It’s hard to believe last weekend I completed my second marathon. It wasn’t the picture-perfect race I envisioned, where I’d cross the finish line with a huge PR feeling like a million bucks. In fact, if you can believe it, I actually finished slower than my first marathon. My training runs weren’t as fast as I’d hoped. Work was kicking my ass in the weeks leading up to the race, leaving me drained and wanting nothing but to be in bed as early as possible. I abandoned all pace goals for Philly and decided to simply focus on finishing. Also, on the Tuesday before the race I came down with a sore throat, cough, and a cold. Of course I did. I armed myself with Vitamin C, cough drops, and enough meds for an army in an attempt to stop the illness in its tracks. Unfortunately, the illness carried right through race day.
Sunday morning Brad and I met up with Shannon, Ashley, Ritsa, and Kara in the lobby of my hotel. I was oddly calm despite the fact I was about to, you know, run a marathon.
We made the mile trek to the start line, talking about the race and trying to keep warm. Once we arrived at Eakins Oval in front of the Art Museum it started to feel a little bit more real. Ritsa and Kara were running the half, Shannon and I were running the full, Ashley had plans to be the World’s Best Spectator (and she was!)
Ashley, Shannon and I
And my race shirt:
The race officially started at 7am but since our corral was a little further back, we didn’t cross the starting line until nearly 7:30. The first few miles were fairly congested but once everyone settled into their pace it seemed to space out a bit. I was fueling with Honey Stinger chews, which I had used religiously throughout training. Unfortunately that morning my stomach decided it didn’t like them. I knew there would be Clif Shots in the later miles but it wouldn’t have been smart to go without until that point. So every 30 minutes I ate 2-3 chews.
Around mile 7 (after several miles of trying to talk myself out of it) (and pleading with Shannon not to kill me for having to stop) I decided to make a pitstop. The portopotty lines were ridiculously long so I took my chances on a Starbucks bathroom. Thankfully the women already in line ushered me to the front since they knew I had a race to get back to – so nice of them! Shannon and I were on our way very quickly afterwards.
My stomach felt a bit better but my legs were already feeling heavy. Great feeling to have when you aren’t even halfway into your race. My walk breaks became more frequent and I continued fueling as planned, hoping the sugar & carbs would keep me moving. Shannon was trucking along in front of me, killing it – feeling GREAT! I was so proud of her. I felt like I was holding her back but she insisted she wasn’t going to leave me. So thankful for her – she definitely saved me.
As we neared the halfway point, I heard the crowds cheering. Half-marathoners filtered out as they made their way to the finish. I really hated how close we had to run to the finish line. But not as much as I hated the miles I was about to run…
Miles 13-17 were hard, but I was going to see my family at mile 17 so that kept me moving. Shannon was still a bit in front of me, basically my carrot, pulling me through the miles. On a walk break, I texted Brad to let him know I wanted him to jump in at mile 17. Shannon and I discussed that she was going to push ahead and meet a friend at mile 20, and then we’d meet back up again at mile 23. I was so happy that she was going to run ahead because she was doing SO well – she needed to keep going and not worry about me.
The graceful water bottle swap for fresh Nuun at mile 17:
Why yes, I DID wear sparkly leg warmers.
Brad handed his jacket to my parents and jumped in with me to tackle a few miles.
Brad was smiling. I’m pretty sure I was not.
Had I done a bit more thorough research on the course for Philly, I would have noticed miles 13-26 were an out-and-back. I absolutely LOATHE out-and-backs.
When you’re heading out at mile 13, watching runners hauling ass to the finish near mile 26 is brutal. And then you continue to watch those faster runners all the way to the turnaround in Manayunk. So tough. Mentally it tore me apart. Thankfully I had Brad with me, who listened as I rehashed the first half of the race. Around mile 21 I realized my phone was vibrating. I had a text from Shannon, saying she couldn’t stop at 23 or she might not be able to finish the race. I completely understood (I even mentioned to Brad a few miles back that I wasn’t sure how she was going to stop and wait for me, because it would be tough to start running again) and wished her luck. Go check out her race recap – she did amazing!!
I was going to drop Brad back off at mile 22 with my parents but he offered to stick with me until 23 and then I’d fly solo to the finish.
Could have been a good shot, if Brad wasn’t blocking my face.
I was trying to fuel but my stomach didn’t want the Honey Stinger chews and it wasn’t a fan of the Clif Shots either. I tried sipping Gatorade instead of Nuun at water stops for the extra calories but (unsurprisingly) my stomach couldn’t handle the way-too-sweet Gatorade. I’m pretty sure miles 20-26 were 90% walking and 10% running shuffling. Every time I tried to run, I could hardly lift my legs off the ground. I had hit the wall at mile 18 (WAY too early) and every step after that was a struggle.
The last three miles were quiet, lonely, cold, and LONG (18:21, 19:51, 20:23 – NOT an exaggeration). I wanted so badly to be done, to see the finish line, to sit down. Once I came up on mile 26, I saw Shannon + her boyfriend, Ashley, and Kara screaming their heads off for me. They gave me the push I needed to start running again. Ashley jumped in with me for a minute, telling me to keep running and haul ass to the finish. So I did. Heel strike and all.
yup, didn’t buy that photo. stolen.
I got my medal, a heat sheet, and quickly made my way out of the finisher’s chute.
I’ve never been so happy to finish a race.
It wasn’t the race I hoped for – not even close. I’ve decided I’m going to hang up my 26.2 shoes for awhile. Ideally until 2014, but knowing myself I probably won’t be able to hold off for that long. I want to not dread 3+ hour training runs. I want to focus on running faster in shorter distances. I want to PR in the 10K and half marathon. I’ll certainly have plenty of chances in the spring: 3M, Austin, and ZOOMA.
I don’t want to run races to finish. I want to give them my all – leave everything I’ve got out on the course.
My calendar is full of races and I’m ready to put in the work. I’m ready to push hard. I’m ready to dig deep and run strong.
I’m ready to RUN.