Monday, January 6, 2014
After a slight dilemma with my clothing of choice, I made it a quick choice and it proved very effective. Karin and I went to bed fairly early the night before the race and our 4:00am went off. Tossing and turning, I rolled over so many times to look at the clock that I honestly and not sure I slept more than 30minutes. 11:15, 11:47. 12:23, 12:52, 1:32, 1:59, 2:20, 2:58, these are all of the times I vividly remember looking at the clock before I decided to go into the opposite room of our suite to try a new sleeping area. This is the only point that it appeared I slept, and it was 30-35minute nap effectively. Our alarms went off and I was just standing up in the living watching the news on closed caption so I would not wake Karin. This was perhaps the worst night of sleep I have ever had in preparation for a race. We suited up with our throw away sweats and hit the streets nice and early as other runners were scurrying to the start line.
The temps were actually pretty comfy in the upper 40's but I knew that the humidity was well over 90% so I made it a point to drink h2o when I could. Karin had to take a bathroom break because Jonah (our baby) made her stop frequently to do so. She was freaking out because the lines were incredibly long and I had to part ways with a hug and a kiss because it was less than 10minutes till the start and I was outside in the grassy area. I hopped over a few gates and made my way up towards the front of the race as I saw the elites jump in just a minute before the gun fired. My hamstring wasn't aching too much though I could feel it and had some worries pre-race of course. Thankfully between the KT tape, my pair of EC3D compression shorts and my 2xu compression shorts the pain was contained. Bang! the guns goes off and runners were everywhere, I quickly realized that I should have started up a little closer to the front because over that first mile I passed people who looked like they were already bonking. I just do not understand people who go out so hard in long distance events, I mean, you know what is going to happen, will it change this time? NO. Anyways, I started to get a bit warm with my arm warmers so I stripped these off after 2 miles with the hope that I could find Karin's family and toss them their way, but that did not happen.
The first few miles just flew by faster than any other marathon that I have ever run in. It was great to see the river, all of the little sections of town with people cheering and with signs. What an experience, I really would recommend the half marathon at least for anyone looking to enjoy their first major race that is not Boston, Chicago or New York. Things were going pretty smoothly as I found a nice group to settle in with in the 5:50's. Though I kept the pace consistent I could tell that I was certainly going out a little ahead of myself but I figured why not, I had no pressure, my original goals were not going to happen so just go for it and have fun. One guy I was running with in the group was really starting to piss me off as he would pass me and keep peeking back, then he would drop his pace by 5 seconds and I would pass him. It was very irritating after several miles in the race, so after we crested a hill around the zoo I just dropped a hard surge down the hill and thought, "why not make this A-hole" work to beat me? It was a game at that point, one that would come back to bite me but it kept it spiced up for 26miles at least. As we passed the 13 mile mark that guy came charging hard past me and he split off to the finish, he was only doing the half, of course!
Continuing on the marathon course with serious thoughts about dropping out at the half I was surprised at how many people were still around. At 10 miles I pretty much could feel how dead my legs were but I just kept trying to lift. When I saw that 13 miles mark I just thought to myself those days when I had to get up really early to run in the cold to get long miles in before work. After thinking about those days I just decided I came to do the marathon so that is what I was going to do, no matter how slow I may finish. Around 15 miles we had a turn around section and I got to see where people were and I saw a group of 4 charging really hard with each eventually passing me by 16 miles. Anytime I was around people in the later stages of the race I always made it a point to say good job or "go get em buddy". The 2nd female drifted back to me at about 17 miles and I told her to tuck behind me, if she needed any fluids to let me know. After about 1/2 mile I realized that she drifted further behind me, so I kept pressing onwards. From miles 17-20, I had a couple additional runners pass me as we hit the turnaround point in a small town and it was AWESOME! They had a band out there, people with signs, cheering us on, I gave the hand to the ear signal and said "come on, wake up, you can do better than that", gave a bunch of high fives.
I was all smiles, I was on cloud 9, my pace was getting slower but I couldn't help but think how fortunate I was just to be running. As I hit 21 mile I noticed a table with women standing by it holding big signs that said "BEER STOP, I was so excited, I stopped to grab a cup and told them "this is exactly what I really needed". I chugged the beer back and pushed onward, that beer literally tasted like heaven, I had an even bigger smile on my face. One thing really disappointed me in the late stages of the race, as we were passing all of the slower runners on the opposite side of the road I yelled out "great job", "you got this 3:30 group!" or " keep it up, you all look so fresh!" and no one, NO ONE said anything back, I just couldn't believe it! Oh well, as the miles moved along, I decided to pick it up to a light pole or a mail box just to pass the time and as I was doing this O noticed that I was actually catching people. 1-2-3 I was cruising past all of these people who had passed me earlier, glad I drank plenty of h2o on this humid day, it really hit some of the runners hard. at 23.5 miles I saw another "Beer Stop" so I indulged again to the cheers of the group who said I was the first person to even look their way really. Once 25 miles came, I kept telling myself to push hard and catch another person, then another person. Soon I realized that I could see the lead woman, she was so far ahead of me, but I was actually catching her.
Over the last 3/4 of a mile I passed a shirtless runner who I kept yelling at to "not give up" and to "keep pressing, we are almost done". We passed each other back and forth, each time I gave him a shout of motivation, this was a brotherhood, we were out there to better ourselves. Regardless if he beat me, I wanted him to know that we pushed each other the entire way. As we raced each other down the last meters of the race we passed another runner, then slid past the women's winner, we were ALL OUT. I never would have thought that I would be in a dead sprint over the last 400m of a marathon but here I was just pressing as hard as I possibly could. This guy would not give me an inch, we took it all the way to the line and I just didn't have it in me and he crossed just a foot before I did, what a race! We gave each other a fist pound and a hug then he thanked me for pushing him that last mile. It was great to hear those kind words and then he told me he set a 1minute PR and he wasn't sure that he could have done it if I wasn't pushing him to his limit over that last mile.
Karin rolled up and gave me a hug, she was proud of me and thats all I cared about. She finished safe and sound, she was happy with her result, I was thrilled to run a 2:38 and change, my 2nd fastest time ever. We walked back to the hotel, got showered up and had a huge phillycheese steak. We checked into our new hotel a couple blocks away, the Double Tree and I enjoyed my views, sent out a few messages with my results to family and friends. I was pretty tired and wanted to just sit back and relax, I was having some issues walking but that was nothing new. All in all I was extremely pleased with everything that Philly had to offer, it was very well organized, the crowds were a ton of fun and made the race that much more exciting.
Down the road I would like to make one more trip to Philly for the race festivities, perhaps the half marathon just so I can walk normal after the run haha. Each day I try my best to remember that I am so incredibly gifted that I can travel to Philadelphia on my own free will, I am able to run 26 miles, and then enjoy a meal afterwards. We take so much for granted each second of our life, if you are reading this, you are leading a good life, I know I am and I don't intend to ever forget that.
On a side note, I have decided to avoid any form of road racing for at least 6 more months, but I will be participating in several trail races throughout the year, they just allow me to be free and to really enjoy the running experience again. If you want to hit the trails, let me know when and where, hopefully I can meet up! Thanks for reading!!!!