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Philadelphia Marathon - RunMarathon

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
United States
Philadelphia Marathon
48F / 9C
Total Time = 2h 57m 50s
Overall Rank = 247/9158
Age Group = M30-34
Age Group Rank = 51/730
Pre-race routine:

Was dealing with a cold all week, but Friday morning I started feeling a bit better. Still had a bit of a cough and was congested, but was hopeful that it wouldn't impact my race too much. I brought my humidifier and set it up in the hotel room just to be safe. Slept okay the night before, even waking up on my own before the 4:45am alarm went off. Took my time eating my pancakes and made a cup of ginger tea to sip while I got ready.

Was happy with my clothing choice of shorts and under armour long sleeve top. I had light gloves and the weird head sleeve thing I got at the Saratoga Palio folded up like a headband under my hat. Put on my throw away sweats and headed out to meet up with the Locos.
Event warmup:

We thought we left ourselves enough time for the short walk to bag check and the start line, but the security checkpoint had lines for blocks. By the time we finally got through it was 6:45 (yikes!). I had to jog all the way around the corrals to get to bag check, then figure out how to get to my corral before the race started. Luckily it was delayed about 15 minutes, otherwise I never would have made it. Did a light stretch and just considered it a short warmup. After shedding my sweats, I really had to pee and knew I had no shot at a port-a-potty, so I went behind a tent and peed out the bottom of my shorts into the grass. Got yelled at by a volunteer (sorry!) and got into the back of my corral for the start.
  • 2h 57m 50s
  • 26.2 miles
  • 06m 47s  min/mile

Starting in the back of my corral (3:15 and under) meant I had to work my way through some crowds in the first couple of miles as we made our way down narrow city roads. I wasn't making crazy zig-zags though, remembering Joe's advice about taking the first few miles 10-15 seconds off pace being a good strategy. This really helped me stay calm until the roads widened and I was able to get into my goal pace by mile 3. It was great feeding off the energy of the crowd those first miles, and I hit the 10K mark right around 42:30, which I knew put me at about 6:50/mi, or just a hair under a 3 hour pace. I was feeling really good and planned to slide my pace down to 6:45, fearful of cutting it TOO close.

The first hill at mile 7 was very gentle and I just maintained effort and good form. University City was fun, but I was expecting more rowdiness to be honest! Maybe they hadn't had enough to drink by the time I went through. The second, and final, real hill of the day was a bit tougher, but still very manageable. It came shortly after going by the zoo around mile 9-10. This one I could feel, but after getting to the top was able to settle back into pace and felt my HR come back down. From there we got a nice downhill (not too steep) and some really fast flat sections heading back to the Art Museum. I saw Sara and Alex cheering near the split and got some high fives for a big motivation boost heading into the second half of the race!

I hit the halfway point at 1:29:26, so I was still under 3 hours pace, but I wanted a bigger buffer. Since I was feeling fatigued but overall pretty good, I made an effort to drop the pace slightly and see if I cold bank some 6:40-6:45 miles for awhile. The course along the river was very flat, but after making the turn northwest, there was a consistent headwind the whole way. I spotted a large group of at least 20 runners all packed together a few hundred yards ahead of me. I really wanted to join up with them and get out of the wind, but they were moving along at a good pace and the gap was large. I had a decision to make, expend some energy dropping the pace to catch them, or keep it consistent and deal with the wind alone. I decided it was worth it to try to bridge, as long as I didn't go TOO hard it shouldn't cost me later on (I figured I would just be using my finishing kick now, in a more important situation). I picked it up to about 6:30/mi pace and started closing in on them. It took awhile (a spectator even noticed and said "come on, get up to that group, it'll be worth it!"), but once I attached the benefit of shielding the wind was immediately felt. We were cruising along in the 6:40s and I was completely out of the wind in the back of the large group of guys all bigger than me. We hit an aid station that blew up the group shortly before the left hand turn to an out and back, but those miles out of the wind were invaluable. I'm convinced my decision to bridge up lowered my finishing race time considerably.

