Philadelphia Marathon (Part 1)

I have this urge to call it “my marathon” but really it belongs to quite a few other people as well.

On Sunday I ran my first ever marathon in Philadelphia. It took me 5 hours, 1 minute and 12 seconds. And yes, those 73 seconds have literally haunted my dreams these past couple nights. The marathon was awesome, and I really loved it. I don’t want to do another one. I can’t walk up or down the stairs and transitioning between sitting and standing involves some whimpering. I’m so happy I did it, and I wanted to wear the medal to work, but it’s marvelously huge and heavy, and all my muscles are too sore to support it.

Ok. That was the summary version and all you really need to know. For myself and posterity, I will now recount the weekend in excruciating detail. Mostly this is for my benefit, but also, I had trouble finding information about this race weekend online, so I’m hoping to be a resource for future runners.

As I said before, we drove down to Philly Saturday afternoon. It took us about 2 hours with the bathroom break I needed because I was drinking water like it was my job. We were a little early for check in at the hotel (The Wyndham Philadelphia Historic District), but they were wonderful and accommodating and quickly checked in the long line of runners.

I highly recommend the hotel. It cost more than the race itself (and parking was an extra $35 a day), but that’s on par with the others in the city that weekend. The hotel was clean and quiet. It was right next to Benjamin Franklin’s grave and about a block away from the Liberty Bell. It was also conveniently located next to a bus stop and a few blocks from a subway station. Neither of which were helpful in getting to the race, but I’m not there yet.

After check in, we walked the 8 blocks up to the convention center to visit the expo and pick up my bib. The expo was crowded and oddly dark inside which made it not too appealing to hang out in. The packet pickup was super organized and efficient. It probably took us 5 minutes to get my number, bag and shirt. The bag was swag-less, but I don’t really care about that stuff and usually throw most of it out anyway. The shirt is a navy blue, long sleeved, gender specific tech shirt. It’s awesome.

After picking up my number, I stayed long enough to find one of those pace bracelets that gives you the total time you should see at each mile. I picked the five hour version. It didn’t help, but I’m not there yet either.

After the expo, we headed across the street to the Reading Terminal Market which is basically a combination of mall food court and indoor farmers’ market but cooler. We had some great sandwiches and headed back to the hotel for a little relaxation.

On the way back, we swung past the Liberty Bell but only peeped it through the windows since the lines were crazy long.

After a little rest, we walked back downtown. We had dinner reservations at Maggiano’s (a chain Italian place- a step up from Olive Garden) at 7:15. Definitely make reservations somewhere in Philly as soon as possible because everything fills up quickly. Travis and Laura had taken the train in to meet us and were already there waiting. And drunk. They were pretty toasted, and I was pretty envious as I sucked back my thirteenth water of the day.

Maggiano’s was crazy crowded but got us seated in time and served us very quickly. It was good, but I was too nervous to eat much (a mistake that cost me the next day). After dinner, we said goodbye to our friends and walked back to the hotel. Amazingly, I was asleep by 9:30 and actually slept most of the night.

I woke up to my 3:30 alarm feeling confused then excited then nervous. I brought our toaster from home and made two pieces of toast with almond butter and honey and coffee with cream. It was the exact same breakfast I’ve eaten before every long run. I wasn’t messing around. I had no appetite but forced myself to finish the toast by 4:30. Then I started getting ready.

Chris woke up and kept me company while I put on my go-to running outfit and warm up clothes. I packed my handheld (minus the water bottle) with my gels for the race and filled my fanny-pack with toilet paper, Advil, extra headphones and cash. I never unzipped that pack once during the race, but it made me feel better to know I was prepared.

I grabbed a banana before I headed out. I planned to eat it before the race then panicked and worried it would bother my stomach. Another mistake. Always eat the banana.

I said goodbye to Chris and headed downstairs to wait for the bus that should have taken me to the race.

Ok that’s too many words. In the next part I’ll recount getting to the race and running the darn thing. There may or may not be a part 3. See ya then.

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