PB: The Philadelphia Marathon 2010
It’s done done done! I completed the Philadelphia Marathon in 04:33:35.
No, I didn’t break any records – and I didn’t make my initial 4:00:00 goal (which was completely arbitrary and not based at all on anything other than that seemed like a nice round number) – but I am thrilled. I repeated over and over again today to people that I had FUN. I truly had a blast yesterday. Yes, I feel a little bit of that post-marathon depression that everyone always talks about. My legs are sore and I’m not moving too quickly today – but I’m just sore. Not injured and no overuse injuries. And I couldn’t be happier.
During my training, I reached new levels of distance running that I never thought were possible for me. I now have long-term goals for my marathon running (yes, it’s completely addicting) and as a result of 4 months of dedicated training, I have a solid base from which to work. But before I get into my future goals, let me get into yesterday’s events.
Breakfast: I started out by doing what everyone says NOT to do (and yes, it worked out) – I tried a new breakfast. I have never been able to find that one clutch meal that you are supposed to discover during your training. That one perfect combination of food and drink that somehow is going to magically prepare you for 26.2 miles of running. I went with my instincts (that I needed carbs and protein – and in a relatively light and simple form) and it totally worked out.
- 5:30 Breakfast – whole wheat pasta frittata (two eggs) with 8 ounces G2
- 6:00 am: 12 oz glass of water
- 2 tablespoons of chia seeds in 12 oz glass of water
- 6:15 am Gu gel
- 6:45 am head to race
The race report
I was nervous at the start!! But I was determined from the beginning to have a positive outlook and to have fun. So I started out down the first 3 miles on Arch St. to the run along the Delaware River. I felt GREAT – in control, steady pace, not too crowded and comfortable. I realized at that point that tapering works! My legs felt fresh and I was cruising. As the run continued down the Delaware river, and then headed away from the river on South St., I felt great. The crowd was cheering, the race was consistent, and I was drinking water and Gatorade at every stop.
Around 31st and Chestnut, I saw Sabrina for the first time (mile 7)….she was so enthusiastic and so happy for me – it was overwhelming. I kept on going and kept my pace (which varied between 9:00 and 10:00 miles). I remembered how I felt at the identical points during the half marathon last year (in Philadelphia, the half marathon course and the marathon course are the same until the half marathon finish line). I couldn’t believe how great I felt. I would not go so far as to say it was “easy” – but I was not in any sort of distress. No soreness, minimal ankle pain (during a very hilly run in San Francisco a few weeks before the marathon I had irritated a tendon in my ankle), and I was feeling completely nourished. My plan for Gu gels (every 4-5 miles) was working and I was cruising.
I breezed past the half marathon point, saw Sabrina at mile 14, and kept on moving! I was intentionally holding back on speed because I knew I had to save some juice for the second half. I saw Sabrina around mile 17, then it got tough. I wasn’t tired and mentally, I was in the game. But my legs were starting not to cooperate. I was feeling some cramps and during miles 18-23, I had major cramping issues. Nothing that got me down – but enough to make me walk and stretch periodically. I pushed through it and didn’t let my mind take over. I wouldn’t call it hitting the “wall” because I didn’t get down on myself or feel like I could not do it. I knew I could do it. Sure, I was off of my goal pace but 1) I was having fun 2) I still felt pretty good 3) my wife was supporting me and watching me 4) I knew I was well trained and 5) I was having fun!
But there was no doubt about it – my legs were cramping up. I didn’t want to do any damage – so I insisted on massaging my muscles and stretching along the route. The best way I can describe the final push from mile 24 to the finish line is one big push…For about 20 minutes straight, I laughed at the pain and motivated myself with the thought that I was about to finish my first marathon!
The last mile was actually the same stretch where I usually finish my training runs. So it was a fitting end to the marathon. I smiled and thought of all of the morning runs I had done over the last 4 months, in all of the cities I have traveled on business (San Francisco, CA; Billings, MT; Baton Rouge, LA; Tucson, AZ; Salt Lake City, UT) and I thought of all of the support I had from my wife…I took one last break to stretch my legs and blasted through the finish line. The best way I can describe my reaction when I finished was a relieved and happy smile. No crazy celebration, no dramatic collapse – just happy.
1. Seeing one of my oldest and dearest friends from elementary school cheering on his wife
2. Penguin costumes: As some of you may know, penguins are my favorite animal. There were at least two people cheering from the sidelines in penguin costumes!
3. Michael Nutter almost cutting me off at the finish line
4. Favorite signs:
a. Picture of the Karate Kid that said “You’re the Best Around”
b. You’re Ahead of the Kenyans
c. Chuck Norris Never Ran a Marathon
d. You are Not a Wimp
e. Remember when 10 miles was a long run?
5. The beer table in Manayunk serving only beer!
6. The drunk guy running next to me in Manayunk (miles 20-22) who definitely sampled from the beer table!
7. Sabrina’s Support: Sabrina was amazing. Not only did she guide us to the starting point, but she met me at miles 7, 14, 17, 21 and then at the finish line. Each time she greeted with a smile, one time ran a little bit with me but overall was just an incredible wife and more supportive than I ever could have imagined. It was overwhelming and I hope I have the chance to similarly support her in the near future in something like this.
8. Meeting Sarah (didn’t catch a last name) during mile 9 who asked me if I was “PhillyBoy.” We chatted for a few minutes and she went on to complete the half marathon. Sarah, you looked like you were in great condition and I’m sure you finished with no problem!
9. The race course – the course is really a great tour of Philly…starting out in the Art Museum area, heading east through China town, the historical district, the Delaware waterfront, South Street, back through Center City and Drexel University and the second half being a tour of Fairmount Park and Kelly Drive – you get a taste of it all. If I had my choice, there might be a few things I would change (there were more out and backs than I thought were needed – and I think those should really be minimized on long races such as these).
As soon as I was finished the race, the post-race recovery began! Sabrina met me with a Myoplex protein shake at our pre-designated meeting spot. I was a BIT nauseous but nothing crazy. I felt tired but ok. As soon as we got home, I got into the ice bath that has become a tradition and sat there massaging my legs for about 20 minutes. I then took a hot shower, put on my most comfortable sweatshirt and jogging pants – and spent the rest of the afternoon with our wonderful friends. I felt a little guilty for not staying out there and cheering on the rest of the runners, but I owed it to Sabrina and our friends Jon and Kristine (who encouraged me at mile 26!!) to go back to the house so they could relax themselves!
The moral of the story? I’m addicted….to the whole thing. As my friend Jon put it, it is truly overwhelming to see so many strangers sending so much positive energy. The only enemy is fatigue – and everyone joins in the fight against it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading since yesterday about some of the symptoms I experienced and I already am buzzing with ideas – train a little harder, take salt tablets during the race, eat more bananas the week before….etc. But the fact is, there is and always will be room for improvement. My first goal was to finish – and I accomplished that. I plan on letting my body recover, establishing a “maintenance” schedule (I’m thinking three 8 milers a week and one 13-15 miler per month and doing that for the rest of the year.) I’ll focus on speedwork, hills, nutrition, and see how I can improve for my next goal.
And Marine Corps Marathon 2011 – look out…because I already know when registration opens!
Has anyone had a similar race experience? What did you change before your next race?!
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