Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

I told my friend, Leanne Rosser, that Philadelphia "isn't a PR course". 

Having done it twice before, I felt like the course had some of what I call "texture" - or "terrain" - to it and that it wasn't the easiest in the world.

Nonetheless, Leanne PR'd on Sunday by 17 minutes with a dazzling 4:34 in her fifth career marathon.

And I put enough together to post my sixth-best marathon finish out of the 46 that I've completed with a 5:02:21 effort.

Before I decided to do this marathon for the third time in three years, I had accepted the opportunity to announce for the Nike Cross South Regional at Bear Branch Sports Park in The Woodlands, which was the day before.

There was a 1:30 p.m. flight, but that would have been cutting it way close or - as it turned out with the awards ceremony, which included an interview with 2012 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Leo Manzano - next to impossible. 

So a 7:30 p.m. flight, which would land at close to midnight Eastern time, is what it would be.

Fortunately, Waverly and I both got upgraded to first class.  And after being on my feet for six and a half hours Saturday morning, I ended up sleeping soundly on the United flight to the City of Brotherly Love.

We were in our room at about 12:45 a.m. and I think I ended up getting about three hours of additional sleep.  We were out of the hotel room by 5:15 a.m. and on our way toward the Philadelphia Mueseum of Art, where the corrals would back up to.

After a little nervous time of securing parking, getting my packet from my good friend, Rob Jones, and waiting in the car (in the heat) and with Waverly, Leanne and her husband, Jim, we were in the corrals a little after 7 a.m.

Philadelphia is just atrocious on their corral management. 

Last year, in the last or next-to-last, I think it took 22 minutes to cross the start line.  This year, it turned out to be 36 minutes.  Crazy! 

However, in all reality, there are places during the first six and a half miles that would be major bottlenecks if everyone was sent at once -- or in just two waves like the Chevron Houston Marathon does.

And, then, we also realized that those who didn't get to run the ING New York City Marathon earlier in the month had their own specially-created corral.  Guess that it was worth it for the $200 they paid - on top of the $255 or greater that was lost on NYC.

Leanne and I sliced and diced our way through the first mile while she was trying to "hold back".  Yeah right.  She was ahead of me and I passed the marker in just under 10 minutes.

Mile 1 -- 9:59:28

I had a little bit of an inkling that it wasn't going to be another 4:48 Maine Marathon day; however, I also knew that at mile 6 or so, when I saw Waverly, that I was going to have to shed my outer layer.

Mile 2 -- 11:15.85 (21:15)
Mile 3 -- 9:07.63 (30:22)
Mile 4 -- 10:24.81 (40:47)
Mile 5 -- 10:21.79 (51:09)
Mile 6 -- 10:50.96 (1:02:00)

I saw Jim (Leanne's husband), Lysa (Rob's wife) and Waverly at probably the 10K point.  Lysa proceeded to tell me that I was on a 4:29 pace.  I told her, "Not today."  I wasn't being negative.  I appreciated the feedback, for sure, but I've run enough of these to know when it isn't going to be my day.

Mile 7/8 -- 21:47.21 (1:23:47)
Mile 9 -- 10:52.17 (1:34:39)
Mile 10 -- 11:39.43 (1:46:19)

The three previous miles included some hills, but I didn't feel as if it was as difficult as it had been in year's past.  I suppose, though, that mile 10 told a little bit of a different story.

Mile 11 -- 10:36.44 (1:56:55)
Mile 12 -- 10:40.75 (2:07:36)

Even though the mile splits were the same as earlier in the race, the miles, as I came up upon the Philadelphia Museum of Art, started to get harder.

Mile 13 -- 10:54.13 (2:18:30)

I saw Waverly at the mile 13 marker, gave her a kiss, as usual, and told her that it was going to be close to five (5) hours.

Mile 14 -- 11:00.75 (2:29:31)
Mile 15 -- 11:30.53 (2:41:01)
Mile 16 -- 11:10.38 (2:52:12)

Miles 14-16 run along the Schuykill River and are flat, but there was a gradual slowdown.  This was similar to the race two years before, where I finished in 4:51.  I also needed to go to the restroom, but I couldn’t find a port-a-pottie that was open and not allow me to lose major time.

Mile 17 -- 12:27.62 (3:04:39)

There was an aid station just before we made a left-hand turn to go over a bridge that went over the River, where the 17-mile marker was at.  At the end of the mile before, I started to do what I call, "the marathon math".  So it was 2:52:12 plus 10 miles times 16 minutes equals approximately 5:34 - with two (2) minutes for the final .2 miles.

Mile 18 -- 11:46.35 (3:16.26)
Mile 19 -- 12:12.82 (3:28:38)
Mile 20 -- 12:13.99 (3:40:52)

Mile 19 ended on the way into Manayunk and mile 20 was early as we moved through its "downtown area".  In between, I saw fellow The Woodlands Running Club member Geri Henry.  Geri and (former TWRC president) Tony Allison both were finishing their 50 states marathon journey.  As soon as I could tell it was her, I hollered as loud as I could, "Ladies and gentleman, Geri Henry from The Woodlands, Texas is finishing her 50 states in marathons today".

I think most people got a kick out of it.  One woman asked me how many that I had.  I said, "30", but the only thing about 30 that I wanted at that time was to be finished in 30 minutes!

Mile 21 -- 12:52.50 (3:53:45)
Mile 22 -- 13:03.06 (4:06:48)
Mile 23 -- 12:43.12 (4:19:31)
Mile 24 -- 12:20.41 (4:31:51)

These four miles took a lot to keep from walking all of the distance.  I wanted to get it done as quick as I could.  One gentleman, who passed me at around mile 9 and had been following me (and my pace) there, saw me again after I passed him late in mile 21 and we chit-chatted off and on until he got far enough ahead of me going in to the last two miles.

Mile 25 -- 13:58.97 (4:45:24)
Mile 26 -- 14:17.07 (5:00:08)
Last .2 -- 2:13.05 (5:02:21)

Just like 2010, I realized that I wasn't going to break five (5) hours like I didn't get my PR that day; however, I still was pleased with a 5:02 given the seven-week layoff from my prior marathon. 

My plan has been to run a marathon every three to four weeks as part of my Rocky Raccoon preparation for February.  However, when it wasn’t wise to try to fly out of Boston as Hurricane Sandy – or “Superstorm” Sandy, rather – was going to beginning thrashing the northeast Coast and wreaking havoc on the airlines, I thought that missing the Cape Cod Marathon might set me back worse than it did.

I could have pushed through and gotten under five hours, but none of this means that much to me.  It is all something that I do to 1.) keep my weight in check as much as I can and 2.) have fun.

I may add Bryan-College Station to the dance card and one of Steve Boone’s marathon on the December 21-22 weekend, but we’ll see how things go, including my weekly trips to the chiropractor and upcoming Pilates sessions to help strengthen my core before the first weekend of February.

After the race, I went back to the hotel to sleep a little and get cleaned up before Waverly and I had dinner with Leanne, her husband, Jim, one of her sons and her best friend from Virginia.  We had a really good time before we made our way Monday morning over to visit my grandparents.

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