Philadelphia Marathon Recap & Marathon Season Musings

>> Tuesday, November 23, 2010

From Stephen:

I think that many runners can agree that how you feel the day of the marathon or how you feel mid-race (of any length) can be quite unpredictable. In my case, I woke up feeling great. Fresh legs, clear head, and loose arms. I ate yoga bread from a local bakery with peanut butter and drank two cups of coffee. To avoid the morning chill, I even fashioned makeshift pants from drawstring trash bags. And before waving us to the start, Bart Yasso wished us luck and shared inspirational words.

All the components to make a great race!

The gun went off and the first few miles flew by. My mind was lost in the cacophonous cheers from eager crowds who lined the streets and the methodical steps of ubiquitous runners. I clocked the first 9 miles in 1:00:23. I felt elated -- euphoric, even. At mile 6, I heard the familiar notes of my father's voice: "Hey STEVE!" and I gave him a arm pump salute.

Fast forward just a bit. By mile 13, I had fleeting thoughts of finishing with the half marathon crowd. The vice grips slowly started to compress on my lower legs, so I stopped at mile 17 to stretch against a tree. I crossed mile 18 around 1:59:10, 4 seconds per mile faster than my first 9, but the lower leg tightening continued; I knew I would no longer be chasing a time goal, but instead, struggling to finish.

Even the roaring crowds, music, and palpable energy in Manayunk weren't enough to push me through, for from miles 22-25, I took what seemed like 30 stretch breaks to ease the pain.

What helped me get to the finish line most were the inspiring words from a fellow runner and reader of our blog, Stephen (Steven?): "Come on Stephen! Let’s go!" he shouted as he passed by. So I did. I leaned forward and committed to the controlled fall that is running. When I caught up to Stephen, I thanked him and wondered how he knew my name. It didn't seem like he had enough time to read my bib.

"This is going to sound ridiculous," he said, "but I read your blog . . . and get a lot of great recipes from it!" What a small world! So, thank you Stephen for inspiring me to "push through," as our Philadelphia Marathon tech-shirts read.

Now that my fall marathon season is over -- I can relax and muse on my experiences. I've learned that running two marathons in 7 weeks was certainly doable. Some can even complete a marathon every weekend.

But racing two marathons and expecting to PR in both may have been a bit too ambitious for me.

I'm still new to this race, and until I have at least 10 finisher's medals, I'll refrain from offering any true wisdom. It's trial and error that will get me from now until then.

Here is a glimpse of my training regimen for both races.
  • My training for the Wineglass Marathon consisted of 60-70 mile weeks, 22-23 mile long runs, and biweekly Yasso 800 repeats. The result: a PR of 2:55:53.
  • In the two weeks recovering from Wineglass and the 4 weeks training for Philadelphia, I focused on 35-50 mile weeks, 20 mile progression runs, and tempo workouts. The result: 3:10:43.


I had fun. I truly did. I learned that I don't have to PR in every race, nor should I expect to. The pain and suffering I felt in the final miles made me realize that I'm lucky to have experienced the pain and suffering. I'm thankful to have my health, fitness, and loved ones to support me.


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