24 November 2009

2009 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

Running for twenty six point two miles gives you a lot of time to think. It gives you time to question things, ponder things, and even have an epiphany or two.

I have decided to make this race report a list of things that went through my head, and lessons learned, while running my first marathon. Here goes...

  1. Stay near the back of my corral. Don't start too fast, and we're off.
  2. Okay... first mile was good. Slow down a little, we got a ways to go.
  3. Penn's Landing is nice from this point of view.
  4. GU goes down better if you hold it in your hand for a mile or two first.
  5. Why is that guy wearing a Wonder Woman cape?
  6. Someone just yelled my name... oh yeah, it's on my bib.
  7. South Street is cool. Why didn't I hang out here more?
  8. The body thinks that it is weak. The mind has to prove otherwise.
  9. Just keep moving forward.
  10. Counting steps along the dashed center lines helps your running.
  11. Running skirts are sexy... wait... that's a dude!
  12. 1..2..3..4.. 1..2..3..4.. 1..2..3..4..
  13. My knee is really hurting... you can walk at the next water stop.
  14. Keep moving forward.
  15. That's the 5:00 pace group pulling away from me... crap.
  16. It is okay to be passed by a 50 year old woman, as long as it's her birthday.
  17. Who defines "fast flat course"... there seems to be a lot of hills.
  18. 1..2..3..4..5..6..7..8..9..
  19. I should have brought Motrin.
  20. My knee is going to explode... keep moving, you can walk at the turnaround.
  21. How can anyone drink beer while running?
  22. Don't ask for a ride... just keep moving forward.
  23. It is not cool being passed by an 80 year old, but still inspirational.
  24. People yelling your name when cheering is awesome... even if you do not know them.
  25. This is sure different than the Philadelphia Distance Run.
  26. The finish is almost there.... run hobble until the end.

The marathon beat the hell out of me. It was worse than I expected. If my knee did not give up I could have run a much better marathon.

But you know what? I finished! Next year I am coming back with a vengeance.

21 November 2009

Philadelphia Marathon Race Expo

Tomorrow I am fighting a monster in brutal hand to hand combat. Today I prepared for combat by going to the Health and Fitness Expo.

I arrived early so that I could sign my son up for the Kid's Run. This was his first and he was excited to do it. That excitement turned to nervousness and then to fear as the crowd grew larger and we moved down to Arch Street for the run. He wanted to back out and was crying, but luckily one of the volunteers said I could run with him since he was scared. I am glad I could, because if I didn't go, he would not have done it. We reached the finish and he got a kids medal and that was it. He didn't want anything to do with pictures or anything else, he just wanted to get away from all the kids.

After that we went back up to the expo so that I could get my packet. Names are printed on the bibs, which is the first for me and a little exciting. The goody bag is not a plastic bag, as was the case last year, but a light re-usable canvas and mesh bag. Very nice and one that I will be using a lot in the future.

The shirt is a little disappointing. It is nice and high quality, but I was expecting a looser tech tee that I could wear around for everyday use. This is a snug shirt with tight fitting sleeves. I will be wearing it when I run, but I only like to wear snug or tight fitting clothes while running or cycling. For everyday wear I prefer a looser fit.

As far as the marathon merchandise, I have mixed emotions. I bought a nice pair of arm warmers with the logo on them. Plain gray ones, not the ugly argyle ones. These were only $20 so I think a good deal. I also got ear warmers made of the same material. Both of these are very warm and will come in handy this winter.

I wanted to get a Philadelphia Marathon jacket too. Something I could wear everyday to show what I have done. Again, they had a very nice jacket that looked really good. Very nice quality too. But it was similar to the shirts in the fit. Snug and tight in the sleeves. I can do that for shirts every now and again, but I need my jackets to be loose.

I got a few other supplies, my kids got some balloon swords and we looked around rather quickly.

Only one other event was noteworthy. We passed a blind lady in the expo. She had a seeing eye dog. My kids are scared of dogs, even if they look nice. So as we are walking by I am saying to the kids that "the dog will not bother you" and "its a nice dog." The lady turned directly to me and pulled her dog away and said (in a very mean voice) "DON'T BOTHER THE DOG WHEN HE IS WORKING."

