Monday, November 24, 2008

Philadlephia Marathon 2008

Finishing was the goal and that's what I did!

Before I go into the details of how I arrived there, I have to send out some thank yous. First to Dave and Emma who braved the cold for almost 8 hours from start to finish. Your screams and hugs at the end made every mile worth it. Thanks also to Dad and Dinana who joined Dave and Emma to watch me pass the halfway point. It was so good to see all four of you there. Thanks to Phillyfit for all the training; from Saturday long runs to emails and mesage board items. Your voices were in my head most of the way. And thanks to all the strangers along the route cheering all the runners despite the bitter cold weather. And thanks to KT, Meg, and XTE who kept a running commentary along with my progress in emails that I got to see this morning!! What a hoot!

So the alarm went off at 4:30 A.M. If you don't already know, it's dark then. Really dark. The weather channel said it was 23 degrees. Compare that to the thermometer in the van on the way home about 2:00 p.m. - 38 degrees. Here is a picture of me at home just before we left. The hoodie was tossed before the start, my gloves at about mile 4; and I later regretted losing the gloves but I didn't have anywhere to carry them and at that time my hands were warm enough. It was so cold, that at the water stops the volunteers had to warn us about ice on the road!!

Dave dropped me off at the Art Museum and went in search of a parking spot promising to meet me at the Rocky Statue later where Phillyfit members were planning to meet. I wandered around the area, found the corrals and made my way back to Rocky. Here is a picture of me at the statue. It was too cold to do any hands in the air mimcry. Most of us danced around (think little kid who has to go) to keep warm. That helped some. However, when we go to the corrals we were jammed in and with not much room to move the cold settled back in fast. My thumbs thought I had tied rubber bands around the joints to cut off circulation.

The start seemed to take forever. They planned a wave start this year, but no one really seemed to know how that was going to work. It appears the organizers didn't either. Dave said it was pretty much chaos at the start line. There was a delay as the waited for the wheel chair participants to arrive at the start - they go first - until someone told the announcer that the wheelchair participants had opted for the 8k rather than the marathon or half marathon due to weather conditions so they weren't comin! Finally we started. Moving slowly and finally able to run as we crossed the starting line sensor.

My left foot felt weird. At first I thought my sock was bunched up despite my careful dressing that morning to make sure that didn't happen. Then I realized I couldn't feel either foot all that well. I know I was running and they were touching the ground but it didn't feel right. Around mile 1 they thawed out and all was well. Doreen and Angie and I ran together for the first 7 miles. That was a mistake on my part. They are faster than I and I should have backed off to pace myself better. Despite knowing that it was fun as we dedicated each mile to a friend or family member. We spent each mile telling each other about the person we dedicated to; who they were, what our relationship was, and little details about that person. That really helped pass the time as we wound our way through old city and across columbus boulevard. However, I finally pulled back for good at mile 7. I knew if I kept up with them I'd crash and burn early.

About this time I started looking for Emma who said she might be near Drexel and Dave who said he would be on 34th street near mile 8. Turns out they were together just before mile 8. Here is a picture of Emma trying to cross the street to meet up with Dave. Believe it or not that's her on the far side trying to find an opening. Dave suggested at one point that she drop back, join the runners and work her way across. You can see her hat better in the picture to the right as she watches me approach. It is a great frog hat she purchased at a Media street festival earlier this year. As I was coming toward them I noticed the hat. The frogs ears were out of my line of sight, all I saw was the color. I saw that hat and thought, wow Emma would love...wait that IS Emma.... and there they were laughing and waving. Emma ran out to give me fig newtons and a huge hug. I high fived Dave and continued on my way. The route continued through Fairmount Park, past the Zoo and Memorial Hall where we had our balloon training a few weeks ago.

As I made the turn on to Martin Luther King Boulevard (in the opposite direction from the Distance Run) I felt a twinge in my right hip and tensing in my hamstring. On Saturday I had soreness in my left calf and although it felt better Sunday morning I wondered if I had been favoring it unconsiously and thus the pain on the right side. So I decided to pull over at Mile 12 and stretch both legs top and bottom. Ahhhhh, easier said than done. I pulled off and although my feet slowed down the rest of me sort of kept going and I rolled into a half somersault and ended up on my back. Not a pretty picture. Fortunately I was out of the way of any runners and avoided a domino effect. Also I was on grass and when I realized I wasn't going to recover from the tumble I went limp and let myself go. A few worried runners asked me if I was ok.. and I was. I got up stretched and massaged for a bit and continued running. I felt stiff at first but loosened up fairly quickly. I made it past the half marathon/marathon split around the Art Museum circle and there I saw, Emma, Dave, Dad and Dinana waving frantically. Despite the fall and some swelling in my left hand and arm I felt good and ready to head into the second half of the run. I did take off my watch, though, and handed it off to Emma. It was pinching my wrist. In the picture here, I'm trying to get the watch off before I reach them.

