Kick Asphalt, Philly style - 3:48:48
One thing about Philly is it's my hometown. It makes a difference for many reasons. For one, the home bed advantage. Not enough can be said to staying in my parents house/my apartment as opposed to a hotel room, home cooked food and just the atmosphere. I'm much more relaxed than when on a destination run. Saturday I headed down to the expo with my mom to pick up my #: 3336. The slogan: Kick Asphalt. Freakin' awesome. I hope Philly keeps the slogan because it's just so damn cool. Anyway, Saturday was windy and brutally cold. That did not help the nerves settle for Sunday's run! I spent the remainder of the day resting up and watching PSU book their ticket to Pasadena:-) YAY!
Sunday morning - woke up at the dreadful hour of 4:30am. Gross. Even for me! The attire? My brooks "fast as flash" tights, blue long sleeve technical top with a turtleneck, psu singlet, gloves and a hat. I also started with a running jacket and hand warmers to stay warm. No need to waste more energy pre race! The weather was similar to highs on January 22nd, the coldest average in Philly. Oh, it should be mentioned I forgot my watch in NY so I essentially went by internal clock. Since my mom drove me down, I was able to head to the start about a half hour to the start which was nice! The corral was nice since the masses kept me warm:-p Once I arrived at my corral, I turned around and see a paw print on someone's shirt. Turns out one of my TRD teammates was directly next to me! We shivered and waited to head out. I hadn't read all the directions and apparently we were on a wave start which meant a certain amount of people released every 2 minutes. Each time, the song Gonna Fly Now blared over the speakers.
And finally we were off!
Very similar start to the PDR. Headed down the Ben Franklin Parkway towards City Hall and by the Constitution Center and Liberty Bell. Instead of heading back to do the loop of the Kelly Drive we took a brief tour of South Street and Chinatown as well. Before heading away towards University City I saw my parents, brother, and mom's friend on Chesnut Street. I threw my jacket at them and sped away. I still felt a bit rusty as I generally do at the beginning. It was also a bit disheartening to hear someone shout "you're almost there" at mile 4. Sheesh, wait til I've past 6.2 so there's less than a 20 mile run left;) There wasn't a huge crowd until we hit Chesnut Street (heading back towards the start area). It was definitely odd. Not a bad thing but weird.
This part has the only true inclines/hills of the course. I knew about them so it wasn't as scary as it was for anyone that thought "oh there's no hills in Philly!" We ran by 30th Street Station and I waved to a couple NY Flyers guys cheering on the sidelines. I think one of them snapped my photo. University City was fun as there was one frat house that had guys banging pots and pans. Not sure I'd want that in my ear after a rough Saturday night;) Then it was off to Memorial Park which is the only true hill of the course. Fortunately, marathoners and half marathoners were all together for this so it helped to have the company. I was ready for this since my mom had run the course and she told me "there's a couple inclines then the HILL. Don't be deceived." After getting up the hill, I started to hit that zone. It gave me a sense of relief to know that I had made it 11miles and the stomach was holding up. Good news. I also saw people dressed up as cows cheering on the sidelines - umm, interesting. We headed back towards the Art Museum and here the half marathoners went to the left and the full kept right on going. Fortunately, we could not see the finish line for the half! But, you could still see people doing the half getting excited to be done. I yelled "see you in another 13.1." Hey, you gotta be positive! I saw my parents again and yelled "see you at the finish line." As I headed down the Kelly Drive evidently shoreturtle saw me too! YAY! Thanks for being out there!
The Drive brought isolation. The half marathoners were done and we were on our own. I saw Mozzer pass on the other side as I was heading towards Manayunk. He looked strong:) As we headed to Manayunk the aches started. There were more inclines and the mental games started. Ya know, the ones where you tell yourself "come on we're in single digits to go." :) Manayunk was a splash of relief as there were people EVERYWHERE. There was the obligatory beer station. At about mile 20 we hit the turnaround to head back towards the finish. That was definitely a big relief! At this point, I saw my TRD friend again just seconds ahead.
After the turnaround I knew the game I had to play. First, get to the Falls Bridge. That's your territory. I had just done my 18 miler a few weeks ago: 2 8.4 loops of the drive plus an extra run up the incline at mile 26. At this point, since I was off of no true watch and the wave start ruined any ability to have a clue what I was running, I knew I was ahead of the 3:50 pace group. That was very exciting for me. I also had my TRD teammate to help pull me along. We traded spaces back and forth. At a couple water stands, I walked to get the water and then picked up the pace to sub 9 again. I think that was really key to keeping me from a bonk. It also was essential as the water stands were an ice skating rink! (My dad one up'd that when he told me one of the Philly marathons it was 14 degrees and the water actually froze!) As we headed back, once we hit Boathouse Row I knew we were soooo close. This was my town. It gave me an extra boost of energy for the final 2.2. I actually finished with one of my fastest splits of the race: 8:31 pace.
Last .2 miles
The incline? What incline? There were so many people mobbing the finish area within the last .5 miles that it made you feel like you were in the Tour de France. There were no boundaries so it dropped down to one lane for the final .2! As we turned the corner by the Art Museum I pumped my arms in the air knowing marathon #2 of the season was in the books! I also knew I had kicked Chicago to the curb. While I didn't achieve my ultimate dream, it was a huge boost from the debacle of Chicago. I crossed the finish line and it was such an awesome feeling. It brought back that feeling of why I run. If anything, this is up there with MCM. I just went out there and had fun. No true expectations. Oh, and Philly wouldn't be Philly without a soft pretzel at the end! They had a whole food tent! YAY! NYCM, you listening? FOOD!
My thoughts: The race was great! I would consider doing this one again! The weather? Non-factor. If you dress right, it's actually quite perfect. Loved the slogan: Kick Asphalt. The shirts are 100x better than Chicago's sponsor crappy one. They should have been better prepared at the water stops with salt but it's easy to play the game after the race. The half/full turnoff should have been better manned as one of my friends running the half ran an extra portion of the marathon before figuring out she was in the wrong race! She had a monster PR until that. She still PR'd by 2 minutes but it would have been closer to a 7 minute PR! Philly definitely has it's own style and I like that. It doesn't try to be NY or Boston, it's just Philly and that's how it roles.
So, that's Philly '08. I think this was a redemption race and a rebirth of sorts for me. I'm excited to run again and I think that's a great sign for '09. The no watch thing? GREAT! I think it helped me just run my race! I managed to pull my second fastest marathon 6 weeks after a dreadful 26.2 march. I'm planning to take a week or two off from running. It's been a long time since I've given my body a rest, not to mention my mind. I'm pretty beat up. There's time to figure out what to do in '09, for now it's time to party it up for the month!
Oh yeah, not too much rest! I just booked my flight to Florida in January - the ING Miami Half Marathon. Don't worry this will be more of a tune up then a race;) Plus, I'm looking forward to warmth and sun! Don't worry, I"m not marathoning so it won't be raining or some other weird weather phenomena.