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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Philly Marathon (26.2 Mi)

Philadelphia, PA

A near-death experience on the infamous Chinatown bus, an entire landscape of hotties, & full-body soreness would all describe my 1st marathon experience down in Philly. Not having raced anything farther than a half marathon, my plan was to go out conservatively hitting consistent 7-7:15 min miles for the 1st 20 or so and then hang on for dear life!

I was definitely spent by the end but had a great race and enjoyed the historical aspect of the course. Running through the streets of Philly just blocks from where the declaration of independence was adopted and where our constitution was signed added some significance. Can you imagine how peculiar it would have been back in 1787 to look up from the constitutional debate in independence hall to see some 6000 people running down the street?!

I was a little disappointed they didn’t start the race in waves, but as they say, pura vida. All I remember was being stuck right in the middle of this mass herd of people as we practically walked up to the starting line. Packed like sardines, it was a good minute into the race before I could even start weaving around other runners. Wouldn’t it make more sense to at least line the runners up by projected finish times? Sure there were signs but it turned into a big free-for-all which didn’t help me after I spent an hour trying to check my bags.

The course timing didn’t make any kind of sense either. None of the mile markers seemed to be right on. How is it that I ran mile 6 in 4:19 and mile 7 in 9:15 when my pace remained consistent? I guess it’s about as random as the runners who decided to stop on the side of the road to take a leak in broad daylight 500 feet from a police officer.

Just when I thought I had seen the last of my timing dilemma, I was cheated out of an extra 66 seconds at the finish. Apparently the USATF takes the “gun time” as the official race time. This doesn’t even make sense to me though when every runner is issued a timing chip so your time is clocked when you cross the starting and finish lines. So my official time according to USATF standards was 3:09:59, 66 seconds slower than my chip time but still fast enough to break the 3:10:00 qualifying standard for Boston next spring with a whole second to spare! Overall, I placed 376 out of 6179 runners and 56th in my age division. Not bad for a high profile race that draws world-class competition.

I qualified for Boston, but barely and could have run a better race. I probably made about every mistake that you could possibly make in pre-race preparation. Tapering was an issue for me in that I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was so apprehensive the week leading up to the race…an 18 miler the weekend before and short steady state runs up through Friday pre-race.

That in combination with the rest factor hurt me competitively. Friday night I stayed in NYC with a good friend from Wyoming. Clubbing and the other festivities I partook in that night left me pretty drained the day before the race. Not only that but I went cheap in Philly and stayed at the Bank street youth hostel. Let's just say the drunken German boys who came stumbling in at curfew didn’t help my cause.

Besides the few gripes I had about the race logistics, it was an all around good time. I plan to run Boston next April but after that I’m not so sure if I’m going to be up for racing many more marathons. I think I’m more of a 5k/10k guy. Not only do the long runs eat up half your Sunday but I really didn’t enjoy the race itself past mile 20 or so (besides the guys standing on the side of the road pouring their own version of race-aid from a Sam Adams keg!). We’ll see but I think I’ll enjoy some cheesecake and cheap wine for now!

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