Monday, November 23, 2015

Philadelphia Marathon: Basically Running.

And just like that, I blinked and it was over. Whew, what a whirlwind weekend.

And a GREAT one. Seriously you guys, there were a ton of great moments this weekend and I am absolutely going to give you a blow by blow of ALL the details.
*in two parts. even my most devoted fans can not be expected to sit through 48 hours worth of my musings*

(I will save details on our tiny bit of touristing, and non race day related shenanigans for the next installment.)

I will, however give you this bit of info. It is tradition in the Bradlowski home to take bets on my marathon finishing time a week prior to race day. Both of us bet on a 3:33xx finish. Never before have we agreed on my finishing time and this made me a bit uneasy....

We began our trip with a drive to Mass, just outside Boston where a lot of my extended family lives. We enjoyed a super fun dinner, a quality beer and (as always) excellent company and conversation with my Uncles Bill and Dave, and Aunts Ann and Karen. We only wish that we could have stayed longer to see more people and enjoy more family time- which there is never enough of! However, this short visit got us off on the right foot for the rest of the trip.

Eric and I were up at a decent hour to catch our flight from Boston to Philly. This was by far our smartest move of the weekend, as the flight was only 45 minutes long and eliminated not only hours of driving, but at least an extra day (and an extra day of lost work) for the trip.

We arrived late morning and took a very inexpensive train ride to Jefferson station, conveniently located right across from our hotel.

You know what was on the OTHER side of the hotel? The expo. Yes, we are possibly the smartest people alive! So the afternoon went down like this, we took a 5 minute flight to Philly, walked 1 foot to our hotel and one more foot to the expo. DONE, like a BOSS.

So how was this expo that I speak of? It was meh.
I'm pretty spoiled by the perfection that is the Boston expo and the splendor that is the NYCM expo. In comparison this one was pretty low key. I suppose I am not too upset about this because I did not bring a big enough bag to pack up tons of new things and I saved lots of money!
I did pick up a cute visor and a nice, and inexpensive fleece.

(we then did a few other fun things which will be included in part two)

Fun things like this
We ate dinner early (at the ever reliable Maggiano's- a stone's throw from our door.)
Following the carb loading, I brought a glass of wine and some chocolate to bed, watched several episodes of "Axe Men" which is both horrible and fascinating, and then proceeded to sleep quite poorly which is not at all unusual.

I awoke at 4:50 feeling fine.
I had packed food to eat, not trusting a reliable on site food source (smart). So I showered, ate food, dressed like some kind of hobo and we were on the road to the start, hotel coffee in hand at 5:30.
This got us (on foot) to the security line just before 6:00, and just before the big crowds arrived. Security was pretty relaxed compared to some of the other marathons I have done but I know that sometimes it is what I don't/can't see that is actually keeping us secure...

Time pretty much flew by- I stood in some porta potty lines, I snacked a bit and before I knew it we were inn the corrals ready to go.
And then, there was a delay because somewhere on the course a car was being towed away after a fender bender. *seriously people!!! get off the damn roads!!!* (kidding) During all the pre race rigmarole I felt completely fine, no nerves, no problems.

Pre Race time
I was in the black corral and being one of the slower people in it (it is based on a projected 3:15-3:35 finishing time I believe) I tried hard to place myself towards the back. Despite this precaution it was a bit of a WWE start for me and I was badly jostled and jabbed upside the head and whacked all around violently which certainly was exciting. Fortunately, the delay of the start had allowed me to freeze sufficiently so as to be too numb to notice the vigorous beating that I was given.

Anyway. After all the thrashing about I just got down to the business of basically running per the plan.
The first half was possibly the most normal 13.1 miles that I had ever run. I felt fine. I was not too excited nor was I bored. I saw Eric at mile 1.5 or so which was nice! For the first couple miles there were all sorts of excited spectators AND THEN.....!!!!
OK then. *spoiled by Boston, what can I say*

All of a sudden sometime around mile 3 I could hear a veritable dance party coming up behind me. I was getting into the groove of a little blurred lines when ALL OF A SUDDEN THERE WAS LESLIE AND SHE WAS THE DANCE PARTY!!!! This was exciting. She took a pic because she is good like that.
We had a very important moment of deep conversation.  Apparently we both felt good at mile 3, which we agreed was good news. I could not figure out why she was anywhere near me, and I bossily commanded her to run faster and win the race. So away she ran never to be seen again (or so I thought, sadly.)

After all that excitement I kept on running (as one is expected to do during such events), saw Eric again around mile 5 which was both confusing because I LITERALLY had no idea where this course went and awesome because I love him and his hot face.
I ran through the 10k in 50:28 and change, at an 8:08 pace.

Then there were a couple hills, and I ran by the 3:35 pace group. They were well adorned with the typical signs and red balloons, and I hoped to keep them just behind me (and assumed that I'd see them if they caught me...)

