I apologize in advance for how long this post may be but I just have so. much. to say about this race!
SPOILER ALERT: There are almost no photos of me actually running in this post.
Friday night after a 6 hour train ride from Boston Drew, Adrienne and I finally arrived in PHILADELPHIA! Our fabulous hosts/cheer squad were so welcoming and got us even more excited for race day!
What it looks like when 8 runners all pile their stuff in one place.
We spent Saturday having brunch, visiting the EXPO, visiting some friends, watching football and most importantly, hydrating! After what felt like forever, it was finally time to lay out our race day attire (and take pictures of it, of course), write our names on our shirts and hit the hay (it's harder than you'd think to fall asleep at 8 pm).
Surprisingly I had no trouble waking up at 4:45 AM.
After the usual pre-race bagel with PB and coffee we headed out the door to the start! The hotel lobby and street were full of runners so we followed everyone and hoped they knew where they were going.
Drew's best "it's 6 am and I love running" face.
Thousands of people headed towards the Art Museum!
Obligatory pre-race, we're still smiling sister photo.
We checked our backpack easy-peasy, hopped in line for the porta-potties, and 30 minutes later were ready to run! Strangely enough I ran into one of my good friends from study abroad in line for the porta-potties! She's from Philly and was running the half marathon with her dad and brother. What a small world!
Drew and I wished Adrienne good luck and hopped into the Purple Corral and began the slow procession to the starting line. We crossed the start 23 minutes after the gun had gone off.
I think about 15 times during the first mile I turned to Drew and said "We're doing it! We're running a marathon!"
Miles 1 - 5: The first couple of miles were pretty much a blur. The course took us through downtown Philadelphia to Old City, Penn's Landing, and back up South Street and Chestnut Ave.
Some highlights from this section:
The Eagles marching band
People shouting "Go Drew and Jamie!" (names on our shirts in big letters was the best decision)
Memorable signs from this section:
Remember when 10 miles was a short run?
Paul Ryan was here an hour ago
Miles 5 - 8: Still feeling great. Loving every moment. This was when I said something along the lines of "this is the best thing I have ever done". The goal for the first half was to "run happy" which I definitely was doing. We saw Drew's friends just before mile 6 which was exciting; our first fans! The course left downtown Philly at this point and headed over a bridge towards Drexel University. The crowds here great (Frats, beer, yes!) and before we knew it we were headed downhill along the river.
Miles 8 - 11: I knew this is where the major hills on the course were going to be so I wasn't surprised when we hit one just before and after the mile 9 marker. Drew and I made it to the top (and passed a lot of people walking up the hill) a bit winded, but still feeling good. We agreed that all the hill repeats we had done with the Forest Hills Runners really helped during this portion. At the top of the hill we were greeted by some Taiko drummers, crowds, and more people yelling Go Drew! Go Jamie!
At this point we had our first Gu, washed down with some water, and headed down another downhill towards the next Cheer Zone. We spotted Brian and Maura's sister/sister-in-law in the heart of a costumed dance party! She had the famous "High Five Station" sign, which we gladly welcomed.
Miles 11 - 13: This might have been my least favorite part of the course (gasp!). I was still feeling good, but honestly cannot remember any portion of this for the life of me. River on the left, concrete wall to the right? Yup. That's about it. Just after mile 12 I felt it was time to see if I could pick up the pace a bit. I crossed the half in what I thought was 2:06 but the text my mom received said 2:10, so clearly I was delirious already.
Miles 13 - 15: After we parted ways with the half marathoners (which wasn't as depressing as I expected) the course headed along the opposite side of the river towards Manayunk. During this section I tried to remind myself that there was still a lot of race left and no matter how good I felt I shouldn't push it too much just yet. Also at this point the leaders were coming back on the opposite side of the road. I cheered a few of them on but know that watching people running much faster than me, who look quite tired, does not make me feel great about how much I still have to run. I turned my focus back to my side of the road, tried to admire the river, foliage, fans, knowing that I would see my mom for the first time at the mile 15 marker.
Sure enough, as I approached the mile 15 flag I saw Candy, began waving furiously above my head so she would be sure not to miss me. After a quick hug and high five I continued on my way and let her know Drew should be close behind me.
Mile 16: This was my fastest mile of the race. 9:00 min flat. Probably a combination of seeing my mom, knowing I was getting to single digits left, and just loving life.
Miles 17 - 19: I wouldn't say this is when I hit "the wall" (I'm not sure I really ever did), but this section is where things really started to hurt. I had expected to really feel it around 20 - 22, so I was a little thrown off when my knees, quads, calves and abs (seriously?) began hurting in this section. Luckily I knew that I was going to be seeing my other family members at Mile 20 so kept telling myself I just had to make it to them then I would be on my way back! I saw Drew just after Mile 17 on a mini loop across the river which was also exciting. I assured myself that her double thumbs down greeting was her way of being funny. Clearly she was having the best time of her life.
The cheer station/water station/30 K marker gave me a huge boost (or maybe it was the 1/2 power bar that I ate at this point) and I began to feel a little bit "better". Really I just realized that even if everything hurt, it was going to hurt for the rest of the race and I might as well accept it and really try to "embrace the suck".
