Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

Holy crap do I have a lot of blogs to catch up on. You people keep me busy! :)

First off, thanks for all the wonderful comments on the marathon. I really appreciate all the love.

I let myself take a few days off of all things running related after the marathon, to sort of decompress. I needed to let myself go for a bit to figure out what comes next. And the fact that the week came during a holiday was a blessing in disguise. Who has time to get post-marathon stress disorder when the holiday season is blowing up in your face?

So here is what has been keeping me busy the past few days, in photo form of course.

This little guy is my Godson Hamish.


He came to visit us with my friend Mark from high school and his wife Andria. Here is a picture of the happy family as Hamish enjoys his first Cheesesteak. Look at the kid eyeing that thing!


Yes, Mark is a class-act. Let's hope Hamish gets his mother's manners.


Here are a few more pics of my lil' buddy...cause that's what doting Godmothers do.






Look how happy he is to see us! Haha!


Baby time was fun. It was nice to have a different energy in the house. Even if that energy liked to wake up screaming 4 times a night.

Thanksgiving Day, J and I met up with some friends in Center City to watch the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade.


It was freezing out, but I have to say, I was really impressed by this parade. It was sort of like watching the Macy's Parade in NYC, but much smaller and you could get right up to the front. We had a great time.







You can see more fun parade pictures here.

After the parade, we walked to our friend's home and ate an incredible spread of appetizers and drank Mimosas and Bloody Mary's by a roaring fire while watching football. Then later, J and I headed home where I proceeded to make an awesome Thanksgiving dinner that was very easy and tasted pretty damn good.


It was a wonderful, quiet night at home and it was perfect. :)

But tomorrow marks the end of my "recovery" period. And by recovery I mean sheer laziness. Time to get back out there. J and I already have new plans in the works...

Hope everyone had a safe and happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The 2008 Philadelphia Marathon

*Warning, this post is about as long as a marathon. :)

Well, 2 out of 3 aint bad.

• Get a new PR? Check. I PRed by 17 minutes. Final time 4:20:21. I'm still awaiting official chip time.

• Beat Oprah? Check. I beat her time by 9 minutes. Woo!

• Beat Diddy? Well, not this year. I could have, but it just wasn't in the cards on this day. More on this in a bit.


Jeremy had been feeling a bit better, but after the expo his throat started to really bother him. When we went to sleep he was alright, but after about an hour he woke up to a bad cough. A cough which continued throughout the entire night. A cough which made it impossible for either one of us to sleep. I think we both ended up getting about 2-3 hours, total.

We rolled out of bed at 4:45am, With all the excitement of the race I actually wasn't tired at all. We did our usual routine: coffee, water, bathroom, toast with peanut butter, honey and banana, bathroom, recheck our bags 30 times to make sure we had everything, bathroom, then we were off.

As soon as we stepped out the door and I saw ice on the canal in front of our house, I knew we were in trouble. It was about 24 degrees/feels like 17. Ugh.

We got to our car and saw that the windshield was covered in frost. You'd be amazed at how dumbfounded two people who have lived in the south for the past 8 years were to see frost on a windshield. Totally unprepared. Jeremy was out there with a shopping card trying to scrape it and it took us about 10 minutes to figure out how to defrost the window. Haha! We are relearning a few things.

Once we figured out that little snafu, we headed downtown. We quickly found parking and headed to the start. It was absolutely freezing out but we stayed warm the best we could.


We checked our bags into the busses and wandered around a bit. Instead of standing still in one of the mile long port-o-potty lines, we decided to walk across the street to the woods to go old school. I didn't even care that there were no leaves on the trees to cover my bare ass. It was a marathon and I wasn't going to stress and freeze in a long line for 40 minutes.

After we came out of the woods, we were going to go walk around and search for people, but I looked up at him and noticed he still had his glasses on (he doesn't run with them). He began to freak, but we just ran over to the Back On My Feet tent and left them there with them. Crisis averted, but that basically took up any extra time we had before the start.

We lined up in the corral and listened to the race start and realized we were going to be sent off in waves. This is totally fine and actually made the first few miles a lot more manageable with less people on the course. But the thing is, no one seemed to know about it. Everyone, including us, seemed totally confused by this. To make matters worse, we were in the last wave, so we stood in the freezing cold for 20 minutes after the start of the race before we were finally sent off. It kind of sucked.

But finally the Rocky theme sounded and we were on our way. The air was frigid, but after a mile or two to warm up, our fingers and toes finally defrosted and we were feeling fine.

