Sunday, November 22, 2009

First Marathon - in the books!!

I completed my first (scored) marathon today - the Philadelphia Marathon. I was shooting for a 4:15:00 time (which I knew was aggressive), and wound up with 4:22:15 (still a 10 minute pace), which I'm happy with overall.

The weather was INCREDIBLE, the course was nice (although the second half, with the exception of Manyunk was pretty weak in terms of crowd support). I have really learned a lot about marathons from this race - so I thought I'd post a few reflections:

  1. I went out with the 4:15 pace group - but around mile 12 or so, felt that it was a bit fast for me. I ignored the warning signs, but kept up that pace. I paid for it later, especially in miles 20 - 22.
  2. I had a plan to take gels every hour, but wound up only taking them at miles 9 and 16, because getting them out of my pouch was a bit of a pain - and I was trying to keep up with the pace group. Lesson learned - either let the group go (if you can't hang) or run ahead and make time to get your equipment together.
  3. I broke the rule about "nothing new on race day". I took a Gu (Strawberry Bananna) from a race volunteer at mile 19. It was the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted (and I've had quite a few disgusting things in my life), tasted like bubble gum, stuck to the roof of my mouth and made my stomach hurt. I didn't even get water for another mile or so afterwards - so I had plenty of time to think about my mistake.
  4. I feel that I undertrained for my goal. I ran the bare minimum miles required (due to the Jewish Holiday schedule this year) - and probably would have benefited from more speedwork and cross training.
All in all, good lessons learned - which I will apply to future endeavors (like NYC 2010).

To balance this out - some good points:

  1. The Cliff Pacer in the 4:15 group was really nice, and kept the group moving. I felt bad about breaking off, but knew it was the right move.
  2. The weather was incredible (temps between 50 and 60 most of the day).
  3. The scenery was really nice, and enjoyable.
  4. The crowds were very supportive (in some parts of the course)
  5. The atmosphere among the runners was very friendly, and communal. I felt like I was running with a bunch of friends, even though I didn't know most of the people I encountered that day.
I did have a couple of experiences that were pretty noteworthy (to me, at least). On two of my walk breaks, I walked with a couple of women - who were having a tough time on the course. They were also first timers. I did my best to encourage them, and to make them feel better about their race - since so much of this is mental. I felt like giving them the pep talk actually allowed me to give a pep talk to myself, which I really needed for those tough miles from 20 - 22.

All in all, great first race experience. I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do, and laid a great framework for future races (of all durations) and the future of my running career (if you want to call it that :)

Last but not least, big thanks to my wife Bridget and my daughter Chavi - for accompanying me to Philly, and giving me something to look forward to at mile 25. I wouldn't have been able to complete that SURGE to the finish line without their encouragement.