My Second Marathon

I ran my first marathon last year. It was an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence that got me off the couch and back on the trail for the first time in ages. I nev­er looked back.

Now I’ve start­ed train­ing for my sec­ond marathon. It has­n’t been easy. It’s been far more chal­leng­ing to moti­vate myself. Being in bet­ter shape than I was at this time last year is no guar­an­tee that I’m going to be more effec­tive as my train­ing progresses.

I have 19 weeks to see if I can pull it togeth­er for this year’s Philadel­phia Marathon. It’s going to be a wild ride!

The Running Man

If you fol­low me on Twit­ter or Dai­ly Mile, or by some strange twist of fate bump into me in real life, you know I start­ed train­ing for and suc­cess­ful­ly com­plet­ed the Philadel­phia Marathon last Novem­ber. I’ve tried to keep it up over the course of the win­ter, but it has­n’t been easy. Cold weath­er and icy side­walks aren’t the most invit­ing aspects of the mid-Atlantic region, and I can’t stand to run on a tread­mill. I often opt­ed out of a morn­ing run rather than risk break­ing my neck on some black ice I did­n’t see (or to just stay in my nice warm bed a lit­tle longer.)

I’ve lost a step, thanks to that, but I’m con­fi­dent know­ing that the time I lazed will like­ly keep me from over­train­ing at an unsus­tain­ably high lev­el. I’m a lit­tle frus­trat­ed by the set­back, but I’m still aver­ag­ing a sub‑8 minute mile, so it won’t be long before I’m run­ning com­fort­ably at clos­er to 7 minute miles all the time.

Now that the weath­er’s start­ing to get warmer and the sun is up before I’m at the office, I’m back out on the streets of Port Fish­ing­ton again. (I know, I’ve said I hate that term, and I do, but I use it here because I’m run­ning from my house into Port Rich­mond, and occa­sion­al­ly Brides­burg. There are now no few­er than four names for my neighborhood.They include Olde Rich­mond, which is total­ly bogus, brought to you by ORCA; there’s Flat Iron, the name most of our neigh­bors call the area; and last­ly, Cione, which derives from the play­ground at the neigh­bor­hood’s north­east­ern bound­ary at Aramin­go and Lehigh.) My route right now takes me up Rich­mond St., which is usu­al­ly pret­ty emp­ty (and always flat) when I get out there in the hazy pre-dawn hours. It can be a bit bor­ing, and it’s not exact­ly pic­turesque, but it’s con­ve­nience that dic­tates the terms here.

I’m look­ing for­ward to April, when it’ll be even warmer and I’ll feel more com­fort­able rid­ing my bike down to the Com­cast Cen­ter. Then I’ll be joined by my friend Bri­an from the Food Trust on morn­ing runs dur­ing the week. We’re already run­ning togeth­er on week­ends and it’s been great. I can think of few things more reward­ing than get­ting out ear­ly on a Sat­ur­day or Sun­day morn­ing for a good long run. It’s actu­al­ly pret­ty beau­ti­ful if you can get out there before every rollerblad­er and week­end cyclist descends on Kel­ly Drive.

I’m already look­ing for­ward to those 14+ mile runs that take us into Wis­sahick­on Creek Park. It’ll be amaz­ing to get back out there in the late sum­mer and ear­ly fall.

I Ran the 2008 Philadelphia Marathon

Marathon shoes, orig­i­nal­ly uploaded by Black­mail Is My Life.

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!

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.