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Philadelphia Marathon - RunMarathon

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States
Philadelphia Marathon
45F / 7C
Total Time = 5h 23m 56s
Overall Rank = 6805/7460
Age Group = 25-29
Age Group Rank = 716/785
Pre-race routine:

Woke up at 5:30, ate a Lara bar and a banana, drank a cup of black coffee.
Event warmup:

The ~1 mile walk to the start from the hotel. Ate a Luna bar on the way. Did the bag check and portajohn thing, then hopped into our corral just before it started moving forward.
  • 5h 23m 56s
  • 26.51 miles
  • 12m 13s  min/mile

Well. Even at the starting line I had no idea if I was going to be able to do the whole thing. I knew I desperately wanted to complete the full marathon, but I also knew it was highly unlikely based on my knee and the lack of running in the past 4 weeks. I had decided to start the race and see what happened - if things were VERY bad I could stop at our hotel around mile 6...if things were bad I could just finish the half marathon. Travis, with his ankle sprained just a week and a half ago, had the same plan - which, frankly, was an improvement over just a few days ago when he thought the best he could do was walk the 8K with my dad.

My worst-case scenario came true within minutes of starting the race - the familiar pain returned in my left knee. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. I knew the knee would give me trouble at some point, I was just so hoping it wouldn't be until a minimum of several miles in. But it wasn't absolutely severe, so I kept moving. By about 3 miles I knew it was going to be a difficult run, and around 3.5 miles I had to stop for a portajohn break and to readjust my ITB strap and stretch a little - neither of which did much good when I got running again.

And so began the walk breaks. At this point in the race the pain was coming in waves of severity - at times it was bad enough that I was forced to walk, but would run in between walk breaks as long as I could. I found that running at a pace faster than what I had planned for MP actually felt better, so that's what I did. I also found that running uphill was too much for the knee (and also too much for Travis's ankle), so we decided then to walk the uphills as well.

And that was pretty much the story for the rest of the first half, which actually seemed to go by fairly quickly. I stopped another time to readjust my ITB strap (and a few steps later to adjust it back to where it was haha) and we walked most of the water stops. Around mile 12 I was running and feeling decent - better than I had earlier on - and knew I didn't want to stop at 13.1. I still had more in me, and I said to Travis, "I came out to do 26.2. Brittany and everyone else are doing IMAZ today. Lauren did this. Shannon did this, and may never really be Shannon again (a HS friend/soccer teammate who is in a conscious but unresponsive stupor state after being hit by a car while running 1.5 months ago). So I can do this. It's a beautiful day and we have nothing else to do today, so we might as well!" Travis agreed, "Even if I have to walk to entire second half, I WILL finish this."

So we kept going. Once we passed the finish/to mile 14 cutoff I thought, "well, there's no turning back now!" I had NO idea how it would go, but I needed to try. I didn't want the 26.2 monster hanging over my head any longer. And at this midpoint of the race my knee was suddenly feeling rather good. Ran comfortably for a little while, then resumed the run/walk deal by mile 16. The walk breaks remained short until about mile 19. The longest run I got in before my knee started flaring was 18, so this was no surprise. Anything after 18 was completely uncharted territory. At this point, instead of running til we had to walk, Travis and I started saying "how about we run from here to that sign/stoplight/bridge/etc." By this point, I was limited as much by my legs just not having much "go" left as the pain in the knee. Cardiovascularly I felt great. Mentally I was as in it as I could be - I wanted to be done, but I wasn't ready to give up, either.

So we pressed on. It became increasingly more difficult to start running again after walk breaks, and I had to ease into the run more gradually lest my knee lock up on me. I stopped one last time for another portajohn break about mile 24.5 and then we kept going. I really wanted to run the entire last mile, but with a gradual uphill around mile 25.5 my knee/legs just couldn't do it. After we crested the hill and turned the corner by the Art Museum, Travis said we had just .3 of a mile to go, so we started running. This was the moment I'd been waiting for - the crowd cheering, just steps from the finish line. I was tearing up - I couldn't believe I actually did it. Despite the protests from my knee, I pushed a bit faster (the Garmin reports that our last .5 mile was at a 9:17 pace) and crossed the finish line with Travis (the REAL trouper of the day - he stayed by my side and kept me going the entire race, despite the fact that he was also in a fair amount of pain) and a big smile on my face.

