Tag Archives: Philadelphia Marathon

Philadelphia Marathon Recap

29 Nov

So this post is a tad late, but I do have my reasons. I kept hearing from fellow marathoners that “just wait, in a week or so you’ll be itching to sign up for your next one.” Well, it’s been over a week and the only thing I feel is relief that my body is starting to get back to normal – certainly no future-marathon-itch feelings here. I was hoping my thoughts would change like everyone said they would.

I think there is something about your first marathon, being blissfully ignorant to the physical and mental pain you are about to endure. I’m not sure I could will myself into that kind of pain again. At least not for a long time.

Please don’t take this as anything negative. I, aside from the soreness in my legs, the total knock-you-out fatigue, the fantom bruises on my ankles and the lack of toe nails, only came out of this experience with positive feelings. It was the single hardest, most rewarding experience of my life thus far and I would never take it back. I learned just how far I can push, how much I can take, and most importantly that I can accomplish (almost)anything if I work hard enough for it. And boy, did I work for this one. Marathons are no joke and much more difficult than anyone can ever really prepare you for.

So, on to the recap…

Jonathan and I woke up bright and early to catch the morning train into Philadelphia on Saturday.We met up with the Nancy’s(our Moms), grabbed lunch and headed across the street to the expo. We walked around to visit the different vendors, snagged some free stuff and took a few obligatory pictures. We spent the rest of the day with Jason, Nicole and the girls and enjoyed a delicious pre-race dinner.

We got to bed a little later than hoped but I was more worried about not being able to sleep. I actually only woke up once during the night after a dream that I had finished the marathon, with complete ease and no pain. I was pissed when I woke up only to figure out moments later that no, I had not actually finished the marathon and I still had to run it. I would later see the irony of the pain-free experience I had in my dream. The next time I woke up was at an ungodly hour of 4 am when not two, not three, but 4 alarms went off – we were paranoid. I rose quickly, got dressed and tried my best to force down the pbj sandwich I had made for breakfast. For the record, I will probably never eat a pbj sandwich ever again. The mere thought of peanut butter makes me want to vomit. Anyway, I could tell my nerves were really starting to kick in and I tried my hardest to force down as many carbs as I possibly could and before I knew it it was time to go.

We marched out into the cold morning with the other thousands of runners to the start line. It was actually a pretty cool experience – walking out into the heart of Philadelphia before sunrise with thousands of runners all about to run 26.2 miles. The air was almost electric. We made it to the corral with ease and waited for the race to start. I didn’t feel too nervous but I was most definitely ready to get this over with. I was excited. I was about to run a marathon.

The first five or so miles were great. The crowds were awesome and we ran through all different parts of the city. Being my first time in Philly, it was really fun to “sight see” while running a marathon. I knew my family would be somewhere around mile five so I looked anxiously until I ran up to this

I was obviously excited. I was also happy that I chose to wear shorts instead of capris because I was already getting very warm. There were tons of girls in long sleeves and pants, I felt really bad for them but happy I didn’t make the same mistake.

Miles 7-13 were not my favorite. Not because of the course, I was just having a really difficult time. I was already tired and my stomach was seriously not cooperating. The nerves from the morning were still lingering and I had thrown up and swallowed it back down so many times I had lost count(running is sexy). Also the hills kicked in. I had overheard a man at the starting line telling his friend that “she wasn’t going to like the hill at mile 9. ” It’s safe to say I didn’t either. It was a winding wall of a hill that completely burned out my quads. I tried the best I could to not let my pace drop but all I could do was shuffle once I got to the top. By the time I got down the hill and entered mile 12 I was doing really poorly. I must have tightened up my shoulders too much on the hill because I had a horrible, blinding cramp on my left shoulder blade. With everything that was going on and knowing how far I still had left to go, I let doubt and fear slip in. I could feel the tears welling up and at that moment I honestly wasn’t sure if I was capable of finishing and it made me sad. Sad I was in so much pain, sad I had so far left to go, and sad I might disappoint everyone who was here to cheer me on. I looked up and yelled for Jonathan and asked him to rub out the knot in my shoulder. I took some advil, drank water and got a mini-massage(while running) and after about a mile my body finally decided it wanted to cooperate. I was feeling better.

