"Our new Constitution is now established and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
During my tour of Independence Hall a couple days ago, Benjamin Franklin's words struck a nerve in my head. I had trained my ass off for the last 4 months using the Hansons Marathon Method however that didn't guarantee me anything. Anyone that has run a marathon knows that there are factors that are beyond your control; the weather or your body may not cooperate on race day. Naturally, I kept thinking about Franklin's words leading up to the start of the Philadelphia Marathon today.
The weather was cold for this Las Vegas native, it was in the high 30's. It actually had warmed up, since earlier in the week it had been in the low 30's. I wanted to avoid walking a mile and a half to the start/finish line, so the girlfriend and I used Uber so that we could arrive in style; living that "bouge" lifestyle haha (wonderful service, I recommend it).
The Rocky music was playing in the background as my wave was about to start. Well no matter how I did, I could at least hold my head up high, because I had given my best. I knew I would finish no matter what, because I had done 16 of these before but the focus here was to beat my 3:40:35 PR, which I ran in the 2013 Eugene Marathon. I put my faith in the training, put my headphones on and started running.
The start line was located right by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which most people will probably know as the Rocky Steps made famous by Rocky Balboa running up those steps during his last training scene right before he fights Apollo Creed. You can definitely tell that Rocky is synonymous with Philly, as are Cheesesteaks and the Eagles.
The crowd split in two and ran both sides of Logan square and then joined back together on Ben Franklin Parkway. That whole area is pretty neat because there are various statues dedicated to the history of this place. Fall foliage was also in abundance at every turn.
I ran along, focused on my pace because I didn't want to make the mistake that I usually do for the first half of the race: I start out too fast! Mile 1 came up rather quickly and I saw I had run it in 7:30. That's not good, I told myself. I can't continue with that pace or else I'm going to implode for the second half of the race. I decided it to dial it down a notch and forced myself to slow it down. I also had to pee, which wasn't good because if I stopped at mile 1 it would kill any rhythm I was building up. I made a deal with myself that I would go pee at mile 10. I didn't have to go that badly, so I could at least last till then and it would also give me a good chance to stretch out my legs at that time.
I continued on, keeping a pace around 8 minutes. I felt good. I would focus entirely on completing one mile at a time, even though I'll admit my mind would try to get ahead of itself and say, alright it's smooth sailing from here...while I'm only at mile 6 lol. You run through the city streets during the beginning of the race, and I enjoyed it because I would pass by areas that I had just walked through while sightseeing recently.
Every now and then my left leg would start to feel like it was going to cramp up, and my stride would get messed up because of it. I would keep taking liquids and GU gels and then it would go away, so I kept telling myself it was hydration-related. What kind of helped as well was the hills on miles 8 and 10. Even though I'm not a fan of hills, they would change up my stride and give other muscles a chance to go to work. The course for the most part was flat though.
Mile 10 soon came around and I told myself, well it's not like you have to pee that badly; let's wait till the halfway point, mile 13. I also kept thinking back to the Hansons Marathon Method book and how it describes race tactics. It explains how you should race like you train and also how you should stick to a conservative pace at the beginning of the race so that when you reach the second half of the race, that is when you can unleash and try to go for negative splits. Legs felt good, but I thought that trying to go faster was still too soon. I kept my pace right around 8 just to be safe.
Mile 13 rolled around, and it passed right by the Rocky Steps...and what a coincidence, a Rocky song was playing in my headphones. Okay, halfway point... now is when the fun begins. Legs felt a little sore, but nothing too bad. It didn't feel like I had just run 13 miles. Again, I told myself well how about we pee at mile 16 instead ;)
I had a good rhythm going and increased my pace by a couple seconds. I also kept thinking back to what the plan said on cumulative fatigue. Ok, so if I've trained my legs for some serious mileage and a target pace, theoretically I should be able to sustain this pace the whole way...which meant I wasn't about to stop to pee at mile 16. Sorry, bladder...reschedule to mile 20? Haha.
My pace continued into the sub 8 space and I thought to myself, I'm really going to do it, I'm going to PR! The voice of reason finally came down, and I told myself, it's way too early for that kind of talk, Johnny! There have been plenty of marathons where you looked like you were going to PR at mile 20 and then it all fell apart shortly after. Just stay focused and keep a steady pace...oh and you can pee at mile 22 lol.
From mile 22-mile 26, I still had a good rhythm made two decisions: one, if I didn't pee at any of the stops up to this points, then I really didn't have to go that badly and could hold it till the end because something told me that if I stopped I would lose the momentum, and it would affect everything. My other decision was to unleash and go faster, it was now or never! At this point in the race, however, my legs were sore and my pace had begun to slow down and slide into the 8's so unleash really meant 7:53 haha.
The last mile was like a trip down memory lane. I passed a statue and remembered running to this statue a couple days before; it served as the halfway point to my 5-mile run that day. Turns out the statue was of Thorfinn Karlsefni, an Icelandic Settler. The reason why I bothered to look it up was because this last mile, I had already ran it before and I knew what lie ahead. I got this, I confidently told myself.
How does one sum up 4 months of hard work and dedication? As I passed mile 26, I thought back to all those runs I had put in, all the time, all the sacrifices I had done in order to keep training. There were many times I wanted to skip a run or phone it in, but I stayed focused. It's like my friend Jose said to me, "Who would have known that when you focus on something, you get it lol"
I crossed the finish line with a time of 3:28:10. Several emotions and thoughts rushed into my head. "I DID IT! YES! FUCK YEAH! Wait a minute, this means this plan works...does this means I have to train this long for every marathon?! Damn it, I set the bar high for myself, this mean I have to train even harder to try to beat my new PR. Definitely runner problems haha.
Thank you all who continue to support me in my crazy running adventures. Your likes, comments and posts keep me motivated to continue on with my goal, in this sport that I love. I also want to thank my girlfriend, Wendy, because without her by my side, I don't know if I would have made it through these 4 months of training. I love you and I'm such a lucky guy to have you in my life, by my side.
Now that Marathon 17 has been completed, which state will number 18 be? I have no idea. I always have multiple races on my calendar; however, for this one, I completely focused on Philly and haven't made any other plans. Some time away from running will serve as a good recovery; however, I will keep you updated on my adventures.
Day 123 of #hansonsmarathonmethod is done, plan complete. That one is for you, Alicia, for your Hansons comment that cracked me up haha.