Sunday, November 19, 2017

Philadelphia Marathon: my first full!

Philadelphia Marathon, November 19th, 2017.


Hi Everyone!

If you haven't heard, I completed my first full marathon! Still don't know what i was thinking when I signed up, I had plenty of self-doubt leading up to it!

Here is a link to my marathon training if you'd like to check it out, my race day review  and day leading up to it is below!  

Day before the race: plan was to take it as easy as possible. Which is mentally tough for me to do on a Saturday, I'm usually running and doing several chores before having any fun. I did end up taking it easy; a couple of light chores, played some PS4, watched a couple of shows and had my go-to pasta dinner for carbo loading.

Went to bed early but found myself doubting everything..."what if I did something totally wrong during my training", etc. so it took a bit to fall asleep and I woke up several times throughout the night. Set my alarm for 3:30, but was up before that. Had my coffee and a light breakfast, which is typically PB and Nutella or Fluff.  Had a crazy idea, both of them on the same sandwich, great combination!

Chafing: during training I experienced chafing in a couple places. Lessons learned, prepared properly. No chafing! May do a review on the one preventative measure, probably won't on the other. lol

Parking: Public transportation is highly encouraged but I chose to drive. The Philadelphia Marathon's web site lists all of the road closures but it is still possible to locate parking.  The exit I usually take to park was closed so I had to take the next exit up and head back. Left my house a few minutes after 5, parked by 6 am. If you need a good place to park within walking distance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, please send me a direct message. I would post it, but don't want it to go viral and lose my favorite Public Parking lot to overcrowding.

Hopefully you can't figure out where my parking garage is where I snapped this skyline pic. ;)
It rained overnight and was still raining when I got there, although my app said it was supposed to stop by 6. The one thing I don't have on my checklist, a poncho. Adding poncho to my race day check list going forward. Got to the security checkpoint, maybe 30 people ahead, moved very efficiently. 

The rain cleared up around 6:30, some cool skies pre-race. 


Pre-race selfie:
The race scheduled start time was 7 am. The MC/DJ didn't start up till around 6:30 am. I thought that was odd, but maybe due to the early start time they aren't able to due to noise ordinances? The race started on time. Corrals were lined up on both sides of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, and were managed very efficiently. I started by 7:24 am. 

The first few miles leads you towards Penn's Landing. As you pass Chinatown's Friendship Gate, there was a Chinese festival dragon! After that you pass Ben Franklin's grave. Head down to Penn's Landing along the Delaware river and back by Independence Mall. Since I stopped studying the map, I didn't realize we'd be on South Street for a bit! Very different to be on South Street with no cars on it! After that we go by University City. Everything was going fine for me thus far. A bit faster than I planned, but wasn't slowing down yet. On my mind was the upcoming elevation. 

Elevation: I tried not to study the map too much, the first time I checked it out I started freaking out! Thought it would be best not to over analyze, but glad I saw the elevation profile. Ran the first few miles faster than expected, but was still pacing myself for worst of the hills. Knew the course would be taking us by the Philadelphia Zoo (which I know has hills), and another hill or two after that before heading back to the museum (mile 14). The hill by the zoo (mile 8) wasn't that bad. Ironically, just before passing the zoo, I passed two runners in costumes! A zebra and a butterfly! Was there to witness the zoo's cheering section's reactions to the costumes, some good laughs! The next set of hills, Fairmount Park and the Please Touch Museum (the curve around Please Touch is pretty wide, you see Please Touch from three different angles. The inclines are noticeable, but not bad.  You pass Strawberry Mansion, but don't have to go up that nasty hill that some half's take you up. 
Usually for a half, I use up my speed/energy way too early and the last couple miles to the museum are rough. But, I was feeling fine as I passed the museum at mile 14! Miles 15-19 do have some crowds in clusters, but the stretch past Boathouse Row to Manyunk is not that exciting. Once in Manyunk, it's a freakin party! Huge crowd's and parties cheering us on. There was even a beer station for runners! Not sure if that was managed by a fraternity or what?! Saw some runners partaking, but I declined. That would definitely be something new on race day. Once out of Manyunk, we hit that stretch back to Boathouse Row again. Few clusters of fans. Probably because it would be hard for them to park anywhere along that stretch. I could feel myself slowing down after mile 20, but was still running. 23-25 a much slower pace. As we get closer we start to see the city! Still off to the distance, but there's hope! It took plenty of will power for me to not turn my slow run to a walk, managed to cross the line before that happened! 


