Nov 18, 2018
Although Debi and I had promised each other that we would do a fall 2018 marathon, it took a long time to settle on a race. There were are a lot of logistics, but everything finally aligned, and we picked the Philadelphia Marathon as the one. So on October 2nd (just 7 weeks before race day) we registered for the race, bought plane tickets, and booked a hotel.
After a pizza at Porta, we headed over to the Convention Center to pick up our kit. It was probably not the best time as things were shutting down as we arrived (we ended up going back the next day as we were in the neighbourhood again).
Apart from my race kit, and some merch, I got chips, smoked sausage, popcorn, etc which would end up being my post race snack back at the hotel (along with a coke I stole from the executive lounge).
Out and About Saturday
Began with a walk to Wawa’s for a coffee and got inspired by the half marathoners.
Debi and I then went on a walk around town. Memorable sights included the Liberty Bell, the river, Chinatown, and then capped it off with lunch at the Reading Market.
Pre race meal
We had a late lunch, and so dinner was also late. We once again had great timing, and was able to walk into Pietro’s and seat ourselves at the bar with no wait. We both had pasta, and wine. The wine was to help keep up with the denial of the next morning’s main event.
Breakfast was a Clif bar and a bad cup of hotel room coffee. In hindsight, I should’ve run down to Wawa for a decent cup. (Debi got me hooked – went 3 times over the weekend).
The marathon organizes shuttle buses to and from various hotels in the city. We completely lucked out when we realized ours was a pick up point.
We caught a bus at about 5:50 am and were at the site about 15 minutes later. Note: It would’ve been about a 25 minute walk, but the buses got routed onto the highway, as many streets were closed to traffic.
Debi kept telling me that she’d be way slower than me, so I had prepared a post race bag of warm clothes. That meant we had to be in a slow bag search line, followed by an even longer line to check the bag.
I didn’t get my bag checked until about 6:45, and I was really worried about the time. Debi didn’t seem as fussed about it as me, although I did apologize.
In hindsight, I didn’t really need a post race change of clothes. It wasn’t too cold, and Debi would end up finishing less than 20 minutes after me, plus we’d be taking the bus back to the hotel.
After that it was the bathroom line. It was slow moving, and we didn’t get our turn until about 7:10. Luckily for us, we were in a later starting corral.
In the corral
While we waited to start, the emcee was interviewing marathon legends Meb Keflezighi and Des Linden. You could actually see them, it was pretty cool . Meb said he got 2 hours sleep the night before he won NYC, so it made us realize that basically all the day before prep is mental.
It was here that I told Debi that my stretch, or “A” goal was 3:59. Given the circumstances, I really, truly didn’t think it was achievable, but it was a good benchmark.
And we’re off!
We would end up starting at 7:28am, at the very front of our wave, along side the 4:30 pacer.
The First 6k
Debi and I ran the first 6 or so kilometers together. The course had both Miles and Kilometers milestones which was quite helpful. I don’t remember the exact moment that we parted ways, but I can see from my splits that I sped up around that point.
Entertainment and Cheering Stations
There were some pretty cool musical acts, such as a church choir, rappers, a guy doing drum solos all by himself, a Led Zeppelin cover band (my favourite), and boisterous crowds right when you needed it. There was a beer aid station, and I basically took a cup to appease the crowd 🙂 I took a sip, carried it a bit, then tossed it.
Nutrition and Hydration
It was a nice cool, mostly cloudy day, and about 5 degrees C (40 F), so I didn’t need to go overboard on fluids. I generally had a small cup of Gatorade and water at most stations. I also ate two salty caramel gels.
I had passed the 4:30 pacer early, and I also passed the 4:20 guy (who had started in an earlier wave). So that meant that I was roughly on track for a sub 4:20, which suited me fine. As it turns out, I had run the first half in 2 hours, 18 seconds. I knew it was about that time, but my watch had gone a little wonky early on, and so I wasn’t exactly sure.
At about 32-33k I had to take a pee break. I didn’t have to wait in line, but once I got out my watch was showing a 5:43 per km average pace, which meant that a 4 hour finish was in doubt.
Energy Levels and the “Pain Factor”
I felt fine, but it was definitely harder and slower for me after about 35k. My feet hurt for the first time ever in a race – whacking your foot 16,000 times in a row on pavement will do that.
Somebody had a sign that read “Pain is just the French word for bread”. That made me laugh.
I covered the last 400 meters (¼ mile) as fast as I could, I was just telling myself “run like this is your last race this year”.
And across the line in 4 hours, 5 minutes, 35 seconds!
It was a good time, and reflective of my training and race strategy. All along, I just wanted to have fun, and so it was mission accomplished.
Bus Back to the Hotel
This was a lifesaver, and went right to our door.
Post Race Dinner
We went to Monk’s Cafe for burgers and pommes frites. It was a nice little Belgian pub. In hindsight I should’ve ordered more frites.
Chilling out, maxing, relaxing all cool…