Philadelphia Marathon (3:30:24)


Many people know that I have been feeling a lot of contempt toward The Philadelphia Marathon this year. After running my first marathon in 3:29:04 a year ago with somewhat haphazard training I decided to give the marathon distance another shot. I felt like I could run faster so I signed up to run the 2016 Philadelphia Marathon. This was in early April. I was excited to see how much I could improve with proper training. I created a training plan and started logging quality miles in July. As many people know, I spent my summer in California for grad school. While I was away I was focused, I was running fast, I was running far, and I felt fantastic! Then I came home and I did not feel fantastic. I was not training consistently, my iron was low, I had issues with compartment syndrome, I kept getting sick, and running fast and far weren’t even at the top of my priority list. On top of that I had a lot of [good] personal things going on this fall that were somewhat overwhelming. As a result I haven’t wanted to run this marathon since September and I was underprepared on race day. 

On the morning of the marathon my face looked like this……

I wanted this race to be over so I didn’t have to run anymore for a long time. It was cold, I was tired, and it was windy. When the race started I tried to connect my Garmin but it didn’t start and I didn’t realize that until 1k into the race. My misery level went off the charts at that point.

The first five miles went by quickly and then around mile 6 I found myself struggling not to cry. I wanted to be anywhere else in the world. I did not want to be running that race. I did not want to run another 20 miles. This is a feeling that is very familiar to me, but I  haven’t felt this way since I was in high school. I used to cry on the starting line of races because I was afraid to fail. I defined myself as a runner and nothing more. I used to fear failure more than complacency. I allowed running to be my sole identity and I felt completely worthless when I did not run well. As an adult I enjoy pushing myself through racing and I have learned to embrace failures. I often use failure as a catalyst for future success and I take pride in the fact that I have been able to expand my identity so that running is part of who I am and not all of who I am, but the last few months have been challenging. With marathon training not going as planned and other things in my life changing I felt lost. At mile 6 it all caught up to me and I was overcome by emotions. I literally had no idea how I ended up where I was, physically and metaphorically.

From miles 7-10 I reflected on everything that has happened in my life and how I had gotten ‘here’. I am a strong believer in fate and I believe that I am meant to be everywhere I go and do everything I do. Reflecting on the events that had lead me to be running the marathon helped me to keep running  even though I didn’t want to.

The second half of the race was much windier and much less emotionally taxing than the first half. The second half of the race is in Manayunk. I hate Manayunk. I remember Manayunk being miserable last year and this year was more miserable because of the wind and the leaves that kept blowing into my face. My hands were freezing even with my fleece snowflake gloves. My gatorade chews were frozen to the fabric in the pocket of my sports bra. Yes, I have a sports bra with a pocket. After mile 20 there was a small hill that made me think so much profanity. I couldn’t talk because my lips were chapped and my face felt frozen from the wind. The wind made me feel like I was standing still. It also made me feel like I was moving backwards. My watch was messed up and even with clocks on the course I had no idea what my overall time was because the marathon started in waves.

I kept telling myself that the race was going to be easy once I got to mile 22. For whatever reason I thought that the last 4.2 miles wold be effortless. I couldn’t tell you why I convinced myself the last 4.2 miles were going to be effortless. The last 4.2 miles were not effortless. They took more effort than the previous 22 miles. I started drinking gatorade at all of the hydration stations after that. I can’t drink from a cup and run without getting liquid up my nose so I had to slow down drastically and walk briskly while drinking through these stations. I know I lost a lot of time by doing this but my hands were too cold to get the frozen gatorade chews out of my sports bra pocket.

In the last 2 miles more leaves blew up into my face and one briefly got stuck on my eye. This part of the race is an out and back and I was so thankful that I was not one of the runners who were still running toward Manayunk. In that moment I felt like I had won the lottery because I was almost done running.

When I was finally in the last mile I felt like time was standing still. That mile felt like it took 3 hours. When I finally crossed the finish line I was relieved to find out that the finishing chute was not another marathon’s length long this year. I found Phil immediately and I was given hot chicken broth. I don’t usually enjoy drinking broth but I was hungry and cold so I drank the broth. My time was only 1 minute and 20 seconds slower than last year and it was much windier this year. I realized that my splits had been faster this year through the 10K, 1/2, and 30K. If it hadn’t been for the wind I believe that I would have run a PR. I am really happy that I was able to run the time I did under the circumstances that I did, but mostly I am overjoyed that this marathon is over.

In 26.2 miles I lost myself, found myself, challenged myself, doubted myself, and believed in myself. This marathon and the months leading up to it shook my confidence and made me question my identity, but it also gave me confidence and helped me understand who I am.

10 thoughts on “Philadelphia Marathon (3:30:24)

  1. I love that, as such an accomplished runner, you talk about how your races defined you in a positive or negative way depending on outcome. Although I am sooo much slower I still put so much undo pressure on myself to run well (for me). I ran a hilly 10k with a friend and while she finished slower than me she was so happy coming through the finish while I was sulky about my race. I thought I could learn a thing or two from her. It’s all about perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is all about perspective and all about being better than you were the race before. I think this is the reason people keep running and racing and training!


  2. Congratulations on your race Angela. You ran a good race despite all that’s been going on in life and your setbacks. I hope you’ve had a good recovery but also rediscover your relationship with running and not let it define you. As someone going through an injury right now, I realize just how much my whole life was defined by running including my identity. There’s so much more to Angela than a race time or a run distance… you are an awesome person! Be proud of your marathon and enjoy your Thanksgiving and recovery.

    Liked by 1 person

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