Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Occupy Philadelphia: Part I
A-train, E-speed and I left the hotel as late as possible, at about 6:20 am not wanting to be stuck waiting in line for a P.O.P. or wasting nervous energy bouncing around. The walk/jog was about 1.5 miles. We had no issues getting to the start. E-speed bailed on us to hit the elite tent and get herself ready for a sub-3 race and I to my dismay, realized the other 2 bathroom breaks I had already taken this morning wouldn't be enough. Like 2 years ago, I stood in line for the bathroom. I was in the 3rd corral and I really, really, really didn't want to start behind the 5-5:30 pacer again.
I had put my i-pod on (full blast) as we left the hotel, hoping to drown everything out, to center myself. I kept imagining how awful this was gonna feel and then telling myself it would be way worse than what I was now imagining and most importantly, I would have no choice but to keep going, NO MATTER WHAT.
I decided at the last minute to strip my shirt and run in a sports bra only. It felt extremely warm and the last thing I wanted was to be hot and suffering. I gave A-train all my gear and before jumping into the corral (literally, I had to climb over the white fence) he gave me a hug and told me he loved me.
The wheelchairs went off first and then they let the gold/elite (e-speed's corral) and the maroon wave (the little guy was in that wave) start next. I was bummed. I didn't hear the Rocky theme song one time at the start. I started in the next wave about 3:30 behind them to "Lose Yourself" by Eminem. I flew down Benjamin Franklin Parkway like I was weightless. I saw A-train on the left about .25 miles cheering as I ran by. The first mile clipped off in the low 8:20s, I think. There were a few bottle neck spots that slowed me down, but I didn't care. I planned to just go with it. I saw the Tanchon's pass by me right before mile 3 looking strong, almost like their own little pace group. I was already warm and sweating. I grabbed water at the first aid station without any difficulty (not like last time).
I saw the guy in the pink tutu running in front of me along with two people in sandals and thought they were absolutely freakin' crazy!! My left foot had been bugging me for over a year and a half now and there was no way I would have tolerated sandals. It was it's usual tight achy self this morning when I had woken up, no worse than normal so I knew I could race on it.
I rolled through mile 5 at 40:50 knowing I was slightly ahead of 3:35 pace. I was just going for a small PR today, even if only 1 second. I didn't slow or adjust my effort though because I knew the course would slow me down between 6-11. I also only averaged 31 mpw training for this marathon and figured I wasn't going to have a great shot at my PR if I didn't bank some time early on.
As we flew down the Chestnut Street, the miles continued to go by effortlessly. I remembered this was where I had told A-train a few years ago I was gonna BQ that day. I looked around a little bit too much hoping to spot him and around 6-7 miles there he was snapping my pic. I smiled and waved. I hit the 10K split at 50:31 (I was 51:31 in 2008).
We headed out of downtown after that, near Drexel University and the hills began to come. The first hill was just as I had remembered, long with a slight grade, very similar to heartbreak hill on the Boston course. Just like before I took the hill extremely easy, being passed by quite a few people I might add. After I crested the top I was able to run the slight downhill grade easily at 7:50 pace. I made every effort to keep my feet low to the ground and save my quads as much as possible. I felt great rolling through the next few miles. I wasn't really paying much attention to A-train's garmin/timex gadget. It was acting weird. I only checked my pace and total time a few times to help keep me in check. The distance was already over .25 miles (a little discouraging, since I run the tangents).
We entered the zoo/park area and the hellish hill around mile 10 was way worse than I remembered. It was steep and wound back and forth. I again took it easy to the top, refusing to work hard. I even debated walking the hill, but that seemed a little extreme. I was over 1:22:00 when I passed the 10 mile marker so I had bought back some of that time I had saved in the first couple miles, just like I knew would happen. Another steep downhill came and I again went slow, losing even more time. Being aggressive on the downhills a few years ago had really thrashed my quads and I didn't want to go through that again, so I cautiouly completed my descent.
We wound our way back on the cambered road back to the half way point. People on the bridge above us were cheering and I could feel myself getting a little excited. I was almost to the half and I felt good. I had a ray of hope I might survive without pain longer than I thought.
We came up a little incline by the Art Museum and the fans were everywhere cheering and making noise. I was on the left waiting to swing to the right and run to the barrel at the halfway point like before, but we just kept running straight. I saw A-train for the 3rd and last time during the race. He was still cheering and smiling as he took my picture -- and so was I. I came through the half in 1:48:25 (I was 1:48:21 in 2008, talk about consistent -- sheesh!!)