I really have to say, I loved this course. It was so beautiful and took you throughout some of the best places in the city. The first few miles we ran down the Benjamin Franklin Parkway towards City Hall. Right at our first walk break I noticed a man in a big, blue coat swinging a cowbell. Just like he promised, it was ShoreTurtle cheering everyone on! It was great to see him out there.

After that we headed down towards Old City where we passed the Liberty Bell and the National Constitution Center. The sun was starting to shine and there was a lot of crowd support along this area. The race was thinned out nicely due to the wave sendoffs and it wasn't difficult to maneuver around runners at all. We planned on running the first 5 miles at a 10mm pace and then speeding up from there. But of course, we started out a little quickly and after that our splits were all over the place.

The only problem I was having, which has never happened to me in a race before, was I had to pee like a madwoman. The concept of people stopping to use a crowded port-o-potty in a race has always been foreign to me because, well, it's a race. Why take 3-5 minutes off your time? Plus, I have just never had to go that bad once I started. But this was different. Since I wasn't sweating and we stood in the corral for 30 minutes I really had to go. The lines for the port-o-potties were about 10 people deep and I wasn't having that. So every bush we passed I evaluated in my head if it was big enough to cover my booty as I squatted.

Finally, at mile 3 Jeremy told me he had to go and darted behind a bush. That's all I needed to hear and I quickly followed him to take my very first race-time potty break. It only took about a minute and when I was done I felt like I had lost about 20 lbs.

We headed up Chestnut Street, past the Avenue of the Arts and Washington Square. This area was filled with wonderful, supportive crowds and we really felt the love. We were running strong and smiling the whole way. But just as we crossed over the river in West Philly is when things slowly started to change.

In front of Drexel University there was a decent sized hill which wasn't too bad, but afterwards I noticed Jeremy just wasn't talking as much as he was before. With all the training we had done together, I knew when he was starting to fade and I could feel it coming on. It was still pretty early, so I hoped it was a phase and he'd come out of it.

We passed the zoo and went into Fairmount Park. There were way more hills in this area than I thought there was going to be. I felt pretty good on them but I didn't understand why they promote this marathon as flat, some of these hills were pretty intense. Maybe I am just spoiled from living in Florida for so long, but I don't remember Columbus being that hilly either. They also weren't doing anything to help poor Jeremy who was growing more quiet with each passing hill.

We made our way out to MLK Drive which is part of the route that J and I do on our training runs. We were happy to know that for the most part, the rest of the race was on a very familiar route. I mentioned this to Jeremy, trying to break his funk, and he simply replied with a grunt.

Then the poor guy almost broke his neck at a water stop.

At some of the water stops in the shade, the ground would ice over where people dumped their cups. Some of the stops weren't prepared with salt to help this problem and it made it really dangerous. There were people warning us as we came in, but that didn't stop runners from almost busting their ass as they skied through the stops. Luckily we survived.

We passed Waterworks in front of Boathouse Row and ran by the half-marathon finish. Right after that, we ran into our friends Karen and Mark who drove all the way out from South Jersey to come stand out in the freezing cold to cheer us on. It was so great to see them and really gave us a quick confidence boost. Thanks guys!!! Here is a great pic Karen took as we ran by to high-five them.


After that we headed up Kelly Drive but were quickly saddened to realize we were taking a detour up through the park again. We knew a little bit about the park but didn't realize how hilly this part was. There was a serious hill that actually hurt my knees to run down because it was so steep. Did anyone else know about this detour? It wasn't on the course map at all. Stupid hills.

Once we made our way back out around mile 15 we were on Kelly Drive again on our way towards Manayunk. I looked at my watch and realized for the past few miles we had been averaging about a 10 minute mile. Originally our plan had been to speed up at this point. However, every time I tried to go a bit faster, J would pull back. It was typical of our running relationship. On any given run together, one of us will feel fantastic and the other will feel like crap. Today was my day and was totally not his. The poor guy was exhausted from the cold that was still lingering in him.

Finally around mile 16 he told me to go ahead without him. He knew I was feeling great and didn't want to hold me back. I told him I didn't want to leave him, but to be honest with you, I would be lying if I said I didn't consider it. I felt so strong. The weather was perfect, I was warmed up and my legs felt indestructible. I knew I could easily hit 4:15 and if we had been running about a 10 second per mile pace faster throughout the rest of the race, I could have hit 4:10. I said I would run with him to the 20 and we would see how we felt.

We ran into Manayunk which was great. Main Street was packed with people who were handing out pretzels, potato chips, Cliff Shots, brownies, oranges and beer. Lots of beer. I think most of the peeps who were handing it out did more drinking than handing it out, but that's OK. The energy was a great distraction.

