The Philadelphia Marathon: November 19, 2017
Yes that’s right, cross another marathon off the list. DONE! But to me, it is not just about crossing them off the list. I love that, but I honestly love the entire journey. I absolutely love every day of working out and working hard at being in top condition. It is so incredible to cherish your body and treat it as the machine that it really is. Too many people abuse their bodies and minds and no thank you, I would prefer to treat it as a precious gift.
I was watching the weather for this one (and for all races really) and as we got closer to race day, suddenly the winds were going to pick up and be in the 20+ mph range with gusts up to 40 or 50 mph! That sucks I thought. I hate running in the wind and it appeared there were going to be a rain storm just before the race too. GREAT! But you know, it is what it is and you have to work with whatever obstacle you are given and go with it. That’s what makes marathons so challenging. It’s not just about pushing your body 26.2 miles, it is dealing with the weather that goes with it and overcoming that.
The day before the race we walked all over the place in downtown Philadelphia to see the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, etc. I think I got up to 16,000 steps or so. I never really rest much the day before but try to get settled early the night before the race. We were starving around 3:30 so decided to go to the Cheesecake Factory for an early dinner. I ate half of a grilled chicken sandwich with avocados and LOL, ate the other half for breakfast on race morning. I decided to deviate from my usual routine of oatmeal, bagels and peanut butter and/or bars. Now that I have run 14 races and I know what I am doing, I just want to experiment a bit and make it fun. The truth is too, I didn’t think I would want to eat that right after the race anyway and we had to hurry up and checkout of the hotel so I decided to eat it early for that reason too. I do not like pasta and don’t care to carb up the night before. I would much rather eat chicken on a bun than any kind of pasta ever! I have run good races without eating pasta the night before and I just feel like as long as you eat and hydrate well the week before (especially) you will be fine. I slept pretty well the night before (over 6 hours) so I was happy about that. I woke up a few times during the night to pee and then I get a little amped up once I wake up for the first time.
Finally, it was race morning. I have such a detailed routine and thankfully Pat is always there to help when I start freaking out about something. I woke up at 4am and at 5:15 I left our room to take the shuttle to the start line. Pat walked me downstairs while the kids were sleeping and off I went. It was raining and so windy. I thought “I don’t want to go outside!” The other part of me was saying “Toughen up and JUST DO IT!” I had an extra old coat on plus some mittens I would toss once I got running, so if I got wet, I was protected for a while. Once we arrived at the start line we had to go through a metal detector and “got wanded” by the security guards.
I walked around for a while at the start area. Lots of runners were hiding in tents setup for the finish line (and from the prior day’s half marathon). I walked near the Philadelphia Museum of Art and could see the Rocky steps but I didn’t feel like climbing them then. LOL! Eventually I went to a tent and drank some water they were handing out. That was good because I didn’t take any with me and I was thirsty. I never made it to the port-o-potty before the race. Once I felt like I had to pee, I noticed the grassy area was completely soaked and muddy from the rain. If I stood in those lines, my shoes and feet would be absolutely soaked BEFORE the race so I said screw it. I didn’t want to start off with a blister!! I hate blisters. Runners were slipping and sliding all over that area. It was terrible outside. Some runners were smart and put plastic shopping bags over their shoes. That’s a good tip!! So I decided that I wasn’t going to stand in line and get my feet soaked before the race, so that meant I was going to find a port-o-potty on the course. I really thought nothing of it because I was absolutely convinced I would not have a chance at a personal best because of how incredibly windy it was outside. I was just accepting it up front so didn’t really care if stopped for a pee break and lost a minute or so. As it got closer to the start time of 7am, the rain stopped and the sky became brighter although it was still very cloudy. It actually looked like it could rain or snow again any minute!