We saw our family again at mile 13, although we almost missed them. I looked at Jason and gave the gun to my head signal(because I really wanted to die at this point) and kept going. I looked at the clock and saw we had run 13 miles in 2 hours – right on target. I was starting to feel better, my stomache was easing up and my spirits had definitely lifted.

Miles 14 – 17 were good. We ran along the river which I really enjoyed and passed some more spectators with awesome signs. My personal favorites were “Things that last longer than Kim Kardashien’s marriage: The Philadelphia Marathon”, “Keep running. Naked cheerleaders ahead” and “The best way out is through.”

I am most definitely not a sissy. Poor toenails.

My personal favorite

By the end of mile 17 Jonathan’s pace was starting to slow and by mile 18 I had passed him. I looked back to make sure he was there at the end of 18 and that was the last time I would see him until hours later. I approached mile 19 just thinking he had fallen a little behind and as I approached mile 20 I could see all of mile 19 next to me so I tried my best to find him but never did. The whole time I had told myself that I wasn’t allowed to walk until I got to mile 20, no exeptions. I was so focused on finding Jonathan that I had completely missed the 20 mile marker and by the time I got to 21 I was going down hill and I knew I couldn’t stop on a decline. I also knew Jason and Nicole would be somewhere between miles 23 and 25 so I focused on just making it to them.

Right as I passed mile 21 a woman cheering had shouted out “This experience is almost over. You’re almost done!” That was the first time I had actually believed I could finish. I picked up my pace and turned the music up. I was happy, I was almost done and I could stop running soon. Even though I was happy I was also starting to really hurt. My quads felt like they were going to explode, my ankles were killing me and my lower back was in a lot of pain. I was feeling every mile. Most of all, I was completely drained. It took every once of willpower to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I kept the inner dialog at a constant telling myself I had come this far, I could not quit now. I wanted so badly to stop running, for this torture to over with. As I (slowly)passed miles 23 and 24, I saw three people laying on the side of the road getting medical attention and two people hurled over their knees puking. I thought to myself “this could be a lot worse” so I kept going and pushed a little harder. I also knew that if I was to stop I might not have the energy to propel myself back to running and I knew at this point walking was going to hurt just as much a running so I kept going repeating every mantra I could think of to keep me motivated.

Mile 25 came and I finally saw the top of Jason’s head. I starting walling my arms to get their attention with a huge, goofy smile plastered on my face. I have probably never been that excited to see two people in my life. Nicole promised to run with me the last few miles so I knew I had some help. Someone to distract me from the pain and keep me motivated.

I can’t begin to describe how much Nicole running with me meant. She kept me happy, distracted and motivated. She talked to me the whole time telling me how great I was doing and letting me know when each mile marker was coming. I was in so much pain at this point and having someone to talk to and yell profanities at (sorry, Nic) was amazing. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it those last few miles, the most difficult miles, without her. I hope to repay her at the NYCM sometime soon.

Nicole let me know to look ahead because the finish line was in sight. I could see the banner and the crowds were getting much thicker, I decided I was close enough to the finish to sprint. I have no idea where this sudden burst if energy came from and I can’t remember the last time I had sprinted that fast. As I was approaching the finish a man came up next to me, looked at me and said “let’s do this” and we both took off even faster, racing to the finish line. I threw my arms up and let out a huge laugh and hugged the man I will never see again. I turned around to find Nicole, ran up to her and gave her the biggest hug I could muster. I just ran a marathon, I was finally done.

I proceeded to get my medal and sit on the grass to stretch while I waited for Jonathan to finish. I was really worried about him but finally after about an hour my mom came over to tell me that Jason had texted Nancy and said they were coming towards the finish. It was really fun to watch him cross the finish line, although I hated that we didn’t get to finish together. I hate that Jonathan had such a hard time with his stomach and it breaks my heart that he didn’t have the race he deserved. But, like most things in life, there is only so much you can control and it just wasn’t his day. I am so amazed by how well he handled it – no tears, no fits of frustration, he was just happy he finished. I would have thrown an absolute fit and would have probably cried for days afterwards. He is a better man than I.

The Philadelphia Marathon’s slogan for the weekend was ‘Best Time of your Life.’  I can’t say it was the best time of my life, I think my wedding day was slightly more enjoyable, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I had a great time, learned so much about myself, and fulfilled a dream that until mile 21 I never really thought was possible. I have never been more proud than when I finally crossed that finish line and I hope that the knowledge I gained from this experience resonates into the rest of my life. Because in all honestly, if I can run a marathon, with a lot of hard work and determination what can’t I do?

