A Simple Running Log

November 21, 2016

Philadelphia Marathon recap

Filed under: Uncategorized — aschmid3 @ 3:13 pm

Technically, I ran my fastest marathon of the year this weekend in Philly, but the margin between it and my previous best for the year wasn’t nearly as big as I’d expected.

Basically, the entire race can be summed up thusly: COLD WIND SUCKS.

Saturday morning, Clark told me he didn’t feel like going to Philly. Understandable, as his travel schedule has been nuts for about the last two months straight, between work and our vacations, and he’d just gotten in from his most recent work trip late Friday night. I wish he’d told me about 24 hours earlier, so I could’ve cancelled my hotel room and moved into a room with a couple of my friends also traveling solo, so we all could’ve saved some money. At least the hotel I’d booked let me downgrade to a room with a twin bed (I didn’t know those even existed, but apparently they do) so I saved a little there.

I said goodbye to Clark and Pepper around 11:30 a.m. Saturday and headed up to Philly. The drive was fine. I got checked into my hotel and headed to the expo.

On the way, I stopped by my car to get a garbage bag full of old running shoes to donate to a charity collecting them at the expo. I really didn’t think this through – I had to carry that huge bag of shoes (mostly mine but also some of Clark’s) about seven blocks to the expo in the convention center. It was 70 degrees Saturday afternoon and I was pouring sweat by the time I found the donation booth, but the guy there was very impressed by the sheer number of shoes I’d brought. I was just glad to finally have them all out of my closet.

Picking up my race bib, gear check bag and race shirt was a breeze. Out among the vendors in the expo, I had two stops: first was the pacers’ table to see my friend Elaine, who was pacing the 4:30 group the next day, but she was out browsing the rest of the expo, so I missed her. Then I stopped by the Baltimore Running Festival’s booth to sign up for next year’s marathon at a big discount. I also didn’t have to pay the processing fee charged when registering through the website, and they gave me a free T-shirt from this year’s race. Since I already have the marathon shirt, I took the short-sleeved 5K shirt. I really liked the colors.

After I left the expo, I got a late lunch at Panera Bread, and then I finally met up with all my online running friends at the Love sculpture, moved next to City Hall because of construction in the park where it normally sits.

The group for LoopPhest 2016 wasn’t nearly as big as it was for 2011, but we still had a pretty sizable crowd.

loopphest-2-0-group-photo-resized

We went to an Italian restaurant called Fratelli’s for dinner. I had gnocci with tomato-basil sauce and stuck to water. After dinner, I went back to the DoubleTree, where just about everyone else was staying, and I had one Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA while people who’d run the half marathon that morning made signs for spectating the marathon the next morning.

I headed back to my hotel around 8 p.m. The wind was already picking up and the temperature was dropping. Yay, can’t wait for the morning!

I got all my stuff laid out and packed in my gear check bag and hit the hay. As usual when I have an early alarm set, I woke up multiple times throughout the night, sure I’d missed it.

When the alarm went off at 4:55 a.m., I checked the weather, hoping they’d been wrong about the cold and wind coming in overnight. Well, they weren’t. The feels like temp was below freezing, and it wasn’t going to feel much above freezing at 11 a.m., when I expected to be finishing. I’ve never worn full-length tights in a marathon before, but they were more than appropriate for this one.

I headed back to the DoubleTree to meet everyone else heading to the marathon start. On the way, I ran into a road completely blocked by police tape, with a single vehicle sitting in the middle of the road, its front end completely smashed in. I have no idea what happened there.

I took a slight detour and got to the DoubleTree on time. A few other marathon runners were already there, plus Dave, who’d run the half the day before but had volunteered to drive some of us to the marathon start.

before-leaving-for-marathon

Great shot of me choking down a plain bagel, plus Pat, Angie, John and Peg.

New this year in Philly were shuttle buses, picking up runners from city hotels to take them to the race start. We saw several pull up and leave the DoubleTree while we were sitting there. It looked like it went pretty well.

Dave took several of our marathon runners in his car, but Angie and I decided to walk the mile and a half or so to the start, because neither of us had pooped yet and we were hoping a nice long walk would get things moving pre-race. I love how nonchalant runners are about bodily functions that are otherwise considered impolite to discuss.

