Saturday 11/16 – 2 mi
Good morning marathon weekend! Dr. Annebelle and I got up early and got our 2 easy miles out-of-the-way with no problems. Thank god. Then off to Philly it was for the weekend festivities to begin!
We stayed at the Wyndham hotel in the Old City, 1.7 miles from the start of the race. The hotel was actually pretty perfect — located in Old Town there were great bars and cafés and restaurants and shops within walking distance and it was a cute are to walk around. Also, and maybe/probably/definitely the most important selling point, is that they extended our check out to 1 pm for no/zero/zilch additional charge and allowed us to extend it further to 5 pm for only $50. This was an absolutely beautiful luxury to have after running 13.1 or 26.2 miles.
(Note: Only the very coolest of people check into their hotel room at 9:30 am.)
After displaying our supreme coolness, it was off to the expo for a very crowded and moderately frustrating packet pickup.
The place was loaded to the gills with runners and their entire families and all of their friends… The vendors I had hoped to hit (based on the Chicago expo) weren’t there and those that were, were not giving out nearly enough free goodies. I did manage to snag a pair of sweet arm warmers for $9 though. I can’t complain about that! Also on a positive note, the venue was perfect (although a bit too full), a convention center in the heart of the city. It was a piece of cake (or two or three…but who’s counting) to get there and around the city for some sight-seeing in the afternoon.
After the expo, a walk around town, a nap back at the hotel and new arm warmer modeling…
…we all headed out for the classic pre-race Italian dinner at Panini’s Trattoria in the Old City.
I won’t include a full review because I was too preoccupied to pay a whole lot of attention to what the hell was going on around me. But, I will say that we had the back room more or less all to ourselves which was pretty cool and I got the lobster ravioli and it was bomb.
Also note that this was in stark contrast to the service, which was horrific. On pre-race night though, you kinda gotta cut them some slack…kinda…
After dinner it was back to the hotel to lay out all of the vital components for a successful tomorrow and then off to bed!
Sunday 11/17 – 26.2 + 4 mi (4:01:40 + ??)
Philadelphia, PA (beginning and ending in the center of town)
Perfect! Morning: ~50F and cloudy and calm. Afternoon: 60F and partly cloudy and calm.
4 am came damn early and it was time to rock and roll (and run). Breakfast was English muffins with peanut butter and banana and yogurt and cuties and granola bars and coffee….ahhhh….coffee…
And then it was off to the start by 5:30 to get through security…and to take photos…
Threads and treads:
Very cool CEMS team uniforms (see below…and above…) including Champion tank and running skirt, yellow and pink swirl Pro Compression marathon socks, and my wonderful Mizuno Wave Riders
All kinds (~30k) of people. Not quite the elite crowd that you find at Chicago, but a nice mix of paces for both the half and full marathon.
We got to the start area by ~5:30 (only 30 min after the requested 5 am arrival due to increased security) and had absolutely no issues. Once inside we
- We hit the port-a-potties (there are NEVER enough, but considering that, this was fine)
- Got some water (ONE water table? really? and zero coffee, Gatorade or pre-race fuel? Unimpressed. )
- Took a
picture or twoshit load of pictures
- Dropped our bags off at the gear check (UPS trucks organized alphabetically = smooth sailing! Nice going!)
- Excitedly bumbled around trying to stay warm and
- Headed to our start corals!
The first half of the course was for both the full and half marathon. It weaved through town and was overall a really pleasant 13 miles. Some areas were a bit narrow for the number of people trying to charge their way through though.
The second half was tough. It was an out and back along the river, with little jogs out here and there to hit the necessary mileage. These little jogs seemed to keep fooling me – being much less little in reality than I remembered them being from the map. And then the turn-around point “must be just over this next hill.” I’m not even going to tell you how many times that thought went through my exhausted pea brain! The rolling hills would have been lovely (I’m sure ) if I wasn’t trying to get things done quickly.
I’m convinced it was a modest net elevation gain on the way out which made coming back much less of a pain in the ass and much more of a pain in the quads. Now, full disclosure, I was really hoping to be under 4 hrs for this run. The plan was to run the first 1/4 with Dr. Annebelle and then to give it a go for the next 3/4 and see what happened. I turned it up as much as I dared for miles 6-13 and then just tried to hang on for 13-20. I had started feeling my joints and then my hamstrings and then my quads moving through miles 6 to 20. The lungs were holding on (miraculously…and thank you…) so coming back on the home stretch I was hoping to able to pick it up enough to see 3:xx on the clock. I did what I could, I really did, but even with the net descent (which my quads selfishly complained about for 2 days) I just didn’t have the turn over. The last few miles were hot, sunny and I needed to be done.
In 4:01:40 I was done. Not quite what I’d hoped for, but within 1:40 of my goal and as fast as I was going to go for the day. I had negatives splits and a PR, so zero bitching allowed. (Never thought you’d hear me say that did you?!?!
More importantly, the rest of team CEMS did AMAZING. There were 3x first time half-marathoners, 3x seasoned half-marathoners, 1x full marathoner with a double-digit PR and 1x full marathoner who finished with a sprained ankle!!! Yeah, my friends are a hell of a lot tougher than I am (which explains why they can put up with me I suppose…)
There were 17 water/Gatorade stations and 3 Clif Gel Shot stations. This was just about the right amount although I would have loved an extra water stop during the last few miles. I get that they were more front loaded to accommodate all of the 1/2 marathoners that were running that part of the course with us, but would anyone have dropped dead if they put one more in the last few miles? I doubt it. The Clif Gel Shots were well spaced and were offered in all flavors. Way to go!
Messages, iced ankles, showers, a relatively easy exit from central Philly, 8x delicious pizzas, yummy beers opened with the hotel room door handle and naps…
I hate to start off like an ass hole and say “it wasn’t Chicago.” But, it wasn’t Chicago. The crowds, support and course just weren’t quite up to the same bar (all of these things were ~80% of Chicago…soooo….). That being said, neither were the hotel room $$, the commute difficulties or the congestion. Overall a lovely city marathon in the northeast.
Philly is a great city on a normal day. The food, the people, the sights. Now on a beautiful day when you get to spend the morning running through the city with almost 2 hands worth of your best friends, Philly is most excellent.