I’m joining you from the comfort of my living room where I am watching Criminal Minds, reading Women’s Running magazine and not wearing pants. Let’s not forget I also went out to buy frozen yogurt. Why? Well, because I’m an adult that’s why! Really though, it’s because today was the ONLY day in the ENTIRE month of November where I didn’t have something written as a “to do” in my calendar. How glorious a feeling not to have to remember to deviate from my normal schedule. Given this lovely spot of happiness, let’s talk about this past weekend’s events.
As most of you know, I attempted a 50K last Saturday (on a realllly hard trail) and I “only” made it to mile 25. I was OK with this though. This Sunday I found myself at the starting line of the Gore-Tex Philadelphia Marathon. As part of the Gore Running Wear Team, I was one of 8 bloggers who were treated to an amazing trip to Philly. Personally I was flown in,
put up in a swanky downtown hotel,
treated to a rather upscale dinner for my blood,
given entry to the marathon and granted access to VIP tents upon my running return.
Talk about a fish out of water! This girl just knows how to run and be dirty. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
The race started at 700 AM and we were warned to be entering security by 500 AM. Well, this was GREATLY over sold as “security” was simply walking through lanes created by metal “fences”. The guards didn’t even make me show my bib and when they saw my pack I told them it was my coat (it was) and they let me go inside. Not making me feel too safe, but whatever. I’m glad my team and I all voted to go at 600 AM instead because we SO didn’t need to be there at 500 AM! I turned my drop bag in and stood in a sardine pile with my throw away clothing on and waited my turn. I discovered the “timer” feature on my phone too! Haha.
It took 30 minutes to cross the starting line from my corral. Part of me wished I had snuck into an earlier gathering so I’d have more time to chase the cut offs for the half and full! If you didn’t make the half split by 3 hours and 30 minutes you were forced to finish at the half. According to the website the marathon cut off was 7 hours.
The flags lining the city and all the cheers were magical.
I laughed when the sea of about 30,000 runners split in two around the town circle. People panicked thinking they were in the marathon side instead of the half. We all quickly merged again and took off down the streets. Within a few feet I was miserable. Back to back marathons were catching up with me. I was cold and stiff from waiting and it did feel weird to be there alone. As I was feeling sorry for myself, I forced myself to snap out of it. I was SO lucky and SO blessed to be there for SO many reasons. I busted my ass, and fought tooth and nail to get back to this place in my running and to be in this moment. I was not going to let a bad attitude take it all away in an instant. Once I calmed down, the fun came rushing back.
Miles 1-3 went by fairly quickly. I was keeping a steady 12 minute pace. Slow, but not terribly slow. Then came the bathroom stop. WOW longest stop ever. I also realized my feet were starting to go numb. Over the next 3 miles it was a jog/walk combo and by my 10K split I was really hurting from tight hamstrings. My pace took a dive too. This was also a part with hills, a pretty bridge, and a juggler, so I stayed entertained.
Miles 7-10 included Dexel campus I believe, Fairmount park and a museum I snapped a picture of as I ran past.
Another bathroom break and a feeling of sadness when I felt like I wasn’t going to make this cutoff. Everything hurt and I was lonely. I called my Mom around mile 12 telling her this was certainly more rough than I anticipated and I wanted to stop at the half. Why not? It was still a good race distance and I could go hang out in my VIP tent!
Then I approached the fork in the road, not knowing if I made the 3:30…and they didn’t force me over. I would later find out I made it at 3:24:24. A girl I ran with for a few feet gave me a smile and wished me well on my way as she did make the turn off. I gave my best to catch up with a different girl named “Andria” and together we slid past the barricades and onto the next 13.1 miles. Why did I keep going? Because in my heart I knew I could never look at that medal without wondering “what if?”
Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t in “ideal shape”, but I knew I couldn’t give up. I wasn’t hurt, I was “just” sore and slow(er). Even if I was pulled from the course at the 7 hour cut off I would be more proud of 22 mile DNF than the 13.1 mile “settling”. No judgement to ANYONE else, but this was the race I needed to run(walk).
Not too far past the fork, I learned from a former Philly runner, while there is a 7 hour “cut off” they won’t pull you from the course. Wait, what? Yep. They open the roads, but allow you to keep going if you move to the sidewalk. Well slap my ass and call me Sally, because I was ALL OVER that information!
Up to mile 16-ish I was hanging with two runners I met on course named Alexie and Jennifer. Jennifer was doing her FIRST marathon (YAY) and Alexie completed the NYC marathon 3 weeks earlier! Woot! Here he was 3 weeks post marathon and I was floored by his dedication and ability. It took me a moment to realize I was doing the SAME thing on a lesser turn around. Ha. When will I learn to give myself credit? Alexie was wonderful and so full of energy. I appreciated his company more than I could have expressed. He shot this little Instagram video of me going over another beautiful bridge.
Shortly after this part we parted ways because he wanted to “push it” and I was 100% locked into walking. I wasn’t about to get injured when I knew I wasn’t setting any records. Along the last section of the course I made friends with Tammy, Michael and Thomas, all completing their first marathons. It’s so much fun and inspiring to hear people’s stories of what brought them out for their first 26.2.
Just before the 8 hour marker hit, I crossed the finish line. The below pic is not my hand, it’s another great pic of @Alexie.NYC on Instagram.
Crossing the line felt soooo GOOD! The mayor shook my hand and while we (the late finishers) didn’t get goody bags, the photographers were STILL there and did little mini photo shoots with us. This was one of my favorite parts. Being posed and doing fun things at the finish. I can’t WAIT to see the pictures!
MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR props to Island Photography. They were working that course and paid attention to ALL the runners. All too often as a “slower” runner I don’t show up in the picture feed. Photographers must get bored or move on to the next big deal spot to snag more pictures of the lead runners. From mile 1 to mile 26 there were people taking pictures. I made sure to thank them for staying out on the course. Plus all images are due to be up tomorrow. GREAT turn around time.
Part of me feels like the race was a blur. I finished, grabbed a taxi, then was at the airport and on a plane and back home before I really knew what was going on. Not having friends and family there didn’t make me sad, but it also didn’t really allow me to stop and savor the finish line moment. All the tents were shit down and I was starting to get a little chilled. Of course I was SUPER proud. It took me a moment to process how in 2014 I completed nearly back to back marathons both in the spring and fall, where in the past years ONE race would screw up my mind and body for months at a time.
People keep asking if I’ll do another road marathon since I’m very vocal about my love of trails. Yes I will. I’ve done 2 road marathons now and several trail 50Ks and they both hold value in my heart. Both of my road marathons were not given 100% though. I didn’t know what to expect the first time in 2009 and it wasn’t fair to run 8 days after my trail race in 2014. I’m looking forward to a future race where I can say it was the star of the show and really see what I’m able to do with my skills.
Thank you as always for all of you love and support, even when it comes in the form of a critique. Good luck in your future endeavors and I look forward to sharing more fitness stories with you as I settle in for the winter months.