Yesterday was my fifth marathon. I ended up choosing Philadelphia because of the timing in late November and because I heard it was a relatively flat and quick course.
The event certainly did not disappoint. We headed down to Philadelphia on Friday and made it to the expo about a half hour before it closed. Saturday morning I decided to head out for a short easy run because I had not run in a couple of days.
Since our hotel was close to the start line over by the Museum of Art I decided to head over that way. I managed to get a picture of myself with the Rocky statue and run up the “Rocky Steps” at the east entrance of the museum before I headed back to the hotel.
Yesterday morning went as planned. I was up as usual at 3:00 for a pre-marathon breakfast consisting of a banana, oatmeal and some orange juice with protein powder. I went back to bed after finishing but I don’t think I managed to get any sleep after that.
We left the hotel at 6:00 to head over to the start line. As soon as we stepped out to the street it was as if there was an exodus of runners coming out of every hotel we passed.
Two things struck me right away at the start line. First was the number of people, an announced 27,000 runners participating in both the marathon and half-marathon yesterday. The second thing that struck me was the organization. Runners were only allowed into the corral that corresponded with the corral they had been assigned to and there was fencing to separate each corral to make sure runners did not leave their corral early since there were wave starts – I was in the second corral after the elites and we waited at the start line for two minutes after the wave ahead of us took off.
I had planned on following the 3:10 pacer but since he was in the corral ahead of me I was on my own. Other than an unplanned pit stop around the 10 km point everything went well. I felt strong through the first half and if I needed a boost got it from seeing running past my wife who had found a spot in front of the Art Museum just before the Rocky Statue.
I still felt strong through the second half could feel myself starting to fade a bit on the last out and back portion which took us to Manayunk. Somewhere along this stretch I was surprised to see a runner wearing a Hawaiian shirt going the other way, more on him later.
Around mile 21 the 3:20 pacer pulled up beside me and I fell in with the group that was following him. I lost that group at the last water stop around mile 25 as I stopped to dump water over my head.
After the last water stop I was on the home stretch and started to get a final burst of energy as I got closer to the Art Museum and the large crowds of supporters. I ran by my wife again as she was now positioned closer to the finish line.
Remember the runner in the Hawaiian shirt? I caught up to him just after seeing my wife and blew past him as I headed to the finish line.
Just before the finish I noticed Bart Yasso and the Mayor of Philadelphia on the far side of the course cheering on finishers. I went over to get high fives from each and had enough time without slowing down to let Bart know I had used his training plan.
My final time was 3:20:36, good enough for 909 out of 10,213 runners. While my time was not good enough to qualify for Boston I had a great day and am pleased with the result which is a new personal best by 2.40 minutes. You’ll notice my Garmin says 3:19:15, it stopped when I made my pit stop so 3:20:36 is my actual chip time.
I’d recommend this marathon to anyone who has not done it before.
Some of the highlights of the race for me were:
- Running past the USS New Jersey as we ran along the Delaware River.
- The frat boys at Drexel University who I am pretty sure were still drinking when I went by before 9:00.
- A guy dressed as Batman playing the Rocky theme song on a trombone.
- A beer table setup at mile 21. I wasn’t in the mood for one at this point but it was certainly funny to see.