Ahh I feel like I have so much to say about this race. Perfect race, perfect day.
Here’s the short version: I had an amazing race. I ran a 21 minute PR and finished in 3:56:27, thus nabbing that elusive sub-4 hour marathon so many runners strive for. I ran the entire race happier than I have been in months, with a big smile the entire time.
Now for the longer version. If you have seen me in the past few months, or even read my training recaps, I think it’s safe to say I wasn’t excited about training for this marathon. I think a lot of has to do with that no distance was “new” to me anymore. A lot of long runs just felt like a drag. But as I started to get deeper in training, and putting in more miles, I started to get really excited about how many total miles/week I was running. Which in turn made me start getting excited for the marathon.
And I would say I ran a pretty much perfect marathon (for me). My splits were negative and I fueled properly throughout the race. I took in 4 gels at miles 8, 13, 18, 22, and drank water and Gatorade throughout the race. My stomach never hurt and my legs never cramped.
I didn’t sleep well the night before the marathon. So I was more than ready to get out of bed when my alarm went off Sunday morning. I ate breakfast, got things ready, and then Eric and I rode our bikes the ~2.5miles to the start. I hopped in the port-o-potty line and missed the gun going off, but not my corral. I ended up getting in the very back of the corral that was in front of my designated corral. This placed me right in front of the 4-hour pace group.
I spent this past week doing some reading on how to pace yourself for a marathon. It’s such a long event, with so many variables, that it was hard to figure out how to pace myself. I decided to run a conservative first half and then see how things went from there.
The start was really crowded and my feet were frozen which meant I had a pretty slow first mile. It didn’t bother me that much since I was planning on being conservative and I have realized it takes me almost 5 miles to actually get warmed up. Once my feet warmed up I noticed some pain on the bottom of my right foot. I tried to just be careful with each step to not mess it up further.
I ran through the city into West Philly into Fairmount Park and back towards the Art Museum. While I didn’t do any specific hill training, I did make a point to run these hills during training. They slowed me down a bit, but didn’t really tire me out. I did notice my knees already starting to hurt on the downhills though.
When we split from the half marathons I had no feelings of wishing I was going “their way.” I was pumped to be heading left and knew I would see Eric shortly. Eric and our friend Blake rode their bikes along Kelly Drive and it was super encouraging to have my own little cheer squad.
Near East Falls I ran into the Lululemon group and was more than happy to see Leslie. We trained together all of last year and I was just happy to see another familiar face.
I hit a wall last year crossing over the Falls Bridge (Mile 17) onto West River because when you make that left you can’t actually see where you turn around. I had mentally prepared myself for this little joggle and for the first time I put my headphones in and listened to music. When I hit the turnaround I noticed the 4-hour pace group not far behind and that was a big kick in the pants to start picking up the pace. I had actually been wanting to pick up the pace for a while, but didn’t want to burn out. I figured this was as good a time as ever, and could atleast give me a bit of cushion room to run a sub-4.
From there we headed into Manayunk where I grabbed a cup of beer because WHY NOT? I took a few sips of the beer and honestly it tasted great. The carbonation was awesome and I was so happy to be drinking something other than Gatorade and water. When we turned around in Manayunk I decided that “it was on.” I also realized I had put a pretty large gap between myself and the 4-hour pace group. Also, unless something terrible happened I would at least PR.
The course changed a bit this year and after leaving Manayunk there was a surprise short uphill that was an on-ramp. I saw a lot of people stop and walk here but I charged ahead.
I kept waiting for things to get bad, but they really didn’t. The miles kept ticking by and while I didn’t necessarily feel awesome I didn’t feel terrible either. I just wanted to keep going and going and not let things fall apart in the last few miles.
When I saw Mile 25 I got so excited. So excited that I was about to cross the finish line. So excited that I ran another marathon. So excited that I was going to PR. I turned my music off and tried to take in everything. Just when things started to get uncomfortable I saw some friends on the sidelines and it perked me up.
Approaching the finish line I noticed Mayor Nutter giving high-fives in the middle and I bee-lined over to him so I could get a high-five. Looking back at my last mile time was amazing. I was trying to push it, but couldn’t believe I picked up the pace THAT much during the last mile of my marathon.
I stopped my watch and my first thought was “why didn’t you try for a sub 3:55?” I quickly realized that was stupid, I ran a great race, ran a sub-4, and ran a 21 minute PR. And somehow I managed to run the tangents pretty well. There wasn’t anything to complain or dwell about.
Post race I met up with some friends and we rode down to Blackbird for a carb-fest. Then Eric and I headed home where I drank a celebratory beer in my new boot glass! This beer is seriously the best, try to find it if you can.
There was so much positive energy yesterday that just made me so happy that I was there and part of it. I was especially happy to see how welcoming Philly was to all the NYCM runners and how grateful they were to Philly. I saw signs everywhere welcoming them, and saw so many interactions along the course of Philly runners welcoming NYCM runners and NYCM runners thanking Philly runners. I loved all the NYCM shirts I saw where people marked out NYC and put Philly.
And now I have ultras on the brain.