Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap!

Marathon #2 is in the books!

The Philadelphia Marathon

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I ran one more marathon before Boston for a couple reasons.

1.) I was having great training runs all Fall and felt I could easily be ready with a couple more longer runs.

2.) San Francisco went so perfect, I wanted to try another one out to see if the perfection only happens once.

Let’s just say, perfection does not just happen once.  It may not happen all  the time and I am sure I will experience an imperfect race and all its brutality sometime down the road but the Philadelphia Marathon was definitely not one of those races.  I did not think I could have a race that was run more perfect than San Francisco..but I did.  

I not only scored myself a 8 minute PR and some solid Liberty Bell Bling, but I scored an amazing running buddy. And I had my Mom and Aunt along the course to cheer and my amazing boyfriend at the finish 🙂

Before I get into my super awesome new friend, let me talk about the weekend.  I took a half day from school on that Friday to try and beat the Friday afternoon Connecticut, NYC and Philly Traffic.  By the time we dropped the dogs off at Grandma’s house, it was already 2:30 in the afternoon and I am pretty sure we didn’t get 25 minutes into our trip without our first traffic jam.  Fast forward 6 hours and we finally made it.  We drove right on to Main St. (one of the cutest college streets that I have ever been on) and went to a delicious Sushi/Thai Restaurant.  After a 7 hour ride full of traffic induced anxiety, I could really have used a glass of wine….but it was BYOB. grrrr. I may have packed 346 GUs and salt tabs but I left the wine at home, shucks.

By 11pm we were checked into our hotel and pleasantly surprised by the cute room keys…

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…and the free chips, fruit and water that the hotel put out for us being in the ‘marathon reserved section’.  Thank you Crowne Plaza for being so generous with the snacks.  It is the little things like that that make it bearable for our significant others to stand crazy runners during race weekend 😉

I woke up early Saturday morning excited to get a short 3 mile shakeout run around our Philly.  Our hotel was on one long road so I did the standard run-in-a-place-you-don’t-know route with the whole 1.5 miles out and 1.5 miles back.

I finished my run with a classy Plyos and stretching session in the parking lot of the TGIF Restaurant next door.

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Once again, ‘Thank you’ Crowne Plaza for putting a delicious continental breakfast so that my boyfriend could enjoy waffles while I was out doing more crazy runner stuff.

I had one special request before the expo…

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Yup. An Acai bowl.   I had the biggest and bestest Acai bowl the day before the San Francisco Marathon so I figured I would carry on the tradition. Actually, it is not so much a tradition, it is a more of a ‘they don’t have acai bowls where I am from and they seem to only have them in the places I travel for these races so I try to grab one when I can!’ type thing.  Though this was good, it was not nearly as a amazing as the Basik Cafe in San Francisco..

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You just can’t beat that quart size!

Then it was Expo time!!!
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The Expo was pretty big and had a nice section of Philadelphia Marathon apparel.  I couldn’t help myself with this pink Run Philly tank..

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It even made its way into the my final race outfit choice…yup, I broke the ‘don’t wear/do anything different on race day’

We left the expo and explored downtown Philly for a bit before making it back to the hotel for a quick nap before dinner.  We had reservations at Pietro’s Coal Oven Pizza.  This place was clearly the place to be because despite our 5:30 reservation, we will still had a pretty long wait time.  It was definitely worth the wait because our pizzas were delicious and everything went pretty fast as soon as we got seated.

