After my failure to complete 26.2 in Central Park on November 11th, I needed to quickly regroup and get focused on the next challenge: the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon. When I origianlly planned out my race year, Philly was pegged as the location where I would finish up my 12 marathons in one year challenge. However, since the ING New York City Marathon was cancelled and the prior Sunday’s efforts were without any form of merit, Philly would only represent number eleven for the year. Even if I cross the finish line, I am still 26.2 miles short of achieving my goal. And that – to use a technical term – sucks.
I spent the week logging some slow, unfocused miles with absolutely no daily goals to attain while training. I have to admit: my workouts are MUCH better when I plan out what I want to achieve the night before. If I leave my apartment with a small goal in my head, my morning run is MUCH more effective. I come home happy as a clam. (Where the HELL did that old saying come from? Why in the name of Zues’ rear-end are clams “happy”? Can anyone tell me? Think about it: the best thing that can happen to a clam is that it produces the rare pearl. Wonderful. Good for the clam. Can it cash in on its good fortune by selling the stupid thing to Tiffany’s or an Ebay? I think NOT. Clams don’t have access to the internet. Clams cannot watch reruns of The Big Bang Theory. Clams never played a game of Madden Football on a PS3. So I say again: why in the blue hell are they happy?)
Wow. I just read that last paragraph. What the hell was I thinking? I’m as sharp as a bowling ball.
ANYWAY…like I was saying….
Whenever I have a plan of attack for a morning workout, I feel much more focused while I’m running or cross-training. When I come home after hitting my goal for the morning, it sets the tone for a more productive day. When I don’t have a plan developed for the morning run, I simply head out my front door and quickly lose focus. I feel like I can cut my workout short if I’m simply not motivated to continue. I know myself : I’m like a dense, cranky mule. In order to keep me moving, I need someone to hang a carrot in front of my face (preferably sauted, with a side of fries). I need constant motivation. The goal needs to always be in front of me. So in order to combat the clouds of failure hanging over my head, I really focused on a daily game plan for each morning’s run. As Wednesday and Thursday came and went, I realized that I had hit my targets for each morning thus far: 4 miles in 40 minutes on Monday. A steady 5 miler at a 10:20 pace on Tuesday. Cat Hill repeats on Wednesday (those sucked). 4 miles with 1 minute pick-ups every 4 minutes on Thursday (that one made me heave). The clouds began to dissipate. Maybe I can get Philly done after all. I headed down to Philadelphia on Saturday morning, in the words of Paul Simon, “feelin’ groovy”.
The Philadelphia Marathon expo was well organized, pretty large and diverse, and the race gear was some of the best I’ve seen all year long. Picking up the race bib was incredibly fast and efficient. And this race has one of the best technical shirts out there. This marathon also opened its doors to several thousand New York city Marathon runners at the last moment, which I really thought was a classy thing to do. I left the expo and headed back to the hotel nice and early, feeling nothing but positive vibes from the City of Brotherly Love.
Marathon Morning arrived, and the starting line was a long, relaxed walk from my hotel. I woke up early, took my time getting ready, and headed out the door still feeling pretty groovy – but knowing that I had already made two rookie mistakes:
1) I didn’t eat well enough at dinner the night before the race. I had a small portion of pasta, and I know I didn’t get enough calories. Dumb move. But wait – I like to double down on my stupidity….
2) I didn’t eat breakfast. Not even a Pop Tart. DUMB DUMB DUMB.
Going into the race, I knew that I didn’t fuel well enough. That brings me to a note that I want to share for anyone about to run their first full marathon: when you begin to plan out how you’ll attack a marathon course, do NOT forget to plan out your meals, fluid intake and scheduled rest for the 24 hours beforehand. I tend to blow these important factors off and just focus on how I will run the race itself. Well – you aren’t going to run well if there’s no fuel in the tank!
The race began promptly at 7am, and half marathon and marathon runners were mixed into the same corrals. While I thought this might cause some real congestion at the start the race began, in fact, extremely well spaced-out. The first 13 miles were extremely stimulating, weaving our way through various neighborhoods and really getting a nice touch of the local flavor. As we approached the area where the half marathoners peeled off of the course and headed to the finish line, the full marathoners crossed over the Schuylkill River, ran past Boat House Row, and began a 13 mile out-and-back course that ran us along the shoreline. The packs of fans along the second half of the marathon course were small yet VERY lively, and they helped me along when the going got tough. I also noticed a large number of Team For Kids runners on the course, most of which were reeling in their first marathon medal looking VERY strong. As a TFK Mentor, it felt FANTASTIC to see these runners staying steady in the latter portion of the race.
Now I will admit something here: I actually enjoy out-and-back courses. Some people don’t like them because it means that you see the same things twice instead of getting to see more of the town / city you are running in. My view is that I really like these types of courses because seeing the faster runners fly down the course motivates me. In addition, an out-and-back course includes a turn where you know that you are offically heading toward the finish line. Lastly, it allows you to see how far you’ve come during the race.
The last miles were really scenic. Past Boat House Row, up an incline and head toward the Art Museum. The last 600 meters was a nice decline with tons of fans along both sides of the course. although my momentum began to sputter due to a lack of fuel at around miles 18-19, I hung in there fairly well and finished with a smile on my face.
I headed back to the hotel sore yet satisfied. I had done well enough, based on the poor preparation. I made mental notes on what to correct for my next race, as well as what I did well. On the train ride home, I realized that I only needed one more marathon before the end of the year…but there were no marathons being run close to me between Thanksgiving and the end of the year.
This is a problem.
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