It has now officially been one full week since my marathon, which has allowed me some time to recover physically and reflect on the race. I left you off on the morning of the marathon before I left for the race. I’ll pick up from there…
I arrived at the Art Museum area at 6am and had a full hour to walk around, relax myself, and take in the scene. The crowds were pretty thin at this point, but as the sun rose around 6:45 it was clear this was a sold out race. There were so many people around me and everyone was a ball of energy – some running in place or stretching, some pacing back and forth, and others chatting carelessly away with friends as if they were about to take a stroll around town. I fell into the “pacing” category, as I simply could not sit still. I probably walked over a mile before the race even began! It was about 35 degrees outside and it felt good to be moving.
Finally around 6:45 the announcer started calling everyone to get into their corrals. As assigned, I took my place in the second to last corral. While listening to the national anthem I was in awe – I couldn’t believe I was about to run a marathon. I had put 4 months of training into this one day. But really, I knew my journey hadn’t just started 4 months ago. It started over two years ago when I ran 3 consecutive miles for the first time in my life. And then when I signed up for my first half marathon, and then my second, and then my third. And then, of course, back in May when I decided to commit myself to running a full marathon. I had once declared that I’d never run a full marathon, but there I was, with 26.2 miles in front of me. It was incredible.
The gun went off at 7am and but I didn’t cross the starting line until 7:25 (a result of being in the second to last corral). So here are the details of the next 4 hours and 25 minutes my first marathon, mile by mile. The quote I placed in front of each description represents those miles.
The first half:
Miles 1-2: “This seemed like a good idea three months ago, didn’t it??” My only goal was to get warm on these miles. My feet felt funny hitting the pavement since they were so cold from standing around for so long before the race. But once I warmed up, I felt great. Plus, the crowds were pretty thick along these roads since we were winding through residential areas of Philly. It was amazing to see so many people out so early in the morning.
Miles 3-5: “Toenails Are Overrated” LOVE this sign. I saw this and laughed when I realized that I lost three toenails to get to this day. Lovely, I know I’m pretty sure these are the miles I picked up 0.15 extra miles (my Garmin calculated that I ran 26.45 total). I remember it beeping before I got to the mile 5 marker and feeling discouraged that I picked up that much so early on. I was definitely going a little too fast, but the roads felt so narrow and crowded, I just wanted to get around people to a more open area. I quickly realized that wouldn’t happen until mile 13.1 when the half marathoners would finish their race and the roads would get wider along Kelly Dr.
Mile 6: “Run Like You Stole Something” I totally went too fast during mile 6. My family, boyfriend and best friends were all waiting for me towards the end of this mile. I wanted to see them so badly, I ran my fastest mile of the entire race (my third fastest was the next time I saw them). I seriously could not wait to see them. I knew they’d be standing at the corner of the street where I live, but I’m pretty sure I started looking out for them 10 blocks before . They were carefully looking for me, as well. This is my Mom and boyfriend standing on newspaper stands trying to spot me.
Unfortunately, due to my 24 minute delay to the starting line, and a text message tracking system that wasn’t working, they had no idea when I was going to pass them. They were looking out into this sea of runners…
Since I knew exactly where they’d be, I saw them first. I took them by complete surprise when I yelled my brother’s name and threw my jacket at my Dad. This picture is pretty much the only view they got of me, but I was so elated that I saw them.
Mile 7-12: “Trust Your Training” So elated, in fact, that I completely forgot to take my Gu packet at mile 6.5! I didn’t remember until around mile 7.3, and while I felt fine once I took it, this definitely threw me off a little mentally because I had never waited so long to take a Gu in a training run. These miles took us through Drexel’s campus, then passed the Philly Zoo, through Fairmount park, and then a short out and back along West River Dr. towards the Art Museum. I never really studied the elevation chart, and so both miles 7 and 9 surprised me with hills that seemed to go on forever. I saw people around me stopping to walk left and right, but I just kept pushing through as fast as possible. I really still felt great, so I just kept going at the pace my legs were willing to carry me – which at this point was around a 9:40 (still a little faster than necessary to reach my goal).
Mile 13: “Go Melissa!” This is when I knew I’d see my fans again…and so it ended up being my third fastest mile in the race. But I almost missed them again! I was almost past them when I heard my boyfriend yell my name. His job was to take the empty water bottle I was holding and hand me a new, full one. He executed our plan perfectly and I ran off with a huge smile on my face. I was feeling amazing.
I finished the first half in 2:06, which was perfectly on pace with my goal time of 4:15.
It wasn’t until the second half that things took a turn for the worse. More details to come tomorrow!