The 2013 Philadelphia Marathon

Philadelphia Marathon

Whew, what a whirlwind week! Two midterms…and a marathon. I was totally spoiled last year when I was able to take the entire week of Thanksgiving off after the marathon last year for rest and recovery. This time, I had to take an orgo exam. Now I can finally breathe and relax for a couple of days.

Overall, the race was awesome. I love Philadelphia and I love the Philadelphia Marathon.

I tried not to have any expectations this year. I had to cut back on mileage early on in my training schedule when something weird was going on with my leg. I think I had been a little ambitious with my training plan, choosing an advanced one that had me upping my mileage too quickly from where I started. I went from thinking I could go for a sub-4 hour marathon this year to almost cancelling the whole thing. Thankfully, taking a week or so off and cross-training with yoga did the trick, and I was able to ease myself into a lower mileage training plan.

My legs were feeling really good after my 20 mile run, so I was secretly kind-of-sort-of hoping to finish in as close to 4 hours as possible.

Philadelphia Marathon

Even though this was my second time, it still felt surreal heading towards the start. It sounds so cliché, but the excitement from all the runners and crowds cheering is really intoxicating.

Philadelphia Marathon

Instead of aiming for a certain pace in the beginning, I just kind of went for it. I knew starting out fast went against all marathon advice I have ever heard, but I felt really great and kind of wanted to see how long I could hold my pace.

As I got close to the half point, I realized I was on track to finish the half in less than two hours. That’s when I got really excited and wondered if I actually did have a sub-4 hour marathon in me this time. I had a silly grin on my face as I kept chugging along, feeling like I still had a ton of energy left in me.

When I hit the half point at 2 hours, I took a deep breath, and thought to myself “you just have to do that one more time.” Ok, it’s entirely possible I said that to myself out loud.

The second half of the Philly course is definitely tough to get through mentally, especially up until the loop around point at mile 20. The crowds thin out and the course is set up so that you run out to Manayunk and then loop back around at mile 20.

I kept up my pace until that turn around, at which point I realized I’d have to run the rest at a little less than a 9-minute pace to finish in under four hours. Unfortunately, my legs hurt like hell and I started to feel a little nauseous. That was not going to happen.

Once I made that decision, I started walking through water stops…and then briefly after water stops…until it turned into a full-on walk/run mode. Starting to walk was a horrible idea because it was so hard to start up again every time. Once I got to mile 24, I forced myself to at least shuffle along slowly. I just looked down and tried to put one foot in front of the other, reminding myself that marathons aren’t supposed to be easy.

Philadelphia Marathon

I crossed the finish at 4:17:43, well over a half-hour after Matt. While it wasn’t what I had envisioned 2 hours prior, I was still happy. I ran my heart out. In hindsight, it was pretty silly of me to think I could just bust out a sub-4 marathon by just trying really hard and without the training to support it.

On our way back to the hotel, I immediately started talking to Matt about what I wanted to do differently next time. Yep, I’m hooked. I went to bed that night with a huge smile on my face.

Running a marathon makes you feel like you can do absolutely anything. I could hardly run a mile in high school and college. I signed up for my first half marathon in 2011 when I had just moved back home after my dad passed away, was getting horribly out of shape, and was really unhappy with my job and unsure what to do about it. Training for that half was just the challenge I needed to get myself out of my rut. Now, here I am, 3 half marathons and 2 full marathons later.

And because I’m still on my marathon high, I’m just going to say it…

I have my heart set on qualifying for Boston someday. I know, I have a LONG way to go. It might take 5 or 10 (or more) years. But I can’t stop thinking about it (which I suppose is easy to do while I’m sitting here on my couch, taking a week off from formal exercise.) For now, I’m going to focus on getting stronger and faster while I train for some shorter races in 2014.

Thanks to everyone who listened to me blab on and on about running over the past 4+ months, to all the spectators (especially the woman handing out pretzels in Manayunk), and a HUGE thanks to my mom and her friend Candace who traveled to Philly two years in a row to watch Matt and me run!

Next up: all the amazing food we ate in Philly!

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