The Philadelphia Marathon is on Sunday. I'm running it - and yes this will be my first marathon.
I have this weird feeling of blankness about the whole thing. I'm not really nervous, and I'm not really excited either. Eighteen weeks is a long time to prepare for a race, and I'm ready for it to be over. Maybe the right description is impatience tinged with annoyance. Impatience because I'm ready to go, and annoyance over having to wait, and over the weather. I wanted a rock bottom cold day and we're going to get a high in the 60s. In November. Blarg.
I ran the 2009 Philadelphia Half Marathon and hated it. The start was a muddled mess, and there weren't nearly enough bathrooms. Some of the port a potties were even LOCKED to prevent us from using them. I wound up peeing by a bush with three other women in front of a cop before the race. What was he going to do to us? Chase us?
And it was a less than stellar time for me, too. I had been training hard for that race, which was my first half. Then I got sick. Then I got sick again. I wasn't able to train for the last three weeks leading up to the race, and I was sick at the starting line. I was very fast then, and figured I might as well try to hit my goal, which was to qualify for the New York City Marathon (which you can do with a half time). I figured if I ran a perfect race and had the wind at my back, I could have done it. I held that pace for the first eight miles, then crashed. I sobbed as I crossed the finish line because I felt like I'd wasted all of that training because I couldn't stay healthy.
I tried to turn that around into fire to train for the 2010 New Jersey Marathon where my goal was to qualify for the Boston Marathon. That backfired, too. I haven't trained the same way since.
That's not to say I'm horrible. My attitude about running has changed, as have my goals.
I only have two for Sunday: to finish, and to not require immediate medical attention. That means I will be running a very conservative race. VERY conservative. My goal is to run 10 minute miles for the first half, which means I will most likely be doing a modified Galloway approach: run nine minutes, walk one, run nine minutes, walk one.
Surprised? You might be if you read my Ocean City Half report, where I PRed in the half marathon at a 1:49:55. But the half is a familiar distance to me. I have a good feel for that length of a race, and what my body can and cannot take (though I still shocked myself that day).
I haven't done the marathon before, and my longest training run was 19 miles, so it's new territory for me. Plus, I used this method to get through my first 10 miler, and it worked. The next year, I dropped 16 minutes off that time in the same race. That's why I'll do it here. I want to marathon for a long time. This is just the first shot. If it goes well, I can bump up the training for the Ocean Drive Marathon, which I plan to run in March - yes, the whole thing this time, not the 10 miler portion.
So the conservative approach to the first half of the race. If that means I have plenty of gas left in the tank for the last half of the race - especially that last 6.2 miles - then so be it. That's fine by me. I'm not sure if I'll Galloway the whole way, but if I do, that's a-okay. I might even hit the beer stop at mile 21.
Could I try to really race this thing? Probably. But that's not the mission here. I just want to complete this distance and enjoy the experience of finally running a marathon, and one in a setting where I'll have lots of friends cheering for me along the way (seriously - there's a lot of you coming out to watch).
I signed up for a service that will send my five mile splits to my Facebook page and to my twitter account. Best bet is to probably follow on twitter, which you can do here. If you're at the race, I plan on wearing black below-the-knee tights and a royal blue tank. My hair will be in a low-slung braid (no headband), and I will most likely be wearing brightly colored socks - lime green or purple, I think.
Not that you'd see me, but if you're following on twitter, you might have a better idea of when I'm coming through. Say hi! Yell support! And not just for me - but for everyone running on Sunday. And we thank you for it.
Also! I have a commentary about the cost of running on this weekend's Marketplace Money show. You can find that online here (it should go up on Friday night). If you're in the Philadelphia area, you can hear the show on 90.9 WHYY at 3pm on Saturday. And then, if you want, stick around for Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me, which was recorded in Tampa this weekend - not only because I love that show but also because I'm curious to see what Florida jokes they come up with. UPDATE: Here's the commentary!
P.S. I wish I could say I have some real bad ass mantra that I'll repeat in my head over and over again to keep me going if the going gets rough (I don't run with my iPod). But most likely? It'll be this.