It was then, after I resumed walking, that I returned to earth and realized that my knee didn't want to bend anymore. It hurt worse then than the entire time I'd been running, but of course it didn't matter anymore then! Hobbled until my parents appeared out of nowhere with hugs and congratulations. One of them asked how my knee was and I started crying and they said "ohhhhh....." but I blubbered, "No, I'm crying because I did it!" A day later, I'm still amazed that I managed to do it, despite GREAT odds.

And it was very fitting that my first marathon was in Philadelphia. I was born and lived in Drexel Hill (Delaware County) until I was 5 1/2, went to my first Phillies game at 18 months old, and have remained a diehard Phillies and Eagles fan ever since. :)

With regard to nutrition - took in water and Gatorade at each stop, plus ate 2 Gu's, 1 package of Luna Moons, 1/2 package Sharkies, and 2 fruit leathers. Oh, and half a mini chocolate chip cookie given to Travis by a little girl just after mile 13. :)
What would you do differently?:

Under the circumstances...nothing. I had convinced myself that it was perfectly acceptable to just stop at the half marathon point; I had zero expectations beyond that. Finishing the full marathon was itself a HUGE barely attainable goal, so to do it was a bonus.

And in good news, the right knee that I've had 2 surgeries on was and is absolutely fine. YAY!
Post race
Warm down:

Limped through the finish chute, grabbed water, an Attune bar, soft pretzel, and drank 2 glorious cups of steaming chicken broth. Then hobbled the ~1 mile back to the hotel.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Obviously, the ITBS flare in my knee that also limited me to a total of 4 miles in the last few weeks and no long runs beyond 18 miles (5 weeks ago) didn't help. Thankfully, the fact that my training had gone flawlessly up til that point helped. I think the fact that I kept up my cardiovascular fitness with swimming and cycling, and my strength and flexibility with ST and yoga, were all hugely important for getting me through this. Prior to the knee issue, I really thought 4:30 was a reasonable and achievable goal, but once the knee went I changed my focus to just finishing. I think leaving a time goal out of it was crucial for me being able to just go with it and enjoy the day and finish no matter what it took.

Event comments:

Excellent race. Great course - enough hills to keep it challenging and interesting, but not too difficult. Great scenery. Very well-organized and no shortage of volunteers or food and water, even for us BOPers. Could have had a little more going on (or at least some finishers' gear for sale) after the race, though quite honestly I don't know if we would've stuck around for it anyway (needed to get back to clean up and check out of the hotel).

Last updated: 2009-06-24 12:00 AM
05:23:56 | 26.51 miles | 12m 13s  min/mile
Age Group: 716/785
Overall: 6805/7460
Performance: Below average
Course: All around Philly, rolling hills and some flats throughout
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Average
Mental exertion [1-5] 4
Physical exertion [1-5] 3
Good race? Ok
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? Yes
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Below average
Race evaluation [1-5] 4

2009-11-23 2:57 PM

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Extreme Veteran
Columbia, South Carolina
Subject: Philadelphia Marathon

2009-11-23 3:37 PM
in reply to: #2527615

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Albuquerque, New Mexico
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon

Whew!!  You.are.tough!!   Glad you found 26.2 miles in the knee.  

2009-11-23 4:23 PM
in reply to: #2527615

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Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon
Congratulations on your finish!  Now heal up that knee. 
2009-11-24 6:47 PM
in reply to: #2527615

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Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon
Great RR! Race = dunzo! W00t. Proud of ya.
2009-11-24 7:00 PM
in reply to: #2527615

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Goodyear, AZ
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon

So glad you finished! So sorry about the knee. I had ITB issues in 08 and had to sit out a marathon.

Well done! Heal quickly

2009-11-24 10:36 PM
in reply to: #2527615

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Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon
You did it! CONGRATS   Great feeling knowing you can go the distance.

Rehab that knee! 

2009-11-25 6:57 AM
in reply to: #2527615

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Fishers, Indiana
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon
Congrats on your finish and determination out there!! I hate reading about ITBS, but I love reading about how you and Travis stuck together and finished it out! So, congrats on your first 26.2!! Here is to getting the knee back into the shape you want so you can go for whatever you want!! Super dedication!!!
2009-11-25 7:18 AM
in reply to: #2527615

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West Chester, Ohio
Subject: RE: Philadelphia Marathon

Way to go toughing it out with those knee issues!  You and Travis ROCK for the HTFU you both pulled out!!

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