Philly Marathon Weekend

by Sara on November 18, 2012

I’m starting to think I should give up on my dream of running for me and just make race spectating my sport of choice.  Because you know, I’m getting really good at it!

Despite the fact that I was sad to not be running again, I as pretty jazzed to get to go to the expo early Saturday morning.  I will never turn down an opportunity to spend money on more running things that look awesome even though I don’t really need them.

Representing #SweatPink at the Expo

The second we walked into the expo a rack of HOT PINK Saucany jackets caught my eye and I nearly breathed in my coffee at the 40% off sign hanging in front of them.  Yes I already have the same jacket in orange.  No you can never have too many neon jackets.  It’s a matter of safety people!  Ralph picked up the mens jacket in orange so now we can be twins.  I know that he is just dying for us to wear them together.

I have to admit, I had brief moment of crazy while waiting in line to collect the bib and shirt that I wouldn’t be using.  “Maybe I could just run for fun and see how I do!”  It’s so hard to visit the expo, be in the middle of all the bussle and excitement about running and not want to run yourself.  Thank goodness I quickly snapped back to reality and remembered how not in shape I am to run a half marathon.

The rest of the day was spent lazily on the couch (for Ralph) and working on the house (me).

4am is a really ugly time to wake up, but when the alarms went off we dragged ourselves out of bed and downstairs to the coffee.  I ALWAYS set the auto timer on the coffee maker on race mornings.  Yes it only takes five minutes to scoop coffee and pour some water, but when you are up that early knowing its one thing that is already taken care of is pretty nice.

Ah the “getting ready for race at stupid o’clock in the morning” routine.

We got to the start around 5:45 which is earlier than I have ever been to the start for this race.  In fact one year I’m pretty sure the 1st wave was starting while I was in line for the port-a-potty.  Today we were ridiculously early.  As in not even anyone in line for the port-a-potties early.  As in sun was not even up yet early.

What better way to kill time waiting that to have strangers take our picture? And yes these are our new jackets.

We hung out for a while on the side of the corrals until the started moving barricades to block off the corals.  If you are unfamiliar with the layout at the start/finish of the Philly marathon the one word I would use to describe it would be barricades.  If you mistakenly end up on the wrong side you could end up walking A LOT.  Around 6:45 Ralph and I separated so I could find a good spot at the front to watch him start.

I was able to get some great shots of the elites, but sadly none of Ralph.  He ran by too fast!

Hello elite runners!

Of course I could not resist the opportunity to climb the “rocky steps” aka the steps to the art museum and snap a quick picture.

Gorgeous day for a race!

As long as I have been running the Philly marathon, whether it’s the half or the full, or if it’s Ralph running or me running, we have one spectating spot that we always go to.  Mostly because it’s the fastest to get to from the start, but also it’s at the top of one of the only hills on the course and it makes for great motivation to know that your family and loves ones are waiting for you at the top ready to cheer you on.  I yelled.  I clapped.  I cheered.  And I almost missed Ralph again!  This time it was because he had taken off his bright orange jacket, thinking he could easily toss it at me as he passed.  What he didn’t know is I was fully prepared to jump into the race and run with him for a minute to make sure he was doing ok and give him my mid-race coach pep talk.  And of course take a picture or two.

Yes I jumped into the race for a quarter mile in order to get ahead of Ralph to take this picture. I take my spectating responsibilities very seriously.

Since he had signed me up for text alerts I had gotten an update on his pace at the 10k mark.  He was running about a 9:54 pace and was on track for just under a 2:10 finish.  Almost 3 minutes faster than his time from Hartford.  If he could just hold on to that pace for the rest of the race he would be fine.  I pretty much jumped for joy when I got that text.  The plan had been to go out at 10 minute pace and see how things went.  Although Hartford had been an amazing PR, he had started out much more conservative and then picked it up a lot at the end.  The goal here was to run a consistant effort for the whole race.

So when I jumped in with him at the 8 mile mark (where I was cheering from) I was surprised when the first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t think I’m going to PR”.  I shot back with a “Yes you are! You are doing great!  Look you are talking to me and everything.  Just hold on to this pace, leave it all on the course”.  And then he was gone.

I realized on the walk back to the start/finish area, that while it would be great to be able to see Ralph cross that finish line, I never get good pictures of the finish, and as a runner the finish chute is always such a blur of people anyways.  Where you really need an extra dose of motivation is right BEFORE the finish, so I walked down to right before the 13 mile mark. I knew that if I could find Ralph in that crowd and just cheer him on one last time and tell him to go for it, it would mean a lot to him.

It was a miracle that I was able to spot him, and again jump in and run beside him for a hot minute.  I have him my usual, “This is it just give it every last ounce of energy you have”, speech and then he was rounding the corner to the art museum.  He was pretty much on pace for almost a 4 minute PR and I don’t think he even realized it.  And then I got the text with his official time 2:09:09.  3 minute and 44 second PR.

I have watched him run three half marathons, and this was by far his best race ever.  Not just because of time but because he ran consistant pace throughout the race, and finished feeling like he gave it everything he had.  It was amazing to watch, and even more amazing to know that I had a hand in helping him get here, aka the coaching.

Pretty freaking happy to be done.

Thanks again another randome stranger for taking our picture.  Now you can see the awesome brightness of my hot pink jacket.

So freaking proud. Now let’s go home and take a nap.

It’s funny how much can change in a year, and I’m not even talking about the crazy stuff like “holy-crap-we-got-married-and-then-bought-a-house”.  A year ago Ralph was tackling 13.1 for the very first time ever, and today he not only crushed his time from a year ago but he finally sees himself as a “real” runner.

I’ve been trying to tell him for months that he’s been a real runner the first time he laces up his sneakers and went out for that first run.

When did you finally feel like a “real” runner?

xx Sara

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