After 16 weeks of training for my second marathon, my brother and I hit the start line in downtown Philadelphia. The first 6 miles was through Old Town, and a very pleasant run; minus the guy who was running near us in a red dress and a kate spade bag, which by the way was a real Kate Spade bag as he proudly told anyone who asked (and people asked).
Then we crossed over the bridge into UPenn and West Philadelphia area. For the next 6 miles the only spectators we saw were the Sig Ep brothers who were more interested in their 10am beer pong and hooting at the ladies then really providing much support. After that it was a long time of rolling hills and wondering what in the world am I doing here.
At the half-way point a third of the runners ducked off the course because they had completed their goal: the Philly Half Marathon. For us, however, began the second half of the race which was north 6.5 miles, south 6.6 miles along the same road. So, 3 minutes into my second half, in the southbound lanes came the winner of the race nearly 2 hours faster than I.
Around mile 23 I came across a woman who had stopped running because of leg cramps. As we went by her, a “helpful” spectator was saying “it is not worth it, it’s just running, don’t worry about it.” The racer looked at this woman and she trailed off saying, “what are you talking about, it is a cramp, and i have already gone…” The rest of us runners understood what she was meaning, no matter what it took that final 5k would be completed.
For me it was the final 2 miles that were brutal. Running by the boathouses of Philadelphia, I just kept my head down and put one foot in front of the other. Finally, the Rocky Stairs appeared, and I was able to “sprint” (felt like an all out sprint at least) to the finish for a 3:55.59.
Which was to the exact second of my 9min/mile goal.
For my brother, he hit the wall around mile 22, and had his legs cramp up as well, but he was able to regather himself and finish strong with a 4:10.
In the end, I was a sore, tired, vomiting, but elated. Nothing that I hot bath, a long nap, and a Friendly’s milkshake could not repair.
Oh, by the way, the man in the red dress finished a few minutes ahead of me.