Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Philadelphia Freedom

Here I sit, two days before Thanksgiving, watching the rain outside and hacking my brains out. But two days ago, I was in Philadelphia running my 10th marathon and freezing my butt off. I finished in 3:52, which is not the sub-3:40 I had hoped for.

We drove down to NJ Friday and stayed at Matt and Tricia's before the four of us headed down to Philly on Saturday; the kids stayed with Tricia's parents and were excited to see "Madagascar 2." We hit Philly, checked in, met up with Deb and Matt's dad Harry and then went to the race expo. It was pretty small compared to the bigger ones, but had the usual vendors and such. We then hung out back at the hotel for a while before meeting Deb, Matt and Tricia's college buddy Chris and his wife Stacy, who was also running the marathon. We had a great meal at an Italian place. It was brutally cold and windy out, so I was rethinking what I'd wear for the race: I settled on wearing a sweatshirt over my technical shirt and old sweatpants over my shorts that I could ditch at some point. Everybody was planning to get a couple of drinks afterward, but Stacy and I both decided to just stay in at our respective hotels and rest up. Besides, I had a chest cold that flared up conveniently on Tuesday and didn't want to make that any worse than it had to be. I went back to the room, drank a lot of water, and watched "The Bourne Ultimatum" until 10, when I went to bed. Deb got back at 11; I had only been asleep for about 20 minutes and had a fitful night of sleep after that, between the coughing and the nervousness.

I got up at 5 and got ready for the 7 a.m. start. I was unable to clear the bomb bays, if you will, which was not a good sign. I was hoping not to have to use a porta potty if I could help it. Matt and I were heading over to Stacy's hotel at 6, where Chris would give us a ride to the start. Matt was running the half marathon, which started at the same time. We could only get within a few blocks before we had to get out and walk the last several; it was bone-chillingly cold. I went to get in line for a porta potty but the line was so long I just decided to get into my corral for the start. I moved up to where the 3:40 pace group was standing and planned to follow them all the way.

The beginning of the race wound its way through some narrow streets before opening up a bit. After the first mile I was already sweating like crazy from the sweatshirt and had planned to give it to Deb when I saw her, but I didn't see her at mile 1 and so kept it on. Saw her at 6 and ditched the sweatshirt and my hat, but kept the pants on because I didn't want to fall too far behind the pace group. I stuck with them but noticed around mile 11 that I was struggling a bit, which was surprising because that shouldn't happen until at least around mile 20. I made the turn at the half and headed out, but mile 14 was a hill and it just killed me. I realized I couldn't keep up with the pace group and stopped to ditch my sweatpants. I started running again and hoped to do the best I could. At mile 15, Stacy caught up to me, ran with me for a bit and then kept going; she ended up finishing in 3:35 and qualifying for Boston.

The sun was out, but it was still pretty damn cold for anyone standing still. At the water stations, all the spilled water froze and made things pretty treacherous for us as we made our way through. I saw a couple of people wipe out.

I kept chugging along and got to Manayunk, which was where the race turned around at mile 20 and headed back toward downtown Philly. As I headed back, I got a side stitch and had to walk a bit. I dealt with those on and off for a few miles before finally feeling okay. Just before mile 24, the 3:50 pace group caught up to me, so I decided to hitch my wagon to them and follow them in. I felt good and with a mile to go, I pushed it and ran ahead to hopefully finish under 3:50. I came in strong but finished at 3:52, which can only lead me to believe that the 3:50 pace dude was behind pace. Oh, well. I was just glad to be done. Caught with Deb, Matt and Tricia afterwards. Matt ended up running a 2:12 in the half.

I just didn't have enough energy to keep up the pace I had hoped to; I really believe I could have broken 3:40. Someday. But the marathon was great and it seemed like a lot of people had PRs this year. I wish we had more time to hang out in Philly; seems like a fun town.

Next up, I'm trying to get a number for Boston in the spring through my running club. I don't expect to set a PR there, not with those hills.

We drove back Sunday night after picking up the kids in NJ, getting home at 9. My cold has gotten worse, but I still have to go to work because I've got too much to do in the next two days before T-giving. Still planning to run the Salem 5-miler on Thursday, too.


Jay Breitling said...

You need to enter a race where someone pushes you around in a Barca-lounger.

Jay said...

I've been training for something like that my whole life!