Marathon number nine is in the books. Today’s Philadelphia Marathon was my second of the year and my second time in Philadelphia in the past three years. As previously mentioned, my goal for today was to take a shot at my Boston qualifying time which currently is 3:10. That would have been a 2.5 minute improvement on the time I set at home in Ottawa in May.
The day got off to an early start with organizers calling on runners to be at the starting area for 5:00 due to security measures. In hindsight this is one aspect I could have been better prepared for. I did have a long sleeve jacket and a long sleeve shirt to wear over my singlet but I did not have a pair of pants to throw on over my shorts. As a result I found myself shivering as I waited until 7:00 to start the race.
Other than that I think my preparation went well. I managed to fit in a nap yesterday afternoon and had a good carb loading meal last night. I felt ready to go by the time I lined up in my corral. I managed to get off to a good start and was on pace through 10 km and the half.
Those of you who have run in Philly before know that the first loop of the course heads back to the start/finish so runners in the half can finish while runners in the full head out in another direction along the Schuykill River toward Manayunk for another 21 km loop. After running through big crowds at the start/finish area the crowds start to thin out a bit along the river until you reach Manayunk and big crowds are once again lining the streets.
I was still on pace to have a shot at my goal at the 30 km mark. Unfortunately, between 30-32 km I started to feel cramping in my right calf. I tried to managed a consistent pace but could not and started to take occasional walk breaks. I knew my goal was quickly slipping away but at this point there was no way I could keep pushing ahead. I slowed down to a pace that would allow me to get to the finish.
The cramping started to get worse as I got to less than one km from the finish line. I managed one last push to get to the finish line to get me over the line in 3:20. So no BQ or even a pb for me today. While I was not thrilled with my time I’ve come to accept it. My goal in coming here was to take a shot at my goal and I had a great race going for 30 km. I am not sure what to blame the cramping on today but if I can avoid that the next time out I will be in good shape.
The other thing that makes it easier to accept what happened today is the fact that it wasn’t that long ago that I never thought I could or would run a marathon. There I was today disappointed at first that I crossed the line in 3:20.
For those of you who have not run the Philadelphia Marathon before I would recommend because it is a well organized race with great crowd support. With the exception of the sections through Fairmount Park the crowds were out in full force today. I even had two instances within the first 15 km where drunk guys were chanting my name and offering beer.
As for what comes next, I am not going to make an official commitment yet but I am likely going to take another shot at my BQ at home in May.