Monday, February 9, 2015

Philadelphia Marathon 2014 - What it's like to run a marathon the day after a 50 miler

Okay, so the Philadelphia Marathon happened about 2.5 months ago and I'm just getting around to finishing this. Whoops. Better late than never?

When I woke up the morning of the race, after just 5 hours of sleep, I was in such denial about running the marathon. I quickly got into my 50s poodle skirt costume, though, and my mom and I headed to meet my friends at the Marriott nearby. I scarfed down a donut as my pre-race breakfast (a recent favorite choice of mine) and once we all met up (I was at the wrong hotel at first!), we walked to the start.

Walking hurt. It hurt a lot. I was kind of freaking out about what running a marathon would be like, especially since I knew it'd be slow given my soreness and tightness. I was able to quickly say hi to my Back on My Feet friends and one of our alumni members (he used to live in a homeless shelter, but now has a job and his own place) pulled my mom aside to tell her how proud of me she should be because of dedication to the organization. Talk about incredible to hear. It was such a boost to hear that and remember that I had fundraised for men and women like him, so I had even more motivation to finish.

I hobbled to the start with my friends and we found our friend, Brooklyn Bobby, in our corral. Bobby, Lisa, Alice, Jen (who did the JFK 50 the day before as well), and I planned to run the whole thing together. I didn't know how long it would take, but we all agreed we'd enjoy a leisurely tour of Philly together. The gun went off, but since we were in a slower coral, it took literally 30 minutes for us to cross the start line. I had never started so far back and that long time made me so anxious. We said goodbye to my mom and Mara (another friend cheering us all on) and started the race.
Jen, Stephanie (who ran without us), me, Lisa, Alice, and Bobby
The first mile hurt. A lot. I pretty much just could hobble. I did, though, love showing my friends my city that I love so much. After a mile or so, I loosened up a bit and my stride got closer to my normal one, but I still hurt with every step. I had to take a quick pit stop to pee in a bush at around mile 2, then we were making our way up Washington Ave. and through Society Hill. Around mile 4, we even were able to snag some beer (which tasted amazing!).

The gang really loved seeing South Street and commented on how cute it was. It's funny because seeing it from their eyes, with the holiday wreaths and lights up, it really was cute. When I think about how gross it is and the bars that are down there, it's funny for me to call it cute.
We kept going and eventually got to our apartment where John, Mara, and my mom were waiting. We hugged them, I gave John my gloves (it was getting warmer), posed for a quick picture, then went on our way. I love where we ran next through Center City, because the crowds are amazing. I was able to see tons of spectators, including a bunch of my Back on My Feet friends.

Running through Drexel, my alma mater, was painful because we went up a big hill, but I got to see a bunch of Students Run Philly Style participants at the water stop at the top, which was awesome! We then slowly made our way up the bitch of a hill that is just before mile 10. I then had to pee again, which Jen then gave me hell for because I always had to pee during flats or downhills (not an uphill when she could walk) and I peed more in the first 10 miles of the marathon than in all of the JFK 50 the day before. What can I say?! I had to go!
Our group just past mile 6
We made it to West River Drive, saw the AWESOME crazy cheering group at the turnaround who always come dressed in insane outfits, and I shortly after hit a real mental low. I was hurting a lot and there was still so much left to run. I saw everyone on the other side of the river, miles ahead of me, and got so demoralized. I really considered just doing the half, but I knew I'd feel like a quitter. I had told so many people about my endeavor and while I knew it wouldn't have mattered if I had only done the half, I set the goal to do the full and I was determined to do that.

We got to the halfway point, saw Mara on the course, and I had a Gu. The second half of the course is out and back, so I was able to see so many friends running on the course when I was heading out. This really was the mental pick-me-up that I needed. Instead of focusing on my pain, I just looked for my friends and cheered them all on. Soon enough, we were in East Falls, where I saw a bunch of November Project Philadelphia friends and found my Fathead that they created. Shortly after, we were at mile 17 and that meant just single digits left! While I was in a lot of physical pain and just so tired, I was surprisingly cheery as the miles were slowly ticking away.
Two scary faces on the course
We got into Manayunk and I was so happy to see the giant crowds. I saw some Philly Runner friends near the turnaround and it was the jolt that I needed to push up the hill. Our group had separated a bit (Bobby and Alice ran down a hill when I had to walk to get water down at some point), but we reconnected at around mile 21ish. I had beer at mile 19 on the way out, but the beer did not sound good on my stomach at mile 21. I still had two small cups throughout the course, so I'm not mad!

Once we passed the NP Philly folks and East Falls again, I started to struggle again. The other side of Kelly Drive (people still heading out) was nearly empty, which surprised me. You have 6 or 7 hours (can't find the exact rule) to finish the course, so I thought that I'd see at least a handful more people still heading to Manayunk. When we did see someone, though, we cheered like crazy! I got to the point where walking through aid stations wasn't feasible as stopping and starting hurt too much. I'd slowly jog through the water stop, drink while jogging, then keep going. Everyone easily caught up with me each time, but it was getting more and more painful with each step.
Near the 20 mile mark!
As we were inching closer to the finish, I realized that once I finished, I could lay down and elevate my feet. It then dawned on me that, duh, just because I stop, it doesn't mean the pain goes away. I felt this weird sense of being trapped since I wasn't escaping the pain, but I knew when I finished, I could lay down and at least feel some sense of relief.

We made our way to the 26 mile mark and saw Mara, my mom, and John there. I was disappointed with how empty the finish line area was. I had finished all of my Philadelphia Marathons much faster and it never took me so long to cross the start line, but I was sad to see how few spectators were out there. I felt embarrassed as this is MY home course now and my friends seemed to be disappointed as well. But alas, we were finishing and that's all that mattered!
Hugging Kaitleen, a NP Philly friend, along the course
We all crossed together and my finisher time was 5:10:00. It wasn't my slowest marathon (ran MCM with my giant group of friends at about 20 minutes slower than that), but it for sure was my most painful. Everyone was so cheery at the finish, but I just wanted to lay down STAT. I found John and my mom, said goodbye to my friends, and just collapsed onto some grass to elevate my feet. I had done it. This crazy goal of mine, to run the JFK 50 Miler and the Philadelphia Marathon in the same weekend, had been accomplished. I also was sore beyond belief, but the running was over. The Eagles game had started and I felt bad that John was missing it, so I got up and slowly hobbled over until we found a cab.
Final stretch!
I came home, relaxed a lot, showered far later than I should have, ate my face off with John and my mom, and then said goodbye to her as she headed back to DC. Some November Project friends were at a bar near me, so later that night, I met up with them, had 3 whole drinks, and got very intoxicated. We danced a lot and all celebrated everyone's racing. It was so fun, but waking up the next day sore and hungover was not a fun combination!
Woohoo finishers!
All in all, I'm really happy with how the race went. I'd never do that double ever again as it hurt far too much, but being able to run my favorite race with a bunch of really special people and accomplishing my crazy goal made it all worth it.