23 weeks of training came to fruition yesterday as I completed the Philadelphia Marathon in 3:13:33. I ran through three pair of Puma sneakers, the last three I had from my Philebrity Fit Club winnings. They served me well. I ran over 750 miles in the past six months, and they were with me every step of the way.
Want some highlights? Of course you do!
- It was crazy cold. I’ve read that it was 27 degrees at the start, but 19 with the wind chill. For context, consider this: the air horn that would’ve signaled the start froze! Mayor Nutter had to countdown the start.
- I ran most of the race behind a man who wore shorts, no shirt. Need I say more?
- That crazy cold made for some crazy conditions. The water was freezing on the street at the water stations, making a difficult run treacherous. I tip-toed through them gingerly, fingers crossed. I didn’t fall, so that technique clearly worked.
- The course map was wrong! I think people had an idea that we wouldn’t be running up South St. as it’s been torn up. We ran up Spruce instead, which meant running across some Belgian block. How quaint! Sprain an ankle in a colonial style!
- There are cars parked on the course. Periodically the Clif pace runner would call for fans to step back off Chestnut St., which would really help, except they were actually protecting us from the cars parked on the course. I didn’t see anyone wipe out on a hood of a parked vehicle, but it was definitely possible.
- Speaking of wipeouts I didn’t stop to watch: I was running in Fairmount Park when suddenly the pack parted and I saw a white flash in my peripheral vision. I identified it as a shoe. Its owner was in hot pursuit, diving back for it against the oncoming runners. Like I said, I didn’t wait to see if he was trampled. I hope not.
- The Clif bar pace guy was great, but: he ran the first half of the marathon behind pace, and then made up the difference in the second half. This was a disaster for a runner like myself, who needs to stick to one pace and run like a human metronome.
- A half-marathon is a piece of cake. Everyone should do one. I wasn’t crowing like this in September when I ran my first, but now I think it’s safe to say that 13.1 miles just isn’t that far. It seems far, but if you take the time to prepare yourself, you can totally run this distance. Think about it.
- Running fans make funny signs. The funniest I remember reading read: Bet U Wish U Taped Ur Nipples Today. I didn’t, but I laughed anyway. I needed to laugh. I just finished running Lemon Hill.
- Speaking of hills, Philadelphia isn’t as flat as everyone says. It’s hard to visualize just where the course takes you, so the little hills here and there really catch you by surprise. Fairmount was tough; Lemon Hill was tougher; and that last little overpass into Manayunk was the worst.
- Everything you hear about the last 6.2 miles is true. I ran 20 mile training runs three times. I was consistently able to dig in and run the last four miles up to 20 seconds faster than my workout pace. Not so on Sunday. I sputtered to 8 minute miles by mile 22. Should I have eaten another gel? Maybe, but there wasn’t much left in the tank anyway.
- Having said that, I think that I went out too fast. The adrenaline was flowing and I felt great in those first seven miles. I cranked out a sub-7 mile somewhere in there. Didn’t mean to, but I did. Did it hurt me? Probably, but I still managed a 7:19/mile average on the run.
- Anything else? I’m already looking forward to next year’s marathon. I really wanted to qualify for Boston and I just missed it this year. I don’t feel badly about it; I only spent six months training for this one and I nearly did it. I plan to rest, recover from this run, get some new sneakers (possibly Pearl Izumis), buy a running jacket, and stay frosty this winter. I hope I see you out there!
- Last, but not least: I want to extend a special thanks to Ross and Bryan from Philadelphia Runner. I can’t say enough how great these guys are and how welcome I feel every time I walk into their stores. Their support and encouragement were wonderful. Ross even handed me a water along the course!