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Tuesday, December 2, 2014


I did it!

And by "it", I mean I did not crap myself.  Obviously.  YAY!

In the week leading up to the Philadelphia Marathon, I found myself getting more and more nervous.  The unknowns of how my body would respond made it feel like my first marathon again.  I knew I was in decent shape, but I did not know how much the recurrent strep and tummy crud would interfere.  Five days prior, I had a GI episode after a 6-mile easy run, which led me to give up all lactose, most dairy, wine, and caffeine as a last ditch effort to save my hide and pride.  This meant that for five days, I was a bitch had no Starbucks peppermint white mocha or zinfandel.  Whoa.

Mike, Logan, Zoe, and I made the ten hour filled-to-the-roof car trek to Philly on Thursday.  We had SO much fun (<-- sarcasm).  We stayed in the burbs with Mike's parents on Thursday and Friday night before heading into the city on Saturday.  Upon arrival at the hotel, my dad was awaiting us in the lobby bar.  Yay!  He was drinking wine.  Grr.  After neurotically laying out the next morning's race attire down to the hair twistie (with four extra in case someone stole the one off my head), it was off to dinner, where Logan recommended the whole wheat penne with marinara and chicken.  Good choice, Logan.

Race morning.  4:10am.  What sick bastard set an alarm for this hour?  Oh, yeah, me.  Okay, get up, lazy ass.  Ugh.  Did you seriously just walk into the dresser?  You dumbass.  I need a light.  Must pee.  Did you seriously just trip over the toilet?  You dumbass.  I need a light.  I bet Dad is still drinking wine in the bar.  Why is Mike still sleeping?  Doesn't he know I need a light?  I wouldn't have neurotically laid out all my stuff if I knew I'd have NO LIGHT.  I'm cold.  Where are my pop tarts?  Did another alarm seriously just go off?  Why am I so OCD?  Wait, did I seriously just wake up at 4:10am to run 26.2 miles in which the threat of shitting myself exists?  You dumbass...

Mm k, after turning on the lights and pulling myself together, Mike and I walked to the start area at 5:30am and found the elite tent.  Pretty cool stuff.  The best perk was that it was heated, but I had to laugh because...drumroll.........there was no light.  The tent was pretty packed; although not a marathon major, Philly attracts lotsa fasties.  About 20-30 minutes before the start, we stripped out of our warmups and started giving each other the I'm-sizing-you-up-while-trying-to-pretend-I'm-not-sizing-you-up stares.  I used the bathroom for the 872nd time, and then it was time to roll.  We were led to the front of the line, asked to do a run out, and this is when I let fear and doubt seep in...

The gun went off, and to my surprise, they held the entire field to give the elites and seeded runners a 15 or so second head start.  FREAK OUT!  I don't know what happened in my brain, but I felt it was necessary to, uh, wait for the rest of the field?  I mean, I started running, but I'm pretty sure I was in last place for the first 200 meters or so.  I was convincing myself that I didn't belong with the elites and kept looking back when, damn it, I should have been looking ahead.  ALWAYS LOOK AHEAD. When the first corral started catching up, I spotted a guy holding a 3:00 sign, and this was where I decided to stay.  So, I hovered.  When I look back at this race, I want to kick myself for being such a putty (<-- insert s's for the t's in this word...sorry, couldn't get myself to actually write it.  So gross!).  I always tell runners I coach that when they stop expecting failure and stop treating themselves like a second rate runner, this is when their potential will be reached.  So, yeah, I rocked that.  Go, Coach!

Mile 1.  Letting all the maroon bibs catch me.  Silly putty.

Around mile 2, some random dude starting chatting with me.  Our convo went like this:
Random Dude:  Hey, what's your goal?
Me:  I dunno.  Maybe 3 hours.
Random Dude:  Oh, me too.  Cool.  Maybe we can run together.
Me:  **silence**
Random Dude:  So, what's your name?
Me:  Jen.  Yours?
Random Dude:  Slow Mo.
Me:  Excuse me?  **choking on phlegm**
Random Dude:  Slow Mo.
Me:  Your actual name is Slow Mo?
Random Dude:  Yeah.  It's stuck since I was a kid.
Me:  Have a great run, Slow Mo.  **picks up pace**

Talk about a bad omen!  However, random dude was just the kick in the ass I needed.  Time to man up, woman!  I shed my arm warmers, stopped looking back, and promised myself no more running in slow mo.  I settled into a nice 6:50's pace groove for the next 10 miles or so, feeling extremely easy.  It felt so easy that I never even noticed the hills people warned me about around Drexel, Penn, and the zoo.  I crossed the halfway in 1:29:52, high fived Mike, Dad, and sis-in-law Lindsey, and decided it was time to GO.

Chillin' at mile 13

Miles 14-18 passed in 6:45, 6:44, 6:41, 6:38, 6:38.  I was rolling.  Weightless.  I started passing back some of the elite and seeded runners.  Hellz yeah.  See, you belong there, Jen.  You're a total badass.  You've SO got this.  Oh shit.  What the hell is that disgusting smell?  OHMIGOD IT'S HAPPENING!  Did I just shit myself without knowing it?!  No, no, no, no, please God, no.  Oh phew, it's the dude in front of me.  That sucks.  Like, REALLY sucks.  I cannot believe he is still running!  I want to give him a hug.  Because that really sucks.  But giving him a hug would be really gross.  Because he has shit all over himself...

FOCUS!  Around mile 19, we started a gradual climb into Manayunk, and it started getting a little tougher, but I was still maintaining around 6:40 pace.  It wasn't until mile 23 that my pace dropped back to 6:50's.  Luckily, I made the decision pre-race to pack an extra gel in my boobs, which helped a ton (If I look rather busty when I run, you now know my secret.  Oh, I don't look busty?  Well, I didn't ask you.  So, whatever.).  When I crossed the 26-mile mark, I could feel the emotion start to seep in.  I knew I had just crushed the 3-hour barrier, but after a year full of pregnancy, surgery, and other body crud, I was in minor shock.  In the final .2, I did not bother to kick.  After the halfway mark, I passed so many runners, but not one, single runner passed me.  However, in that final .2, I didn't care who came screaming past.  Without sounding overly cheesy, this was my one minute and 20-some seconds to relish in my accomplishment, be thankful for everything in my awesome life, and not care who the hell saw me cry.  My second half passed in 1:28:39, and I crossed the finish line in 2:58:31.

Total Emotional Vom

In the week after the race, I did not run one step except for to the fridge.  I allowed myself all the dairy and wine I wanted, gained a couple of post-marathon gluttony pounds (Seriously, running a marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving?  ...Best.  Decision.  Ever.), caught up on work, and relaxed.  I discovered that when I am not running, I sometimes forget to shower (<-- unneccessary statement).  Unfortunately, my strep throat came back three days after the race, making this the third occurrence in seven weeks.  Therefore, I plan to take it easy this week too and already have appointments set up with an ear, nose, throat specialist (fingers crossed for no tonsillectomy!) and a post-pregnancy abdomen specialist.  Time to figure out all this mess so that I can look towards my next goal, whatever that may be.

Thanks, Philly, for an unforgettable day, and congrats to everyone that raced.  Onward and upward!