Now it was time to line up in the proper corral. I lined up in the purple corral around 6:30. Some race person told me to go up further into the gray corral and it seemed wrong to me but he told me to go, so whatever. There were a few purple corral people up there, but I felt a little out of place, but it didn’t matter to me when I started the race. The sooner I start, the sooner I finish and then get back to the hotel to take a shower, checkout and drive 7 hours home! It seemed like it took forever to start because there were so many corrals, but I have to say, there was no worry about being so crowded at the start. They delayed each corral start by 2 and a half minutes I believe so that really helped. Plus the race was just the marathon – no half marathoners – so it was awesome. Besides, I love that when it’s just full marathoners – you know that EVERYONE is going the same distance and I just love being with my own kind. Running a half marathon is hard too because you can run it at a faster pace, but it’s not the same as a marathon. A full marathon just feels BIG and IT IS. I just love that. Finally, my corral was about to start. I was only a few rows back from the actual start line, so that was good not to get stuck behind lots of people. It was so cold at the start that we must have taken off like gangbusters! I was still wearing my throwaway jacket and mittens. I was just running with the crowd but yet running my race and enjoying all of the people cheering. (Although I couldn’t hear them because my music was blasting in my ears.) I love the marathon. It’s just awesome. I never found the 1st mile marker but Race Joy told me my pace was 7:41 and I was like “What?!?” That’s too fast I thought. In that first mile, my left hamstring felt a little weird too so I got nervous. It didn’t feel pulled, it just felt weird like if I really push it hard, I could pull it if I’m not careful. I never told Pat this either but it was feeling weird 2 days before the race when we were driving to Pennsylvania. I just rolled it out as best I could and hoped it wouldn’t bother me, but in mile 1, it just felt weird/off and not good. I wouldn’t say it was a sharp pain but just some kind of a duller pain. I didn’t have to stop but after hearing my 7:41 first mile split, I decided to dial it down and give it a chance to warm up. That was my best chance at success. My next few miles I hovered in the 8:40-8:50 range just to not go out so aggressively and ease into the run. Even though my pace slowed from there (LOL), it was intentional because as we know, 26.2 miles is long freaking way to run baby especially if something is bugging you. I thought I was going to see Pat and the kids at mile 6 but I never did. I never even saw the mile 6 marker or heard it on RACE JOY. As I passed by the crowds and there were less and less people, I thought they couldn’t be here. I must have missed them or perhaps Jordyn was giving Pat a hard time and they never made it to mile 6. (Come to find out the mile marker was blown down!) As I approached mile 7, I kept saying wow, this is a long freaking mile from mile 5!! But then once I saw mile marker 7, I said oh, that’s why because it was actually 2 miles!!! LOL. As I really got running, of course, I had to pee but my personal rule is to not stop and wait in line and waste time. If I can find an open port-o-potty and I only lose time peeing, that’s ok. In the San Francisco Marathon, I easily lost 3-4 minutes waiting in line because there were so many people!!!! I finally stopped after mile 8, didn’t wait in line, although me and some other guy were racing to the port-o-potty. I won BTW! Then after I did my business, I got going again. There were a lot of hills from mile 7.5 to 10.5 I would say. Some decent downhills but some decent uphills too. What always really surprises me though is the amount of people who don’t let gravity take them downhill. People just take baby steps going downhill and that’s something I disagree with. I usually fly downhill and love it. I can breathe, take a real break, relax and just let gravity do the work for me. My pace always picks up there. Speaking of picking up, the wind was a bitch the whole way. But I was feeling glad I had 2 dri-fit shirts on that day. I never felt cold and of course, felt warm, but I would rather sweat and be warm than to be freezing. A few times in the race that crazy wind almost took my hat off (which was as tight on my head as you could imagine!!). Thankfully I have reflexes like I cat so I saved it about 3 times. I was so pissed at the wind. I was close to the half-marathon mark, I could see that my mile 13 time was about 1:58 and change, so I sped up to MAKE SURE my half-marathon split was just under 2 hours. DONE!!! 1:59:38 if I remember correctly!! I was happy with my pace overall. It was slowing compared to Myrtle Beach and Hartford but again, lots of hills in this stretch and the wind was a pisser. No doubt it had an impact. I kept thinking about my hamstring too. I didn’t want a repeat cramping up (like at Hartford). It did feel better as I warmed up but I was worried about it freaking out at any given moment. You never know what the body will do!!
