Race Recap: Philadelphia Marathon 2013

I know some folks who won’t claim results on Athlinks if said results would make them look slow or bring down their average finishing time for a given distance.

Well, I’ve never done that, and I won’t be doing that for this race, despite this:

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 10.20.12 AM

It ended up going perfectly. It wasn’t my day; it was Paul’s. He completed his first—and possibly only—marathon, and I got to do half of it with him.

Look! I paid for prints!

Look! I paid for prints!

I never felt good during the first half. I didn’t feel properly trained. The humidity was getting to me. My cranky hip was a little sore. Most importantly, my heart just wasn’t in it. And knowing I wouldn’t run a PR or cross off another state, I saw no reason to struggle to the finish.

So I pulled off to the side of the course after crossing the halfway timing mat to wait for Paul. I wanted to let him know I’d dropped out so he didn’t worry when he didn’t see me during the second-half out-and-back.

I stood around for a little more than a half hour, cheering for confused-looking runners. Their faces said, “Why does that spectator have a marathon bib on? And why is she so sweaty?”

When Paul came by, I hopped in to let him know what was up. I’d been getting chilly, waiting on the sidelines, and running at his pace made me feel better. He was still in high spirits, chatting with me about the first half of his race, and I said, “Hey, do you mind if I run with you?”

The standard double-thumbs-up pose around mile 14.

The standard double-thumbs-up pose around mile 14.

(He said he didn’t, but he confessed later that he was initially a little miffed that I had suddenly crashed his race.)

I wanted to be there for him, because I remember how challenging my first marathon was, and I’d been running consistently for seven years before I attempted it. He’s a fair-weather runner, a bucket-list marathoner, and hadn’t built too much of a base before training began. And, it was warm, and I wasn’t sure if he knew not to just guzzle a ton of water.  Honestly, I was a little worried, and I would have worried more waiting for him at the end.

This out-and-back on the bridge is so silly and was not part of the course I ran in '09 (I think).

This out-and-back on the bridge is so silly and was not part of the course I ran in ’09 (I think).

He was my reason to at least try to finish. I told him I could hop out at a medical tent if he wanted me to go away, that I wouldn’t be offended. I stayed a half-step behind him at all times. I mostly kept my mouth shut, especially as we got into the later miles. That was hard. He was moaning a lot. I couldn’t tell if it was normal-fatigue moaning or something-is-really-wrong moaning, and I didn’t want to keep asking.

But, we made it. Since he started later than I did, he finished in 4:37—faster than Pamela Anderson’s NYC time, his only time goal. He thanked me for keeping him moving through the last 10K. And I thanked him for giving me a reason to finish marathon number 13, and to get this awesome medal:


Extra blingy, in honor of Philly’s 20th anniversary.

So, the takeaways:

The race itself. I’m going to stop endorsing Philly as my favorite marathon. They’ve made it (or at least the half) too big. It was so, so crowded through the first seven or so miles. It used to thin out after three or four. Not good for marathoners or half-marathoners.

Some notes on pacing. Not to toot my own horn, but I think I did a good job being a (mostly) silent supporter. In the first half, I saw a man in a Boston Marathon shirt pacing his wife to (presumably) her first half-marathon finish. He was a few steps ahead of her, shouting things like, “You see that building up there? That’s where the finish is! Come on honey, push it!” OBNOXIOUS.

My year in racing. The fall was disappointing—it’s the first year since I’ve started marathoning that I didn’t PR—but at least I had a strong spring, with 5K and half-marathon PRs in April.

Important realizations. If I want to run fast, I need to focus on a single spring marathon and a single fall marathon, max. (More on that here.) I’m burnt out, and I’m not improving. ALSO: This time-and-effort-based training plan I followed gave me zero confidence and I’m going back to my Garmin and a traditional plan, stat.

Next steps. As I said, I’m burnt out. Outside of work, I plan to think/talk about running as little as possible for the next two weeks. (And I won’t run, either.) It’s time to rediscover cross-training and other interests. And once I get back to running again, my number-one priority is to get my cranky hip 100% healthy.


About Meghan Loftus

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3 Responses to Race Recap: Philadelphia Marathon 2013

  1. I know this was your worst race time, but this is my favorite race recap :). Particularly this part: “It ended up going perfectly. It wasn’t my day; it was Paul’s.”

  2. I’m the slower 1/2 of @TwinsRun and I ran Philly, too. It was my 4th Philly Marathon and it’s still one of my favorites. I’m surprised I didn’t have a problem with crowding. I wish it would have been more crowded for me because that might have slowed me down. I started off way too fast (again) and paid the price in the end (again) and finished in 4:04 (again). Lesson learned (I mean it this time). 🙂

  3. Sounds like it was a pretty good way to have a not so good race. And you sound like a much better pacer than that other guy – how annoying.

    I totally feel ya on being burned out. I had a series of less than I hoped for races throughout the second half of the year and have really been running very little since MCM. I’m looking forward to some shorter races next year, but I’m also going back from a time/effort plan to a garmin/distance plan. Running by time just didn’t work for me and left me feeling like I couldn’t push it on race days.

    Hope you have a good recovery!!

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