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Marathon #4 – Philadelphia

Hey, Rocky!
Originally uploaded by thespacerace.

Yes, it’s true. I snuck off to the east coast this past weekend and ran yet another marathon. Yes, the Detroit one was only 3 weeks ago. But I really wanted to get visit my friend who now lives in Delaware, so I figured running the Philadelphia Marathon was a good excuse for me to do so.

My girlfriend and I on left Friday morning for the roughly 6 1/2 hour trek out east, suffering for rain for most of the first half, along with mountains and semis going way too fast. But we finally made it there and quickly left again to head for Philly to catch the marathon expo and some dinner. Well, traffic had different plans as we spent about 45 minutes sitting in the same spot due to an apparent accident on the bridge ahead of us. So the expo plans were moved to Saturday, and we had some tasty Greek food after we made it to Philly, before checking out one of my favorite singers, Eric Bachmann, perform at a cool little place called the North Star Bar.

On Saturday morning, we headed back to Philly and picked up all the necessary race stuff (bib, chip, shirt, free stuff) at the expo and did a little bit of exploring of Philly which seems like a very cool city. After watching the big OSU/Michigan football game, we had a very tasty homemade pasta dinner before heading to bed early.

Sunday morning, I was up at 5:45 and we were back on the road to Philly at 6:30. We got there just in time to follow some others in hopping the curb and parking on some innercity baseball field just a few hundred feet from the marathon area. The weather was cool, though not as bad as Detroit was, and there was not much wind to speak of. So, I opted for the shorts instead of the tights, though I stuck with the long-sleeve shirt which turned out to be a pretty good idea.

The race started about 8:05, a little behind schedule. I managed to secure a pretty good spot in the crowd, though it still took me a little over 2 minutes to cross the starting line (thank goodness for chip timing). I managed to keep up a pace of about 8:05 per mile for about the first 8 miles or so. But during mile 9, we went up a good sized hill for about a half mile and I was hurting by the end of that and I don’t think I ever fully recovered from that. The first half of the race was pretty awesome. Running mostly around the city and little neighborhoods, there was a lot of crowd support and interesting sights to be seen.

At the halfway point, we crossed back by the Art Museum where the race started and headed north. At the 14 mile mark, I was at 1:57:02, which is an 8:21 pace. I actually improved on my pace between mile 10 and 14 as my average pace at mile 10 was 8:32. Unfortunately, the second half of the race was not so great, both course-wise and performance-wise.

For the second half of the race, we ran north of the museum along the Schuylkill River. It was scenic if you’re into the whole nature thing. I train a lot in the park and enjoy the nature scenery, but when it comes to marathons I like the more urban settings with fans. The fans along the second half of the marathon were pretty few and far between, with the exception of the turnaround point at mile 20 when we ran through Manayunk. The crowds there were the best of any along the course. I hit the 20 mile mark at 2:52:51, so my average pace had swelled to 8:38. If I had managed to maintain that, I would have set a personal record. But, I didn’t.

The last 6.2 miles of the race took me almost exactly an hour, or an average pace of 9:41 per mile. I guess it’s safe to say that I “hit the wall”. The only positive that I came away from it with is that I did not walk at all during that last 6.2 miles, or any of the 26.2 miles overall, which is a first. I walked in Detroit a bit, only because I had some cramps. But in Philly, I had no cramps, and no walking. Just slowness.

I managed to pickup my pace a bit during the last half mile as we finally encountered crowds of people again. I officially crossed the line in 3:52:55. Not my best time, but a time I am content with. Running two marathons in three weeks is not something I recommend if you’re looking to break personal records. But I’m glad I drove out there and did it. I visited a new state for the first time (Delaware), got to hang out with my friends, explored a new town, and got a bit of exercise. And having a four-day weekend was an added bonus too.


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