Monday, November 23, 2009

Philly Marathon 2009: Race Review

So #1 is done. Unofficially it was done in 3 hours, 53 minutes and 15 seconds. Race day weather was a perfect 10: high 40s to low 50s most of the race with little wind and plenty of sunshine. The race started great. I had to pee at about mile 3 - but that only took ~30 seconds [yes, I glanced at my watch]. The next 6 miles felt awesome - I was a minute or two back from the 3:40 pace group and the run felt smooth and easy. Things got better at about mile 9 - I saw my family near the Philly Zoo - the highlight of the marathon.

Then, on a perfect day, things took an imperfect turn - at mile 10, I had essentially the same groin cramps I had 3 weeks earlier during my 15-mile long run. Unbelievably, I had to stop and stretch and walk a bit. Things continued to hurt until after the loop past the art museum at mile 13. Then I started to feel a little better. My friend/support Sherpa DaveT met me at mile 14 and I told him I was feeling good. However, soon after he left at mile 15, it hit again.

I'd pretty much lost the 3:40 pace group and had about 2 minutes on the 3:50 pace group which I thought I was doing a decent job holding off. The legs however, continued to hurt in through Manyunk until finally the 3:50 pace group passed me at mile 21. At this point, the cramping was killing me - and I shuffled in at a pretty slow pace - apparently doing about 9:20 miles - ugh. It felt slow - but the groin cramp was too much. DaveT picked me up again at about mile 24 and pulled me along for about 10 minutes - but I just couldn't run fast. The end was bitter sweat. I was proud to get in at 3:53:15 for my longest run ever - considering the pain - but it was a little embarrassing having the crowd yelling me encouragement while poking along slowly and getting passed by other runners.

Nevertheless - the race was a great experience and the crowds in philly deserve a big "thank you". Some top moments: seeing my family along the course is #1a and having a great race sherpa is #1b; high fiving kids and people dressed in odd costumes [I remember a gingerbread man, santa clause, the Drexel dragon], extraordinary weather, pulling through severe cramps for an under 4 hour finish are all positives I'll take away. Knowing damn well that I can run into the low 3:40s is something that'll motivate me as I train for the next one.



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