Reflections on Philly

I’ve been riding a runner’s high all week after getting 3:34:38 at Philly last Sunday.

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I can’t stop staring at the medal. So big it’s honestly kind of gaudy.

It was 100% mental strength that carried me through this race. I can’t take all the credit for that strength – I don’t think I could have done it if I hadn’t had my friends there with me before the start, during the race, waiting for me at the end, and overall believing in me. But I felt like I was reaching my physical limit at mile 18 – when my overall average pace on my Garmin was flickering between 8:12 and 8:13. Although 8:12 is the pace for a 3:35 marathon, I knew my Garmin was picking up extra distance and that realistically I’d probably need it to show at least an 8:10 pace to be sub-3:35 by the race clock (at the finish my Garmin registered 26.36 miles, so an 8:12 pace would have actually had me in about 3:36:09). 

So I was 8 miles (over an hour) from the finish line and feeling worse by the minute. By mile 20, my legs were by all definitions trashed. I could feel my form trying to deteriorate; my quads hurt, my hips hurt, my back hurt, my breathing was hard. I was tired and my thoughts were getting foggy. I could see the end but wasn’t sure if I’d get there.

I mainly used a mental tactic that has gotten through track workouts where we do 2 mile repeats. 2 mile repeats are hard, and they’re long enough that there are plenty of opportunities to quit when things get difficult. But I always tell myself, “If you don’t finish these 2 miles at this pace now, you’re going to have to attempt it again some other time during some other workout. And next time you’ll be afraid because you already failed once. If you don’t do this now, you’re going to spend all week wondering why you couldn’t. Don’t do that to yourself.”

During the last 8 miles when everything hurt, I went over what I wanted. I wanted to run sub-3:35, which was a possible outcome as long as I kept up my pace. When’s the next time I would be able to run a marathon? Late spring? Philly next year? I thought about how hard it would be to mentally confront the marathon again if I were to fall short by only a few minutes this time. 

During the last 10k, I really wasn’t sure if I was going to make it under 3:35, but I knew that if I slowed down at all I probably would not get it. What did I want to talk about after the race – how I was so close but just missed my goal by seconds - or how I was so close but reached my goal by seconds? It sounds like a simple choice now, but it was hard to make that decision when I was in so much pain.

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Checking my watch right at the finish… it was so close, I didn’t know whether or not I’d gotten it until that moment.

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Having to negative split = painful… but pretty nice on paper.

My friend and I ran part of the course backwards at the start. We started too far back in the corral and had to weave around people for the first 7 miles. I didn’t pick up the pace enough right after the half. I got nauseated after I drank gatorade, which I don’t ever usually drink. I didn’t take enough gels early in the race, and by the end I was tired and my stomach turned when I tried to take a final gel at mile 23. I walked through water stops. My legs were trashed by the end.

If I hadn’t met my goal, those would be excuses. But now I can say in spite of all those things, I did it. I hope to run Boston in 2015 (hopefully the qualifying times don’t change, and hopefully I’ll be able to get through registration). I’m thinking about going up to watch the 2014 race in April, so let me know if you’ll be racing!

2 thoughts on “Reflections on Philly

  1. New reader here! Super job in your race!! That is a great time, and it’s interesting to see how other people get through the tough workouts.
    Hope you can get in to Boston 2015. That would be a fantastic race to do!

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