I went down to the expo on Friday after work and was pleased to see it wasn’t too crowded. Picking up my bib and shirt was easy, as was moving up a corral. I picked up some freebies (my favorite) and bought a new SPIbelt, arm warmers, and chomps. I also donated my old sneakers (good riddance, Saucony Guides!). Naked Juice also gave me a CASE of coconut water, yum.
I slept in later than I had wanted to because we were out late Friday night (we went to see the Hot Rod Circuit reunion show) and I felt like I lost a few hours of my day. I scrambled around like a crazy person packing and squeezing in a last minute workout before driving downtown to check into our hotel. Tom booked us a really nice suite across from the convention center, about a mile from the start line. We walked over to the inspiration pasta dinner for TNT, which started to get me pumped up. We were back at the suite before 10 and I tried to fall asleep. I really didn’t sleep well, and each time I managed to fall asleep I woke up to car horns and sirens. I realized how spoiled I’ve become living in the suburbs—it’s always quiet.
I was up by 4:30 to stretch and get ready. I walked to meet up with my team at 6, and we walked to the start line together. It was pretty hectic (to be expected with 27,000 runners), especially at the bathrooms and the bag check, but we managed to all start together in our corral.
We crossed the start line at 7:26 and were off. We stayed together for the first mile, but I thought it was hard to run 5 people deep together. I saw Tom in front of our hotel around mile 1.5, holding a sign and taking pictures. Here’s an awkward picture he took of me tossing my arm warmers at him:
I started feeling antsy (this was also around the time that my Garmin froze) so I started moving forward. I got pretty comfortable by mile 3. I saw Tom around after mile 5 (!!) and was feeling great. He kept snapping pictures, but (because I’m so fast) he only caught one of my butt, which no one wants or needs to see. Then the race hit Chestnut Street and I started to fly. The street was packed with spectators and the cheering was so intense. We hit West Philly and I was feeling great. I had one bathroom stop around mile 9 (too much Gatorade!) and took my first Clif shot at mile 10. I was also eating 1 chomp about every 1.5 miles after mile 4.
Around mile 12 I started to calculate how much more distance I had to cover (and subsequently started to panic). At this time, a TNT coach, Matt, jumped in and started to run with me. I don’t know if he was feeling sorry for me but he stayed with me until mile 17. I was tired, but he kept my pace steady. And then Matt left to find other TNT runners. And this happened: This is where I hit my wall. Mile 18 was so boring, and mile 19 was running into Manayunk, where people were handing out beer and muffins (two smells that I was not happy to have in my presence). The sun was getting hotter. I started to feel a knot develop in my back. My stomach was miserable from eating so much sugar. I was not a happy camper. I managed to keep running (although I had to look down several times to determine if my feet were indeed moving), even if it was VERY slow.
And then who comes to save the day? Matt! Around mile 23 he spotted me and ran with me until 25.5. He ensured me that I was still in good shape, and helped me pick up my pace. CHECK OUT MILE 26: I saw my parents about 100 yards from the finish line, and they were so excited to see me. I looked ahead and felt amazing, and crossed the finish line at 4:24 (including that bathroom stop). And just like that, I became a marathoner. I grabbed a few bottles of water, a banana and pretzels. I found my parents and Tom. I was on cloud nine.
And then I tried to walk. I was so tight that I needed help sitting down. I have been stretching at least 5 times a day, and my foam roller has been my best friend. I actually feel pretty good today- good enough to go to pilates tonight, at least.
Overall, I really enjoyed this race. There’s nothing like running a big race- the crowd and support is what keeps me going. The volunteers were great and everything seemed so well organized. I would definitely run this again (although I’m thinking about doing Marine Corps next year…). I’ve definitely been bit by the marathon bug…