If you’re on the hunt for a good fall marathon, check out my Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap! This may be one to add to your must-run list!
Welcome to another great Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up where Annmarie from The Fit Foodie Mama, Angelena Marie from Angelena Marie: Happy, Healthy & Balanced, Michelle at Fruition Fitness and I bring you workout ideas, motivation, inspiration and recipes to try. Join us each week by reading along, linking up and grab the button to proudly display on your blog/in your posts!
I’m picking up today with part 2/2 of my Philadelphia Marathon race recap, but first things first, big thanks for all your kind words and support! You all are the best.
Ok, so yesterday we left off with me crawling into bed. Well before I knew it, it was 4:30am and my alarm was going off. I hopped out of bed, turned flat Nicole into 3D Nicole, made my pre-race oatmeal (Love Grown Foods Original Super Oats with sliced banana and almond butter) and was out the door at 5am to go pick up Angela and her family.
Getting To The Race
Getting into Philadelphia was very easy. I was nervous about race day traffic and road closures, but it was a piece of cake. I’d pre-booked us parking spaces using Parking Panda (the race recommended this app, and it was great!). We ended up less than a mile away from the security checkpoint. At that point, it was just after 6am, giving us plenty of time to get through security and get to to our corrals for a 7am start… or so we thought.
The security line was nuts! It was insanely long and didn’t seem to be moving at all. A ton of runners were legitimately running to another checkpoint, at which point I figured so many people were going to the other checkpoint, that we might as well stay at this one. That was big mistake.
Our families left us in the security line since it was for runners only and went to go find a good spectator spot. Angela and I waited. And waited. I’m so glad I brought a throwaway layer and gloves because it was chilly standing in that line (about 47 degrees). We heard the race announcer far off in the distance. We heard the national anthem. It was 6:55 and we were still in line. Finally, we started really moving. I think they finally gave up on doing a strip search on every runner (which is the only thing I can think they were doing that was taking so long). We got up to the front of the security line, they gave us a quick pat down, and we sped walked/slow jogged to the porta potties where we promptly got in, you guessed it, another line.
Despite this annoyance, Angela and I both remained pretty calm. Our race wasn’t going to start until we crossed the starting line, after all, so we just enjoyed chatting with all the other runners that were in the same position we were in. The worst thing that could happen would be starting in a later corral where we’d have to do a little dodging and weaving to get by some slower runners. No big deal.
The porta potty line was actually quite fun. We chatted with some folks and got a good laugh as one runner came out of a porta potty shouting in celebration, “I POOPED!!!”
Angela and I both paid our dues to the porta potty gods and rushed over to the corrals. When we got over there (just before 7:30am), we realized out corral hadn’t left yet! YES! We wedged our way in, and two minutes later we were off. It actually worked out pretty nicely because it didn’t give me any time to get nervous!
Despite the lack of security efficiency, the start of the race was great. We were in the perfect corral, and I felt like everyone was running at our exact pace (which was a nice, easy 10 min/mile). I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a start where I didn’t feel like a sardine. No dodging. No weaving. I had my own bubble. It was great! We saw our families for the first time right at the first mile mark, and it felt like we’d only been running for seconds!
The First Half
The first half of the race was incredible and so beautiful. We ran down Ben Franklin Parkway before turning down Arch Street, where we ran by City Hall and the Liberty Bell (I ditched my throwaway layers here). Then we ran down the Delaware River and through some cute Philly neighborhoods filled with fun shops. There was tons of crowd support, and we ended up spotting our families again around mile 6. Time was flying, and Angela and I were having a blast! I hadn’t even turned on my music yet. We were just chatting about life and maintaining a very consistent 10 minute pace.
I distinctly remember miles 7-9. I call them the smelly miles. They weren’t bad at all, quite the opposite actually, but miles 7-8 had us running by University City, aka frat row. All the frats were out offering support, but the smell of stale beer was lingering in the air. Oh, college. We passed the Philadelphia Zoo between miles 8 and 9, hence smelly mile #2. I wish some the animals had been out cheering for us!
The half marathoners broke off right before their finish line. I was kind of jealous that they were done, but I was still feeling pretty good! Angela and I were both still chatting and in good spirits. We even “ran into” a guy who was running his 70th marathon for his 70th birthday! I want to be like him when I grow up! For real. I’d never run so long without some form of audio entertainment, but I suppose a good chat is the best form of audio entertainment.
The Second Half
The second half of the race is were things started getting tough. The bottoms of my feet started getting a little tired at mile 14. Mile 14?! What are you doing, feet? You still have a ways to go! Suck it up buttercup! I refused to complain about it. Instead, I tried to push it out of my head and just kept talking to Angela.
