately yelled (almost literally), “Can you get me a job??” He said his department is hiring, and he’d give me the inside scoop. I am *so* excited! Never know where you’ll find something! If nothing else, I had a really good running buddy!
At one point I told Paul that I was looking forward to getting rid of him because it meant I’d be halfway done. I kind of wish he stuck around for the second half! This was a pre-race picture of the spot where I had to say bye to my running buddy:
Half Marathon Split: 1:39:56
Miles 14-19 – The “This-is-so-much-fun Miles”
Splits: 7:47, 7:37, 9:25 (bathroom!), 7:57, 8:01, 8:16
After the first half of the marathon, I wondered how long I would feel good for considering I took a month off of running and was probably running faster than I should have been running (I even told Paul that…haha). I really felt awesome up until mile 16-ish and pretty good up until mile 19. I couldn’t believe how I felt since the most I’d run in the past two months was thirteen miles and I’d taken an entire month off of running…I was waiting to crash, essentially. Around mile 16 I noticed some port-a-potties and decided I should take advantage of them if one was open…so I did. Well worth the 1:30 lost there!
After my bathroom stop, I never really got back on pace. I don’t think it was necessarily related to stopping, but I couldn’t get back under 8:00 pace. I was shocked at how quickly the first sixteen miles went, hoping and praying that the next ten were just as easy…haha! Anyway. Approaching mile 18 is the Manayunk area, where people were out offering beer and being loud! Much appreciated, especially since the previous miles were kind of empty spectator-wise. It was nice to have names on the bibs because TONS of people yelled for me! Also, since I’m somewhat not-slow, fewer girls are around me, and I find that people are more likely to yell for the random women in a crowd of men. So that’s helpful.
I saw the Rocket Scientist and his running buddy around mile 18-ish, so I yelled for them…RS said I looked/sounded quite chipper at that point, which I still was! I was really amazed at how good I felt. It was around this point that I finally ditched my gloves after deciding that it was warm enough to run without them. Those gloves were probably the best $2 I’ve ever spent. No joke.
Miles 20-26.2 – The “Okay, this kind of hurts” Miles
Splits: 8:32, 8:35, 8:52, 8:50, 9:12, 9:33, 11:19 (1.2 miles = avg pace of 9:09)
No lie here, I more or less died around mile 20. At mile 19, all I could think of was, “WHERE IS THE TURNAROUND??” I figured it would be a HUGE mental boost to be heading back into the city, so I couldn’t wait for the turnaround and desperately wanted to be there. Well, it wasn’t as great of a boost as I thought it would be, but I was happy to be heading back to Philly. A little after mile 20, I walked for the first time all marathon. I’d been running through the water stops, but this time I walked to make sure I got all my fluids down. Short stop, but it helped. I think. Anyway, at this point I could tell it was going to be a long six miles back to the Art Museum, and I started playing the “how slow can I go and still qualify for Boston game?” This was a bit of a mental game during the Wisconsin Marathon, and I really wanted to requalify so the Rocket Scientist and I can run it in 2011 (provided he qualified at Philly…I had no clue how he was doing!). I had an hour to go 6.2 miles, which I figured was do-able. I wanted to keep my miles under nine minutes, but I was REALLY hurting. A lot. You know that “wall” they talk about it? I think I half hit it. I was definitely in pain, but I wasn’t on the side of the road fighting cramps.
All through Manayunk I was looking for Jesse, since I figured she would be around there somewhere. She said she yelled for me around mile 22 (and that I didn’t look in pain!), but I totally missed her. The crowd support was great in Manayunk, so it was hard to distinguish random yells from someone I actually knew. Sorry I missed you, but thanks for cheering for me! A funny spectator moment was when a man yelled “Go Susan!” from up on a bridge, and I must have looked funny when I looked up because I heard him say how I looked confused. haha.
I think the 3:30 pace group passed me somewhere around mile 20-21-ish. I didn’t really care, although I was secretly hoping to go sub-3:30 or at least PR. However, the main goal was to requalify for Boston, so I kept doing quick math in my head at each mile mark to make sure I got under 3:40. With about three miles to go, I knew I was in. I just needed to get to that finish line…
As you can tell by my splits, I slowed quite a bit in those last few miles. I walked the water stops and walked ONCE (for about twenty seconds?) when not at a water stop. I kind of think of this as a victory for me, as I’ve taken walk breaks in my other marathons. I probably walked the least in this marathon, which I think is pretty awesome. Next time, I’ll run the entire way.
Soon enough, I found myself running through giant crowds of people lining the streets…the end was near!! I love the end of the marathon, where people are three people deep searching for their runners. Everyone is cheering, and it’s probably as close to a rock star as I’ll ever feel. This is one reason why I like big marathons! Eventually, I saw the finish line and was SO HAPPY. I smiled across the finish line and almost got a little emotional (please note above what showed up on Friday…that probably had something to do with it!), but I was back to smiles within a few seconds. Someone from the medical staff asked if I was okay, so maybe I looked a little funny, but I felt fine. As a quick note, the chicken broth offered post-race was the best idea EVER. Tasted so good!
Marathon Time: 3:35:32!
My garmin showed that I ran 26.74 miles, so not too bad over the course of 26.2 miles since I don’t run tangents super well and probably weaved around a bit more than necessary.
Overall Place: 1521/7475 (Top 20%)
Gender Place: 247/3110 (Top 8%)
Age Group: 66/787 (Top 8%)
When I look at those, I had a pretty good race! I’m definitely pleased with myself, especially since I took a month off of running this training cycle. Looking back at my goals, we can tell that I met three of them. The only one that I didn’t meet was the goal to PR, but being 1:34 off of my PR isn’t exactly bad! I finished, I had a blast (thanks Paul!), and I qualified for Boston 2011 (as did the Rocket Scientist…yay!). I really do love running and this was a GREAT race. Sunday night I was already figuring out what marathons to do next.
Let’s just say I’m the “slow one” in the group…haha. From left to right, our times were: 2:54, 3:05, 3:35, 3:06. Hello, speedsters.
This concludes my marathon of a marathon recap! Thanks so much to everyone for your support during this training, especially through the set-back that was my injury and encouraging me pre-marathon! I really appreciate it and I thought about you guys out there on the course. (Especially Jen and her IRONMAN.) Thinking of you kept me going, and I couldn’t wait to share my race with you. Here’s to many more!