"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another One Down - Philadelphia Marathon

Last time I left you off, I wasn't sure if I would be running the Philadelphia Marathon due to my foot problem (see here). I wanted to give it some time. Since I was not able to get a refund, I decided to make a race time decision on whether I would give it a go. Amazingly, my foot did not feel that horrible at all, even after running 26.2. It actually felt better then it did after the Runner's World races. No complaints from this guy. I went on a healthy dose of home remedies, relaxation and NSAIDs. On Friday after the NYC I did 3 miles and felt pretty good. I could feel something in my foot but not bad. Amy and I decided to do a run together that Sunday with the stroller and kids. It was going to be a nice 6 miler, last "long" run before the Philly. I felt really good. While again I could feel something in my foot, it was not bothering me too much, and I actually ran pretty fast even while pushing two kids in the stroller. I knew that I would start the marathon that week.

Bib time with Batman/Elmo boy.
We decided to get our bibs on Friday night, since Saturday was packed with tons of various kid activities. In retrospect, probably not the best planning due to the amount of time we spent standing around on Saturday. The expo was better then last year. A decent size for this race. I am hoping to see it grow in the years to come with more companies coming out. We had a great time playing in the kid zone which is free, and just a great addition to keep the kids busy while parents walk around. The whole thing took maybe an hour, but mostly due to us playing. Like I said, Saturday was a busy kid day. The in-laws were babysitters of choice again, but due to some prior commitments we had to hang around at their house until almost 11pm before we could leave for the city. Thankfully, we were spending the night with my sister-in-law, right downtown. She lives less than a mile from the start line. She was doing the half marathon, so that worked out perfectly. After a restless and annoying night, Sunday morning was upon us faster then expected.

Ready to go!
I went through my usual routine of coffee, food, bathroom, coffee, while getting ready. Even though the marathon organization told everyone to get there at 5am due to the enhanced security, we took our chances and made our way out of the house around 6 am. It was rather warm that morning with temperatures in the 50s and overcast sky. The high was supposed to be somewhere in the 60s with sun coming out latter part of the day. Perfect weather. Walking to the start line was much nicer then last year, when it was dark and cold. Right before we reached the security entrance, I realized that I forgot my sunglasses. As I was saying that to the girls, I realized that I have forgotten something else! My nipple cover band-aids! Oh the humanity! There is no way I was running without those. Worse case scenario, I was going to ask EMTs for some band-aids, but fortunately we were not far from home. We were all going to head back to the house, but I said, that I would just go by myself and I would meet them later. I had no idea how long it would take to get through security and I was ok with missing the start if needed be. I fast walked back to the house, got my trusty band-aids, and then jogged back to meet them. Sunglasses stayed behind, which was a good decision. Well, the big security line turned out be not big at all and I was through in one minute. There was definitely a lot more police present then last year, but everything was moving swiftly. Of course, I went to the right of the start line, while the girls were on the left, and waiting in potty line. I eventually made my way over to them. Two of them were waiting for a while. I informed them that if they moved 30 feet down, there was no lines. Problem solved. I hope they learned something about race day potty lines (I kid, I kid). While we were waiting, the elites got started. We hurried to the start so we can get in our corral, but soon realized that we could just jump into the one that was starting, and thus we did.

We were 4 minutes behind the gun time. I got to high five Mayor Nutter at the start and we were off. Right away Cindy pulled away as she wanted to go faster and PR her half marathon, while Amy and I stayed together. My foot was feeling decent. I had 3 plans in mind. 1. If it became really painful, I would finish at the half, since we were running by the finish line anyway, and at least get that medal. 2. If it felt ok, I would go all out and try to finish in under 4 hours. And 3. I would finish this marathon no matter what. Amy and I ran together for about 4-5 miles before she started going faster. I was feeling fine, but I didn't want to go our too fast, so I told her to just go if she wanted to.

