Friday, November 23, 2012

Philadelphia Marathon Recap

We woke up Sunday morning at 5am. It was MARATHON MORNING! AH! Our host put on an awesome upbeat music mix (sorry neighbors, it was race day) and we excitedly ate bagels with peanut butter, bananas, pinned on Philly AND NYC bibs, and went to the bathroom a million times. By 6:15 we were walking to the start line, ready to run.

 Above and Below Taken by Ashley From L-R: Cheerleaders Michael and Beth, Nadia, Me, Ashley, and Meghan
We ran our last 20 miler together, now it was marathon time!

Just as all the race recaps I've read predicted, the bathroom situation was pathetic. It was 15 minutes before gun time and the lines were 50 people deep...PER TOILET. Seriously?! THANK GOD I didn't have a repeat of last year. I shockingly did not have to go to the bathroom, despite having gone 45 minutes before the start. WINNING! We lost Meghan to the bathroom lines, so Ashley and I entered our corral. 




We made a new friend! Our picture taker was Elizabeth, a fabulous UES mom of two. It was her third marathon; one before babies, and one after each baby! She recognized Ashley from her blog (The first of many Healthier Happier Bear sightings!), and was also running for the same charity as Ashley. She joined our 4:45 or bust brigade as we inched closer and closer to the start line.

I ran without a watch. You see, when I was in Connecticut visiting my parents I forgot my watch. They couldn't find it to send it to me, so I was running solo. Beth lent me her watch, which i had no idea how to use. When it went into power save mode at mile 1, I threw it to them as they cheered. Watchless run. Let's go. I'm going to detail my race in mile chunks because, well, it's nice and orderly that way. The following is the race of sections.

Miles 1-6: FUN. Running easy, feeling light, and chatting with our new friend Elizabeth. We saw tons of NYC marathoners in their shirts, and we encouraged each other in our race orphan comradery. We also saw our cheer section TWICE! They were so fabulous, holding hilarious signs such as, "4:45 or bust" or "It's long, it's hard, so go fast...that's what she said". They were awesome! This was a very crowded part of the course, and it felt hard to not go faster. Thankfully, Ashley kept us contained, we reminded each other to drink water (CRUCIAL when running when it's cold!).


Miles 7-10: Committed. Feeling great still. We were ridiculously consistent with our pace, keeping each other distracted, and overall running a great first half of the race. We encountered a hill which we were forewarned about at mile 9, and it was fine. We encouraged each other to "respect the hill". I refilled me fuel belt after the hill, ready for another series of miles. I stopped to stretch for the first time here and it felt good to pop my hips. This would continue every 5 miles, as was my race plan.



Miles 11-14: Quiet. This is where things got a bit rural. We ran around a scenic lake where the cheer crowds thinned significantly. This is also the spot where the half marathoners were finishing their race, trying with all their might to finish strong. We had to be extra aware of the surge around us of runners finishing versus runners carrying on. This is where my mental battle began.



Miles 15-19: Solitary. This is where I had to let Ashley and Elizabeth continue on alone. I had felt great until 15, when I stopped to pop my hip again then caught up to them. it took almost half a mile of pushing HARD to reconnect with them. I did not want to determine anyone's time because I was struggling. They ran on. I fought with myself for four miles, music playing, entering and leaving a well cheered area during the out and back we were running on. I can't say exactly what it was, I was simply tired and mentally shot. By 19, I wouldn't say I hit the wall, I simply wanted to be done. I had phone calls from my mom and my husband, each time I would simply say "I want to be done." 7 more miles.


Miles 20-24: Wilderness. This was the quietest area of a race I have ever experienced. EVER. I've never run a race, small town or big city, where there was such a stretch of quiet. Maybe it was because the area was far away from the finish, with no road access to get to it (We were, in fact, running on the road!). Maybe it was because many runners had finished and their cheer squad had left to be with them. However, it was dead silent. It was me and the road. I had to start doing a run/walk ratio. 30 seconds at the beginning of the mile, and 30 more seconds during the mile if I needed it. Always timed, never more than 1 minute of walking. Setting parameters in the wilderness helped bring me to the promised land.

Mile 25: Oasis. I was done. Done with being done. Done with struggling. I wanted to see my husband. I wanted to see the finish line. I wanted to see my friends. I wanted to be a finisher. I ran. I ran the best I could. Songs echoed in my ears with lines like,

"You shoot me down, but I won't fall, I am titanium..."
"It's in the water, it's in the story, where you came from, the sons and daughters, in all their glory, it's gonna shape them / and when they clash, and come together, and start rising..."
"The dog days are over, the dog days are done, the horses are coming so you better run / run faster for your mother run fast for your father, run for your children all your sister and brother..."

Mile 26: Promised Land. I saw Mr. Miller run out to me. I instantly cried. He encouraged me, "You can do it. You're doing it. You're almost there. Enjoy it. Take it in." All These Things That I've Done by The Killers begins in the background of my ear phones. I saw my cheer crowd cowbelling and screaming their heads off. I cried more but picked up my pace. The Finish Line. The Promised Land. It was within eye sight.








Above photos are from Ashley runner photog extraordinaire

Mile .2: Finisher. I picked it up, I ran like I was doing a Yasso 800. I actually lost Mr. Miller because he didn't expect me to take off. The allure of the finish line was too much. I ran. As I approached the finish, in my ears a soft song sang, "I've got soul but I'm not a soldier...I've got soul but I'm not a soldier...". I crossed the finish. I did. All These Things That I've Done to get there hit me. As Mr. Miller caught me to congratulate me, I grabbed his jacket and basically collapsed. He held me up and told me "Enjoy the moment." My song was ending with the words "If you can't hold on...if you can't hold on...hold on..." My Marathon was done. I held on. I was a finisher.

Finishing Time: 5:08:42 (Previous PR: 5:10:38)





PR CITY. I found my friends after gathering myself from being an emotional knapsack. We ALL PR'D! I was so proud of my friends who finished, so grateful for my friends who cheered in Philly and afar, and for the support of everyone around me throughout this insane marathon training season. I picked myself up by my shoe laces, held on, and finished.


Ashley's handiwork again!

Then, there was FOOD. Of course, the day would not have been complete without Ashley's husband getting us an AMAZING lunch, and a great dinner with friends celebrating marathon AND Packers victories!!!

Marathon number 2 complete. I am a finisher.
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