IF you look at the map of the course it appears that it runs straight up Kelly Drive onto Main Street in Manyaunk and then turns around to go back. However, we also went up around and down Lemon Hill Drive. I had also heard from others who ran the race before that this section on Lemon Hill had been removed this year. However, back on Front street we had detoured off South Street becaue due to inclement weather in recent weeks/month the street had not been paved. I wonder if Lemon Hill was put back in to make up distance.

At any rate, Lemon hill is where I first walked. My hip starting hurting again so I walked with long stretching strides to try to work it out. I ran down the other side and back onto Kelly Drive. All seemed ok until about mile 17. From 17 to 23 I did a combination of walking, running and stretching. We were warned that this stretch along Kelly Drive was the toughest. Much less crowd support. A few times I wonderd why I didn't just cross over and join the folks heading back already. By the time I hit Manyunk I was ready to cry. I had to do some serious self talking to remind myself that walking was ok. My fellow Phillyfitters(?) who I saw at various points yelled out encouragement and I kept going. I have to thank Helen especially. She is our group leader who was heading out of town when she saw me, stopped and walked back a few yards with me to tell me that it was ok, music and fun were up ahead. I've never been to Main Street in Manyunk. I must go back when I can walk property! LOL. The turn around was at mile 20. A woman at the turnaround was cheering us on but telling us that we only had 10K to go. While she may be right, 6.2 miles just sounds better!

At mile 23, I decided to focus on running more than walking My hands were freezing again but as I said I had ditched the gloves earlier. By the way, for those of you appalled at the idea of throwing clothes on the route, we were told that all discarded clothing would be picked up and taken to homeless shelters. So I ran more ..ok slow jogged.. from mile 23 to 25. At 25 I tried to pick up the pace a bit but my brain was not on board with that idea. However, when I turned the corner at the Art Museum and saw the finish line I took off like a bat out of....well I took was too cold for that expression.... and crossed the finish line with a fist pump! I had made it. I had really hoped to do under 5 hours and 30 minutes. I missed that but I finished. Goal reached!

Emma and Dave were in the stands and took the picture you see at the top of the page. After crossing the finish line I entered the recovery area where I got my heat blanket and medal. I almost missed the medals! But I knew I had earned one and went back looking for them. Turns out at one point, according to Emma and Dave, they had run out of blankets. Emma commandeered one for me by telling a gentleman, "My mom is running her first marathon and they ran out of blankets. You are not a runner can I have yours?" He gave it to her. When additional blankets showed up she gave that one to the volunteers so that no one would be without. I have to say, it's nice to do something you daughter thinks is cool! :) Here are pictures of Emma and I and Dave and I at the finish.

Dave had extra clothes for me in his backpack which I put on quickly. Even so, as my circulation started to return to normal, I was very cold on the way home. First we drove Emma to the train station. She had to be at work at 3 p.m. She worked until 10 the night before arriving in the city around midnight and was at the start line at 7 am! She saw me and yelled "Hey Mom!" She realized she should have said "Hey Paula" because although I didnt hear her, about a dozen other moms did! LOL.

18000 people signed up for all three runs - half marathon, full marathon and 8k. I don't know how many actually started each race, but 7231 finished the marathon. I was one of them.

Dave and I made it back home around 2:30 ish. I showered...... a loooooooooooooonnnnnnnnnnggg hot shower and then got a leg and ankle massage from Dave. We went to Outback - me in my marathon shirt and medal - for dinner. I LOVE the shirt. It has a picture of the course map on the back. As the evening progressed my walking deteriorated significantly. I was unable to move without the aid of furniture or people.
Poor Dave had to go out at 6:45 to do two hockey games after all this!

This morning I have pain in my right hip and left ankle, but duller than before and I can walk unassisted! :) With a little TLC, I should be in good shape for the parade on Thursday.

Thanks again to all of you for your support.

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