Heading to the turn around was tough going, as there were small rollers that were mostly uphill and still that headwind persisted. Large crowds provided a nice boost, and making the turn felt great knowing I had some small downs and a tail wind coming. Even so, I know how much pain is still yet to come after hitting mile 20. I was at about 2:15:20 when I hit that mile marker, so I knew my plan to pick it up in the 2nd half was working as I was now closer to 6:45/mi than 6:50/mi for the whole race. I just had to focus and maintain good form for the last 10K and that sub-3 was mine! Legs were screaming, but no sign of cramps (ate a shot block with water at 12 of the first 13 aid stations, taking Gatorade after that). This is the part of the race where you really have to dig deep to keep moving, and I found motivation from all kinds of sources, from Danny's ribbon on my shorts, to things from my past and personal life. This is why long endurance events can be so emotional. It's quite an experience to be stripped so bare in those moments.

The last mile was slightly uphill, a false flat really, but I had been warned to be ready for this and I was. I still wanted to finish strong so I kept up my pace and was able to ever so slightly pick it up for the finishing stretch around to the front of the Art Museum. Gave the mayor a big high five as I crossed the line and had a moment when I realized what I had accomplished!
What would you do differently?:

Getting to the corral late forced me to seed myself at the back when I should've been up closer to the front, but in the end I don't think it cost me much, if anything. Otherwise a really well executed race, as evidenced by negative splitting the second half.

I've never been faced with such a crucial strategic decision like the one I encountered here. My choice to bridge up to the large group during a long stretch with a headwind was absolutely the right call, and certainly improved my time.
Post race
Warm down:

Immediately after crossing the finish line my knees began locking up with the cold hitting them. Shuffled through the food line and to the gear retrieval. Slowly made my way to the massage tent while munching some food. The massage was brutal but just what I needed, my legs were really stiff and painful. Found Ben and chatted about the race (he did great too!) before heading back to the hotel to shower and pack up before checking out. Did a round of stretching after the hot shower loosened up my legs.

What limited your ability to perform faster:

Nothing, I got the race I was hoping for. Breaking 3 hours was something I wasn't sure I would ever be able to do not that long ago. And qualifying for Boston has been an endurance sports career goal of mine. I am so incredibly happy and grateful that I was able to achieve this with hard work and smart training!

Event comments:

I really enjoyed this race. The course was great with a few hills to add character but nothing too impossible, and the city really came out to support the runners. The security checkpoint in the morning should have been planned better, but at least the race was delayed (they said due to an accident, but I have a feeling it was because so many racers weren't through by 7am). Post race food was just okay (chocolate milk? pizza? anything with protein??) but when dealing with almost 10,000 people I guess you can't expect gourmet fixings. Didn't have to wait too long for a massage which was great and the live band was a nice touch. Overall a great race!

Last updated: 2015-11-23 12:00 AM
02:57:50 | 26.2 miles | 06m 47s  min/mile
Age Group: 51/730
Overall: 247/9158
Performance: Good
Course: Starts off in front of the famous Art Museum and heads through some of the historic parts of the city. First real hill of the day comes as you go into University City around mile 7-8, then another more challenging one around mile 10 after the Philadelphia Zoo. After a downhill you get some nice fast flats through a park before heading back by the Art Museum and turning up the river past boat house row towards the turnaround. Around mile 18 there is a short out and back over a bridge before continuing over some small rollers to the turn around at mile 20. Then it's just a straight shot back down along the river before a false flat in the final mile takes you to the finish line in front of the Art Museum.
Keeping cool Good Drinking Just right
Post race
Weight change: %
Overall: Good
Mental exertion [1-5] 5
Physical exertion [1-5] 5
Good race? Yes
Course challenge Just right
Organized? Yes
Events on-time? No
Lots of volunteers? Yes
Plenty of drinks? Yes
Post race activities: Good
Race evaluation [1-5] 5

2015-11-23 8:12 AM

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The Catskills
Subject: Philadelphia Marathon
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