First 13 miles are the same for both races. This first part goes through the center city and the historic areas. It is lined with people and positive energy. While there are couple decent hills on the way, it was nothing insurmountable. I was feeling decent, my foot was feeling ok, the pace was on track for the 4 hours more or less, so the first option went out of the window around mile 12. I was going for the full. I went past the half way point with 4 hours in mind. The 2nd part of the course is out and back, running along the Kelly drive, short loop over the Falls bridge, into Manayunk and then back to the Art Museum. I am not a big fan of these out and back loops, and I don't like to see fast people going past me. It annoys me for some reason. Last year, I was especially annoyed at that silly short loop over the Falls Bridge. I know that it is there to make up the miles, but still annoying. However, this year, none of this stuff bothered me too much. I was focused on that finish line. The elites did not go past me on their way to the finish until mile 14 or 15 (their 24-25) which was better then last year. It was actually nice to see the fast guys and girls go by. Amazing talents. Kelly Drive is mostly flat, but it does have its little rolling hills. I could feel my legs getting tired and my pace starting to slow. Even though I was pushing, my legs would just not go any faster.

Manayunk and the last 6 miles of the race were definitely tough for me. My pace kept getting slower, and thoughts of taking a break and walking a bit were certainly in my mind. I kept assessing my situation and thinking. Ok, are you cramping? Yes, maybe a little, but not bad. Well, maybe not. Can you keep running? Yes, I can. Are you tired? F u brain. That went on and on, but I really did not have a good reason to stop or walk. I was battling disappointment at the same time, as I knew once again that 4 hour mark was slipping away. Mile after mile, and step after step, I was getting closer to the finish line. The sun came out around mile 24 and it got hot real quick. I was fine with it as the end was near. I wanted so bad to push the pace a bit and finish strong, but the legs were not listening. I was picturing this silly commercial in my head, with Mutombo, saying, No no, not in my house, not today (watch it here). Bastard.
I crossed the finish line in 4:16:46. Not my PR, not my best, but still over 10 minutes better then NYC Marathon 2 weeks prior. I was happy and annoyed at the same time. Feelings of doubt on my training, and if I should even run these stupid races were going through my head. I snapped back around and realized that this is not the time nor place to be thinking about that. Just enjoy the day! I haven't run that much, other then these 2 marathons, since the Runner's World. While some rest and taper are good, I think this was just too much. Live and learn, and go into the next year stronger and more recovered from everything. My foot was aching, but not feeling terrible and that was another positive sign. Amy was waiting for me at the finish line. It was so great to see her 2 minutes after finishing, rather then 2 hours (see NYC report above). Even though she didn't PR, again, she finished in 4:01 which is great. I am so proud of her.
After last year, I was somewhat reluctant to run the Philadelphia Marathon again this year. But the discount code, and the fact that it was the 20th anniversary, pursued me to sign up and run. I can honestly say that I do not regret that at all. The crowds were great, from the funny signs along the way ("You think running is hard, try holding this sign and I am drunk", PS. She was drunk), to the frat boys on Drexel's campus giving out beer at mile 6 or 7, to the great crowds in Manayunk, more beer at miles 20 something,  and finally all the support in the last 2 miles of the race along Kelly Drive and the Art Museum. Absolutely great experience and atmosphere. It doesn't hurt that it takes you approximately 10 minutes to get out after you cross the finish line. It is such a huge difference to just get home not long after that and relax! I am certainly up for running the Philadelphia Marathon again!

I fueled the entire run with Tailwind Nutrition which again is really all you need. My mix of Lemon and Naked seem to go great together! My Altra The One got me through this race as well. I really enjoyed running in them, even though I wish I could have went faster. (legs fault, not the shoes) They will get a proper speed soon enough.

While the official races are done for this year, I am still planning on running the fat ass Rocky 50K that our #ultrachat friend Rebecca is organizing on December 7th. I will most likely give it a go, because I am scared of her wrath if I don't.

Oh yeah, Amy will be giving away a free entry to the Blue Ridge Marathon soon enough if you are interested. Stay tuned.

Go forth and run.

Badge of honor

We did it!


  1. Ha, good answer about Rocky. :P

    Congrats on the finish! You should be happy and proud!

  2. Congratulations on your awesome marathon finish! I would love to run the Philadelphia Marathon sometime as I grew up on the Main Line. I hope you have a great holiday and enjoy some great end of fall/winter running!


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