As training continued on through the fall, blogging came to a halt. I canceled home internet and use my phone as a hotspot most evenings. 90% of the time, this works great - occasionally it can be very slow and not worth opening the internet. So while my training logs didn't continue most of my training did.
I took a half day on Friday before meeting up with two ladies from my running club who were coming to run the 8k, cheer for me, and drive my tired body back to Albany. The drive to Philadelphia went by quickly (except for when I had to pee and there were NO gas stations for daysss). We found our AirBnB and walked to the expo. Packet picket was quick for Marathoners and it slowly started to hit me that I'd be running 26 miles before the weekend was out. (cue: minor panic about longest run being 17 miles)
I managed to spend nearly 100 bucks on Philadelphia merchandise and despite my cheap ways, I don't regret it.
On Saturday I woke up early to pick up Joe from the airport. I was able to navigate the closed roads for the half marathon easily enough and get my parking spot back! Joe and I joined Kait & Karen to watch them run the 8k. The finishers chute / starting area was huge. We ended up near the Museum of Art ( close to where a kind guy gave me an umbrella while I stood in the rain there 2 years ago) watching the end of the half marathon. We waited and waited and waited for the 8k runners to come - we didn't think it seemed right, but could't figure out where else the race would be so we continued to wait until I noticed the stream of runners coming in from the other side of the museum. So we hauled over JUST in time to see Karen hustle to the finish. A few minutes later Kait passed, and we made our way into the finishers area. As the ladies enjoyed their post race treats Joe and I made a start towards Whole Foods so I could indulge in my last 'heavy' meal.
We picked up ingredients for dinner and headed back to the apartment. Kait and Karen headed out for some sight seeing and Joe and I did nothing. We watched movies on netflix and I had a beer (or 2) to calm the nerves. Poor Joe was exhausted from travel and humored my incessant nervous chatter. ( If you know me in person, you know I talk a lot and fast on a normal day)
Somewhere around bed time-ish we both fell asleep watching xfiles.
By now the wind had picked up, so I was glad that i had thrown away any time goals a month earlier when I stopped doing tempo/strength workouts and focused solely on mileage. I kept waking up hoping the wind would die down. But the wake ups were in vein, the wind kept up for days (seriously, it was windy for 3 days before it went back to normal)
The alarm went off at 5:30 and I was quickly dressed still undecided about my added layers. I had decided on shorts ( I knew they wouldn't chafe, which I can't say about most of my tights since I lost my butt to marathon training) base layer with my Janji singlet. I nearly changed my mind approximately 18 times. I started with a throw-away sweater, with Joe carrying my warmer janji pullover.
The walk to the start was quick and I continue to hem and haw about what to wear. The security line was long, but since we had explored the previous day, I knew closer to Rocky there was another entrance, we walked down there and scooted in quickly. Despite all the warning emails about water bottles being confiscated, we were able to bring in a full nalgene with no issues. There were bathrooms with no lines that I took advantage of a few times before standing in a corner trying to hid from the wind.
While I knew there were corrals, I didn't realize it was wave starts. I'm sure I missed an email somewhere, but in that, I lined up in my coral despite my lofty goal of 4:30 being behind me. I had hoped to run with them but the whole wave start thing meant that I started a few minutes ahead. Eventually, it was go time. I cold, stiff and awkward but wasn't worried since I know that many of my later miles can be just as fast as early ones. It was time to trust the training and go for a foot tour of Philadelphia.
Kait and Karen had told me their tentative plan for spectating and I had told everyone that I would stay to the right, which made it possible for me to see everyone at all points. Karen and Kait had great signs just around mile one "you're not even close" and were dressed in fantastic onsies. I high fived and continued along. At mile 3, I was debating having a pee, but knew that I'd never wait in line for a portajon so when I found an appropriate parking lot, I scooted off course for a moment. When I returned the 4:30 pacer was just passing on, so I latched onto the group. I was still wearing my throwaway sweater, and had about 2 miles to decide if I wanted to pick up my pullover from Joe, so I ditched the sweater to see if I'd acclimate. It was a bit of a tease, being in the city, the wind wasn't as bad as I had feared. I felt the perfect temperature in my base & shorts.(and gloves that i put on and took off about 73 times)
I spotted Joe, declined my pullover gave him a kiss and hopped back to the pace group. This was the only area on the course that had much crowd support the miles went quick and before I knew it, we were up and over a bridge heading over to Drexel.
It was quiet, but I still felt great. The wind was fine. I was fine, I knew that since the pace group had started in the wave behind me, that it wouldn't be a 4:30 for me. I knew better than to consider surging yet, so I enjoyed the pace, which thankfully felt quite comfortable.
As we approached the museum I found Kait and Karen high fived and was mentally preparing myself for the 6 miles of out & back (6 miles!)
As we turned away from the finish was when the wind came head on. My pace immediately slowed by 30 seconds. I had hoped that by taking it slower until the turn back, I'd conserve some energy to try to earn back the time lost.
It didn't happen.
The wind was cold, I was cold, and I couldn't consider eating gels because my mouth was so so dry. I started taking the on course Gatorade (which was lemonade - anyone who has had multiple colonoscopies know why lemon flavored gatorade is undrinkable) hoping to keep the calories up and the momentum going. When I finally made it to the turn around (which was a big party down there, a pleasant surprise since it was fairly quiet) I wasn't shocked d to find that the wind wasn't only blowing in one direction. It was drunk gusts that didn't care that a marathon was going on. So I ran another 6 miles in the wind, once in a while the gust would come from behind and I'd try to take advantage of it, but really it was a matter of one foot in front of the other.
More needed as a mental break than physical, I began to walk for one minute each mile. I was diligent with just one minute and it helped me inch my way closer to the finish line.
The few spectators along the way were amazing. Folks handing out food, fruit, tissues, and beer and with some miles to go, I enjoyed a small cup of a random beer.
nearly 5 hours later, I returned to the Museum of Art towards the finishers chute. I spotted Karen and Kait -- but didn't make any attempts at high fiving, I had to finish this thing. Because of the wind, there was no finishers arch and in my mental state, I honestly had no clue how long I had to go until I physically ran over the two timing mats.
And there it was after an 8 year hiatus, a marathon finish.