I need to write this all down before I forget everything! I RAN THE PHILADELPHIA MARATHON. That I will remember, but the little details not so much.
My training plan began way back at the end of July, when it was hot and sticky every day. I used the Hal Higdon Advanced 1 training plan, which I was nervous would be too much for me, but it was just challenging enough where I could tell I was getting better and stronger with longer distances each week. There was a long run once a week, which began at 8 miles and ended with 20 miles in the peak of training. I missed some workouts, I switched some days, but for the most part I followed the plan exactly.
The last two weeks of the plan were the taper. I thought I was going to love it- relaxing, eating a lot, and not running very much. I was resting, but I forgot that I hate to rest until that week came. I usually use running to get rid of my anxiety, but this was the one time that I couldn’t use it. But I trusted the plan and I was definitely rested by the time it was race weekend!
We planned a lot for the weekend before Thanksgiving- Ian got tickets to the Lehigh vs. Lafayette football game on Saturday at noon, and the marathon was the very next morning. It was raining all Saturday but still really fun because it is the oldest college rivalry in the country! Ian’s friends were all around to come with us, and I got a coffee to keep my hands warm while we watched.
We left the game a little bit early to get on the subway to Philadelphia. It was an hour ride in, but much easier than dealing with traffic and parking, it also brought us right to the race expo which was super helpful! I had been nervous all week, but once we finally arrived in Philadelphia it was only excitement. I was talking so much (and shaking a little too). The race expo had our bib numbers, snacks, shirts, magnets, mugs, bags, headbands, socks, shoes, and anything else a runner could think of needing.
We ordered a pizza on the way back from the expo, I took a shower, and we slept at Kylie’s apartment that was only a short walk away from the start line. I thought I would be way too nervous to sleep that night, but I must have been really worn out from all the driving that Ian and I had already done that weekend.
I fell asleep in seconds, and it only felt like a few more seconds when my alarm was going off at 4:45. I wanted to be up early to have a cup of coffee and a piece of toast with plenty of time before the start. Ian went with me to the start at 6:00, it was only a 10 minute walk but it was RAINING. It wasn’t supposed to, but there wasn’t much I could do, I just didn’t want to be too cold when the race began. Ian gave me a jacket to wear while I waited, but unfortunately I had to leave it behind when the race started. I waited in the porta-potty line until the race started, it was so stressful! As the race got closer, the lines were rearranged and people were starting to push and shove to get to the front. I finally got to the front and was able to get to the start line, with only 5 minutes to spare!
I took one picture before we began- 30,000 runners each with 26.2 miles to go! They sent us off in waves so people don’t trample each other, so the elites went off more than 10 minutes before me.
My running hat flew off from the wind right at the beginning, and there was no going back for it unless I wanted to be trampled by a stampede of marathoners.
Miles 1-10 were actually fun! I know that sounds weird but there were so many fans lining the streets, and everything felt loud and upbeat. A lot have them had really funny and creative signs, my favorite was “run like someone just called you a jogger!” Once I got to miles 10-13 there were a few hills, but nothing major. At the time it felt like a lot because it was such a flat course.
Once I got to mile 15 I started eating some of the energy gels I was carrying with me, by this time I hadn’t stopped at any water stops (which might have been a mistake looking back on it…) and then we began the long out-and-back part of the course that ran along the river. I didn’t really notice how windy it was until I got to this point. The 6.5 miles to the turnaround point felt like I was running in place against the wind. This stretch really made me feel the pain that the marathon is all about. I started to stop at each water stop and take in some Gatorade. The Gatorade helped a lot, and I think the sugar in it kept me going from water stop to water stop. I have never gotten sore during a run before, but I guess there has to be a first for everything! Everytime I started running again my legs were screaming NO.
The two miles from 23 to 25 felt like an eternity. I felt like I was going to keep moving forever and never reach the finish. Luckily by the time I got to mile 25 the crowds were picking up again, there were more fans, signs, sounds and cheering! I took out my headphones for the last mile because I wanted to take it all in. People were cheering my name (it was on my bib number) and the excitement of reaching the finish got my legs moving a bit faster again. I finished in 4 hours and 16 minutes, starting off at about an 8:45 pace and ending at almost a 10-minute pace. I definitely hit the wall too early, but I finished and that was the goal! I also got cold immediately after finishing, but during the race I was sweating and seeking out shade whenever possible. Morgan said I looked pale because there was so much salt on my face.
After crossing the finish line I was the most sore I’ve ever been, and following my family to the brunch spot was kind of a struggle. I also had no appetite, which was a surprise because I really only ate a piece of toast the whole day. Instead I kind of felt like I was going to throw up, so I ordered an apple juice while everyone else got breakfast sandwiches. After we went to take a few more photos, we headed out on our 6-hour journey home. On the road I got a steak and cheese sub, chocolates, and tortilla chips. I got hungry so suddenly and wanted all things salty! I was so looking forward to sitting on the couch for the few days before Thanksgiving and catching up on Stranger Things.
It was such an incredible experience, and it was so fun to have my my family, Kylie, and Ian come to watch and make signs! Philadelphia was very good to us, despite the cold and the wind 😊 I haven’t run more than a mile since the race, and I don’t really plan on it for a few more weeks (except for the Hot Chocolate Run, of course).