What a weekend. Before I get to the marathon recap, I have to say that Bruce Springsteen is an amazing performer. Kevin and I had a great time at his show in Baltimore Friday night. My favorite part was when he ran into the crowd and chugged some person's beer. If we hear about him coming down with swine flu, I know why.Although we spent a good amount of the time standing, we were happy to have seats to rest our legs during the slower songs, since we did have a marathon on Sunday. Saturday morning, we woke up and got ready for the quick drive up to Philly.
We arrived at our hotel and were excited to see some great views from our room. City view.
And Bridge view.
We relaxed for a bit before meeting my friend Ashley (who was running her first marathon!) at the race expo. Although it was only 1.5 miles from our hotel, we decided to drive. The parking garages near the convention center made a killing that day. Philly/Chinatown - how about some weekend special event prices next time? Or have the expo in a place with free parking?
We picked up our BIBs/shirts and walked around the expo for awhile. I love the bags they gave us with our shirts. Perfect breathable gym/race bag with a zippered pocket. I also ran into a friend of mine from college who was running her first marathon, so that was fun to see her.
After the expo, we relaxed back at the hotel and then headed to dinner at Dante and Luigi's. This place has been around since 1899, so we figured they knew what they were doing. The best way for me to describe this restaurant is "smooth". Everything they did was like a well oiled machine. After receiving fresh italian bread, we decided to split the Dante and Luigi Special Salad. (My excuse for the pictures below: I messed up and forgot my camera, so only had my iPhone the entire weekend.)
I was in the middle of asking Kevin if he thought there was dressing on there, when suddenly Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar appeared. Is this place bugged? I decided on the lasagna for my meal which came topped with Italian Gravy. (!?!)
Italian Gravy was the tastiest red sauce I have ever had. Super hearty and had this great flavor that I couldn't put my finger on. Kevin ordered the Manicotti and I was jealous. I kept asking if he wanted another bite of mine, so that he would offer me a bite of his. The burnt ends were the best. ;)
We decided to go for dessert because how often did we come to the oldest Italian restaurant in Philadelphia? I ordered the Ricotta cheese pie, which looked a lot like cheesecake, but was not as heavy or sweet.
I loved it. It reminded me of my favorite Italian dessert - Sfogliatelle - just without those crispy layers on top.
We set the alarm for 5am, but both of us woke up by 4:45am. Nerves. I decided to take a quick shower to wake me up. Picked my outfit based on two choices I had laid out.
I ended up going with capri running pants, a long sleeve shirt, and throwaway gloves for the first few miles.
Fueled up with a banana, almond butter and a PURE bar. Chocolate Chip Trail Mix PURE bar that I have never tried before. It made me nervous that I didnt have my normal wheat toast, but I had forgot to bring it and our hotel was charging like $10 for a slice. I loaded up my Geico wrist band with Ibuprofen and Sport Beans. Carried GU Chomps to munch on at the starting line.
We found parking without a problem and walked over towards the start to get into our colored corral. We enjoyed some of the best people watching ever for a good 40 mins before we actually started the race at 7:20.
Miles 1 - 6. The entire way felt downhill and flat. Kevin and I both felt great. I ditched my gloves around mile 3. Neither Kevin or I wore watches, so when we passed the clocks, we knew to take about 20 mins based on our starting time. We were running in the high nine minute miles and talked about whether we should slow down our pace. Nah. It didnt feel hard, so we figured lets keep it up as long as possible. Even though the course was wide and the starts were staggered, we had a lot of problems with 'traffic' along the way. I sortof wish the half marathon and marathons started separately or had different courses before coming together like in the Baltimore Marathon. Kevin and I went into this race leaving it up to how we each felt to decide whether we would stay together the entire race.
Miles 7-11. During the beginning of mile 7, a woman decided to try and cross the course directly in front of me. It happened so fast that I didnt have time to stop/move and she ended up getting an elbow to the chest area. (Sorry?) Not sure if she will try that move again. We saw our first hill during this section,and were happy we had some hilly training runs. What goes up must come down, so we enjoyed the steep downhill that came after as we headed down to the river. I spent the majority of these miles anticipating the miles to come and trying to decide how I want to chunk up the race. (Two 10 milers and a 10k? or a 20 mile run and a 10k?) Not sure I ever came to a decision, but somewhere in here, Kevin and I decided that we were running this whole thing together and he was going to set a new PR.
Miles 12-14. These were the worst miles of the entire race for me. As soon as we hit mile 12, my hip flexors started to ache. I immediately thought about the second 20 mile training run we had missed. Had I run enough miles? My hip flexors usually dont start hurting until mile 16 or so. Sport Beans and Ibuprofen to the rescue. Mental or not, taking that Motrin improved my mood immensely. Next up, we had to pass the finish line to split off from the half marathoners. This was not my favorite part of the course. Especially since we left the crowds to find the second hill of the race up to mile 14. At this point, I loved that Philly had put our first names on the BIBs. We had thousands of fans that were yelling our name and it was a great pick-me-up. Kevin and I started comparing who had more fans.
Miles 15-19. Out and back. My favorite type of run. NOT. Not sure how many times I wondered if the turnaround was "just up ahead", but at least it kept my brain occupied. We hit mile 16 and reminisced about the year before at Baltimore. It had been a hot/humid day and the hills of baltimore's not-so finest neighborhoods were ahead of us. Kevin basically hit the wall and the rest of the race was a struggle. Today, it was the "ideal" weather day and we were running a flat and beautiful course along the river. I was so happy for him because at this point I knew we were going to smash his prior PR. And we may just hit my goal too - get under 4:40. Each time we passed a clock, my mind would calculate away and I knew it was going to be close. I watched a guy pass us wearing only socks. No shoes. At one point, he stopped to check his feet and I saw two big holes in the bottom of the socks. He had a long way to go in holey socks. I felt thankful for my shoes.
Miles 20-23. Turnaround time!!! Manayunk is a cool town. It was fun to run through and check out all the bars/restaurants. Plus, there was fun music and the crowd had a ton of energy. We hit mile 20 and I told myself, only a 10k left! Not going to lie, my legs and feet hurt. We kept up a routine of running to each water stop, grabbing a gatorade and water, and walking until they were gone. It actually helped that it hurt Kevin more to walk then to run, so we didnt walk as much as I may have liked.
Miles 24-26. The home stretch. Painful, but awesome at the same time. Everything hurts. 2 miles never went by slower, but I kept telling myself that it was 20 mins in my life and would be over before I knew it. I forgot about finishing in a particular time and concentrated on finishing. We had done it and I would be happy no matter what...
The Last .2. The crowd was great and kept yelling that we were almost there. Just around the corner. Some guy also yelled, "Hey Kevin, leave her in your dust!". I shot the dude a dirty look and looked over at Kevin, like, I dare you. My legs hurt like hell, but I had a little kick left and a whole lot of competitiveness. He didn't end up listening to the guy in the crowd. Smart man. :)
We picked it up together towards the finish. As we got closer and closer to the finish line, I could see just how close we were to being under 4:40. Our final time....4:41! Soooo close.
After this picture was taken, we planned out our next move. FOOD. What could be more perfect after the Philadelphia Marathon? Cheesesteaks.
Yeah, I whole bunch of other people had the same idea. We waited for 40 mins, but it was worth every minute.
I tried to act like a local and said "Whiz Wit". I didnt want to order anything weird and give myself away.
Pure joy. Although I don't remember much about the cheesesteak since I inhaled it in about 5 mins. I think it was delicious.
Marathon # 6 is in the books for me, so now it is time to start thinking about what's next...