Three weeks prior, I raced the Marine Corps Marathon and was able to swing a 16 second PR. My training for these marathons was more focused on endurance, especially coming off a spring/summer focused on ultras. I did do some faster mid-distance runs during the week and worked on doing my long runs faster, but I really didn't incorporate speed work into my training. This worried me a bit, but after I was able to PR a hillier course than Philly in the MCM, I thought that running Philly in a 3:45 time was feasible.
A few days before the race, I was IMing with my best friend, Caitlin. She's not a runner, but has followed my running and has always been a great supporter. While we conversed, she told me she felt I would run a 3:42. I thought that time was absurd to predict, as it would mean a 6 minute PR, but that time kept hanging in the back of my head the rest of the week.
On race morning, I got up with my mom, who came in town to spectate. I let John sleep in so he could meet my mom and some of our Back on My Feet (BoMF) friends at a cheer zone near the apartment. My mom and I met up with my BoMF buds at the charity spot for them, which was super fun as I got to see so many great friends and wish them all well before their races.
Once it was closer to race time, I hopped into my corral and stood near the 3:45 pace guy. I figured I would stick with him for as long as I could, then if I could speed up towards the end, I'd try to. When I turned around before the race started, I saw an old roommate who I hadn't even known became a runner! He was attempting his first marathon and we ended up doing a lot of the race together.
The gun went off and the first bunch of miles were a blur. As we made our way east and then eventually back west, I found myself a bit ahead of the pacer, but I was feeling good. I passed my mom, John, and some BoMF friends at mile 5, then we continued west through Center City through lots of fun crowds.
Once we turned around and headed uphill through my alma matter, Drexel University, I noticed the pacer was definitely speeding up. I still stuck with the pacer as we hit more hills near the Please Touch Museum and on West River Drive, but I was worried that if I lost him, I'd get really upset and lose pace.
We made our way through Manayunk and soon, it was just a 10k left. I felt good, but still felt like the pace was fast. At mile 22, though, the pacer let us know that we were about 1.5 minutes faster than our goal pace, which would have us finishing at 3:43:30. Immediately, I realized if I pushed it a bit, a 3:42, my BFF's predicted guess, would be attainable! Instantly, I started pulling away away from the pacer and just pushed as hard as I could.
I saw some great friends that helped cheer me up at mile 24 and I kept pushing and pushing. I started to feel really sick to my stomach, but I did my best to ignore it as much as I could because I so badly wanted to run a 3:42. With about .1 miles left, I saw John and my mom in the crowd, which helped me finish even faster. My final time? 3:42:34. My best friend is a GENIUS and should buy a lotto ticket.
Other than the PR, running for BoMF, and seeing so many great friends during the race, my costume truly made the race. I ran as a pirate, parrot included, and I must have said, "Arggggg" to 100+ strangers. It made so many spectators so happy, which in turn made me even happier. I may not make everyone happy that I race marathons in costume, but it has become a tradition that has brought me a lot of joy and put smiles on lots of strangers' faces. Overall, truly memorable day for me!