I thought I was going to see Pat and the kids at mile 14 but at that point in the race, the spectators were so far back and it was hard to see anyone really. They said they saw me but I never saw them. Again, I totally just assumed that Jordyn was giving Pat a hard time, so they never made it to that point. (I was partially right.) I have to admit, I was a little sad and disappointed that I didn’t see them. Seeing them helps and gives me some energy, but what can you do. I just had to persevere onward. After mile 14, we ran along the river until about mile 18-19. OMG, if I thought the wind was bad before, well, it was about to just get worse! It was unreal. I was trying to hide behind some bigger people but the wind was relentless and evil. I was freezing, I was pissed and I just felt like I was barely moving….like I was on treadmill. Miles 14-20 were so difficult because of the wind and I kept thinking once I turn around it should be better but guess what? It never was! We finally turned around at mile 20 and OMG, here we go, only 6.2 miles to go. The wind was still a complete bitch and I only felt a tailwind a couple of times during this run. There were some pretty high wind gusts too. Wow, I remember feeling tired and thinking just push it the rest of the way. Just go! But I really think this stupid wind made me fight harder and tired me out. I felt so much more tired during the last few miles of this race than Hartford. The funny thing was I was practically keeping up with Hartford’s race time. I don’t know how I did that. I really don’t. At mile 25 and change, I was trying to run as fast as I could and then a giant wind gust came along, almost blew off my hat again and I said out loud “Fuck you wind, I am so sick of you!!!”. I don’t know if anyone heard me, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to finish the race and get through it and not let this wind defeat me. I knew I was close to the finish line because the barriers were up again and I was just like “FINALLY”!!!! I was so close to Hartford’s finish time because I used the same playlist and the same song was on close to the finish in Philadelphia before it switched to the next one. I saw a bunch of race people on the course telling runners to go more towards the left side of the road (because another runner had collapsed on the right side of the road) and then I saw the magical finish line baby. There it was and here I am. FINALLY!!!! Another race in the books – and in spite of the pisser winds, not a bad time either 4:07.31. Now I was pissed at myself for having to stop to pee and losing a minute or so. But I was psyched. Another marathon under 4:10 and my fastest second half split at 2:07. Now I am convinced I will always run better than that because if I ran a 4:07 despite all of those obstacles (weird hamstring, wind, pee break, hills), then I know if there are perfect conditions, I can crush that time too. I’m happy with my time given that it was only 36 days after the Hartford Marathon too! Not too shabby for middle-aged marathon freak mom with short legs but a boatload of determination!!
Once I finished the race and went through the food tent, I was looking for the family meeting area. I could not find it. I was dropping stuff from the food they gave to me and the heat sheet was flying in the wind like a freaking kite. I asked a few people where to meet up with family and no one knew anything. Finally I took my phone out and texted Pat. I was freezing and wanted my winter coat so bad. This stupid heat sheet doesn’t do anything for heat!!! Finally, I found them and we walked back to the shuttle bus and quickly got back to the hotel. Pat and the kids had packed up their stuff and I was peeling my clothes off so I could take a shower before our 7 hour trek home. I loved my new compression socks. As I took off my socks, I was shocked that I had NO BLISTERS or ANYTHING plus they kept my legs warm. Maybe it helped I lost my 2 crappy toenails within 2 weeks before this marathon, but I was so ecstatic!! In the shower, I alternated hot and cold water as long as I could until we really had to check out (by 1pm). I wish I had time for an ice bath but didn’t. It felt so good to take a shower after the race. Thank goodness the Doubletree in downtown Philadelphia offered that to runners. We checked out just before 1pm and at 1pm we were driving home. I sat in the 3rd row of our Yukon XL and kept my feet propped up on pillows or the armrests of the seats in front of me. I felt ok – sometimes only mildly uncomfortable. The pain was setting in on the ride home and we were about an hour from home when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. The funniest thing though….once we got home and I extracted myself from the truck, I could walk and walk easily. It was so flipping weird. I thought I would be hobbling like crazy and the thing is, I wasn’t at all. I walked upstairs kind of easily too. I even ran 0.8 miles the next morning and then have run every day since. It was the only marathon that I didn’t take a day off AFTER IT. Unbelievable. My recovery has been simply astonishing. It’s not like I was never sore, but It was completely manageable. I guess after 14 marathons, you train your body to recover quickly too!!!