Mile 20: Manayunk! I made it! I'd heard such great things about this place! I began passing people, spotted my relatives on the other side of the road and shouted "be right back!" to them. That statement may have been a little bit of an exaggeration. Manayunk was a little bit hillier than I had anticipated, but luckily the lovely race directors disguised the hill with a water station on each side (so smart those race directors), and before I knew it I hit the turn around and was "on my way to the finish!" I high-fived my family and less than 30 seconds later saw Drew coming into Manayunk and yelled hey! Tim's on the right! After seeing a big smile cross her face I knew she needed that extra boost as well.
Here's a great Instagram of me and Drew just after Mile 20, heading out of Manayunk. I went for the "slow motion running high five" in an attempt for a great photo. Turns out it just looks like I am walking. Drew on the other hand was going for the walk like an Egyptian type of thing.
The remainder of the race I split up into 3 segments.
2 miles until the really fun/exciting/awesome Cheer Zone at UPenn.
2 more miles until I'd see Mom again.
And finally 2.2 miles and I'd be DONE.
Miles 21 + 22: Not too, too bad. Everything hurt but nothing I couldn't handle. Still riding the high from seeing Tim, Anne, Jen and Gill (and Blake the dog!) - this portion went by pretty quickly. I rocked out through the UPenn cheer zone, waved to and high-fived everyone in the crowds, saw the High Five Station again and continued on my way. Also, how is it that EVERY SINGLE water station in the whole race was playing my favorite song ever and I cannot remember for the life of me what those songs were??
Miles 23 + 24: This is where I really was ready for the race to be over. I kept looking at my watch and thinking wow, 23.XX miles, that's crazy, I can't believe I've gone that far, that's really far, wow, so far. I knew my mom was going to be at mile 24 and just kept thinking that when I got to her I'd be almost done. Yes everything hurt like hell but I was so close to finishing my first marathon! I just had to get there! Somehow I made it, saw my mom, smiled a lot (her photo shows otherwise), let her know where we had planned to meet after the race, and headed off towards the finish.
I also remember one of the race descriptions I read said that Miles 22 - 25 were especially quiet, but if you made it through this part, the crowds at mile 25 would carry you to the end. Knowing this fact actually helped me quite a bit. I kept thinking"man, this sucks, it's so quiet and lonely" and then laughing a little to myself that this person had been so spot on in their race report! Thanks blogosphere, another win for you!
Miles 25 + 26: Mile 25 I think was the longest mile of the race for me. I just wanted to be finished, had no frame of reference for where the finish was, knew there was a hill coming just before mile 26 (since I knew I ran down one after the half split off), and was trying to do mental math to calculate when I would finish. I had known since the first couple of miles that sub 4:00 hours was not going to happen, which I was totally okay with. I had told anyone who asked that my time goal for this marathon had been to get "as close as possible to 4 hours". If my math was correct, that was looking like it would be somewhere around 4:10. Advice to anyone trying to do math after running for 4 hours: it is not easy, or accurate, do not attempt this.
And then I passed the Mile 26 marker!
The crowds were screaming my name, I still had no idea where the finish was, or where I was in relation to the finish (I wish someone had been there to say "silly Jamie, you are at mile 26. The finish is .2 miles away, even if you don't know which direction that is").
Soon enough I rounded a bend (was that a hill, who can really tell the difference at this point?), saw the Art Museum to the right, was in the chute and everyone was screaming. I glanced at my watch, saw 4:09:38, knew that I was going to be just over 4:10 and decided that I might as well sprint to the finish. It was quite the downhill after all.
And then it was over. I got my space blanket, medal, cup of Gatorade, water bottle, found my checked backpack, and headed for the nearest open area to take it all in. I was definitely in shock at this point. I wasn't entirely sure what had just happened, but my legs were shaking (and so sore already!) and I was beginning to shiver. I do remember one random runner who looked me right in the eye while I was standing there and said "congratulations". I'm still not sure if I even responded but in my head I knew that he understood what I was feeling. I threw on some extra layers, made a skirt out of my space blanket and headed over to the family meeting area to wait for the others.
Drew finished in an impressive 4:30:14! Although she claims she wants to stick to the half from now on I think in a few weeks time she will be signed up for another full, maybe around Memorial Day next year? Just saying.
And here is a slew of photos documenting our post-marathon bliss.
Yes. it is REAL gold.
Can't stop smiling!
Best fan of the day!
Licekty split lime nails! We call these race nails.
Candy's clever signage. She said 98% of the runners loved it, the others threw eggs at her. Just kidding, eggs are heavy, who would run carrying eggs?
The finish line!
And what marathon weekend would not be complete without a family party/birthday gathering!?
Apple pie and ice cream? Yes please, I did just run a marathon.
Cake too? Sure, why not? Gill does only turn 21 once in her life.
"Happy Birthday Gill! You're the best fan ever!"
And there you have it. 26.2 miles later and I am officially a marathoner!
I'd like to take a minute to thank everyone who supported me (and Drew) during this training period. It was quite the journey and I definitely would not have been able to do it if it wasn't for the never-ending support from all my friends, family and running mates. It wasn't always easy and I can't imagine what it would have been like doing this without such amazing people in my life. Thank you all so, SO much.
Okay, enough sap. Here's all the snazzy data from my new snazzy watch. I am especially proud of a negative split second half.