On Saturday, my friend Ellen and I made the short trip up to Philadelphia in time to check out the expo and pasta party. We easily found parking and headed to the convention center for one very large race expo.
First stop was the bib pick-up.
Unfortunately, it seemed as though it was a room full of vendors just selling stuffstuffstuff, and not many running-related booths. I mean, what’s Geico and Success Rice doing at a race expo? I did, however, purchase a few things.
A stainless steel coffee mug
A Sweaty Bands headband, which I didn’t wear the next day. You know what they say…. don’t wear anything new on race day. I know they’re known to not slip, but I didn’t want to chance anything.
I also purchased some Yurbuds since I have ridiculously small ears, and I have problems with regular headphones staying in my ears.
The race bag was full of coupons…
But my favorite thing was the Arctic Ease cold therapy wrap. You’ll find out why later…
After we browsed the expo thoroughly, we hopped on the shuttle to the pasta party at Spaghetti Warehouse.
The news was even there
We were given 3 choices- spaghetti with meat sauce, spaghetti with tomato sauce, and spaghetti with marinara sauce. The pasta party ticket also included a salad, bread, and a soft drink. I chose the meat sauce, but I could only eat half of it. I’m not a big fan of spaghetti, and this was just mediocre anyway. Since it was just me and Ellen, they sat us with 2 other people. They were very nice, and we had a great time chatting with them about running.
After dinner, we met up with Holly and headed to her cousin’s house where we would be staying the night. When we got there, we laid out all of our race gear, and I got my shirt ready with my bib.
It wasn’t long before we all got settled and headed to bed. Ellen and I were out in the living room and tried to fall asleep at 10 and then realized we were both awake at 11, so we turned on Titanic and fell asleep eventually. We both didn’t sleep well.
We all woke up around 4:45am on Sunday for the big day! We all showered, got dressed, ate breakfast, and were out the door by 6am.
We got a little lost on the way to the start, but we saw a lot of other runners walking, so Holly and I jumped out of the car and joined the pack. It was just a short, peaceful, and calm walk to the start. I was feeling good. It was just a tad chilly out. No need for extra layers besides some gloves to keep my hands warm. When we got to our orange corral, we decided we should both try to use the bathrooms one last time. The line, however, was longgggg. When we finally got to the potties, every portapotty I tried had poop on the seats. Like mounds just sitting there. I started yelling “really?!? You can’t poop IN the toilet?” People around me thought I was being funny, but I wasn’t laughing. I had to GO, and I couldn’t find a toilet without feces just sitting there staring at me. Dear fellow runners, be courteous to the rest of the running community. Please.
We made our way back to the corral just in time before it started moving forward. It was 25 minutes after 7 before we crossed the start line. Holly and I kept smiling at each other as we passed by the huge crowds watching us run down Ben Franklin Parkway. We were so excited to be on our way! Plus, it was Holly’s first half-marathon.
Ellen caught us at the beginning. See me in my pink skirt?
I stuck with Holly for the first mile and a half. I then realized I needed to drop back and start my 2/1 intervals (run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute). I tried to stick to that religiously, but I was feeling good for a while, so my running parts were a little longer.
The run down Columbus Blvd, which runs parallel to the Delaware River, was the majority of miles 3 and 4 and was quite boring. It was at this point in the race that I noticed there were a lot of run/walkers, and every one of them knew to stay to the right to be courteous to other who were running the whole thing.
It was at mile 4.5 where I really thought I might just have to find a bathroom in a hurry! We’re being honest here, right? It was so bad I thought I might have to knock on someone’s door! I found a clump of portapotties, but the line was incredibly long. I stood there for a little bit but then realized I didn’t waste so much time in line, and I was starting to feel better. I ended up walking it off and began intervals again around mile 5.25. By this time, I was running by the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. For the last mile or so, I had been so overwhelmed with my stomach issues, I had forgotten to take in the views of South Street.
Miles 6 and 7 were down Chestnut Street, and I kept up with consistent 2/1 intervals. This is where I also saw Ellen and her cowbell!
There was a long hill in the eighth mile, but at the end was a group of megahot frat guys. This was kinda motivating since I didn’t want them to see me walk.
One hellacious hill came at around the 9th mile marker, if I remember correctly. It seemed like everyone around me walked. Some even walked up backwards to use different muscles.
All I can remember from miles 10-12 was that they were TOUGH! I didn’t even really take notice of Boathouse Row. I was feeling so heavy. I didn’t feel any pain really. I just couldn’t lug myself forward anymore. It was such a struggle. I made the mistake of only taking one GU, and that was at mile 4. I think it made my stomach upset, so the thought of eating another one made me nauseous. That’s probably why I didn’t have much energy left to do well in the last few miles.
At the 13 mile marker, they had signs telling us to take off our headphones to hear the instructions that half-marathoners had to stay to the right. I’m glad I took my headphones off because I could hear all of the people scream my name, which is why I put my name on my shirt in the first place. When I got closer to the finish line, I heard so many people yelling for me to finish strong. Ellen even caught some pictures of my painstakingly awful finish.
At least I was smiling at the finish line
My time was 3:07:25, a new PW (Personal Worst) for me.
And the course
After the race, we piled in to my Jeep and headed to lunch at Hard Rock Cafe. We originally wanted the hot food bar at Whole Foods, but there was a change of plans I honestly wasn’t happy about. I ran that whole race excited for Whole Foods, and we had Hard Rock. I wasn’t pleased. But I sat through the entire lunch in complete pain, exhaustion, and disappointment. The thought crossed my mind to call and tell my mom to not make Disney reservations because I wanted to back out of the marathon. If I could barely complete 13.1 miles, how on earth would I be able to move one more step past that in just a few short weeks? But I had to remember I trained only 4 weeks for this race.
We all went back to the house to shower. Ellen and I were so anxious to get home, we didn’t stick around too long. When I made it home, I sunk in to bed for a 5 hour long nap. Before I even got out of bed, I ordered Domino’s from my iPhone to be delivered since I had no food in the house. However, I had no idea how I was going to make it down my steps to answer the door. For the 30 minutes I had to wait for my pizza, I wrapped my knees in the free samples from Arctic Ease. Since ice is actually too cold for your ligaments and muscles, this product is cool at 59 degrees. Since it doesn’t desensitize your skin, you can leave it on for hours without risking frostbite and damage. By using this product, I woke up the next morning with absolutely no knee pain.
From their website…
People are accustomed to the extreme cold they feel from traditional ice therapy, so it’s not unusual to wonder whether or not Arctic Ease is cold enough. Many believe in the old adage, “the colder, the better,” but nothing could be further from the truth. The reason people are advised to take ice on and off every 15 minutes is because the extreme cold is not safe, and can cause tissue damage if not removed at regular intervals. With Arctic Ease there are no temperature extremes. The wraps and pads are specially designed to provide hours of continuous cooling at a temperature that is safe and effective
I also woke up thinking “I can do that marathon”, so my mom and I went ahead and made resort reservations for Disney. It’s only 45 days away! I’m absolutely terrified, but I’m signing up for a personal trainer who has completed an Ironman. And I have to trust myself. I’ve completed three half-marathons. I need to complete my 6-year long dream of running the Walt Disney World Marathon.
Any of you marathon runners have any advice for a first-timer?