Philadelphia Marathon Course

A printable Marathon Map on TwitPic

Click on the pic­ture to enlarge the map of the Philadel­phia Marathon course.

I can’t believe this is just a few days away now. I’m real­ly con­fused and scared by the last ten miles of the course. I don’t know how all those peo­ple can be fun­neled up one side of Kel­ly Dri­ve and back the oth­er. I don’t think run­ning all the way up Chest­nut St. will be all that fun either. Run­ning up Wal­nut dur­ing the Philadel­phia Dis­tance Run was a night­mare. I just hope I’m far enough to the front of the pack to not have to wor­ry about the course being clogged by folks who are turn­ing around look­ing for their friends. I’m keep­ing my fin­gers crossed!

Marathon Training Update: Hot Split Edition

This was a ter­ri­ble week for work­outs. It all start­ed with last Sat­ur­day’s late night Phillies win over Tam­pa and got tougher from there. I man­aged Sun­day’s run okay, but then the dread­ed Mon­day night rain­out that end­ed with me drunk and sleep­ing on the couch. (Helen was trav­el­ing, and I don’t take care of myself very well while she’s away.) I spent Tues­day recov­er­ing as best I could. I woke up a ran a speedy ten on Wednes­day with every inten­tion of run­ning five on Thurs­day, but it was­n’t meant to be. Every­thing was thrown out the win­dow after the Phillies clinched the World Series Wednes­day night.

That’s okay. Shout­ing like a mani­ac at the cor­ner of Broad and Shunk was well worth it.

I was suf­fi­cient­ly rest­ed Sat­ur­day morn­ing to pick up with a 10 mile pace run. That start­ed out great and went down­hill, owed to a few fac­tors, includ­ing sleep depri­va­tion and the fact that I only ate a hoagie and a few Reese’s cups on Friday.

Yes­ter­day I was able to get in a sol­id 20 mile run in 2:36 and change. I dropped about five min­utes off my last 20 mile time. I was aim­ing for an 8 minute mile aver­age, but felt good enough on the run back to bring that down to 7:49. My last mile came in at 6:42 sec­onds. Not too shab­by after run­ning 19, right?

I think I’m at a good place in my train­ing and expect to see my times drop now that Rob and I have com­plet­ed the bulk of the mileage. We have just one week of short train­ing runs before the taper begins. I have a feel­ing that once our bod­ies get time to recov­er, we’ll drop up to 15 sec­onds per mile.

I think I’m on tar­get to run a Boston qual­i­fi­er in my first marathon, an improb­a­ble goal I set for myself back in June. I’m in a state of ner­vous dis­be­lief. I think I’m just going to make friends with whomev­er is run­ning pace for a 3:10 marathon and stick to his or her hip.

I can’t believe the marathon is only a few weeks away. I would’ve nev­er imag­ined feel­ing this good and con­fi­dent when I start­ed twen­ty some odd weeks ago.

Marathon Training Update: Gaining Speed

I’m final­ly get­ting there. I’m up to Week 13 of Hal Hig­don’s Inter­me­di­ate II pro­gram and things are going great. When I start­ed run­ning 18 weeks ago, I had no idea how to approach “race pace” runs. I was so out of shape that I could­n’t even imag­ine where I’d end up for the marathon. I dreamt of run­ning a Boston qual­i­fi­er in my first marathon, but that did­n’t seem very like­ly, even on a friend­ly Philadel­phi­an course.

Today I test­ed myself to find out what I might be able to accom­plish and I was pleas­ant­ly sur­prised. I ran 10 miles in 1:12 and change, which put me at a 7:12/mile pace, three sec­onds ahead of the 7:15 I’d have to main­tain to qual­i­fy for Boston. With a lit­tle more than a month to go before the Philadel­phia Marathon, I’d like to think that, bar­ring injury, I might even improve a bit on that pace.

I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself though. I’m run­ning my sec­ond 20 mile run tomor­row morn­ing from the usu­al start at 21st and Poplar out to For­bid­den Dri­ve and back. I’m going to see if I can get the Garmin Vir­tu­al Part­ner fig­ured out to help me main­tain an 8:15/mile pace tomor­row. I want to be very con­sis­tent and care­ful now that the mileage is reach­ing a peak to pro­tect myself from injury.

It’s a real treat to get out­doors and enjoy the fall weath­er along the Schuykill and Wis­sahick­on. It’s a lit­tle chilly when I leave the house, but feels com­fort­able by the time I get warmed up.