A big THANK YOU to everyone who supported us not only through the weekend but also through the training. It means so much to us to have so many people in our life that care about us and are there for constant support. If any of you are thinking about running a marathon, do it. I truly believe that anyone willing to put in the time and effort is capable. It is an amazing experience that is like nothing else. Just be warned – it’s gonna hurt!



31 Oct

20 miles down. 20 days left to go. I also have 1 month and 20 days left in my 20’s. Scary stuff.

Friday, October 29 was my scheduled, and dreaded, 20 mile run. I have been staring at this day on the calendar for months on end and somehow it has come and gone and left me with something I was not expecting: mixed feelings.

I surely thought going into this day I would come out of it feeling either really great or really scared. I definitely wasn’t expecting to feel both.

The alarm went off at 6 a.m. and I popped out of bed feeling ready for the day’s challenge. OK, that’s a lie. I got up, turned off my alarm and proceeded to lay back down with the mentality of if I don’t get up than this doesn’t have to happen. We can just tell people we ran 20 miles, right??

After some convincing that, no I could not pretend I ran twenty miles I had to actually run them, I got out of bed. I did my best to convince myself that it wasn’t that bad. Three hours of running would not kill me.

I got up, got dressed, force fed myself because when I’m a barrel of nerves I tend to lose my appetite(not exactly ideal for running marathons), and made it out the door. And it was cold out that door. A crisp 30 degrees and sunny. Actually quite perfect because that will most likely be the temperature on race day and it was great to get a feel for what to wear and how I’d feel given the temperatures.

We picked a new course that actually ran along a lot of the Boston Marathon course. Which translates to very hilly. Oh my word, those stupid hills never stopped coming. Despite the hills it was a nice change of pace from what we normally do and we got to see a lot of the neighborhoods that I usually don’t get to see. We ran past gorgeous neighborhoods with big houses and cute kids playing in the yards. We talked and dreamed about what it would be like to live in said big houses and the miles seemed to tick by.

Around mile 12 Jonathan started to complain about the pain in his knee and by mile 13 I could tell he was really hurting. We stopped shortly after at a 7-11 to get some advil and water in hopes that it would help the situation. After the quick pit stop we picked it back up and with in the first few minutes Jonathan decided it was best if he ended his run there. I conceded that it was probably the best thing to do and left him to finish up the final 6 1/2 miles alone.

I’m not going to lie, this was a major confidence blow. All I kept thinking about was how heart-broken I would be if it were me having to sit out the rest of the run and how was I possibly going to get through this marathon without him? It’s funny that I went into this marathon thinking I would run it alone and now somehow I couldn’t imagine myself doing this without him. I kept picturing myself lining up at the start alone on race day. It made me sad and the miles suddenly crept by much slower. Mile 16 was a very lonely mile for me. Ironically 16 is my lucky number.

Mile 17 went much smoother. I decided I needed to snap out of it if I wanted to finish this run strong. Plus, an Eminem song popped into my headphones which gave me a much needed boost – never underestimate the power of music. I continued to plod along the course and I was feeling pretty good, minus the knee pain that had started to creep it’s way in. No big deal, twenty miles is supposed to be hard right?

Mile 18 was most definitely my hardest mile. The earlier hills were now affecting my quads, which were now on fire, the urge to retreat onto the side of the road was becoming stronger and the pain in my knee went from slight to bad very quickly. It had gotten so bad that I was wondering if it was stupid for me to be running through it. I just couldn’t get myself to stop, not when I had less than 2 miles left. I had come too far to fail now. The only thing that kept me sane was the fact that the pain was coming in 10-20 second waves and then would return to normal. I knew from previous injuries that if the pain stayed constant then I was in trouble, otherwise I was ok to run though it. I kept timing the pain, making sure it never reached a solid minute and focused on making it to Beacon Street. I would be just a few tenths of a mile after that.

Mile 20 was easier than I would have thought. I was tired and ready for it to be over with but I kept reminding myself that I felt a whole lot better than I did ten minutes ago. I also kept thinking about Jonathan. I knew how bummed he must be feeling and it made me want to finish even stronger, to make him proud. The end of my run finally came into sight and I slowed to a walk, completely unsure of how to feel.

