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Week Sixteen - Philadelphia Marathon

Monday - 15 min easy run

Tuesday - Intervals (10 min warm up, 5 min run, 1 min rest X2)

Wednesday - 30 min easy run

Thursday - 30 min easy run

Friday - 15 min easy run

Saturday - 20 min easy run

Sunday - Philadelphia Marathon

Well, just in time for the last few easy runs and the Philadelphia marathon, winter showed up. It went from 70 degrees to 40 overnight. I got chilly but good runs in throughout the week. I try to wear shorts until December and had a fairly easy time keeping to that, with the addition of gloves as needed to my shorts and long sleeves. Unfortunately, the weather was predicted to be in the 30s with lots of wind for marathon day.

Saturday afternoon we headed to Philly, it was an easy drive just over an hour. We checked into our hotel which was within a block of the convention center, where the expo was held, and Reading Terminal Market, where we planned to get dinner. The expo closed at 5 but when we got there between 3:30 and 4, there wasn't a lot going on. There were still a lot of bibs to be picked up but some of the exhibitors were already packing up. We knew that would be the case but it wasn't worth moving the entire day up to get there earlier. We were in an out of the expo pretty quickly and then made our way to Reading Terminal Market. I got a cheese-steak and Dan got Korean food which we took back to our hotel lobby that had a big corner of tables and chairs at the breakfast area. We were back in the room relaxing by 6.

This race is not one of the world marathon majors, but the logistics operate much more like the majors in NYC, Chicago, and Boston than any other race I've ever done. I've become accustomed walking up to the starting corrals 15 minutes before the race starts. When I booked the hotel several months ago, I thought it was a walkable distance from the race start and finish. When I looked again on Saturday, I realized it was a mile and a half which is a lot in the cold wind when you're about to run 26.2 cold miles. Luckily, there were shuttles from 4 different places in the city and one of them was a block from our hotel. The other piece that was new to me was that only runners were allowed in the start area and there was security to get in. The race started at 7 but shuttles were running from 5-6, if you weren't on a shuttle at 6, you had to find your own way to the start. I was scared of not getting on a shuttle. Our car was valeted and I couldn't imagine walking in the cold. I was also worried about long security lines so I wanted to be on the shuttle as close to 5 as possible. Dan walked with me to the shuttle since it was still dark and luckily there was a long line of school buses waiting. I was first on the bus and once it filled up, we were driven to the race. There was a short line for security but it wasn't too bad. I knew there would be a warming tent and luckily I found it pretty quickly. I was in the tent waiting by 5:30, quite a bit earlier than I usually show up to a race.

Another thing I'm not used to is with the temps so cold and not being able to have someone at the start with me, I needed to check a bag. I wore a tshirt, long sleeve shirt, running jacket, Buff, ear warmer headband, gloves, and my heavy knee length parka. I didn't want to loose my spot in the warming tent but I was also worried about lines at the bag drop trucks and I wanted to use the rest room which I knew would have lines. Around 6:30, I left the tent to check my bag. I didn't want to take my big coat off sooner than necessary. In hindsight, I could have kept it on while waiting for the bathroom but I couldn't decide which order to do things. Once I checked my bag,I waited in a very cold line for the bathroom as some of the early corrals were starting. I was in the blue corral which was the last one. Once I went to the restroom, I was very cold. People were leaving their 'throwaway' clothes on the fence. I spotted a fleece blanket so I grabbed it and went back to the warming tent. There were a few other people there who were waiting it out until the last minute. I decided to do that too. Once I heard my corral start, I made the short walk to the start with my newly acquired fleece blanket. I tossed the blanket right as I crossed start line. They announced they would keep the start line open for a few more minutes for people still going through security so there plenty of stragglers. I didn't end up starting until about 7:30 so I'd already had a long morning before I even started.

The first few miles of the race felt really good. I slowed a little from mile 8 to the half but I was keeping a decent pace. I felt like I took my jacket off and put it back on like 20 times In the first half. I was trying to stay warm but not get myself sweatier than necessary. I've run my share of marathons in cold wind and when the wind is coming at you, the last thing you want is to be soaking wet. I could tell by the halfway that it wasn't my day for a PR and at that point I really wanted to finish without feeling completely miserable.

I knew from running a few other races in Philadelphia that the 2nd half would be the hardest running through Fairmount Park and along the Schuylkill River on Kelly Drive. I knew those areas would feel lonely after the exciting city miles and I was right. The race also runs through Manayunk in the second half. There was a lot of crowd support but I think it was the hardest section of the race because the entire street was in the shade and the long straight narrow street basically felt like a big wind tunnel and there weren't even any chances to get in the sun.

When the race felt hard and I felt cold I reminded myself that I've done this before in the cold wind with sleet pelting me in the face, I can definitely do it without precipitation. I was mostly dreaming of putting my heavy coat on at the finish.

I didn't hit my time goal at all but other than being cold, my body didn't feel completely miserable. I didn't pay attention to how I was scheduling so I really should start training for Shamrock Marathon next week. I liked the timed based training a lot but it just wasn't enough volume for me to be really prepared so I'll research some other training plans.

Dan was waiting at the finish. He said the walk from our hotel was awful and he was about to through in the towel several times and text me to meet him on the hotel lobby but he stuck it out. Once I got my checked bag, we went to the warming tent and I stripped off my running jacket, Buff, and sweaty ear warmer. I had a fresh dry knit hat my winter coat to bundle up in. I tied my Mylar heat sheet around my waist. My husband found free coffee and cappuccino that Carnival Cruise Lines was giving out and hot dogs and chicken sausages from Dietz and Watson. The hot food and drink really hit the spot as we made our way back to the shuttles. I was happy for the shuttle, I would not have wanted to walk another mile and a half.

Unfortunately, we couldn't get a late checkout from the hotel but Dan had them hold our bags when he checked out before he came to the race and they let us use the bathroom in the conference area. Even though I couldn't shower I was happy to have fresh warm clothes on to drive home.

All in all, I would definitely do the Philadelphia Marathon again! Although the logistics were different than I'm used to at smaller events, it was very doable.


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