Spoiler Alert!: I finished my first marathon in 5:33 without injury, struggle or ‘wall hitting’.
Thanks to the lovely and sweet Kara, she and I rode together to Center City. We talked about work, being away from home and the upcoming holidays. She was so great to talk to and a new blog friend I hope to see more of in the future! She really helped keep my nerves from spiraling out of control.
We arrived in Philadelphia around 5 am, parked our cars and headed over to the Lowe’s hotel to meet up with Melissa. It was nostalgic for me to be back in the city since I no longer travel in and out daily for work. After meeting up with Melissa, we walked to the starting line at Eakins Oval (for those not familiar with Philly, it’s about a block or two in front of the Art Museum).
We ran our way through Chinatown, heading out to Penn’s Landing where the Eagles drum line met us and then turned back into South Philly. We weaved our way up to Chestnut Street and back through Market East out towards University City. It was surreal to run past my old office where I spent so much time and made so many wonderful friends. Around mile 6.5 we saw my dear friend Jacqui where I nearly assaulted her along the side lines. Seeing friends from different stages of my life (high school, college, post college) was amazing and uplifting. We crossed over the bridge into University City and stopped for a quick 5 min bathroom break. The lines for the porta potties along the course were nothing short of disastrous, so Melissa and I opted that Starbucks seemed like a better option. Thanks to the Starbucks in UC for allowing runners in!
After our break, I was starting to feel the old nagging ache of my right IT band. Instead of ignoring it (like I tend to do during races) I took 2 ibuprofen to try and settle the inflammation. I knew I would need it by mile 9-10 and hoped by that point the medication would be fully absorbed into my body. We took off through University City, past the Drexel frat houses out to the Philadelphia Zoo where the Zoo balloon was stationed.
By mile 11 we were heading back to the city along the River with boathouse row to our left. By the time we reached the halfway mark, my energy had peaked. I was excited that I felt great at mile 13, the crowds were excited and I had run into a former co-worker and friend Colleen. As she asked me how I felt, I was so excited to tell her, GREAT! as I slammed her hard with a hug.
As I chugged down Main Street of Manyunk, I followed a juggler, was offered free beer (too bad I had another 6 miles to go) and followed fellow Penn Staters along the way.
Right before I crossed the finish I spotted the bf, my mom and brother and began to cry.