Adrian and Rocky scored a knockdown in the 10th round! Read on for the “blow” by “blow”!
Before we start our tale, a bit of history. The beginnings of organized marathons in Philadelphia date back to at least the 1920s when the race occurred on a course from the Philadelphia suburbs into the city. Mainly a suburban event, efforts were largely independent and promoted under various names over the years. It was not until 1994 that the marathon became a City of Philadelphia-managed race held strictly within city limits. It was then that the Philadelphia Marathon Weekend as we know it today was officially established by the city and a group of dedicated runners-physicians at the Rothman Institute. The new city-centered course provided a perfect setting for the many historic and beautiful assets of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Marathon started out modestly with a mere 1,500 participants in 1994 and has grown to become one of the top-10 marathons in the nation. Today, the race is flourishing, with over 30,000 participants expected to take part in the event. Mourad and I selected this race for three reasons: the course looked interesting, we wanted to visit the city and Mourad wanted as much time as possible to rehab that plantar fasciitis issue from last year. (If you have not read this incredible story, click on this link to the 2017 Onward Shay! Boise Marathon Story).
We knew we were rolling the dice on the weather. I had run two cold marathons previously: Marine Corps Marathon 2011 and the 2009 California International Marathon. One thing I know from experience: as long as you are well bundled and keep moving, you won’t feel the cold! (Author’s note: I have not run in temperatures below 30 degrees Fahrenheit, so this comment may not apply in that situation!).
After reaching St. Louis on our way to Philadelphia, on an airline I won’t mention, our flight was cancelled and we had to book two one way tickets on another airline.
We arrived in Philadelphia at 6 AM on Friday morning but at least we made it. Unfortunately we lost a day of rest and sightseeing but we got there! I wasn’t the only one worried about the impending snow fall!! Vic and the Bread and Milk.
Friday afternoon we venture over to the Philadelphia Convention Center to pick up our bibs and check out the expo. We are getting pumped! Mourad ran into a life-size pop up of a relative in the lobby and I ran into a future portrait of myself!!
Later on Friday – we decided to find a good Italian restaurant for one of our two carb loading episodes. For those of you unfamiliar with this WONDERFUL side benefit of marathon prepping, you get to EAT before a marathon. We found a yummy Italian restaurant called Little Nonna’s which we thought was traditional Italian. Note to all of you Californians: beware of eating on the East Coast – they sneak meat into everything which can be very problematic when you are a pescatarian. Did you know that linguini and clams could be cooked with sausage??!?!
Did I mention the COLD weather yet? While waiting for our table at Little Nonna’s (outside) I want to tell you: “Baby, it’s cold outside!”
After all of this carb loading, it is a “must do” bucket list to wonder over to the Philadelphia Musuem of Art. (It’s still really cold – after 27 years of living in Northern California “cold” is defined as below 60 degrees farenheit) We posed in front of the Rocky statue and Mourad decided to get in a little pre-race action: Rocky Ben Rached Gets Real.
Later that evening we discussed our favorite place to hang out and eat: The Reading Market Terminal. Lots of great vendor stalls selling goodies from fresh baked Amish delicacies, crab cakes, donuts, pizza and CRAB CAKES! (Did I mention that I ate two while I was in Philly?) Maryland Blue Shell Crabs – the best! We also found Martin’s Potatoe Rolls (my Maryland friends will know those!) – some of our daughter, Jasmine’s favorite eats!
I bet you’re thinking – did they really run a marathon or did they just eat and play? Why yes we did!! (I just get excited about the food.) So here we are at Oh Dark Thirty (4:30 am to be exact) getting ready. Mourad was not happy about our departure time but with a crowd of 30,000 runners we need to be rounded up! Here’s Mourad doing his Kermit impression and me, well, hyped up on adreline and caffeine on race morning:
We walk around the block to the Meridien Hotel to catch the bus to the start line in front of the Rocky steps (have I mentioned that it is COLD outside?) At the expo area near the start line there are (thank goodness) warming tents! Yes – these are wonderful little coccoons of heat where you can stop shivering for a while . Twenty minutes later, as my niece Heather would say, we were forced to surrender a layer, leave the warming tents, check our gear and saunter to the start line.
For those of you unfamiliar with big race protocol, you line up by corals that were assigned to you according to your estimated finish time. Since we are in the “we don’t really care what time we finish group as long as we are upright and breathing group” we are Coral Number 5 of 7. This means that we will stand out in the cold (did I mention the cold weather?) for 30 minutes before we can even START the race. This is how happy Mourad was about this contemplation period:
7:30 am: at a balmy 32 degree temperature, we are finally off!! The sun is up and the day proves to be gorgeous!! Proverbial butterflies are in the stomach – what will this adventure bring??? The good citizens of Philadelphia are out in full force. What a crowd!! They carry signs of encouragement – here are some of our favorites: “Make American Chafe Again!” “Why?” “I trained for two months to hold this sign up!” “You think a marathon is hard? Try growing out bangs!” Our first leg is a down and out through the city area. Musicians are playing, kids are high fiving us – what spririt! We felt the Brotherly Love!!
After the first 10 miles, we venture out to Fairmont Park and run along the Schuylkill River. Beautiful scenery on a well-planned course that included plenty of water/Gatorade stations, snacks and lots of local people offering food and goodies along the way! (Beer was offered too but we passed on that one!)
As in all marathons, expect the “unexpected”. Due to our late arrival into Philly, our “digestive” systems were slightly off but hooray for the port o’ potties! Mourad also had a fun issue with a bit of chafing with some new underwear he had not tried out in training Bravo to the aid station for their supply of Vaseline! Ouch! (For a good article on the do’s and don’ts of marathon training check out my blog on Pam’s Corner of the Body by Pam website: Do's and Dont’s of Marathon Training.)
One of the hardest legs of the marathon is the stretch between Mile 21 – 25 – you are not close enough to know you are going to finish, typically not a lot of people around, you are tired and did I mention that the weather was COLD?? However, Philly knows how to make life better and ran us right through a very cool town just north of downtown called Manayunk. What a charming place! And again, lots of people, lots of cheering!! You may have seen me in the previous picture with my “Run Philly” headband! I got more compliments on the band and people calling me by name than in any other marathon! I felt the love!!!
Mile 26 – ok we are almost there! Coming into downtown Philly!
No…seriously. Here’s a clip of Mourad finishing strong! Rocky Ben Rached. (At least in our heads!) I do believe if I had sang that song one more time, Mourad would have thrown me out of the hotel room!)
Seriously…at just a little over 5 hours, and smiles on our faces, we cross the finish line hand in hand! And the update on Mourad’s foot? After diligent acupuncture treatments and adherence to his yoga practice, he crossed the finish line foot loose and pain free! Who knows where next year will bring us for Marathon 11? As long as we are together for the adventure, we’re “Gonna Fly Now!”