We got to the race site and were through security in a minute flat (basically they were just checking the race-issued clear plastic bags for water bottles and weapons) and immediately got in line for the port-o-potties. When we got out, we high-fived to celebrate a mission accomplished haha. So nice to empty that out before the race for once!

At that point, we still had about 50 minutes until the race start. Neither of us wanted to get rid of our sweats and check our gear bags yet, so we sat on a curb near the gear check trucks and waited. It seemed to get colder while we were sitting there.

Around 6:40 a.m., we decided it was time to check our stuff and get in the corrals. I took off my sweatpants and sweatshirt, put on my earband and gloves, and immediately started shivering harder in the cold wind.

I’d packed the heat sheet I’d saved from the L.A. Marathon to wear between checking my bag and starting the race, which helped, but not enough. Standing in the corral waiting for the race start, I could feel one of my butt cheeks start involuntarily spasming from the cold. Some guy standing near me asked how L.A. was (the race logo was printed on the sheet.) I said “HOT! It was so nice.”

Fortunately, they got the race started pretty much on time, and my corral was the third to go, behind the elites and the really fast normal people.

The first mile, I held the heat sheet around my shoulders, seriously considering just wearing it the entire marathon. I didn’t think I’d ever feel warm again. My feet felt like concrete blocks. I ran that mile in 8:41.

But then I thawed out a bit, and I could unwrap the heat sheet at least. It was maybe another mile until I got the feeling back in my feet. The second mile was 8:18.

I had another problem though – I had to pee SO BAD! I had to go again before the race started, but I didn’t think I had time to get through the line again before the race start, so I just crossed my fingers it would go away once I started running.

Well, it didn’t. At mile 2.2, we passed the first water stop. Just past it was a bank of port-o-potties. There was a pretty long line though. As I was making the decision to just keep running to find more port-o-potties, I noticed all the guys peeing against the wall behind them. There was absolutely nowhere for a woman to try to hide to cop a squat though. I’ve never wished so hard to be a guy!

I ran on. Mile 3 was 8:14. Just before mile 4, I spotted some more port-o-potties. The line was much shorter, and I got my bladder emptied. I felt a million times better, but mile 4 had taken 9:45 to finish.

The next few miles were a lot of fun. We ran through Center City, and the spectator crowds were thick and extremely enthusiastic. I spotted my first group of spectating Loopsters and gave them a big wave.

marathon-spectators-mile-6

Liz, Christine and Barbara around mile 6. As cold as it was running, it was probably way worse standing still, but they and several others made it to multiple points along the course just to cheer for us marathon runners, which was pretty cool of them.

I ran miles 5 through 7 in 8:21, 8:24 and 8:26. We hit our first real hill around mile 8, but it wasn’t too bad — that mile only slowed to 8:40. I’d caught up to the 3:45 pace group, which had passed me while I was in those port-o-potties, so I just hung with them.

Just before mile 9, I heard my name and looked over to see Caitlin and Dave cheering for me, which was a nice surprise. I gave them another enthusiastic wave. Mile 9 was 8:16 and mile 10 was 8:31.

Somewhere in the next mile, we hit the longest, steepest hill of the entire course. I let the pace group go a little ahead while I tried to just maintain an even effort up that biotch. It finally leveled off, and I ran mile 11 in 8:43. Not long after that, we hit a nice downhill, which led us under a railroad overpass as a train rumbled across it. I let gravity take over and caught back up with the pace group just before mile 12, which I ran in 7:58, my fastest of the day.

I was running with the group when we hit mile 13, which I ran in 8:24, and then the halfway timing mat. My watch was at 1:53, since I’d started ahead of the 3:45 pace group. If I could maintain my pace, and not need a bathroom break in the second half, I could finish around 3:46 or so, which would make me happy.

philly-2016-when-i-was-happy

I think this was somewhere just after halfway, when I was still happy.

The next mile was another easy even effort, 8:35. And then… we headed out toward Manayunk.

The next six miles were a slog along the Schulykill River, toward a turnaround in Manayunk, right into the effing wind. It was the first time all day we really had to face the wind in an exposed area.

At first, I was maintaining my pace — miles 15 and 16 were 8:30 and 8:39. Then, just before mile 17, I had to poop (luckily it hit me just as I was coming up on some unoccupied port-o-potties.) There goes my bathroom-free second half! Thanks to that stop, mile 17 was 10:04, my slowest of the race.

