Monday, November 24, 2008

Plan B

I now understand the importance of having a Plan B.

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.


Crumbs said...

Great job! I heard that race was a killer! I wouldn't let your "slow" (and I mean those quotes with all the sarcasm it deserves) pace get you down. I mean, 25 degrees outside? That's brutally cold when you're in your car with the heater on!

Anonymous said...

Does it help to know that some of us*gulp*have never even run a marathon? Congratulations!

morgan said...


I do know I was not "slow." I don't want to offend! Everyone here is a fabulous runner -- strong and tough -- no matter their speed. My Plan C was simply to finish. I was not overly worried about time. But having a Plan B -- a second focus -- helped a lot. I highly recommend it -- no matter what your Plan A is.

Today, I am almost able to walk down steps (at least I don't have to go backwards or sideways all the time).

It was a brutal day in Philly. Does cold affect aerobic ability?

I am not running another marathon for a good long time. I like halves, 10-milers and 10Ks.

Kimberly said...

I think you owe yourself a massage! That's a great time! You rock!
I plan to do the Philly marathon next year. I just hope it's not sooooo coooooooollllllddddd!!!!
Your time was awesome!

Trice said...

Fantastic job!! True grit and determination in the face of adversity!! Awesome!

seeMOMMYrun said...

Way to go!!!! That story is so much more peaceful than my marathon last 3 miles! The only thing streaming from my mouth was the f*bomb. Not intentionally! It just wouldn't stop coming out of my mouth. It was an out of body experience and I almost dropped out of the whole race the last mile. I didn't care. I hated every step of that last mile!!! So proud that you finished it so incredibly strong and positively!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

what grit! you should be so proud of yourself! great work