I had been preparing/waiting for the Philly Marathon for what felt like forever and now it's already come and gone in a blink of an eye. I liken it to a wedding day. So much anticipation, excitement, nervousness about everything going perfect and then it's over so fast. Then you enter the post wedding depression where you can't believe it's already over and you wish it wasn't, you wanted it to last forever. The good news for me is that unlike a wedding, I will get to run a marathon again. I mean at least I don't think I'll have another wedding ;-)
There's a lot I want to say but I don't want to bore everyone to tears so I will try to keep it somewhat concise. If you follow my running, you know that Philly Marathon was my "A" race of the fall season. And actually I've literally been waiting for this race since the end of March when Emir and I signed up. After running a 3:49 at OD marathon and a discussion with Coach Caleb, I felt that it was not unreasonable to go for a BQ. That's almost 8 months of waiting! No wonder I was a mess the couple of weeks leading up to the race. So much training, hard work and dreaming of that BQ had built up this race so much. Don't get me wrong, there were LOTs of great racing in between but this, it was just different, it just felt so big.
Also, adding to my excitement was that a couple of months ago, my sister Cindy had asked me my thoughts about her trying to run. Cindy actually has been a runner many more years than me as she started in college while on the swim team and continued after. She is an experienced triathlete and has run a number of half marathons but never a full. I was beyond excited that she was considering it. And in the end she decided to go for it and make the Philly Marathon her first full marathon.
|I couldn't have been happier not only that Cindy was running but that I was a part of her big day!|
The weather had decided to cooperate and the forecast went from polar vortex to race day temps in the 40s maybe into the 50s. I mean cold is fine but then I would have had to worry about layers including a layer that I might have to just discard. Just makes it more complicated for me. Anyway my plan was to wear my singlet with arm sleeves however I have had chafage problems with the sleeves that I had. I mean actually they are more arm warmers and they even tore up my arms recently at the Runner's World Half so I wasn't too sure what to do. Come Saturday, the day before the race, we dropped the kids off at my parents' house (can't say enough how awesome and supportive they are!) and headed down to Cindy's house (I've mentioned before she lives about a 5-10 minute walk from the Art Museum where most Philly running events take place). The three of us headed to the expo. I was shocked since we didn't get there until 3-4 in the afternoon that it was packed! Last year we went Friday night and it was much less crowded. Despite the crowd, it didn't take long to get our race stuff. After that I was browsing some Philly Marathon gear and behold I found Zensah arm sleeves! They were compression arm sleeves rather than arm warmers so I was thinking that the moisture wicking material might not cause chafing. And they were neon pink, the same color as my Zensah ultra calf sleeves that I had tested, loved and was planning on wearing for the race so clearly it was a sign I needed to purchase these for the race. We all browsed a bit and then headed home.
|Zensah Arm Sleeves--were great! No major chafage to report!|
|standard expo pic|
|potty line selfie!|
Anyway I found the pacer and then I found Cara! I was happy. It wasn't long after that we started. I don't know if it was that we started in the second corral this year (last year we just jumped into the first one) or I just don't remember clearly from last year but the first 5-6 miles were a CLUSTER! I felt like I was fighting the crowd that whole time. I was constantly weaving in/out, having to slow down, speed up, avoid getting whacked. All of this not only was probably using more of my energy than necessary but also making it kind of difficult to stay with the pacer. I totally support ANYONE that wants to run a marathon, I think it's amazing and awesome but seriously people can you start in the appropriate corrals?!?! I never want to impede on anyone's race which is why I don't like to be in a corral that is too fast for me, I don't want to be in anyone's way. It was very clear that there were a lot of people who should not have been where they were. I mean come on, how can you start in the first corral and be walking in the first mile?! It also doesn't help that the Philly course is fairly narrow in those first miles until you get to the Fairmount Park area where it starts to open up and that all the half marathoners are running with the full people. I think it's just too many people at the same time. So, I was a bit frustrated by the time we got to mile 7 but good news was I was still on pace.
I was still running with Cara but Emir had disappeared (I learned later that he stopped to pee in the first few miles). The pacer wasn't too far in front of us. We were coming upon the section of the course with some hills. I felt good tackling the hills. I definitely slowed a bit on the inclines but then picked it back up. Once they were over about mile 10-11, we were a bit behind the pacer but I felt great that I conquered the hilly parts and didn't feel that it took too much out of me. Next is my least favorite part, running by the art museum but only being half done. All the half marathoners go zooming by to finish their race and we head out on our 13.1 out and back along Kelly Drive. Cara seemed to be enjoying this section. Reflecting on it, I think Emir and I take for granted how beautiful the city is along this stretch. For us it's a common training route and it's also the quietest part of the race. It's really pretty much impossible for spectators to get to this part which I don't really mind the quiet part but in past races I really didn't appreciate the beauty of it. Cara who is not from the Philly area kept saying "this is so nice, beautiful!" And you know what? She's right!
|Falls Bridge--that's Cara right behind me in the teal visor|
Tailwind from my handheld throughout the race and taking plain water as needed at aid stations now I was feeling like I just needed more. I think I probably could solve this problem by making my Tailwind more potent but I just can't down it when it's super concentrated. So I've found that sipping my Tailwind throughout the race and taking the occasional gel really works well for me. And that's what I did. The timing was perfect as I knew miles 18-21 are HARD. Those are the most fun as they go through Main street Manyunk which is a HUGE party on marathon day including beer if you want one but there are hills and at that stage of a marathon it can really destroy you. Unfortunately I had lost Cara on the short turnaround on MLK drive. I saw her coming down as I was headed back but that was the last I saw of her. I was feeling bummed about it but I needed to keep pushing to make my goal. It was also at this part that I saw Emir. He was only a couple of minutes behind me and looked great, I was really happy about that.
I decided not to indulge in a Manyunk beer this year as I was on a serious mission. I've done it my first two Philly Marathons and it didn't seem to matter but this year was different. How upset would I be if I took a beer and then missed my time because of stomach issues or something like that?! Not to mention, at this point my bladder was bothering me a bit. I mean not surprising as I felt like I had to pee before the race even started and all I had been doing was drinking Tailwind and water for the last 18 miles. Ugh. Anyway I did the best I could through this section. I could feel my quads starting to become slightly unhappy on the hills and overall that running was becoming more of a struggle. By the time I got out of Manyunk I knew I definitely wasn't going to be making it near 3:35 and honestly didn't know what I was going to finish. I headed back down Kelly Drive for the last 5 miles. I felt like I was putting in incredible effort but yet my pace wasn't getting any faster. As the miles ticked off I would check my watch and it just kept getting more and more off pace. I had the 3:35 bracelet on so I knew those splits but it was way too much math for me to figure out what I needed the splits to be to beat the 3:40 I needed. The last 3 miles especially were SO HARD. I just kept trying to put so much effort into it but my body was rejecting me. I started cramping in my stomach which I actually think was related to having a full bladder in addition to some gas building up.
|face says it all. Couldn't hide my feelings|
|Able to smile for a second once I realized I got my BQ|
After a bit and ahem releasing some pressure, I started feeling better. We made our way to the food and what, soft pretzels?!?! Thank you Philly Marathon!!! Finally, a Philly race does the right thing and has Philly pretzels after the race. Those babies never tasted so good!
|PRs for all!|
As for my post marathon depression, it will be short lived as the Rocky 50K is this Saturday!!!!!
PS I would like to plug my upcoming interview with UR sportswear. It will be live on Youtube Thursday 6pm EST. You can find it here
And now enjoy our post race photoshoot ;-) :