Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Race Report: Philly Half Marathon





I'm baaaack!

Prelude:
- 4 months before: sign up for Philly with Veronica. Run once every 2 weeks during the summer on Pton visits. Did 11 miles once, with WF and campus breaks in between. Legs feel like lead by 11.
- 6 weeks before: sprained ankle during ulty tourney. During the next 6 weeks, I ran six miles twice and one mile once.
- 1 week before: bike accident, banged head, left knee, right shoulder, right hip. Also, one of the craziest weeks of senior year academically means little sleep. Knee hurts intermittently. Trouble biking/putting angled pressure on.
- 2 nights before: 3 hours of sleep because of ulty initiations and excitement about the race.
- Morning before: hurts a lot just to walk on the ankle. No way to even walk to West Windsor. Resign myself to not going. Veronica decided a few days ago to not go either because of hip issues & lack of training. Take a nap. Feels better afterwards. Do test run to/from 2D. Okay except for lower back/hip/butt super tight. Decide to go to at least pick up packets & witness race excitement and possibly run.

Expo:
- Train ride, find my way there. Lots of excitement. Somehow signed up with estimated time 1:35. Even 1:53 would have been generous. Seeded in 1500’s (first wave), but ran with second wave instead. Got shirts – very loose & wide, but that makes it good for layering. Awesome design – black with “Kicked Asphalt” and has race map on back. Material is very meshy and breathable.
- Get free stuff. Samples of Planter’s Nutricious, Smart Start Strawberry MiniWheats, soy milk, Fuze. Bought awesome awesome UA Baltimore Running Festival long sleeve small black shirt. Looks so cool. A steal for $10.
Hear panel of marathoners about RELISHing the marathon experience. (Respect the distance with proper training beforehand and pacing on race day, Enjoy by running with people who 'get it' and enjoy both the journey there and the actual race, Learn about yourself - you're a different person after you cross the finish, Improve - be injury free even with 70-80 mi weeks by 'stealth' running which is very fluid and light with no sound of feet hitting ground or hearing heartbeat b/c that means you’re going too fast and watch shadow for bounding or side to side, Sharing the experience with running partners to make the miles fly by and having fun like wearing tutu to give laughs, Honor the accomplishment with cool race shirt quilt or whatever since <1 br="br" done="done" has="has" marathon="marathon" of="of" population="population">- Wander around looking at products for sale – race belt’s really cool but $20 could hold camera, gloves might be useful because it was so cold & I didn’t bring any, headband has ‘will run for chocolate’ and I didn’t bring my buff and it’s cold. At the Geiko ball drop, the guy gives me a head sweatband, though. I run with it.

Penn:
- I plan to ride the Septa, but they charge $2, except they don’t give change. I tell the guy I’d rather walk. Call Oreo about staying with her because Mommy’s ridiculously worried & keeps calling me and even Nicole. I get in touch with Oreo and we plan to meet. I walk about 30 blocks (maybe 2.5 miles) and get to Penn in the cold night. I stay in the common room for a while. People are wondering who I am and why I’m in there for 6 hours. So different than Pton. I try to sleep but it’s only 7pm, I read race stuff, I watch Nick at Night. I decide to go to Oreo’s to avoid all of the onlookers. Her roommate very concerned about no interruptions in studies goes away to her b/f’s, and I get to sleep on the floor. So cold in Penn unlike Pton so-hot-you-open-windows. The floor is cold and doesn’t retain my body heat that’s transferred through the thin fleece. Not a wink of sleep. At 4am, I give up and start packing for the race, getting my stuff together. I trek out through sketch. Many cabs riding around.

Pre-Race:
- Finally get to the Art Museum where they’re just setting up at 5:30am. I hang with NJ/NY couple for a bit by the gear stash buses. Freeze and eat an orange on the bleachers by the finish. Mommy calls. I stash my gear and in doing so drop and lose my orange NB sunglasses. Very sad. Oh well. I don just the race shirt and the Nike mock turtleneck (and the UA shirt, although I forget that I’m wearing it). I had had 5 layers on and a fleece before.
- I try to warm up a bit, but my feet are unfeeling blocks of ice. Not much use. I stand around. It’s so cold the wheelchair people opt out and decide to do the 8K instead. Lots of anticipation. A flag-flanked road with halfers on the right and fullers on the left. It’s the biggest city-sponsored race in the country. After like a 15 minute delay, wave 1 starts, then wave 2.