I really don't have anything too exciting to say about the first half. I ate stuff, drank water, ran like a normal person and did not think about anything much at all. I just ran. It was good. There were historical landmarks. And many runners.

I did have some time to contemplate the weather conditions. While I would say that the temps (48, start to finish) and the precip (none) and the cloud cover (no sunburns!) were absolutely ideal there was a wind brewing. This wind got much worse during the second half (15-18 MPH) and made for some extra challenges, as you will soon see.

I ran through the half in 1:46:10 and change, an 8:08 pace, saw Eric which was good, ran AWAY from the finish (which is at the mile 13 mark. which is also the start)  and PROMPTLY DIED AN AWFUL DEATH.

OK, not exactly. I really thought that I had my head on straight for running away from the finish at the half way point- it is NOT the first time I have done that! But pair that with running directly into the stupid wind and I was like BLEHHH to the MEHHHH. I turned into a real complainer.

For a few miles I tried to figure out how to get grievously injured in a MINOR way so that I could sit down for a bit. I wasn't actually tired at all but I was at that horrible mile 14-16 time when things get disgusting.
I developed a strong dislike for the Schuylkill River. And the Geese.
I got really grumpy at the WIND.
I plotted, half halfheartedly, various silly ways to calmly walk back to the finish and get out of there! In those few moments I was not a big fan.
I was just not that into it and completely lost the motivation to continue on.

UNTIL. I talked myself back into it.
Just after mile 17 we banged a hard left onto a STUPID bridge (yes, I was crabby) so for a moment the wind shifted to my right side. "LISTEN, SLACKER" I told myself "YOU WANT THIS DAMN BQ SO GET YOUR HEAD TOGETHER!"
There was a little out and back (so that we had to run over the bridge again and yeah- you guessed it- back into the wind.) But as I came towards the turn around there was Leslie! I was so excited! "FUCK YES!!! YOU RUNNNNNN!!!" I shouted, helpfully AND coherently which is always good. Then I grabbed my rarely used ipod turned on some skrillex (yep) told myself that I was a little badass, got pumped decided to win, AND CRIED because (per the marathon norm) I'm a wreck. Good grief.

Bolstered by friends, dance music, my own badasserry and by pulling my head out of my ass I ran on. Completely fine now, which is the weird thing about distance running.
Many ups and downs.
Many feelings, usually stupid ones.  

I ran thru the 30K in 2:31:28 an 8:08 pace. Evidently, my mental breakdown had zero effects on my running skills.

I tried to find the 3:35 pace group during this time since there were so many little out and back sections. I never saw them which made me feel nervous, I hoped VERY much that they had not passed me at some point like a sneaky bunch of sneaks. At this time in the race I decided that I would be genuinely irritated if somehow I had not noticed them passing me and then gotten with it and chased them down. With only a few miles to go I had developed a significant disinterest in missing my BQ opportunity.
(proving that a marathoner can go very quickly from giving zero fucks about finishing to deciding that it the most important thing they have EVER and will EVER accomplish. Yes, I am confused too and this is my life.) 

The final miles of the race were both alarmingly clear because I had kept myself well fed and hydrated and all kinds of horribly painful. This made me wish that I wasn't so alert, it's easier to deal with the physical side of things when you are a bit out of it
Shit. The last two miles hurt. Like the kind of hurt where afterwards you really wonder how on earth you can be so fragile one minute and so tough the next.
Who knows. You just put it out of your head. And you basically run.

Wonderfully, in the last couple miles there was a guy with a sign. It had a big Tardis on it and in bold letters said "BASICALLY, RUN." No, I could not believe this either but it happened.
I looked a him and said "this sign is EVERYTHING!!!:"
He looked back at me and said "Don't BLINK."
And what are the odds?? Seriously!!

THIS AGAIN!!!! But also, yes.
I felt like I could see the finish line for approximately 2,896,987 days before I got there and since my legs were actually broken and ready to fall off my body it seemed rude to have to run so far.
I saw Eric again just before the finish and I acknowledged him lovingly with a grunt or two and some kind of flapping arm motion that indicated how badly my legs were behaving. It was really romantic. 

And I finished in 3:33:55, an 8:09 pace. Consistent like a fucking boss. Holy crap.

However! I had no idea of my finishing time when I actually finished (no watch, and the race clock started when the Elites started, some two corrals ahead of me.) So no clue. And I was SO SORE SO SORE like, no walking skills at all kind of ruined. I staggered and gimped thru medals, heat sheets, and food service and then I saw Eric just outside of the staging.
"What was my finish time???" I asked- while at the same time proclaiming that I was broken for good.
"3:33:55" he said.

We both smiled.

And away I limped....
Boston 2017 here I come!!