Holy shit – running a marathon is hard. Running a marathon after missing 5 weeks of the most important long distance training runs and then trying to ramp up 3 weeks prior with only a half marathon being your longest training run is REALLY f’n hard.
But hallelujah – it is OVER.
While my finish time isn’t anything impressive, the fact that I have only ever run a half marathon distance prior to this makes me feel a bit better.
I decided to stick it out with a 5 hour pace group for as long as I could (which happened to be a little after mile 12). I think without them (and the awesome pace group leader, Robin) – my time would have been MUCH worse.
I’ve never really written a mile by mile race recap. At times during the marathon, I did think about how I was going to blog about the experience (between thoughts of, “I regret signing up for this” and “omg – I wonder when I’ll get full use of my legs back”).
I’m going to make this a photo post too. Prior to the marathon, I was nervous about how my stomach would handle the insane amount of fuel and gatorade I was sure I’d be injesting. Thankfully, a friend lent me her prescription strength Immodium AD. I didn’t have a single stomach GURGLE!
I was incredibly nervous. It was MARATHON day! I didn’t sleep very well and had been up since 4:30am. Was I ready? Could I really do this? My knee had been aching all week.
But it was now or never. Moments after this flattering photo was snapped, I had to run to the portapots. And the lines were INSANE. I made it out just as the first wave was being released.
I found the 5 hour pace group and just hung out in the crowd. I spent a good portion making faces at Jeremy and Kristin (my cheer squad).
Our wave lined at at the start. The woman holding the sign was the pace leader, Robin. She was awesome! Jeremy said that he saw her finish… ALONE. I guess not everyone could keep that pace (or they surpassed it like that girl in the full Army uniform).
The guy in the yellow shirt is Tim. He didn’t keep that pace but I met up with him around mile 20. I’ll get to that story later.
Jeremy snapped this after mile 6. And yes, I was really that happy!
I have to say that the first 6 miles FLEW by. They really did. I felt strong. I actually thought, “If I keep up this feeling, maybe I CAN run at least 20 miles today…” Ha! Little did I know.
My knee started to ache about a mile into the entire marathon but it was a manageable pain. My legs started to feel fatigued around mile 9. At that point, the majority of the course was fairly flat. We ran mostly through the downtown portion of Philly and there was tons of crowd support and interesting things to look at.
Around mile 9, we hit a HUGE steep hill. I tried my best to run up the hills but I finally hit one that I just couldn’t do. My thought was to try to rest my legs as much as possible so I could go the distance. I walked up the hill and fell behind the pace group but managed to catch back up with them shortly.
At mile 12, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it. I was feeling incredibly tired. The only thing that kept me going was knowing the Jeremy was going to be around mile 12 to cheer me on. And there he was (with Kristin). I almost cried when I saw them.
I ran over, gave him a quick kiss and said, “I think I’m dying.” He told me to keep running.
Shortly after mile 12, I had to stop to walk. I lost the pace group and just didn’t have it in me to catch back up with them.
The crowd support picked up again as we were heading into the Ben Franklin Pkwy AND the end of the half marathon. And this is where I think the folks of the Philly marathon are CRUEL.
Imagine being pooped and seeing a sign with “FINISH LINE –>” printed largely. And then see a sign next to it that says, “<– 14 MILES”. Which way would you go?
I honestly thought about breaking off at that point and just doing the half. But I kept moving.
My quads, hamstrings AND calves were all screaming. I ended up doing a pathetic trot whenever I could muster the strength but essentially power walked the majority of the way.
Strangely, I didn’t lose my smile. The slow pokes are a friendly bunch and I was surrounded by an amazing group of runners. And yes, even though they were slow and sometimes walking – I considered them runners. I passed one lady who declared to her friend, “This shit is NOT fun!”
I saw a lot of the faster runners coming in the opposite direction (the course looped). And let me tell you – never judge a runner by their looks. There were quite a few slow pokes around me that looked ripped and very fit. There were quite a few fast runners who didn’t appear to be in shape or they were older than my dad!
Inspiring, I tell ya.
Everyone’s bib had their name printed on them, but I still wore a shirt with my name on the front. I felt a little silly with my name printed twice but it was nice to have everyone shout, “Come on, Kim!”, “Great job, Kim!”
It was also irritating to have my name shouted so much… but only when I was feeling particular exhausted and beat. Or when I couldn’t pick up my legs without feeling a burning pain.
Mile 14-20 were awful. Like I said, the course looped so this entire span was spent staring at runners going in the opposite direction. And the turnaround point seemed like it was never going to come. I felt like it was a cruel joke.
My feet were hating me.
But after mile 20, I saw Tim (the guy in the yellow shirt) with 2 other runners, Donna and Jack. They were chatting cheerfully and dancing along to the music. Tim remembered me from the pace group and they took me under their wing. Because of them, I was able to trot out another mile.
I wished I could have kept up with them, but my legs just didn’t have it in them. I am still thankful to them for helping me move along though. I was feeling a bit down at that point.
When I saw mile 23, I thought, “okay – just a 5k. You can do it!” But my legs said, “go to hell.” I really wanted to be able to run the remaining distance but my legs and my knee were not trying to move.
A few times the pain in my knee was so extreme, it caused my leg to buckle.
However, I saw quite a few runners battling IT band injuries. I felt so bad for them. We were the runners who weren’t bending our knees. Yes, try to imagine running without bending your leg. It sucks.
Mile 25. I wanted to cry. And I wanted to run the rest of the way. But I couldn’t.
I only picked back up to a trot during the last 1/4 mile. People were lined up along the course and at least I knew the end was in sight.
I almost cried when I saw Jeremy and Kristin. I mustered up a big smile and kept focusing on the finish line.
Jeremy managed to capture the true pain I was feeling.
And then I crossed the finish line (still waiting for the race photos) and Jeremy caught this gem:
When one of the volunteers put medal around my neck, I told her that I loved her.
Jeremy presented me with a small bottle of champagne and my favorite dark chocolate bar. But all I wanted was a banana.
I hobbled to our hotel room as quickly as possible (we had a 2pm checkout and it was 12:50pm). I managed to squeeze in a 15 minute ice bath and a quick shower.
We stopped off at Tony Luke’s to pick up cheesesteaks for friends (they watched our dogs) and had some delish vegetarian sandwiches.
Words can’t begin to describe the amount of pain that I feel today.
But the million dollar question – was it worth it? Hell yes! I ran a frickin’ marathon! Now I think I want to do ONE more someday just so I can beat my piddly time.
My friends Ian and Paul also ran the marathon. Ian ran it in 4:09. This was his FIRST marathon! Paul finished in 4:32… beating his previous marathon time by over 20 minutes!
While I am in extreme pain now, this experience just solidified why I love running so much. The enormous amount of comraderie was amazing, the runners of all walks of life were inspiring and well… it’s a great workout.