2012 Philadelphia Marathon Recap

Matt and MeI finished my first marathon! The whole thing is still a little surreal, and I’ve been struggling with what to even write about it.

First of all, I never thought I would be a marathon runner! I could barely run two miles before I signed up for my first half marathon last year. Now, I can’t imagine my life without running. Running my first marathon in Philly, the city where I went to college and adore, made the milestone even more special.

I’m also incredibly grateful that my ankle held up and I actually finished the race. Even as we were driving to Philly on Saturday morning, I was having doubts. What if I had to stop running in the middle of the race? Or worse, what if I injured myself even more trying to run? Having a 6+ hour car ride to think about it didn’t help.

When we arrived, just being in Philly was a nice distraction. I hadn’t been back in over two years. Marathon or not, I was happy to be there.

Before we knew it, it was Sunday and our alarm was going off at 4:30am. I am not a morning person, but I had so much nervous energy that I jumped out of bed.

Pre-race Breakfast

Matt and I had both decided on bagels with peanut butter and bananas as our pre-race breakfast. Because no one likes a stale bagel, we brought some foil to toast our bagels with the iron (a tip Matt found on Serious Eats). It actually worked!

Philly Marathon

I loved that we could walk to the start of the race from our hotel. It felt like one less thing to worry about. My ankle felt a little tight as we started walking, but ultimately I think the walk helped loosen it up a little.

Shortly after arriving, Matt and I parted ways to line up in our corrals. I started to get a little teary as my corral inched towards the start. I tried to pull myself together – I knew that fighting back tears would not be a good use of my energy (plus, I looked ridiculous).

Philly Marathon

About 20 minutes after the official start, my corral was off. The race started down Ben Franklin Parkway towards Center City, and looped around some of my favorite downtown neighborhoods. My mom and her friend Candace were there to cheer me on at a couple of spots in those first six miles. That part was so fun that I almost forgot I had to run 26.2 miles! I had to keep reminding myself so I didn’t start too fast and burn out.

Philly Marathon

Somewhat ironically, the first picture I thought to take mid-race was of our favorite, divey BYOT (bring your own tequila) Mexican restaurant in college. We had so many not-so-classy times there, and running by it made me literally laugh out loud.

Philly Marathon

Running through Center City went by very quickly. Suddenly, we were on the bridge over to University City. I couldn’t wait to run by Penn (my alma mater), even though we would only be running by one block of it.

Philly Marathon

One more bridge over and we would have been running under the Penn sign!

Philly Marathon

Oh hey, there’s Penn! This was right after mile 7, and I felt great. This was also where the first real hill started. I was in such a great mood that I kept trotting along at my current pace. I started going a little faster even after that hill.

Philly Marathon

Somewhere between miles 11 and 12, probably right after the second big hill in Fairmount Park, my quads started to hurt. Luckily there was a group of spectators dressed up in costume to distract me.

Philly Marathon

I was happy that it wasn’t my ankle that was hurting, at least.

Philly Marathon

The last picture I took was heading towards the Art Museum and the half-marathon mark. My quads were hurting more than I felt was normal at that point, but I tried to just relax and enjoy the view.

After the half mark, I got a small surge of energy. I knew I could (and would) finish.

The pain in my quads started getting much worse over the next few miles, and the last 10 or so miles were kind of a blur. Going up Kelly Drive towards Manayunk, knowing that we would be looping around in Manayunk back towards Center City, was difficult to think about. I tried to stay focused on getting to that turnaround point at mile 20.

My legs were starting to cramp up. I stopped a few times at the end to stretch. I forced myself to keep running after stopping, even though I was just sort of shuffling along. I felt like walking would have just prolonged the pain. I actually couldn’t believe how much I was hurting because my long training runs had gone so well!

The last 3 miles were…well, torture. I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t run in two weeks, or just the fact that I hadn’t run over 20 miles before, but it was like nothing I had ever experienced. I just kept thinking how awesome it was going to feel to finish. And how awesome it was going to be to sit down at brunch.

Finally I hit 26, where I saw my mom and Candace. Then I saw Matt, who had finished over an hour earlier. Seeing them got me through the last .2! (Katie was there too, but I somehow missed her!)

Philly Marathon

We did it! My official time was 4:26:18, and speedy Matt finished in 3:25:27. After a surprising sub-2 hour half marathon this year, I was sort of hoping to do a little bit better. I can’t complain though, because I was lucky to be able to finish! For some reason I didn’t expect the last part to be as hard as it was. Now I know. Marathons are, in fact, hard.

My Mom and Me

Here’s my mom and me post-race. She cried a little, which made me cry!


And here’s Katie, me, and Matt after we cleaned up for brunch. I was so excited to order that cava!

I was sort of hilariously sore after the race (or hilarious for everyone else to watch, not so hilarious to me). Literally, every muscle in my body hurt. Walking up and down the stairs was a serious challenge. But it was worth it. I think I’m finally just about recovered, and already thinking about which marathon I want to sign up for next year :). Maybe Philly again? Or Chicago?

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  • http://www.acambridgestory.com Emily

    Congrats!! What an accomplishment. Those last miles are definitely torture but you finished and with an amazing time. Hope you’re legs are holding up ok in the aftermath!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      Thanks – I’m miraculously feeling almost 100% better now!

  • http://megan-deliciousdishings.blogspot.com/ Megan

    I love Philly. It must have been so nice to be able to check out the city sights while running. Congratulations!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      Yeah, I loved that the course was so scenic…and thanks!

  • http://www.simplylifeblog.com/ Simply Life

    CONGRATULATIONS!! So glad your ankle held up okay! Wow, I’m so impressed with your time for your first marathon!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      Thank you!!

  • http://joanne-eatswellwithothers.com/ Joanne (eats well with others)

    WOOT WOOT!! Girl you totally ROCKED the race!! I felt like my legs were unnaturally crampy about halfway through also…I think it had something to do with the streets being so slanted! I think you had an AWESOME time and while people say you can predict marathon times with half marathon times…really they are two totally different beasts!!

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      Thank you – so did you!! Interesting about the streets being slanted…I hadn’t thought of that! Now that you say it, I sort of remember people talking about it along the way and how their legs felt weird because of it.

  • http://www.coastingkatie.com/ Katie

    Oh please, I cried at the start too. Totally normal… Haha.

  • http://twitter.com/MichellePC Michelle Collins

    Congrats!! Such an amazing accomplishment. And glad to hear the ankle held up!

  • Dara Reppucci

    Congrats! This is quite an achievement. Well done

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  • http://www.confessionsofachocoholic.com/ Bianca Garcia

    Congratulations! I love reading race recaps, and you wrote yours wonderfully. I want to run a marathon too!

  • Sacha

    Congratulations! I’m so impressed.

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  • Freckles

    Yay!! Congrats on your Marathon!! So cute that your Mom cried!

  • http://twitter.com/tri2cook Shannon G

    I forgot you ran philly and went to penn!! (went for grad school) congrats, and what an awesome job 🙂

    • http://www.culinarycolleen.com/ Colleen

      I don’t think I realized you went there for grad school! Small world!

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