Monday, November 21, 2011

Philadelphia: A Tale of Two Marathons

Saturday afternoon my bestie, Bee, and I hopped on an Amtrak train and headed north to Philadelphia, PA. We checked into the Marriott Downtown and were quite pleased with ourselves that we didn't even have to venture outside in order to get to the Convention Center for packet pick up. As soon as we received our packets, walked through the expo we picked up take out for dinner and ate on top of our king bed and watched "The King's Speech." All in all a solid Saturday evening even if it didn't include any wine!

Sunday morning began like any other race morning - up well before the crack of dawn! We left the hotel at 6:10am and walked the mile down to the race festival. It was hilarious because as we were making our way down the hotel hallway Bee asked me if I knew how to get to the start line. "Heck no! But I imagine we can just follow the other runners." Um, yeah, it seemed like 25,000 people were heading in the same direction which meant we were just sucked up into the hive. Except for that one block that the police made us avoid because there was a bomb scare. Not exactly what one wants to hear at 6:20am, but we both work in the DC area so it's not the first time we've heard that phrase shouted over a loudspeaker.

After checking our bags we hopped in line for the port-a-potties and at 6:57am abandoned any hopes we had of making it through the line. Looking back, we could have stayed in line and used the facilities, but we were both fearful of missing the start of the race. The gun actually went off late and the volunteers did a great job of actually walking the corrals to the start line to stagger the start. We were in the fourth wave, so we had an extra 8 minutes that could have been used to take care of business!!! Oh well, we learned a valuable lesson for the next race!

However, we were in great spirits because the weather was absolutely beautiful. I think at the start of the race the weather was 50 degrees, which for a marathon in the third week of November is absolutely pristine conditions! There was barely any wind and it was slightly cloudy. Sure, sunrise didn't occur until 6:51am so it was slightly dark, but it was nice out! I wore my beloved Nike capris (seriously, I don't race without them!) and my short-sleeve Under Armor Baltimore half marathon shirt.

I decided to stay strong and ditch Bee at the start of the race. I started with the gray corral because that's where the four hour pacer was located. Traditionally in long races I go out way too fast and wanted to avoid that problem in this race. I was going to stick with the four hour pace group and that was the end of the story!

Look, running with a pace group isn't for everyone. I actually had difficulty staying close to the group because I tend to wander while running. However, I did like the fact that I didn't have to think about my pace. It was quite comforting to know there was one less thing I had to think about at 7am on a Sunday! A four hour marathon breaks down to 9:10 miles, so the goal was to be close to that throughout the race.

Mile 1 - 8:58.4
Mile 2 - 9:09.4
Mile 3 - 9:03.9
Mile 4 - 9:06.3
Mile 5 - 9:13.9
Mile 6 - 8:49.0
Mile 7 - 8:29.3 (This was going up Chestnut Street and the crowds were amazing! More than one person chimed in that they thought the pace group was going a bit fast though!)
Mile 8 - 8:56.1
Mile 9 - 8:50.4
Mile 10 - 8:54.9
Mile 11 - 9:11.9
Mile 12 - 9:06.1
Mile 13 - 9:36.5
Okay, this is when I lost the pace group :( I really, really, really, really had to go to the bathroom and I'd been eying the port-a-potties at the previous two water stops. Finally I saw a huge line of port-a-potties and almost zero line of runners so I made my way over and took care of business.

Mile 14 - 9:51.3 Crap!!!! Got too slow.

Mile 15 - The wheels feel off. I don't know what happened, but whatever was in my stomach at that moment in time decided it didn't want to be there anymore. The first incident wasn't too bad. However, after a few more minutes of running I had to stop completely and empty the contents of my stomach. That followed a horrible series of jogging for a few minutes, walking, getting sick, walking, jogging, getting sick, etc. It was absolutely miserable. I could muster together a few minutes of jogging before getting sick again.

Honestly, the second half of the race was the worst two-hours and forty minutes of my life. I stared shaking, couldn't feel my fingers, and started to wander all over the course. I was actually thankful there wasn't that much crowd support during the second half of the race because then I could vomit in somewhat privacy. Honestly, every time I saw a medical assistance person I thought about asking for help and then I would notice that the medic had someone hooked up to an IV. Look, there's one thing I hate in this world more than vomiting and it's needles. So that was not going to happen.

Yes, I probably should have stopped, but I'm a stubborn individual so I didn't. I planted myself on the yellow line of the road and forced myself to move forward, even if it was in a drunken slumber type motion. For the record, I wasn't drunk. I had a beer Thursday night and that's all the alcohol I've had in the past 10 days!

When I crossed the finish line I was miserable. I wanted my gear and to get back to the hotel ASAP. As I told Bee, I wanted to have the dignity of getting sick in a proper bathroom. Also, I wanted to brush my teeth. It's the little things in life that keep me going :)

Bee, on the other hand, KILLED IT! She did so awesome and I was so happy for her! Her previous PR was 4:01 at the Cleveland Marathon. She started off Marine Corps last year with the 3:40 pace group and was absolutely devastated when she bonked in the second half and finished in 4:06. On Sunday morning she started with the 3:50 pace group and stuck with them until mile 8-9. Then, she had to use the bathroom and fell behind the pace group. Once she started up again she had to remind herself that she didn't had to catch up in the next mile or two, rather she would just pick it up little by little and catch up. However, she just clicked. Things fell into place and she passed the 3:50 pace group and finished in 3:45. She was so happy! She suffered a terrible fall last month and had a nasty cut on her knee that required quite a bit of down time. So she's felt like she's been tapering for a month and was worried her endurance would suffer. Even in my sick state back at the hotel I kept mumbling to her, "you did awesome and I'm so happy for you."

While we came back home with completely different races, we both have verbally committed to a spring marathon, yet for completely different reasons. I want to get that horrible time off of my mind as soon as possible! Bee wants to see if she can add in more speed work and qualify for Boston. The game plan is to run a spring and fall marathon next year.

It's kind of crazy because on Saturday I was actually thinking of taking next year off from a marathon and instead do more half marathons. Then, one horrible day came in the midst of months of training and it lit a fire under me to do better. I know I'm better than that time and I'm not going to let that time sit out there for too long without crushing it.

Yet, the whole weekend wasn't a complete and total lost. I got to spend two solid days with my best friend. That's worth the price of any race fee right there.

Or, as so many signs proclaimed during the race, "You've been training for this marathon longer than Kim Kardashian was married!" So yeah, it's on to the next one. Marathon that is, not fake showmance.

No comments:

Post a Comment