I Ran My 2nd Philadelphia Marathon

Want a marathon pro tip? Have a race plan. It’s the only way you’re going to live to tell the tale.

You know what I did wrong this year? I did­n’t have a race plan. Unlike last year, the world inter­vened, mak­ing it hard­er for me to train at the lev­el I did in 2008. It rained fre­quent­ly and hard. I had a beau­ti­ful baby boy. I came down with a bad head cold at the end of October.  Yes, I did the best I could con­sid­er­ing the cir­cum­stances, but when I caught a cold after a few too many runs in the Octo­ber rain com­bined with a baby who’s just learn­ing to sleep on his own, marathon train­ing kind of goes out the window.

What was the out­come? A com­plete­ly respectable 3:35 marathon. I did­n’t set the world ablaze like I did last year when I ran a heart­break­ing 3:13 and just missed qual­i­fy­ing for Boston in my debut, but I man­aged to main­tain my dig­ni­ty and come in with a time most ama­teur run­ners would kill for. I’m not ashamed of that.

I am ashamed of how stu­pid­ly I ran. I met my friend Pat at the start. He was shoot­ing for a 3:40 time, and that sound­ed rea­son­able to me after tak­ing so much time off. I wish I could’ve main­tained that out­look for more than a mile. I took off hell-bent for the 3:30 group just as I hit Delaware Ave. I felt good! I fig­ured I might just uncork a decent run! I was in for a surprise.

I caught up to the 3:30 group by mile 5. I still felt great, but that’s prob­a­bly because I was­n’t pay­ing any atten­tion to my wild­ly fluc­tu­at­ing splits. I sud­den­ly believed that I could catch the 3:20 group by, say, mile 12. And thus end­ed any chance of me recov­er­ing any sem­blance of a race plan.

What hap­pened from that point for­ward can be summed up pret­ty eas­i­ly. I took the fly and die approach. I ran very hard right up until about mile 18, where­upon I real­ized how dif­fi­cult the next 8 miles were going to be. Ordi­nar­i­ly, I run 8 miles an hour. Last Sun­day, I found myself walk­ing and jog­ging just to be sure I would fin­ish the run. I learned a hard lesson.

I crossed the fin­ish line in agony, but I fin­ished. I also real­ized that the OCD lev­el of dis­ci­pline that I brought to my first marathon is a must if I’m going to achieve that sort of suc­cess again. Am I dis­cour­aged? Not at all. I’m invig­o­rat­ed. I’m excit­ed to train hard this win­ter and I plan on enter­ing some spring races. Bring it on!

Marathon Training Update

I haven’t been slack­ing with run­ning despite not writ­ing about it here very much. In fact, I’m off to what I believe to be a much bet­ter start than I was last year. This time last year I was bat­tling ten­donitis in my right ankle, an injury made worse by an inad­ver­tent kick in the shin dur­ing a beach soc­cer game in mid-August. I was hob­bled and had to take a week off after see­ing a doc­tor. A steady diet of pain med­ica­tion and stretch­ing got my back on track and I was chomp­ing at the bit for the Philadel­phia Dis­tance Run.Con­tin­ue read­ing “Marathon Train­ing Update”