What really made the second half of the race tough was the fact that the whole second half is an out-and-back course. We were at mile 16 when we started seeing the elites passing by on the other side. It was pretty cool and inspiring to see the elites, but by mile 17, we were seeing all the “normal people” runners – you know – those regular runners who just happen to be pretty darn fast. It’s so hard to see people heading toward the finish when you know you still have 9.2 miles to go. It’s such a mental game! There also wasn’t a lot of crowd support between miles 17-19, so that was tough. But Angela wasn’t complaining, so I wasn’t complaining. Instead, we tried to focus on the turn around point that was only 3 miles ahead. A 5k. We can do that! It was at this point that Angela realized that if we kept our pace, we could beat her Chicago Marathon time (which was her second best marathon time). Neither of us went into this race with a time goal, but now we had one. Game on, Philly. Game on!
Having a goal became exhilarating, and it exhilarated me right into a wall. Actually, it exhilarated me right into the never ending mile. You know that mile that must have been marked incorrectly by race organizers? The mile where they forgot to put up a mile marker. That mile you swear you passed 20 minutes ago, but for some reason your GPS watch says it’s only been 30 seconds. Mile 19 was that mile. I knew the turn around point had to be coming up, but I felt like it was never going to come.
Finally, we hit the turn around and Angela pointed ahead to the 20 mile marker! “Do you have an hour in you?!” she asked. “YUP!” I shouted back.
I have to tell you all, if I hadn’t been with Angela, I probably would have started taking walk breaks, but she really helped push me, and I’m so glad for it! She was so positive and kept me having fun the whole race.
I started putting on a little bit of music to push myself through the final 10k but kept pausing it to chat with other runners. Every time we hit another mile, Angela would shout out some more encouraging words.
“50 minutes! That’s a Netflix episode!” – “Ain’t no thang!” I’d reply.
“40 minutes! We do that all the time!” – “Yes, we got this!” I’d shout back.
In my head, I was struggling a bit. My feet were on fire and I was exhausted. I felt like I could close my eyes and fall asleep mid run, but Angela wasn’t complaining, so I wasn’t complaining.
At mile 23, I knew we only had about half an hour left. That’s a sitcom. I can run for a sitcom.
Mile 24. That’s only a few songs.
Mile 25, the crowds were picking up. I felt my calf trying to cramp and willed with all my will that it not.
Mile 26. SO CLOSE! We saw our families close to the finish line. I got a burst of energy. We were going to finish this race strong, and we were going to finish together.
We crossed! We high-fived. We hugged! We’d done it!
I think the first words out of my mouth were, “So. Much. Pain.”
Angela said, “My feet our on fire!”
We were done. We didn’t have to fake it to make it anymore. After 26.2 miles of positivity, we could complain a little bit. Except one more time for the finish line photographer, of course! (I’m actually really excited for official race photos to come out, because we made sure to pose for every photographer!)
We got our medals, which are the coolest of all time (the bell actually rings!), wrapped ourselves in heat sheets, and got water, bananas, and some other finish line goodies. I loved that they gave us a bag to hold everything. The whole finish was very well organized.
Our families found us. The told us our official time. 4:21:35! An almost 20 minute PR for me and a second best for Angela! And! A negative split! Yup, somehow we managed to run the second half of the race faster than the first half. I have NO IDEA how. It sure as hell didn’t feel like it, but we did it!
Even though I was exhausted, I was happy to have the mile-long walk back to the car. I wanted to keep moving so that my muscles wouldn’t seize up. I did a little bit of static stretching before getting in the car, and then massaged my legs and feet the whole drive back to parents’ place (I even brought my massage ball into the car). My awesome medal dinged and donged the whole drive home.
Once I got home, I made a recovery smoothie and foam rolled for a good 20 minutes. Ahhh hurts so good. My calves were pretty tight the rest of the day, but by the next morning, I was feeling surprisingly good! My knees were a little achy, but otherwise, I was in great shape! I was even going up and down stairs like a normal human being. I’ll definitely be following up with a “how to recover” post because I’m pretty darn proud of how good I felt the day after.
I’m going to take it kind of easy the rest of the week,but I’m feeling good and ready to get back into training for Dopey. I’m coming for you, Disney!
Overall Race Pros:
Space at the starting line
Crowd support in the first half
Relatively flat, easy course
Coolest medal ever
Overall Race Cons:
Unorganized security line
Lack of crowds where most runners hit the wall
Mentally tough second half with out-and-back course
Thanks for bearing with me for the long recap! Now I want to hear about your wild workouts! Check out the Wild Workout Wednesday Link Up rules here and join in below! And have a HAPPY THANKSGIVING tomorrow!!
Anyone else race this weekend?
Ever faced the never ending mile?
How do you recover post-race?