Saturday, November 29, 2014

Philadelphia Marathon 2014

My friend Kelli decided she was going to run her first marathon at the Philadelphia Marathon and invited me to stay with her if I wanted to run it too.  I wasn't really sure about it at first, but ultimately decided it would be a ton of fun to go run Philly with her and see her cross the finish line of her first marathon.

I followed an 18 week training program from Train Like a Mother.  I felt that it was a solid program and that my training, while not absolutely perfect, had gone really well.  I felt physically prepared to meet my goal of setting a new PR, which would be to beat my Harrisburg Marathon time of 3:55:29.

So on Saturday morning, Kelli, her friend Andi, and I drove together to the expo.  Parking was a nightmare!  We drove around Chinatown for 20 minutes before giving up on street parking and going into a parking garage.  Once inside we met up with Mike and Jamie and their friend Isaac.  We picked up our packets and meandered around to check out the exhibits.  I bought a Flip Belt, and I swear it wasn't an impulse buy!  I've been thinking about one for about a month and thought I'd just go for it.  Can't wait to try it out!  I also stopped to talk to the folks at the OAR (Organization for Autism Research) stand.  I took some of their info and gave them my contact info.  Feels good to make connections!
Jamie & Me
After paying our $25 parking garage fee (!!!!!) we went to Kel's mom's house.  Fran showed us such hospitality.  We ate well, hydrated, laid out our race stuff, and turned in by 9:30.  I actually passed out quickly and slept like a rock.
Race Prep
Kelli and I got up around 4am on race day.  Her cousin April was there by 5am to give us a ride to the start.  Apparently it was of utmost importance to be there no later than 5:30am in order to get through security.  So Kelli and I followed a crowd of other runners, stepped by a few fences, and suddenly we realized we were in.  I still don't even know where the security check points were.  That's really reassuring, right?!  We didn't have any items we wanted to check, so we found our starting corrals, then stood in line for the bathroom.  We had lots of waiting around to do.
Pre-marathon Hanging Out
Eventually, Kelli and I hugged and wished each other well and got into our own corrals.  I remember Mayor Nutter speaking as well as our new governor, Tom Wolf, although I don't remember what either said.  I was too distracted.  After the elites and maroon corral had left, our corral was walked to the start and before I knew it, I was running in my fourth marathon.  I have never run in a race this large before, not even close.  I still can't believe how crowded it was for much of the race.  While I was looking forward to the energy of the crowd, I wonder if this is where I screwed up.  I know I started too fast despite my best efforts to slow down, I always do.  

Somewhere between miles 9-10 I was already hurting.  My back hurt, my feet hurt, I had had side stitches for a couple miles already, and this new ankle/heel/calf pain that I had never experienced before.  I remember thinking, "If I feel this bad this early, maybe I should just run the half."  I was giving serious consideration to DNFing (Did Not Finish) when I looked into the crowd and locked eyes with Isaac.  I had only met Isaac the day before at the expo.  But I took it as a sign that in that dark moment I could look into a sea of people and find one of the most encouraging runners I have ever met.  So I kept running.  And I kept struggling.  I did get to see Jamie three times out on the course and she cheered me on.  I also got to see Kelli running with her cousin, April.  Normally that kind of thing would really boost my spirits, but not this day.  There was a lot of struggling, a lot of wishing it was over, a lot of walking.  

With about five miles to go, I spotted Isaac again.  I got the feeling he was looking for me, and to this moment I don't know if that truly is what he was doing.  But I asked him to run with me anyway, and he did.  He really helped me this race, probably a lot more than he'll ever realize.

LocationNet Time

Pace Between
10K Split54:06

8:42 /mi
9:08 /mi
Halfway Split1:57:09

8:56 /mi
11:06 /mi
30K Split2:58:37

9:34 /mi
11:33 /mi
Finish Sunday4:26:15

10:09 /mi

In retrospect, I realize I had no game plan.  I didn't have a plan for fueling or hydration, for approaching aid stations, for when things got tough.  I just had no plan.  I guess I thought that my previous experience would be all I needed.  But I never put any thought into my race and I'm certain that hurt me.

So I guess its time to get into the nitty-gritty.  And I guess I'll just come right out and say it.  I am disappointed in my race.  It took a few days to be able to say that, because at first I was disappointed in myself.  Of course I was.  I had trained well for eighteen weeks, all along knowing what I was capable of, knowing that the goal I had in mind was within reach.  Then race day arrives and its like I didn't even show up.  But now, after a few days, I am not disappointed in myself anymore.  That voice that told me to quit, that said I couldn't do it, that voice was wrong.  And I'm glad I didn't listen to that voice.  Living with a disappointing race is a lot easier than the regret I would have inevitably felt for dropping out.  I'm still searching for the lessons to learn from this race, and still wondering why it went so wrong.  But in the meantime, I'm starting to feel a little pride in having completed my fourth marathon.
When Mags says you've won- believe it!!!
And I'm sure you're wondering about my friends.  Mike and Jamie both had amazing races and set incredible new PRs.  Read about Jamie's race here.  And seeing Kelli cross the finish line brought tears of joy to my eyes.  I am so proud of her for all her hard work and feel so blessed to be counted among her friends.
Fran & Kelli
Also, in case you're wondering, I haven't let this bad race scare me off.  My wheels are already trying to decide which races to run in 2015 and a marathon (or two!) will definitely be among them.


  1. You did amazing in my eyes. You pushed through pain. You overcame the negative voices in your head. You walked away with a respectable time too. You will PR and it will be incredible. No doubt.

  2. You finished a marathon! You might have struggled, but you found it within yourself to keep on going and you crossed that finish line! That is amazing and inspiring!!! It was awesome to be able to cheer you on!

  3. You did great out there! I often think that finishing when things aren't going to plan is more respectable than finishing with a PR and everything going right. It makes you stronger. You are a wonderful runner and you will get your PR, I have no doubt in my mind!


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