When I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run last year, it was a tremendous relief just to be able to run at all. I’d spent the better part of a month suffering from serious tendinitis in my right ankle and hadn’t even been able to run the week before the race. Fortunately, the rest did me good and I was able to run. I finished with 7:58 splits. I ran about half a minute faster than I expected to run and felt great about it.
This year I haven’t had any of those setbacks, but I was still uncertain about my goals for this race. Should I take it easy and treat it as a practice run? Should I push myself and try to hit the 7:15 pace I need to qualify for Boston in November? I met up with Kristen early yesterday morning thinking that I’d do the former. My mind was made up, or so I thought. I didn’t want to be disappointed if I tried to hit marathon pace and failed. This was a failsafe.
Wrong. After wish Kristen luck, I took off like a shot. The race atmosphere and the beautiful weather really got me going. The new wave start was great, too. I didn’t feel trapped while running down the 6th St. cattle chute like I did last year. Suddenly I found myself cruising through the first five miles at about a 7:05 pace. I felt great! But would it last?
I held a 7:05 through the rest of the race, even though my Garmin Forerunner crapped out when it reached its storage limit somewhere around mile 11. (It’s a long story, and Garmin’s Mac support looks very bad in it.) Helen cheered me just as I was coming into the finish and I was done. I ran 13.1 miles in 1:32:38, about ten minutes faster than I ran the same race last year.
The great thing about the Philly Distance Run is that it comes at the exact halfway point in my marathon training. Last year it told me that I was making good progress after overcoming some setbacks. This year it poses a question: how much faster can I run between now and the marathon?