Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Post Philadelphia Marathon

Before I recap the Philly marathon, let me take you back to six weeks ago, when I ran the the Mohawk Hudson Half. I wanted so badly to get a new PR at the MHH. But during the two weeks prior, my right knee was achey. I knew that my hopes for a PR at MH were not going to happen. I also knew that I was going to give it my all and that the ache I felt in my right knee would probably turn into an injury. Sure enough, as soon as I crossed the finish line at the MH half, my knee was throbbing. For two days after the half, it hurt to walk. All I kept thinking about was how to recover from what ever this was, so that I could make it to the start of the Philadelphia Marathon. Silly, isn't it?

After two days, the ache was totally gone. I did a little research and discovered that I most likely had IT Band Syndrome. The ITBS didn't happen from a lack of stretching or foam rolling. I was just over-trained. Since December 25th, 2012, I had been training for races. First, it was the Boston Marathon in April. Then, Boston's Run to Remember half-marathon in May. The Boilermaker 15k in July, Adirondack Marathon in September, Mohawk Hudson Half  in October, and finally the Philadelphia Marathon in November. I took very little time in between to recover from each race.
Pump fist to the finish of MHH
So with six weeks until the Philadelphia Marathon, I did EVERYTHING imaginable to get my ass to the start of the Philly marathon. I took three weeks off from running. It was a tough time. How could I squat and lunge and feel no pain but not run? WTF?! After three weeks of no running, and with a little assistance from a compression strap, I was able to run 12 miles for a long run.  While I was recovering, I decided to sign up for the Stockade athon 15k.

 I ran the Stockade athon without any issues. The day after the Stockade athon, I ran a 5k with the kids from the PAL Running Club that I had trained for six weeks. I felt good, and this was a great thing. I knew then that I would make it to the start of the Philadelphia Marathon.

PAL Running Club
I traveled down to Philadelphia with my husband and girls. Early Saturday afternoon, I headed out to the expo to pick up my bib. I was excited and nervous. I knew I'd toe the starting line and that I had at least a half marathon in me. But could I run another 13.1 miles? Hell yeah! I was going to do everything I could to complete the 26.2 miles. After exploring the expo, my family and I did a bit of site seeing. It was a warm Saturday and perfect for taking in some of Philly's history.

Washington Square
The view from the famous Rocky steps

My watch alarm was set for 4am, but I awoke at 2:30am and could not fall back to sleep. I got out of bed at 3:30am and did my morning ritual before any big race. I left the hotel room at 5am and met up with Rachel and three of her (and my new) running friends. Running creates a special bond between runners. The early morning air was warm. This would be an awesome day.

Me, Rachel, Stacey, Brandi, and Rebecca

We made our way to the starting line. On the way, I was happy to shake a police officer's hand and thank him for his service. There were 30,000 runners waiting to start their race.

The run started at 7am, but I didn't cross for another 20 minutes or so. The crowds were dense in the first few miles of the race. I was running with Rebecca. We ran in the middle of the road because it made me more comfortable since Boston. As the miles passed, I became more and more comfortable.

Rebecca and I chatted away for 18 miles. This was about the time that I started to fade. Not because of lack of fuel or knee pain. My left hamstring and gluteus muscles started to get tight. So my strides started to get shorter. I could no longer keep pace. I told Rebecca I was fading and that she should keep forging ahead. It was time to dig deep and fight.

From the start of the race, I walked through the water stations. This was most welcomed at this point in the race. The spectators were awesome. Everybody was cheering for me. My name on the front of my bib was the best thing ever. To hear a random stranger cheer me on and tell me to keep going and that I could do this was just what I needed to keep fighting forward. I was so relieved to see the 20 mile marker.

With 6.2 miles to go I knew I would make it. I chipped away at the 6.2 miles, one mile at a time. By the time I reached the 26 mile marker, the crowds were very dense once again. A flood of emotions ran through my body. I stayed focused and concentrated on my breathing. I ran as fast as I could and finished my journey. I did it! I made it to the start and finish of the Philadelphia Marathon. I wasn't 100% healthy and didn't put in the proper training for this race. All I had was 100% passion for the run.  It gave me the determination to start and complete 26.2 miles. Now it's time for a long rest.

The Bling

P.S. My knee held up through the entire race.