Fast for­ward 24 hours from the pre­vi­ous four para­graphs: I just got back from run­ning 20 miles in 2:41 and change, rough­ly 12 min­utes faster than my last 20 mile time. I tried hold­ing 8:15 miles, but found myself rip­ping off 7:45 and faster splits from the 14 mile point onward. I feel great. I hope I’m not peak­ing too soon, but I think if I keep chal­leng­ing myself over the next month, I’ll be in great shape for the marathon.

I feel like I have a Boston qual­i­fi­er in me if I run smart. Do you think I can do it? If any­one has qual­i­fied for the Boston Marathon and can share train­ing insights, espe­cial­ly with respect to the taper, let me know in the comments!

Marathon Training Update: 50 Mile Week Edition

Yep, you read that right. What­ev­er lin­ger­ing doubts I had about my abil­i­ty to do long mileage were put to rest this week. Not only did I run pain-free, I ran faster than I have in my train­ing thus far. That com­fort trans­lat­ed into a dream­like 20 mil­er yes­ter­day, which Rob and I fin­ished in two hours, fifty-three min­utes and change.

I’m real­ly hap­py to have the Garmin Fore­run­ner 405. Despite a weird bat­tery hic­cup yes­ter­day, it proved an invalu­able train­ing tool. We dis­cov­ered that we ran a bit beyond our rec­om­mend­ed mileage last week­end, thanks to my now com­plete­ly con­den­sa­tion-fried Nike Plus Sportband.

At this point in train­ing, it’s best to have an accu­rate mea­sure to avoid over­train­ing and risk­ing injury. My Garmin does just that, while pro­vid­ing great insight into the actu­al run itself. Neg­a­tive splits, FTW!

The mileage steps back this week, with a long run of 12 miles. The real ben­e­fit is that now I can con­cen­trate on speed and not so much on whether I’ll have enough gas in the tank for Sun­day’s long run. More­over, I’m sure next week will feel even eas­i­er now that long and short weeks alter­nate. I’m already eager to see how much our 20 mile time improves two weeks from now.


When my right ankle bal­looned three weeks ago, I thought my marathon train­ing was over. I knew that the doc­tors would rec­om­mend that I rest and take anti-inflam­ma­to­ries, which I did, but I nev­er expect­ed it to work to the degree it has. Some­times it’s great to be sur­prised, eh?

After run­ning the Philadel­phia Dis­tance Run pain-free, I was excit­ed to get into the Week 10 train­ing, which fea­tured a long run of 19 miles. It was a great week over­all, despite my ongo­ing frus­tra­tion with the Nike Plus Sport­band. We ran the last of our four mile week­day runs, two 9 mile runs and then 19 yesterday.

The weath­er was­n’t per­fect by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion. My train­ing part­ner Rob called at 5:30 a.m. to say that we should prob­a­bly push our start time back from 6:15 to 7, just to see if the weath­er would clear up a lit­tle bit. For­tu­nate­ly for us it did and we were able to run in a light driz­zle to a fine mist along our stan­dard “long-run” route from Fair­mount all the way out to the red cov­ered bridge that spans the Wissahickon.

In the end we based our mileage on time rather than dis­tance. Why? Because the Nike Plus Sport­band is such an unre­li­able piece of equip­ment, a posi­tion I’ve held for a while. It’s been so frus­trat­ing to have to guessti­mate mileage that I decid­ed to buy the Garmin Fore­run­ner 405. When you’re run­ning any­thing over 10 miles, I think it’s best to have a pret­ty exact­ing piece of equip­ment. Based on what I’ve read and the peo­ple I’ve spo­ken to who’ve used it, I think this is the answer.

This week is a major step-up in train­ing. It’s a fifty mile week, with runs of five, 10, five, 10 and 20 miles. As much as dis­tance has been an issue with the Nike prod­uct, pace has been a night­mare, too. We’ll be able to train more effec­tive­ly with the Garmin than we have at any pri­or point in train­ing. Yes­ter­day we caught up with a guy on a 20 mile run and ran a 7 minute mile with him from mile­mark­er 15 to 16. It was so reas­sur­ing to know that we have that kind of ener­gy that far into a long run.

If you can’t tell, I’m start­ing to get real­ly excit­ed about the marathon. My weight has dropped into the low 180’s and I’m get­ting clos­er to my goal weight of 170 by race day. I’ve been doing weight train­ing before work three days a week to great effect. While I don’t think a Boston qual­i­fi­er is in my future, at least not for this marathon, I think I may be able to break the 3:30 bar­ri­er with a lit­tle bit of luck. I’ll keep you post­ed as always on my progress.