Three more miles to the turnaround. It got harder and harder to run into that wind, but I was plowing ahead. Miles 18 and 19 were 8:32 and 8:45. I kept telling myself to just make it to the turnaround, get the wind at my back and it’ll all be good again.

We got into Manayunk, which was thick with spectators again and full of energy. There was one last sorta long uphill leading up to the mile 20 marker, which didn’t help things. Mile 20 was 9:14. Finally, I made it to the cones marking the U-turn and I was heading back to the finish line.

I thought this was when things would feel better again, but it was not to be. I don’t know if it was the wind, the cold, my shoes (which were old and I’d meant to replace before the race but kept getting distracted) or a combination of all three, but I felt like absolute shit with a 10K to go.

My running gait was a hobble. Then my right Achilles, which has never bothered me in my life, started tightening up. A couple times I’d get a pang in it so strong I had to stop to try to stretch out my calf and get some relief. The hell!

I ran as much as I could but slowed to a walk whenever the Achilles barked at me, or when the muscles in my legs just needed a break. They felt as depleted as they had at this point in my first marathon. Miles 21 and 22 were OK — 8:55 and 9:06 — but the next few got ugly. Miles 23 through 25 were 9:18, 9:52 and 9:51.

philly-2016-on-the-way-back

This sucks.

At this point I was just hoping to hang on to a sub-4 finish. Screw 3:45; that was long gone. Everything on me felt tight. On top of that, I was lightheaded, probably from the cold wind, and starving.

This was my 14th marathon though, so I knew the finish line was ahead if I just kept moving. Just before mile 25, I heard a spectator tell a runner on the other side, who was passing mile 15, “You’re just getting more out of your money than they are,” which made me laugh. It also made me feel worse to think there were people who still had 10 more miles than I did to go!

The wind was definitely picking up too. I passed a water stop just as another 40-mph gust came along. All the empty cups on the pavement swirled around as if they were caught in a whirlpool. The wind was insane.

Three feet later I passed several more Loopsters cheering for me. It’s hard to feel bad when that many people stood out in that cold wind just to see you hobble by! I gave them a genuine smile. I am very grateful for every time I spotted one of them cheering for me on that course.

I really wanted to run the rest of the way to the finish, but damn my legs were completely wasted. I ran when I could and walked when I had to. Our names were printed on our bibs, and a ton of people were calling me out by name, encouraging me to keep going. In spite of how bad my legs (and everything else) felt, I couldn’t help but keep smiling at all of them.

By this point, my Garmin was almost four 10ths of a mile ahead of the mile markers (meaning my Garmin would beep the end of a mile, and then it’d be almost another half-mile until I passed the mile marker on the road.)

This pretty much sucks at the end of a marathon. According to my Garmin, I hit 26.2 miles before I’d even passed the mile 26 marker. I finally hobbled past that — mile 26 was 9:34 — and looked ahead for the finish line arch, but I couldn’t see anything. Did the finish line even exist?

philly-2016-coming-to-the-finish

Where is that stupid finish line?!

People were still calling my name in droves, like I was a well-known elite, so I kept smiling like a lunatic and hobbling forward. I couldn’t let down my adoring public right at the end by walking, now could I? I could hear the finish line announcer, and I heard him call my name as I ran over one timing mat, but where was that damn arch?!

I crossed a couple more timing mats and noticed all the runners in front of me were walking. Then I saw volunteers handing out heat sheets.

That was the big finish line. They’d taken down the arch because of the wind.

philly-2016-finish

Unaware I was crossing the finish.

philly-2016-finish-wide-shot

One out of four runners realized where we were haha.

I stopped my watch late. My official chip time was 3:54:16 – 28 seconds faster than Shamrock in March and 18 seconds faster than Baltimore last month. See? Fastest marathon this year, but not by much!

That time placed me 150th of 627 in the F 30-34 age group (top 24 percent), 845th of 3,947 women (top 21 percent) and 2,893rd of 8,982 total finishers (top 32 percent.) Decent.

philly-medal-and-bib

Medal featuring Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were adopted.

I was so glad to be done. I took a ton of food from the food tent because I’d been starving those final miles. As soon as I took a sip of the hot chicken broth though, my appetite disintegrated completely. That’s pretty normal.

I got my gear check bag and changed into a dry bra and base layer, then put on my sweatshirt and my sweatpants over my tights, which already made me feel a hundred times better.

