I did it and I didn’t die in the process!
Pre-race: Normal routine for Philly races. Wake up ridiculously early, get dressed, make a PBJ for in the car and then hit the road so we can find parking. On my way to find the porta-potties, I bumped into a friend of mine from grade school/high school. She is a super fast runner, but wasn’t running yesterday. She was going to be working one of the aid stations. We chatted for a bit and then I was off to warm up and use the porta-potties some more.
Start: I got placed in the second to last corral so I had a pretty long time to wait before I actually crossed the start line. It was chilly and I spent a lot of time trying to keep my fingers warm. About 25 minutes after the race started, our corral took off.
Miles 1-8: I was having a blast. These miles were beautiful and fun and I was feeling good. Plus, there was decent crowd support. Highlights include hilarious signs around mile four including one that said “It doesn’t have to be fun to be fun,” running down South Street and seeing all the Christmas decorations already out, and the frat guys cheering and handing out beer in University City.
Mile 9: Hill o’ death.
Miles 10-12: Uh oh something in my legs wasn’t happy. I had to stop and stretch somewhere around mile 11 because my calves were tight and things were started to feel out of whack. I’ve never had to stop and stretch in a race before. I also seriously started to wonder if it would be smarter for me to cut the race short at the half.
Mile 13: Ran past my parents and Matt. Seeing them gave me a little bit of a boost going into the second half of the race which was a long out and back on Kelly Drive.
Mile 13.5: Passed my friend from high school working the aid station. She told me I was looking good and at this point I caught a little bit of a second wind.
Miles 14-15: My legs were tired, but I was feeling OK. I was holding a decent pace and taking walk breaks when necessary. There wasn’t a lot of crowd support on Kelly Drive, but one girl yelled out just keep rolling. So that’s what I did, I zoned out and listened to my music.
Mile 17: Where everything went to hell. My right leg was screaming at me. My IT band was having none of this race. My hip was aching and my knee was starting to nag. I pulled over to stretch again and I must have a looked bad because some guy asked me if I was OK. I told him I was fine, just needed a minute to stretch and then I kept going.
Mile 18-19: These miles were boring and memorable only because of how dull they were.
Mile 20-21: Manayunk was fun. There were lots of people out cheering and bands playing. There was a good vibe going. Plus at some point on the out and back, I saw another friend from high school who was running the race. He was looking really strong. We high fived and kept going.
Mile 22-25: By this time the pain in my knee was sharp, but walking was making my hip flexors ache. So my plan was to run about three or four minutes, until my knee started to nag and then walk for two or three minutes until my hip flexors started to hurt. I was fighting back tears the whole time because I was so frustrated. Besides my stupid knee, I felt great. I wasn’t hitting a wall, my legs were tired, but not overly so. I knew if it weren’t for my knee I could have been running stronger.
Mile 26: There was an uphill here before the downhill. I ran some and walked some. I passed my Dad and then a little farther down my mom and Matt. The picture says it all. You can see the pain written all over my face.
Finish: I crossed the finish line and must have been looking like death because the medical people grabbed me and asked if I was OK. (My finish line picture will be awful) I told them I really just needed some ice for my knee. So they had me sit down for a minute (man did that feel good) then directed me to the medical tent. On the way there I grabbed my medal and space blanket.
At medical, a very nice lady wrapped my knee and the ice felt amazing. I sat down, stretched, and eventually was rewarded with a Philly pretzel. It was the only thing I could stomach and man it was so good.
Aftermath: I’m left with mixed emotions after this race. I’m so happy that I finished and set a brand new PR: 4:43:58 (according to the tracking message my mom got, officially results should be posted later today). But I’m frustrated with my knee. During training I never had any knee problems so to all of a sudden have them crop up during the race, well that just sucked. And because I had to change my stride so much to accommodate my knee, I ended up with a monster blister on the bottom of my foot.
One day post-race: I’m still sore, but for the most part it’s just tight muscles. My knee’s a little achy, but nothing some ice and rest won’t fix. Although I drained the blister, the area is still so tender, my foot won’t fit in anything other than sneakers.
I can’t say enough good things about this race though. The course was beautiful and mostly flat and I’m about 90% sure I’ll be registering for the half next year. The crowd support in some places was just awesome. I thought everything was pretty well organized. Aid stations were well stocked, the volunteers were friendly and happy. It was a great atmosphere. My one criticism is that there didn’t seem to be enough porta-potties at the start.
As for when I’ll be running another marathon, that’s TBD. I still love the half more than anything, and that’s where I’ll be focusing for a while now.