The race started at 7 and after talking to a few runners at the hotel, it sounded like a 5:45 meeting time in the lobby was a good idea.   The hotel did a great job getting cabs and the wait was only about 5 minutes and they dropped us as close as they could.  I could not believe how warm it was at 6 in the morning.  I didn’t even bring my pants and probably could have done with just a long sleeve throw away instead of the Target Fleece.  The bathroom lines moved pretty fast and everything was very well organized.  I made it to my corral with 10 minutes to spare.  I ditched my fleece as soon as I got into the corral.  I was worried I would be trapped in the middle and we received emails about not dropping clothes in the middle of the corral.  This was definitely not the best decision because we started about 10 minutes after 7 so I was actually in the corral for 20 minutes..freezing.  My horrible decision of ditching my fleece was followed by my best decision to approach the wonderful Bethany 🙂

I have been following Bethany (@Babfitrunlife) on Instagram for a while (and I am clearly not the only one because she is one popular girl on there!).  I knew she was running Philadelphia and I also knew her BQ time was close to mine so I actually anticipated seeing her in the corral. Well, I did.  She was with a couple other girls so I was a little worried to approach her.  But heck, I knew I would regret it so in the most awkward and creepy way, I tapped her on her shoulder and say “Hey, I just wanted to say that I follow your Instagram and I really like it.” haha. Thank god she is a sweetheart because I could not have come across any more weird!  Also, thank god I had 26.2 miles to redeem myself and prove I am actually normal!  She asked me what my goal was, and I said “Oh I don’t know, just want to try and do better than San Francisco which was 3:26.”  She said that she was shooting for 3:20.  Secretly, I did want a sub 3:20 time but I am still a rookie in the marathon running world and I am just focusing on figuring out the best way to survive the distance while improving my time.  So within a minute, my goal went from ‘a little less than 3:26’ to a 3:20.  haha.  This is why running friends are necessary, they make you have goals, and in this case…REACH THEM 🙂

After the first mile, her Garmin said our pace was 6 something and mine said 11 something…great start.  We started after the Elite Corral and the sub 3:15 corral so we had to tack on about 3-3:30 seconds to each mile marker time to get an idea of our splits.  For being a math teacher, that WAS NOT easy.  Between asking/bugging people around and judging the feel of our bodies, we had moments where we knew we were on pace and other moments when we thought we should take it down a notch.

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Just keep smiling and just keep moving!

The halfway point was the ONE time that we could solidify that our 3:20 goal was on point…one whole minute faster than what we needed to hit!  A fist bump later, we were ready to tackle the second half!

 

Lets just say, we were not alone.  The wind also decided that it wanted to jump on board for the second half. Miles 14-20 were mentally and physically tough.  I owe these 6 miles to Bethany.  I probably would have backed off and let the wind get the best of me, but I wasn’t about to lose my running buddy!  I knew the turn around spot was at mile 20 which meant we would have the wind at our backs.  I just kept telling myself that I just had to hit mile 20..and when we did it felt amazing. It was one of those moments where your spirits just rise and your legs gain a bit more strength and fire.  I can’t exactly describe miles 20-26.  They are those final miles that you just keep moving, keep pushing and keep hoping that the minor cramps stay minor.

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And then you see that mile 25. That feeling is another one of those benchmark miles for me where my spirits lift and I am ready to rock the final few minutes with everything I have.  I remind myself that these moments are the ones I day dream about when I am training.  These are the moments that do not come often.  That mile 25 does not come in training runs, it does not come in other races, it only comes in the marathon.  The race you spend months preparing for.  The pain and exhaustion wants to take over but you just have to to fight to remind yourself that this mile is truly amazing.

And then that finish line appears and my legs decide they want to step it up and sprint it in… and then my stomach goes..”oh hell no.”  For the sake of not having finish line pictures that consist of vomit, I usually play it safe and do a mediocre kick 😉

And after over 3 hours of all kinds of emotion, pain, excitement, confidence and doubt…this happens.

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You bet we had the biggest and sweatiest hug when we finished with over 5 minute PRs.  Man, I really do owe this PR and amazing experience to her.  Between tiny chats about how our boyfriends were probably out eating waffles while were at mile 7 and celebrating the small victories within a marathon..she really made this race so fun.

I also owe this amazing experience to my wonderful aunt, mom and boyfriend who were all at the finish line and along the course cheering me on.  26 miles is long way to go but seeing those familiar faces always ignites a giant smile and a spark of energy!

I could not have asked for a better end to the racing season and am ready to take a break and focus on Crossfit and strength until January rolls around and the Boston and Disney training begins!

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