My dear friend from high school came out from California to run the Philadelphia Half Marathon this week to celebrate our birthdays…we both turned 50. We decided it would be more enjoyable and less stressful for both of us if I joined her at her pace. She had a goal of 2:20 and had only run one previous half marathon (finishing in 2:48). Running was never her thing, but she was always a good athlete and very tough. I was pretty sure we could make that time. Pre-race, I pumped her with avacado-banana smoothies and (lowfat) Brie, Pear and Mustard Grilled Cheese sandwiches. We drank electrolyte water from Trader Joes (where I found they are now selling Chia Seeds…interesting article in NY Times last Friday on Chia Seeds). We did even more carbo loading one day in NYC on a fabulous pizza at Eataly.
On race day, I wore my Garmin and printed out a Cliff Bar Pace Band. I used clear tape to waterproof it and tucked it inside my watch band so I would be able to refer to our splits during the race. It was a beautiful fall day with just enough chill in the air. I brought her two Gu packets for energy and decided to carry my cell phone for the first time during a race (an item I usually irrationally conclude will weigh me down). We kept our ten and a half minute mile pace even and steady the entire race. We stopped to go the bathroom around mile 9 and had to wait in line for a few minutes, so I knew we would have to make a little time up at the end. By mile 12, I was pushing her to pick it up and finish strong. She did a great job and came in at 2:19:14. I have to say I really enjoyed pacing her and she noted how much easier it is when someone is focusing on the time for you and making decisions about the best time to hit the porta potty. I would love to do it again. For me the pace was enjoyable. I noticed surroundings I had not remember from the year before running the full marathon. We yelled, gave high fives, and thanked many of the people that came out to cheer. It was actually really FUN. It gave me a new perspective on racing.
Is it OK to slow down and enjoy the ride? I have always felt that you need to leave it all on the road and go for the best time you can manage. But now I can’t help but think that slowing down for a few races will help me to stay in the sport longer and get me to more races. This could also be a solution to the many training injuries I have endured. It’s not easy to check ones competitive spirit at the door (start). This (my regular training friend pointed out) was evident in my unwillingness to be timed (I ditched my race chip). I did find this article on carefully running back-to-back marathons from Runner’s World (on Pinterest) that made me think I can do both. So now as I start my training for the Boston Marathon, I am on a quest to find a companion race to run a month to two later at an enjoyable pace. I think May or June would be perfect timing. Any ideas?
Week 1 Training Focus:
- Add miles slowly
- Add cross training slowly
- Do hot yoga
- Eat Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds from Trader Joes
Wow, this is so overdue! This was my second running of the Philadelphia Marathon on the 10 year anniversary of my first time and first marathon. It was just after 911 so the details of that run are vivid. I have clear memories of a changed and weary world as we all stood there, pre-race, for the national anthem. It felt a little like running this race was a tribute that moment and to the last ten years of pretty consistent running. It still proves to be the factor that keeps me sane and healthy and connected to a great group of people.
The best part of this marathon was the beautiful fall race day. Philadelphia was full of colorful foliage and crisp blue skies. The temperature was perfect. It’s amazing how much you come to appreciate that on race day. It’s like a gift. Philadelphia offers a great marathon course. There are a few hills but nothing too daunting. There is much to look at and the crowd was great. It was a good running day for me –all except miles 20-26 (3:43 finish). I know that what happens in those miles is the heart of the marathon, but I struggled with them unlike I had before. I was crawling. My running LDF Andrea met me at mile 20 and her calm talking and encouragement really helped me to keep going. I can’t help but think age has something to do with it, but after hearing other older runners talk about this (there was a Masters Runners Panel at the Expo), I am now inclined to think it is my training that needs adjustment. I plan to work more on this is the coming year and before another race.
Jean (we are pictured above with Bart) and I (minimally) participated in the Runner’s World Challenge which had some great perks. We loved meeting Bart of course and the other editors from Runner’s World on the shake out run the day before. Their infectious enthusiasm for running and positive energy is great for both beginners and enthusiasts. The pre-race bathroom, no line bag check, warm hang-out room in the Four Seasons Hotel near the start was totally worth the money. Jean did their post-race massage and post race fruit smoothy which sounded like heaven. I would recommend doing the Runner’s World Challenge for any race if it’s in your budget.
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Suffering a small case of PTSD after my Chicago Marathon experience, I was so happy to cross the finish line at the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach. The goal was simply to finish, and that was accomplished. Time/pace didn’t discount in any way (my slowest marathon time yet–3:41) the euphoric moment of a passing over that line. It just doesn’t get old, even as we age. We carry all our life’s challenges with us when we race and we leave it there on the pavement when we finish. A renewed spirit emerges from an exhausted body. Finishing a marathon is so sweet.
It was so great to share the weekend with long distance friends. A pre-race word of encouragement, a shared obsession about the location of the bathroom, and a familiar voice to tow you in at the final stretch, reminds me that this may be an individual effort but is still a team sport.
Some observations about the Shamrock Marathon:
- Loved the hometown feeling omitted by not only the staff, but the fellow runners along the course. It is the most supportive running crowd I have ever encountered in a big race like this. Maybe it was all the green that united this group, but when I was struggling on mile 22, I was hearing all kinds of encouraging words as runner passed me. So awesome. This race was not too crowded and I discovered I really like that better than the huge crowds of the bigger races.
- Nice Swag: Awesome race tech shirt from the expo. No bag full of crap brochures as they went with a virtual goody bag. AND then as you cross the finish line, they hand you yet another finisher shirt and running cap. It made up for the truly ugly (sorry…it just was) medal.
Not so good:
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As I was running up the Ben Franklin Bridge this morning during the Copper Norcross 10k Bridge Run (on a steller fall day-Monica and LDF Heidi pictured with bridge), all I could think about were those running the NYC Marathon today. That bridge during the marathon at mile 15 stands out in my mind. I kept thinking…I only had to run 6.2 miles to complete this race, not 26.2. This local race was sold out this morning with a field of 4000 runners and 1000 walkers. It starts with an up and back over the Benjamin Franklin Bridge (not too steep, offering a grand view from the peak) and continues on through the streets of Camden with a finish in Campbell Field (home of the minor league baseball team the Camden Riversharks). I loved the last stretch on the grass into the stadium. This is a fun one if you are in the area. It makes a nice homage to the NYC Marathon runners.
Today is lottery sign up day for the 2011 NYC Marathon for those who would like to try their luck. I heard during yesterdays broadcast of the race that 102,000 people entered the lottery last year. I want to remind runners (especially the 40+ set: Women: 3:38:00 Marathon 1:44:00 Half Marathon) that you can qualify to enter the marathon with either a full or a half-marathon time.
This is from the ING NYC Marathon website:
You must have met the appropriate qualifying time between January 1, 2010 and January 31, 2011 (2011 NYC Half-Marathon and Boston Marathon 2011 times will also be accepted, provided you applied by the April 30, 2011 deadline). Include the race name and date with your application. Please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you qualify.
Congratulations to all NYC Marathon Finishers…It was a great day for a run!