Race:
- Mile 1: Slow start with so many people. Go out towards massive and pretty Town Hall. (9:06) – on target for 2:00 even with slowness.
- Mile 2: Gets warmer and take off middle Nike layer but realize the UA’s underneath. Run about ½ mile in limbo with only sportsbra as I try to juggle 3 shirts. Peoples' clothes are everywhere as they shed them and leave them behind. By the bridge right before the water, many guys off to the side. Thought they were stretching at first but they were really peeing. A funny sight with lots of men peeing by bridge supports. (8:21) – flying.
- Mile 3: By the sort of abandoned riverside buildings. People are spreading out more. I start feeling tired. This early on, not a great sign. I’m out of shape. (8:24)
- Mile 4: About a third of the way done! Can I do this two more times? When I get the time of (10:25), I think I’m screwed. Slowed down that much this early! It’ll only go downhill from here.
- Mile 5: Was a mistake. They must’ve placed a marker wrong somewhere because I clock in at (7:41).
- Mile 6: Going down Jewler’s lane in the heart of the city with skyscrapers, many friends and family are cheering. It makes you want to go faster even if they’re not cheering for you. You pretend you have someone cheering for you. Some of them are so enthusiastic it makes you smile. A row of little kids giving high fives, for example. One particular crowd so loud I wince! You run fast and stay strong, motivated by the heart of these fans. (8:46)
- Mile 7-8: They stop posting mile splits for a few miles. A good thing, probably, since you kind of forget and just focus on the run. I go over the bridge and it starts getting chilly. Chris said later that it’s because your body gets tired. I train for 6 miles, so it’s no wonder I start feeling it. Many people start passing me. Just have to do that one more time. The hills start. I get passed especially on uphills, but I do net passing on downhills. Since you don’t have splits, you just keep going. Be optimistic. Start reminding myself to stay loose with the shoulders. It helps efficiency. Go by the zoo. (28:29)
- Mile 10: The park. Big Please Touch Museum and Big statues. Windy part of the course. Can see people ahead/behind sometimes. Keep going. 4, 3 more miles. You can do this. Icy water stop because it’s so cold. Poor line of women waiting for porta potty. Guys have it easy. (10:07)
- Mile 11: Two more miles-ish. Pacer’s coming up right behind me, in front of me. Just keep it up. Probably can’t hold him off. Disappointing, but it’s okay. I’ll be happy if I finish. Knee starts hurting a bit, but it goes away. On the interstate part going back into the city. (9:40)
- Mile 12: Think of it as a simple mile around the track. Give it all you have. Start driving past the 2:00 pacer. Can see the Art Museum in the distance. It’s an uphill, though. So close. Push the pace. (9:31)
- Mile 13: Round the traffic oval with the race tents and porta potties. Kick it. Finish strong. (8:48)
- Mile 13.1: Bring it in at 2:00:19. (0:54).

Post-Race:
- Get my medal and my space blanket. Think about getting the finisher picture in front of the flag, but the lines are huge. I watch some of the half finishers right before the first marathoner comes in at 2:19 (ridiculous – almost same time as me for twice the distance – Chris can do 2:30ish) Before he gets there, though, I cave and go to the food tent, where everything’s already in a bag for you. I also get the most delicious and salty chicken broth with brown rice ever. Such warm and salty goodness. I get my gear bag. I go to the back side of the flags and get someone to take my picture. That’s the way to do it. I go back to the bleachers and stand there for 45 minutes with legs feeling so tight.
- It’s great watching finishes. Very few women finishing among the first group, so I cheer for them. The men and women all look so fit. Some partners cross the line holding hands. I had finished head down kicking it to the end, even though I had strongly considered raising up my hands. Don’t regret it, though, since I was trying hard to break 2:00. One guy gets walked in with family. One guy runs in with daughter on his shoulders. Great looks of victory. One guy takes bows to the audience before crossing the line. One guy barely makes it across the line and collapses. How do those guys fight through such pain to finish? Finally, Chris comes in with his brother Jeff, although I miss videoing it because the time window is so short.
- I meet Chris’s childhood friends and their wives. Very nice people. After all of their group gets in, we go to the cars. After lots of looping around downtown Philly looking for a highway sign, we go home. The more you run, the more you get to eat. You’re hungry and food tastes so good when you run a lot.

5184 Finishers - 1881 M / 3303 F
Michael DiDio - 01:07:02
Kathleen Jobes - 01:16:17

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