Monday, September 17, 2007

The Philadelphia Distance Run

This morning I ran the Philadelphia Distance Run. When I arrived at my start corral, I saw Abby, Kevin and Brent. We chatted and then realized it was actually getting warm. Abby and I decided to ditch our long sleeve shirts, so I ran them back to my gear check bag. I came back to the corrals and the four of us were chatting. I was wearing my knee brace because me knee starts to hurt after about 6-7 miles. So far, this brace has helped me on every long training run. I was hoping it would work today. In my shoes, I had Superfeet insoles, that I had begun to wear a few weeks prior, to help with my Neuroma pain.

I told the gang that I am not used to running with people, and that I tend to put my music on and just get into my own world. I'm not chatty. But we said we'd all start together, but we could feel free to go off at our own pace. I told Brent that I was targeting a 1:50 because I had done a 13.1-mile training run in 1:51. However, I only needed to get a 1:53 for a race PR.

Miles 1-3
It was very crowded during the first mile, so I knew I would lose some time there. I think we all
stayed together for about a mile, but I definitely picked up the pace after I saw that the first mile was 8:55, and I think that's when I lost Abby and Kevin. Brent, on the other hand, was still near me. These miles were extremely bright, and I remembered it from last year, so I wore sunglasses.

Even with sunglasses, the sun was directly in my face and made it hard to see. I also felt like it was zapping my energy early on, even though the temperatures were in the mid 50's at that point.

Someone yelled out to me. . . "Zebra? I thought you were a tiger!" Later, someone else said, "That's the best looking zebra I've ever seen!"

Mile 1: 8:55
Mile 2: 8:25
Mile 3: 8:35

Miles 4-6
These miles were the hottest of the whole race. I was so glad I wasn't wearing my long-sleeved shirt. It was around 60 degrees, but it honestly felt like 75 and sunny. I typically walk while I drink my water, but I was trying to make up time from the first mile, so I walked for maybe 3 steps with the water and jogged while I drank the rest of it. I need to master this skill because I kept getting water all over myself whenever I drank it. Brent was still nearby for these miles, and I was surprised he stayed with me for this long without going ahead.

I had to stop to tighten my shoelace at mile 5, and he waited for me. I felt guilty, but he told me that he wasn't going for a PR. Instead, he was going to make sure I got one! He had a Garmin on and was tracking the pace. We were trying for an 8:30 pace. He had been slightly behind me for the first 5 miles, but then I started trailing him a bit once we got to mile 6.

Mile 4: 8:38
Mile 5: 8:38
Mile 6: 8:26

Miles 7-10 
These were tough miles, but they seemed to pass pretty quickly. At mile 7, we finally got into the shaded area of the course. Once we hit mile 8, I really wanted to slow down, but Brent wouldn't let that happen! I told him I didn't think I could keep going at this pace, but he really pushed me. The biggest hill during this course is during mile 9. Brent put his hand on my back and gave me a slight push up the hill. WOW! It made such a world of difference. It felt amazing. I hate hills and just having him there to give me that little boost helped so much! I ate my sports beans (or most of them) and they made me feel nauseous. They always do, but I really hate the taste of sports drinks, gels, etc.

Mile 7: 8:40
Mile 8: (not recorded. Maybe I need a new watch.)
Mile 9: 8:37

Miles 10-13.1 
I was happy to pass the 10-mile marker at around 1:26. I knew we were in the home stretch, but I was feeling really tired. My legs felt great, my knee and my foot were behaving, and yet the pace was starting to feel really challenging. Brent told me that I would regret it if I slowed down. Someone overhead this and encouraged me not to slow down. She said it was just a few more minutes of pain for a really great time that would last forever!

We were back in the sun at mile 12, so I just listened to my music and zoned a little while staring into the sun. Mile 12 was actually the fastest mile, coming in at 8:16. Unfortunately, I couldn't maintain that 8:12 during the last mile, and slowed a bit. I knew I had given this race my all when I passed the 13-mile marker and simply couldn't sprint. I almost always sprint to the finish, but yesterday, I was physically not able to run any faster. That last 0.1 was actually the slowest part of my race.

Mile 10: 8:32
Mile 11: 8:40
Mile 12: 8:16
Mile 13: 8:33
0.1: 0:54

My official time was 1:52:43, for a PR of about 1:30. I also shaved 8 minutes off of my time from last year's race.

I was pleased. I felt like I was about to pass out when I crossed the finish line. Brent sprinted the last 0.1 but waited for me to cross. We got our medals, got our bags, and started looking for the food. They typically give you food as soon as you finish, but we ended up looking for the food for over half an hour. We finally found the food and then met up with our Big Cat friends.

What a great reunion!

 Priceless line of the day, when we are looking at our Liberty Bell-shaped metals, Michael says: "Mine has a crack in it. Do you know why?" Sorry Mike, I just have to get in a laugh about that one. I had such a great time at this race. Thanks to all of you who supported me during this, whether you were there or you tracked me live.

I placed 281 out of 1224 women in my age group.
I placed 1131 out of 5651 total women.
I placed 4055 out of 11629 total runners (beating over 60% of the men!)

My playlist wasn't that important this time, because I was mainly focusing on Brent's guidance for the second half of the race. However, the playlist was dominated by Fall Out Boy's latest CD, with only minimal Jason Mraz. The Foo Fighters' new song, "The Pretenders," is one of my favorites at the moment.