Fans: there was plenty of fan support throughout the city! Tons of fans cheering us on. Great signs, costumes, plenty of good laughs! Once outside the city, there are some spots where there is some less crowd support, but understandable. That goes same for crowd DJ music/bands. 

Weather: the rain cleared up before the race. Sure the rain stopped and Sun was out, but yeah, I stomped in some puddles. So much for dry feet! I like my current compression socks, but now have blisters, not sure if it's due to the puddles or sweat. The day's forecast called for temp of 48, wind chill of 40, with wind of 20-30 mph! Started the race with my hat and gloves. Ditched the gloves early. Wore the hat most of the way.  Could feel the sun a bit more towards the second half, did eventually remove the hat. The wind was a factor at points. There were some hills where the wind added additional strain. Would definitely say there were very few points where the wind actually helped with a push from behind. lol

Pace: My half pace is just under two hours, I didn't want to be too aggressive with training for this. Trained for 4.5-5 hrs. I started the race right by the 5:00 pacer. Felt good through most of the race, passed the 4:45 and 4:30 pacer. Feeling better than expected through 20, but expected to slow down. And I did. The 4:30 pacer passed me, I tried a few times to catch up, but just wasn't happening. I am very pleased with my 4:32:56 time. But also have a bar to beat next yr! :)


Aid stations: plenty of water and Gatorade stations. Don't think I've realized this before, but Gatorade may be sticky?! At one point my shoes were sticky, was wondering what I could of stepped in. But after several stations, I figured it out! lol. Guess that much Gatorade being spilled adds up! There were also a few Gatorade gel stations. I declined. I packed ample fuel, and wasn't going to try something new on race day. At the finishers area, there was water, juice, pretzels, soft pretzels, bananas, mixed fruit, and chicken broth.

Fuel: took my GU gel's every 50 minutes as scheduled. (I am not an ambassador for GU, but they have served me well thus far) Taking the first one is usually the hardest to remember on my normal runs. Usually don' think about them until it's too late. Made a point to set a timer for every 50 minutes and followed it. Well, except the last one, don't think I needed it for 1 mile to go. Maybe I should have? Hydration: I skipped the first few water stations, but after that, I made a point to hydrate at every station.

Portable toilets: at the starter/finisher area, there is ample amount of portable toilets. Got in line with about 10 min till start time, maybe 20 ppl in each line. Was a little slow moving, saw some impatient people go behind tents, hope they weren't food tents. Race started, but was back in line before my corral started. During the race, there were portable toilets every few miles, each had a line of 5-10 people or so. Saw a few impatient people run off behind bridges, etc. Post race, most portable toilets were out of paper. Pack accordingly. 

T-Shirts/Swag: Just wore the shirt recently, (day after the race), it's very comfortable. It is slightly loose for it's size, but comfortable. 




The bling:
Overall: had a blast! I enjoyed the training. Each new longest run was a challenge, after each one, would look back at the previous and say this is doable. Sure there were times I thought this was all crazy. Of course I had anxieties, but to be honest, I have anxieties over just about everything. I am one of those people that lose sleep over scenario's that are very unlikely to occur. So many people I have spoken to along my journey have all said the same thing. Trust your training. I am now a firm believer! I definitely intend on doing at least 1-2 more full marathons and going from there. 

It also helps to have a good support system in place. Training for a half or a full takes up plenty of time, especially on weekend's. I feel very blessed to have such a great support system in place. Friends, family, followers, online communities, and of course, my wife. 

Can't do a Philly race and not do a Rocky pose: 

Post race: made a point to eat a couple things from the finishers area. Hydrated plenty until I reached my hydration point. Once I reached my hydration point, definitely had a celebratory meal and drink or few!

If I've left anything out, or if there's any questions, please let me know!

Good luck to everyone with your training!

If you do any races, please remember to review them on ! Your opinions help other runners decide what races to run!  Follow me on BibRave: Joe G



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