Monday, November 19, 2012


Officially a marathoner! ;) The day was incredible and I still can't believe I actually ran 26.2 miles. It was  definitely a mental game at the end, but thinking about everyone who supported me during this adventure kept me motivated until all 26.2 were in the books.

The day can pretty much be summed up in two words: I cried.

Before, during, and after the race. Tears from feeling so loved, tears of joy, tears of pride.

Before the race: Philly definitely made a positive impression as the 'City Of Brotherly Love.' The 'NYC Refugees' as we were referred to were in a separate corral than everyone else. The race officials made a BIG deal at the beginning of the race about how happy they were to have us, and how even though Philly wasn't affected by Sandy, we were all in it together. The race then started with the elites, and then continued with a typical wave start, with one group going right after another. But when it was time for NY runners to start, they stopped all the waves, and brought us to the start as if we were the only ones in the race.

(official Philadelphia Marathon photo- all the orange shirts are the NYC Marathon shirts!)

This is when I start to cry. The race officials began by saying that they knew it wasn't the NYC Marathon, but that they hoped Philly could be our race. And that they wanted to bring a little bit of New York to Philly... and this is when the tears really started to flow. Frank Sinatra's 'New York, New York' began to play, and they asked everyone else to cheer for us. Amazing.

During the race: Jason came down to Philly with me to cheer me on, and his good friends from college graciously let us crash at their place-- which was a godsend given that every hotel was booked in the city. While I went to bed on Saturday night, Jason and his friends went out late (they got home at 3, and I woke up at 4!), but they all still managed to come to the race and cheer me on. Jason had told me he would have a surprise for me at mile 6.5, so I practically flew those first few miles to see what it was.

Best surprise ever. Jason had emailed my best friend Melanie and gotten her to come to the race! There they were, cheering me on, and my heart just broke with happiness. I couldn't believe she had driven up from DC to come watch me, and seeing the two of them together kept me going the entire race. It also made me think of how much love and support I've gotten since starting my training in July... and of course I burst into tears again.

After the race: I went out way too fast in the beginning, so by the 2nd half I was dying. There were hardly any spectators at all from mile 13-19 and then from 22-25, which made it even more difficult to keep going. The back half of the course was also an out and back- meaning you saw everyone ahead of you on one side (which was inspiring at first when I saw the 1st woman about to finish, but got old quick when I was envious of their spot) as you ran down the other. I think I hit my 'wall' at mile 14... my stomach was giving me trouble, and I had to wait in the porta-potty line, a move that cost me 5 minutes but was probably life-saving looking back. I was still running way too fast, and stopping made me refocus and slow down a bit. When I hit mile 20, I knew I was going to finish- only 6 miles left, which was the distance of my very first 'long run' back in July. I started counting down the minutes, saying only an hour left, then only 40 minutes, then 30. And anyone can do anything for 30 minutes, so I powered on, and finally saw Melanie, Jason and crew again right before I hit the 26 mile marker. At this point I felt like I was shuffling more than running, but they were screaming so loudly I felt like I was an Olympic runner about to take gold. As soon as I saw the finish line, I ran as hard as I could (which probably didn't look like much to anyone else) so I could cross the line with my head held high.

And then I felt like this.

I couldn't get any words out, but told Jason to meet me 'by Peru.' I'm not sure why (are they always there?), but there was a row of international flags.... I made it as far as Peru before sitting (falling) down. Somehow Melanie and Jason found me with this incoherent message, at which point I started crying again. I was just so happy to be surrounded by people I loved and to have finished (faster than my goal time!!) and was just so overcome with emotion I couldn't help it.

I'm a marathoner! Best feeling in the world :)

I still have a burning desire to run New York, so even though the race was tough, and I am walking like a grandma today, I can't wait to run again!

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