If my knee wasn’t in so much pain I would have felt happier about it. For some reason I felt more stressed about about the fact that I couldn’t even imagine tacking on 6.2 more miles. And what if this pain in my knee didn’t go away and I couldn’t run? What if I just wasted four months of my life? What if I had to run this marathon by myself? Why did I ever think this was a good idea?? And why can’t I just stop worrying about everything and be excited about the fact that I just ran 20 miles? Holy Cow, I just ran 20 miles!

You can see how this can confuse a girl. I really need to get my thoughts under control these next few weeks.

As of now I am tapering. Some people don’t do well with tapering beacuse they go nuts thinking they need to run more, do more speed training and basically cram as much running as humanly possible into the last few weeks. I, on the other hand, am thankful for the taper. I know that all of my training up until this point is what will (hopefully) get me across the finish line on November 20th. I also know that my legs need a break. Between the hills from the 2o miler and the fatigue from training, I know my legs will be in much better shape come race day. They will be fresh and ready to take on 26.2 miles. They will not wake me up in the middle of the night screaming for relief and they will not feel like they way 100 lbs each.

As much as I am grateful for the taper, I  really wish I had more time. I can’t even believe this race is in less than three weeks. Up until now November 20th felt so far away and like it was never really going to happen. Now I feel like it’s gone way too fast and I now need more time to train. At the same time I would really like to push the fast forward button to November 20th so I didn’t have to wait so long.

Regardless of the all these crazy thoughts in my head it all boils down to this: in 20 days I will be lining up on the streets of Philadelphia to run my very first marathon. Ready or not.

This Just Happened

24 Aug

Well, ok, it happened last night. But still, it’s kind of a big deal. Scratch that, a HUGE deal. I, along with my super handsome and supportive Husband, are officially running the Philadelphia Marathon on November 20th. It took about 5 weeks of obsessively checking the Philadelphia Marathon website and twitter account to make sure that it was not sold-out and a successful 11 mile run this past weekend for me to have the guts to actually sign up. Not to mention the fact that last week when I checked the twitter account and read “Only 5 spots left” my heart sank until I finished reading “in the Ronald McDonald Charity group.” I  realized then how heartbroken I would be if this race sold-out before I registered. Since last year’s race sold-out Labor Day weekend I decided that if this past weekend’s run went well, I was signing up. No more excuses.

I have 88 days and 336(!) training miles to go. My current mental state is split between terrified and totally excited. Mentally, I know I am completely capable. I think I have a pretty strong mental game and they say marathoning is 90% mental and 10% physical. I am, however, extremely worried about the 10%. I am just coming out of an injury and I have the worst possible feet for running. Thank you, Dad, for this wonderful genetic gift. Blisters and I are quickly becoming the best of friends. I am seriously considering buying stock in Second Skin, I can’t even run three miles without it these days. It scares me to think what my poor feet will look like after 20 miles – if I even have feet left at that point. I’m not sure which i am worried about more, but I am certainly worried. Also the fact that I’m only in week 6 of 18 and I am tired. Like really freaking tired. I know I need to throw in more than one rest day in the mix and my current Harry Potter addiction is not helping the sleep situation. I just started these books a few weeks ago and can’t quite seem to put them down. It’s a problem. I am working on it, sort of. I am hoping once I am finished with these I will start getting to bed before midnight. More sleep = less tired Kristen.

Also, if any of you do not have plans for the weekend of November 19-20th, please come to Philadelphia. It would be awesome. I am aware that most of you will not come and I won’t hold this against you. Standing in the freezing cold for 4 hours cheering on a bunch of lunatics is probably not your idea of a good time. I don’t blame you. But if for some reason you think you might want to come join the party, please do. If any of you have ever done a distance race you will know just how much support means. Even if it’s just one person standing in the cold cheering us on, it would mean the worls to us and we would love you forever. For reals.

So as we continue on this crazy marathon journey(12 more weeks!) we could use as much support and motivation as possible. Even if I’m just calling you to tell you that I’m tired and sore or if I’m not calling you it’s because I’m tired and sore, please do not take offense. I still love all of you, I’m just too tired to express it. I will also try and be better at updating this thing. I have a ton to recap on and will get on it as soon as I remember to upload pictures onto my computer instead of reading Harry Potter. My world will be a much better place as soon as I finish reading these. 4 more to go!