Now I am sure the lady gets sick of people bothering her dog. Many people probably do not even realize it is a seeing eye dog, because they are too ignorant to take notice of the harness. But damn, give me a break.

Anyway... all in all a good day. I am scared and nervous about tomorrow, but really looking forward to it!

15 November 2009

This Is Going To Hurt

It is marathon week.

Time has gone by faster than one thinks that it would. Fifteen weeks of training has passed in the blink of an eye, and now here we are one week away from the Philadelphia Marathon.

There is a huge mix of emotions when you are this close to a major race. Especially when you have been thinking about this race for the last year. I have put in a lot of training time for this, my first marathon. Despite recent setbacks, it has been painfully good.

One can not help but think of the marathon while you are training. A lot of times you dream of a fantastic run, crossing the finish line under your goal time, and raising your hands victoriously. Sometimes you think of the hard times, maybe hitting the wall, and imagine how to get through it. Training for those hard times will make it a little easier to get through them.

I have done a lot of day dreaming about my first marathon. But as we get closer, the day dreams have not become as glamorous as one might hope.

The marathon is painful for everyone regardless of preparation. Some are more prepared to deal with the pain than others, and that what marks the differences between the thousands of runners on the course.

My marathon is going to be on the higher end of the pain scale. I hurt my ankle a few weeks ago, right at the peak of training, and because of that missed my longest run of the training plan. I did not make up that run, but let the ankle rest and picked up at the current spot on the training plan once my ankle had recovered.

It is best to be honest with yourself as a runner. I know that I am not as prepared as I should be for a 26.2 mile run. I have adjusted my time goal three times since the beginning of the year based on my training and fitness level. Now I have no time goal. I just want to get over the finish line in one piece.

I am sure that I will do it. I am also sure that it will hurt... alot, and I will not look good doing it.

07 November 2009

Run The Bridge 10K Race Report

I am finally writing a race report for a 10k that I did last week. It was my first 10k, but the significance of being the first time at this distance seemed a little diminished considering I have already done a 10 miler and half marathon. I have not progressed through the distances like many runners do.

Run The Bridge 10k is in southern New Jersey. You run across the Ben Franklin Bridge toward Philadelphia and immediately turn around and run back, through Camden and into Campbell's Field. The minor league home of the Camden Riversharks. This is one of the first races I found when I started running not too long ago and one that I really looked forward to doing.

The morning started a little rough. Two trips to the bathroom and cramps in my thigh had me worried that I would not do very well. I had done almost no running in the two weeks leading up to this race because of my sore ankle. A short run a couple days before the race did not bring on any pain so I felt confident I could do the run. I tried to warm up by jogging very easy before the start and I just felt out of the groove. My head was telling me that the run might not be so good.

I started feeling much better as we walked to the starting line. Maybe it was the people around me, or some primal connection with running... whatever it was I suddenly had a sense of calm come over me and I knew I was ready to run.

My main goal for this race was to practice my pacing in a race setting. It is typical of me to start too fast in the beginning and then keep an uneven pace throughout the run as well as needing walk breaks in longer runs. Today I wanted to start slow and keep a very steady pace throughout the entire 6.2 miles.

I ran faster than I wanted to, but that did not cause a problem. No walk beaks needed, but I started feeling it toward the end of the run and really had to push through some hurt. I forced my body to respond to my mind, instead of the other way around, and I kept running.

The end of the run was rough in more ways than one. Along the Camden waterfront are brick walkways and stone paths. These are what we ran on and I could really feel the difference in impact between that and the road.

Relief came when we entered the outfield of Campbell's Field. The soft grass felt incredible underfoot and the finish line was only a couple hundred feet away. I was able to put in a strong finishing kick and ran hard through the finish line.

My chip time ended up being 1:00:07 for a pace of 9:42 per mile. This was the first time I ever held a sub 10:00 pace for more than three miles.

My goal for this run was to keep a steady even pace. Despite going a little faster than I thought I would, I did accomplish this. Here are my splits:

1      10:31
2        9:33
3        9:16
4        9:14
5        9:32
6        9:26
6.2     2:35 (8:43 pace) <--- great finishing kick!

This has been the best race I have done in my short running "career" and has given me a good boost in my confidence for the marathon, now just two weeks away!