The Philadelphia Marathon: One Story of Over 20,000

Congratulations to all of the runners who participated in today’s marathon and half-marathon. With over 20,000 fellow runners on a cold, autumn morning, it was exciting to be a part of something so immensely impressive. This was my third half-marathon I’ve run in three months and the last one until next spring. Nervous about running in the cold (not something I typically enjoy doing) I found that today was a perfect fall morning with clear skies and temperatures hovering in the 40s. Between my gloves, marathon-issued long-sleeved grey T-shirt, tank top layer and my wind-proof “swishy pants”, once I ran a few miles, I felt warm. Only when passing the Liberty Bell did a cold wind whip through my T-shirt.

Here are my half-marathon high points:

The start line: The energy of the crowd always excited me. The start line is like an anxious pot of jumping beans – people are stretching, hopping, bouncing up and down, excitedly chatting with friends – it is the place where I realize: Hey, this is actually fun

Mile 3.5: I’m impressed, Philly Marathon. You asked Mummers to play for the runners! For those of you non-Philly natives, Mummers strut down Broad Street on “Mummers Day” aka New Year’s Day, every year in a one-of-a-kind Philadelphia parade. As I grabbed Gatorade, they merged from “Jingle Bells” into the Eagles fight song. Nice touch! I would have done a little Mummers Strut if my hands weren’t occupied with Gatorade at the time!

Mile 4: Someone had posted signs along telephone poles with motivational one-liners:

Remember when a ten-mile run was far?

You actually paid money for this?

There were a few others, but I couldn’t use my iPhone camera with gloves on and those were two cute ones I remember.

Frat Row: As we approached frat row, the Sig Ep house was blaring “Jump On It”, several frat guys danced on the porch, and others gave out high fives on the street. I thought it was awesome and then realized it was only around 8:30 am – in frat house time, super early .Thanks for the laugh, guys!

Mile 7: I crossed this mile marker after two miserable miles of wishing I hadn’t done the race at all. I hadn’t been paying attention to the miles, and thought I was still at mile five for some reason. I was thrilled to realize I was half done! And it felt easy! I had a ton of energy left and decided after the eighth mile, I would rev it up.

Mile 9: Actual thought: I’m going to pick up the pace and run fast for the next five miles, no big deal. I started to run faster…up a giant hill. All of mile nine was a huge hill. I laughed, realizing my “pace-picking up” was just me pushing harder up a giant hill, not cruising along a flat surface.

Mile 11:We like to party, we like – we like to party…” A cheer station of people was dancing to that infamous six flags commercial song while wearing silly costumes. Made me smile and “push through”.

Mile 11.5: Let me just check on my time/pace. BIG mistake. Not using this as a race where I was trying to PR, I didn’t think I’d run it very fast. I hadn’t trained for it and was just doing it to do a cold weather race. At this moment, I realized I was on track to match – or beat – my old PR. Dammit. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I became competitive. It was annoying. I didn’t care the first 11 miles, why should it matter now?

Mile 12: Like my past two half-marathons, I broke into a huge grin at mile twelve, mostly because it was almost over, but also because I felt great knowing I was going to finish and now could actually start having fun. Time for my “big push” music. The Black Eyed Peas were getting me through this! I started to run as fast as I could, dispelling any energy left, knowing I didn’t need to save it for anything.

Mile 12.5: You idiot. I told myself as I slowed to a power walk to catch my breath. Did I learn nothing the last two races when I attempted the same twelfth mile sprint? I quickly regained my breath and repeated: “Slow and steady wins the race.” over and over.

At this point, I was completely present in the moment. I was aware of people around me, but not really. I was in my own world. I saw water rushing to my left, the sun low in the sky as it continued to rise, the silhouette of the Center City skyline, of the art museum. None of these things were things I could focus on. Instead I focused on my breathing. I just wanted to cross the finish line so I could stop running.

Mile 13: The path split. Half-marathoners to the right. Mile fourteen to the left. Grateful I didn’t need to run mile fourteen, I realized the marathoners were only half-finished. Continued awe and appreciation for what marathon runners are capable of hit me. I’m a long way from ever running a full, but I’m okay with that. A half is enough and at this point, I still have no desire to run a full marathon. I glanced at my RunKeeper. I had two minutes to cross the finish line. I took a deep breath – and sprinted.

Finish Line: Incredulously, my RunKeeper reported that I finished at the same time as my past two races: two hours and seventeen minutes. How is that even possible? I wondered, Talk about consistent! Right then, I was happy I tied my time for the second time, and didn’t run slower!

Hope everyone else had a good run too!

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About the13thmile

I am proud to now say I am a half-marathon runner! Three half-marathons qualify for that status, I think. I blog about about running, nutrition and sometimes some other stuff. I share my research, tips and experiences with you, and am inspired by the supportive running community! I enjoy connecting with other runners, and hearing about other people's running experiences. Feel free to reach out if you have ran marathons or half marathons in the past!
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