Caitlin, Gwen and Ed found me. We just headed back to the hotel, figuring everyone else would do the same, since it wasn’t a good day to hang around outside after the race. We stopped at a Starbucks on the way, and I got a latte that helped quite a bit.

Later, we met for lunch at an Irish pub, where I found out none of my friends who’d run the marathon had a good race. Peg, who’d been shooting for a 3:35, finished two minutes ahead of me. She was pretty chill about it though; she got injured every time she tried to train for a marathon since she finished her first three years ago, so she was happy to finally run one again.

We all blamed that cold wind. I’ve run cold marathons, and I’ve run windy marathons, but not both at the same time. It was miserable.

After lunch, we all headed back to our hotels for naps before dinner. I couldn’t take a nap though — the NASCAR season finale was on.

A day later, I am still trying to wrap my head around what the hell happened. With 10 laps to go, Jimmie stupid Johnson was running sixth, behind all three of the other championship contenders. He didn’t have a prayer of beating any of them, let alone all three of them, to win a record-tying seventh championship.

Until a caution came out, that is. On the restart, Carl Edwards tried to block Joey Logano. In the ensuing wreck, Edwards’ car was demolished and Logano’s was slightly damaged, but still in contention. So that was one contender out of Johnson’s way.

There was a 30-minute red flag to clean up the track. Then they all pitted again before the next restart. Kyle Busch’s crew messed up something — I don’t remember what and I’m still too depressed to read an article about this race to find out what exactly happened — but that effectively took him out of the running. So it was down to Johnson or Logano.

I really thought Logano still had the car to beat, between him and Johnson, who hadn’t had shit all day. But then, on the final restart, Johnson’s car was magically a rocket ship all of a sudden. He didn’t just hold off Logano, who faded to fourth, he held off everyone else too — winning the race and his seventh championship.

I turned off the TV as the announcer was saying “Make way, Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, for a new seven-time–” CLICK.

The past couple of weeks have been a real punch in the nads, I have to say.

By that point, it was about time to meet everyone for dinner. We went to another bar near the hotel. We didn’t stay out too late, and I was back in my room by 11:15 p.m.

This morning, the day-after-long-run hunger woke me up. Even though I was supposed to meet everyone for breakfast at 9, I ate first at the hotel as soon as it started serving its free breakfast at 7.

While I was sitting in the breakfast room, two guys came up the short flight of stairs leading into the room. The first one was walking normally. The second one was grimacing in pain and dragging both legs like they were made of wood.

I told him he looked like he ran the marathon yesterday. Bingo! Yesterday was that poor guy’s first marathon. We commiserated over the weather. I told him his next one will definitely be better.

Later, I met everyone and we went to the Green Eggs Cafe for my second meal of the day. I had a big ol’ Belgian waffle covered in Nutella and strawberries with a side of pork sausage. Everyone’s orders came out looking incredible — so much so most of them had to take a picture before they could dig in.

green-eggs-cafe-breakfast

Dave with his apple pie French toast and Angie with her strawberry shortcake French toast.

Highly recommend this place for breakfast, especially the morning after a marathon!

After that, I said goodbye to everyone and hit the road. The drive home was fine too, and I was back early this afternoon.

So, to sum up this weekend, I’m disappointed my race didn’t go better, but honestly I think it was mostly on the weather, which is obviously out of my control. I do wish I’d bothered to get a newer pair of 1400s though, and I definitely need to do better forcing myself to do long runs in training for my next marathon, next spring’s Shamrock.

Still, that was my third sub-4 marathon this year. (They were all 3:54s, coincidentally.) Can’t be too upset about that!

I’m going to take it easy the next few days. My Achilles was still a little tender when I got up today. I’m signed up for the Huffin’ for Pumpkin Pie 5K I always run with TK the Saturday after Thanksgiving. I think I’ll be fine to run it again this year.

I have the Rehoboth half marathon the Saturday after that, and then I’ll just be right back in marathon training, for Shamrock in March.

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2 Comments »

  1. I’ll be doing the Rehoboth half too (thanks to you!).

    Comment by afastpacedlife — November 21, 2016 @ 6:37 pm | Reply

    • You’re going to love it! I just hope the weather is more cooperative than it was in Philly this past weekend.

      Comment by aschmid3 — November 22, 2016 @ 8:46 am | Reply


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