When I didn’t have a successful race in D.C. one of my RunBuds asked me “What’s Next?” It didn’t really even occur to me to find another race to do. Once the bug was planted, I went ahead and picked something reasonable. I looked up all the upcoming marathons for the duration of the year and looked at transportation and whether or not I would be able to make the trip without having to take any time off from work. Philadelphia was the weekend before Thanksgiving, but I could make it up and back with an inexpensive flight and could stay a bit out of the way and with the marathon happening on a Sunday, I could go up on Saturday and come back after the race.
I got to my gate on Saturday and offered to volunteer to be bumped to a later flight, they actually found a direct flight they could put me on that would get me in to Philadelphia earlier, but didn’t end up needing me to give up my current reservation. I ended up getting upgraded to first class which was a nice treat. Once arriving in Newark, I had to take a train into the city and the train ended up arriving very late, so that was a bit of a hiccup.
In the city, I headed over to the expo and got my race bib and goody bag. I registered so late for the race that my name was not printed on the bib. I did a not so fantastic job using the hotel pen to write it on there. After the expo I headed over to Reading Market and bought myself a pretzel and a couple of cookies for later. I was over the crowds so I took to the street walking around until I landed at a corner restaurant that had Philadelphia Cheesesteaks advertised on the window.
I highly recommend taking cash with you if you go to Philadelphia because none of the stations I went to for the remainder of the day had a way to purchase passes with a credit card and I ended up riding all the transportation for just the cost of a disgruntled look from the train and bus fare collectors.
I ate dinner at the hotel restaurant where I ran into a group of women heading out to their 25th reunion and everyone who talked to me was in awe of the fact that I would be running in the marathon the next day. I guess its good for the ego to be at a hotel that isn’t on the list of recommended hotels for the marathon.
On race day, I took an Uber to the nearest hotel with a race day shuttle and rode into the center of the city. Once I arrived, I quickly found a tent where a bunch of massage tables were filled with runners keeping themselves warm by huddling up. I hung out there until about thirty minutes before the race start before grabbing my spot in the portalet line.
At the start of the race someone yelled out to the runners “at least it’s not raining,” and I am definitely glad it wasn’t, but it was still cold and windy, and I didn’t ditch my sweatshirt until around mile 2. At about mile 7 or so, the Motigo app I was using started playing messages from my friends that they had pre-recorded for me to listen to while I was running. The messages were really uplifting and encouraging. I heard from Ginny, Ellie, Dana, Mendi, Sania, Heather, Shamieka, and at least four times from Scott and the boys.
Right at the half way point when you are running by the Rocky stairs at the Museum of Art, you see to your right the faster marathoners coming in for the finish. Then you start to run along side them while you run away from the finish and they run towards it. At this point the wind was at its worst. I kept telling myself just to make it to the turn around and then I too would be headed to the finish. Once I hit the turn around I definitely started to give myself little landmarks to run to, run to the third cone, run to the tree ahead, run to the sign, etc. That worked all the way up to the finish.
I definitely felt like Philadelphia served as a redemption for my training season. It meant I wouldn’t sign up for any November or December races, but it allowed me to put my training to good use and I could feel good about the time I got there. Plus I got to tell everyone who asked that I was from State College, PA all weekend and they actually knew where that was. Unfortunately, because my flight was delayed, I didn’t make it back in time to go to the Reading RunBuds book club session, but I did read the book, and I enjoyed seeing the pictures the girls posted from their cruise wear inspired session.