Yesterday, I ran the Philadelphia Marathon, my third marathon, but my first in six years (first since getting married and having kids, though I have done plenty of halves and other distances). I was very well trained and my Plan A was a 3:50 finish. I even had my PaceTat (I love these). At the start, I found the 3:50 pace group. I focused on staying with them and missed the first few mile markers. At about 5 miles, I realized that they were running 8:20s-8:30s, far faster than the intended 8:45s. (Do I misunderstand what pace groups are supposed to do?)
I decided to drop off and do my own thing since the group was doing more harm than good. But some damage was probably already done. I knew I was in a little trouble before the halfway point. But I grit my teeth. I knew I was going to see my 4-year-old and my husband at the half. (My 17-month-old was with my husband’s aunt, inside, warm, and fussed over.)
Plan B was a sub-4:00 finish.
At about mile 16, I decided that I would take walk breaks at every water stop. It was so cold (maybe 30 degrees by then – it had been around 25 degrees at the start) that walking at the water stations was a good idea anyway; the road was covered in ice from the inevitable spilled water. A friend who was also running found me walking at the station near 18 miles. She was cheerful and looking great, with a blue fleece scarf waving behind her. I picked myself up and ran with her for three miles. I owe her a drink, dinner, something for perking me up.
Then I decided that I would walk for a minute every mile (in addition to very water station) and stretch my quads, which had turned to rock. My friend went on ahead.
At mile 23, the 4:00 pace group passed me. I drew on every last bit of strength and pure stubborness and joined them, determined to run the last 3.2 miles with them, without walking. And I did. As I passed Boathouse Row, I knew less than a half mile remained. I pulled away from the pace group and climbed the last little hill wrapping around to the front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. As spectators closed in (reminding me of the Tour de France crowds on the mountain stages – that I’ve seen only on TV) and yelled “Adams!” (my last name, ironed on to my shirt), I raised my arms and roared, “Yeah!” (Yes, I was losing it a bit by then.)
I finished in sub-4:00, just: 3:59:12.
I can’t believe I did it.