Fitness Swellness: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

November 25, 2013

Philadelphia Marathon 2013

Sorry for the long absence from the blog — I’ve had a crazy two weeks out of town (part work, part downtime) — it also included running the Philadelphia Marathon!

I get crazy anxious for every race I run. I kind of thought that would subside the more races I completed, but that hasn’t been the case. For Philadelphia, my anxieties centred around the race being only four weeks after the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, and it also being immediately after a gluttonous week in Anguilla on a press trip (where I knew I’d be eating a lot, drinking (a lot) and not sleeping and resting as much as I should).

Because of these two reasons, for this race season, I decided that my goal race where I would try to run a PB would be the Nike Women’s Marathon (NWM) in SF. And I met my goal! (Read about that race here.)

I was thrilled. Especially because it’s not an easy course…

…and being crazy me, that got me thinking “Well maybe since Philly is a flat course, I can run it even faster!”

So for four weeks I toyed with that thought, while also reminding myself “Don’t be crazy, this is just a race to run for fun!” I knew I’d be putting too much pressure on myself if I decided to try to PB.

As for the training in the four weeks between the two marathons, that also added to my anxiety. I was scheduled to run 28k one week after the NWM. And let me tell you, not even so much my body but mentally, I was drained and could not wrap my head around slogging out 28k one week later. I compromised and ran 27k. For the following two weeks, going for runs was also tough but not as inpossible as that first 28k seemed to me.

So race day arrived in Philly and conditions were perfect: I believe it was about 8C at 5am when I set out to walk to the start area with the high of 15C for the day (and I was hoping that it’d only reach that high after I finished the race). There was plenty of police and security and runners were all screened before entering the race area (increased security measures after the tragedy at the Boston Marathon).

security screening runners entering race area

The race kicked off, and I’d heard the mayor of Philadelphia, Mayor Nutter, is a huge supporter of the race, and he made a little speech before the race started and as my corral was approaching the start line, I heard the announcer saying the mayor was at the start line, and whaddya know, there he was immediately on my right! (I knew what he looked like because I’d been watching the news the night before the race). I got to high-five him as I crossed the start! What a fun way to kick off the race.

So I set out running and felt good. And I had that niggling thought that “Hey, maybe I can PB!” so since it was an extra marathon of the season in my mind, I probably made what is a huge mistake, but I decided to gamble on it and decided to keep running the fast pace I was running (5:20). (To run a marathon, you shouldn’t aim to “bank time”; running too fast to start could lead to crashing and burning later in the long, long race).

But I thought “Hey! Let’s see what happens!” so I ran about the first half feeling great and the next quarter of the race feeling OK. But as usual, at around the 33k mark, I was tired and my pace got slower and slower, creeping up with every kilometre, slowing from 5:20 to 5:35 — which, even at 5:35, I knew was faster than the 5:41 I need to run a 4 hour marathon (that is, if my distance via the Nike+ GPS was accurate!). Oh, and I don’t think I’d call this a flat course. I mean, yes, it’s flat-ish…but a fair number of moderate inclines and declines — it’s definitely not as flat as the Toronto Waterfront Marathon.

Along the route of the Philly Marathon

I tweeted throughout the race during my one-minute walk breaks. My sweet pals from my Anguilla press trip had said they’d cheer me along via Twitter with the hashtag #runkarenrun so I felt like I needed to tweet a bit during the race! I thought about their support as I ran; I thought about all of the people who voted for me in that Inner Champion contest and their words of encouragement; I thought about the Boston Marathon tragedy and everyone affected by it — it was hard not to with all of the police along the course.

On the lighter side of things, I thought about what I was going to eat after the marathon, and the fun week I had in store in New York City following the marathon; I looked at my incredible Comme des Garcons manicure that Leeanne at Tips had done for me (and the team at Tips Nail Bar had already tweeted me that they were cheering that day for me!); and I also couldn’t help but take in the wonderful city of Philly as I ran through it and feel lucky to be visiting it again so soon after my first trip earlier this year.

All in all, I was a whole mix of emotions as I ran this marathon: Excited, sad, happy, grateful, anxious — all at once.

Anyhow, back to the actual running part of my race: somewhere in the last 8 kim or so, I saw the 4 hour pacer, who I’d been in front of most of the race, pass me. But then I remembered I had no idea what time he started the race, so I tried not to let it stress me out.

As I approached the finish, I knew I was close to the 4 hour mark. and ran, ran, RAN down that finish chute. I looked at the clock but I wasn’t sure what time I’d started the race (I’d been distracted with high-fiving the mayor, but knew it was about 14 minutes, but likely less than 15 minutes into the race).

After passing the finish line, I grabbed snacks, water, and went to meet up with my friend who’d come out to cheer and anxiously kept trying to look up my official time on my phone, because I knew my time was pretty good…and when I finally could log onto the site…

…I learned that I had totally PBed! With a time of 3:59:04!

HOLY #*$^%. Go meeeeeeeeee! That’s nearly two minutes faster than my time in NWM. And I was 221st out of 779 in my category. Fist pump!

You're lookin' at a sub-4 hour marathoner!

And now that’s my fifth marathon complete. Fifth! It’s still crazy to me that I run at all, never mind five full marathons.

What’s next? Another spring marathon? Not sure yet. Running two full marathons this season was a lot. Let’s talk in a couple of weeks after I’ve had some time to recover. That said, I did see someone post a photo on Instagram of Griffith Park in LA this morning and I have been wanting to run the City of Angels so thoughts of that marathon are on my mind already…


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5 Comments Leave a Comment

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    […] Fitness Swellness: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report […]

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