Between mile 16 and 20 I thought about what would happen if I did leave J and run for my time. I looked at his face and saw how he was struggling. I may be able to make the time, but I knew if I left him out there he would find an excuse to give up and walk. He slowed down last year to run my first marathon with me in Columbus and he never once thought about leaving me to get a better time when he could have easily gotten a PR. Running with him the past year has made me the stronger runner I am now and I knew I wouldn't have been feeling so great if it hadn't been for him.

I had to repay him. We trained to run together and we had to finish it together.

I rearranged my game plan and focused on coming in at 4:20 instead of 4:15, but to hit it we needed to speed up a bit. I had to find a way to get him to realize he had the strength in him to do it. In other words, I had to nag him into not giving up. Haha.

We headed back out to Kelly Drive for the last 6 miles and I focused all my energy on him. I basically told him all the same things he had told me the year before in Columbus.

"You're strong."

"You trained for this. Don't leave it out there."

"We run this all the time."

"You're doing great."

I must have said that last one 200 times.

Every time I heard his breathing labor, I said it. When I heard other people around us struggling, I ran us away from them so he wouldn't pick up their negative vibes. I told him to just move his legs. I told him to start picking people off.  When we got to 23 miles, I reminded him all we had was a 5K. When we got to 24 miles, I told him that 2 miles was nothing and no one complains about a 2 mile run.

And during all of this, I slowly sped up. Hoping he would stick with me and hoping he wouldn't notice.

The most surprising thing out of all of it was how great I still felt. At 25 miles I felt better than I had at any of my previous training runs. I wasn't remotely tired, I was smiling, I had no aches at all and I felt like I still had about a half a tank of gas left. I'm sure a lot of this had to do with the weather and the fact we ran a slower pace than what we trained for. Whatever the reason, I knew that no matter what time we hit, I was going to have my strongest finish of any race ever.

The only exception was mile 26. As we rounded the bend to get to the Art Museum the crowd swelled like crazy. Not only that, but they were crowding onto the route and made it so that you could only fit about 3 people wide. It was the last mile and J and I were trying to book it to come in under 4:20, but we couldn't pass the people who were in front of us. Plus, the crowd was surrounding us and screaming. Their excitement was great, but at the same time made me really nervous and overwhelmed. I suddenly felt like I was going to throw up. I had to force myself look down and try to block them out.

The path finally widened up right before we crossed the finish and I grabbed J's arm, who was suddenly sprinting, and pulled him along with me. We crossed the finish and he fell into my arms and thanked me. I was so proud of him for pulling through I was crying. The last 6 miles he really picked up the pace again and finished strong. Not bad for a guy with a cold.


Afterwards, we got a much needed mylar blanket (my first ever) and were handed our medals. We hung them around each others necks and thanked each other for the help and support on another successful marathon together. I was so proud of him for pulling through and honestly proud of myself for not getting so caught up in time that I forgot what was important in running this race with Jeremy.


We grabbed our pretzels, bananas and hot chicken broth (The best thing ever!) from the food tent and met up with all of our cheerleaders that came to see us finish.


Here we are with Karen and Mark.


And here we are the Aubrey, Courtenay and the girls.


Even Rocky was cheering for us!


  1. 10:05
  2. 9:38
  3. 9:38
  4. 11:54  (water and potty break)
  5. 8:54   (making up for it)
  6. 9:17
  7. 10:36 (hill)
  8. 9:48
  9. 9:43
  10. 10:19
  11. 10:33
  12. 9:10  (I got yelled at for running too fast here)
  13. 10:04
  14. 9:50
  15. 10:07
  16. 10:13 (he thought this mile was run too fast, until I told him the split)
  17. 10:11
  18. 10:00
  19. 9:41
  20. 10:43
  21. 9:30
  22. 9:48
  23. 9:40
  24. 9:53
  25. 9:58
  26. 10:56 
The splits were all over the place, but with the walk breaks and walking through water stops we couldn't avoid it.

After the race we went to a greasy spoon for breakfast with Karen and Mark and spent the rest of the day snuggling on the couch to keep warm. It was pretty great. 

All in all it was a wonderful (although cold) day for a marathon. The race was fantastic  with a few minor things that need to be fixed. I would still highly recommend this race to people. It's a great time to train because the temperatures get nice and cool for your longer runs and the course really takes you through some beautiful and fun parts of the city. It was a great time. I'll definitely do it as often as I can while I live here. I really enjoyed seeing my new home through the eyes of a runner.

And next year Diddy, your ass is mine!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Final Thoughts

Today we went to the expo to pick up our packets for the marathon. If I wasn't excited before, the expo did it for me. I am super excited now. The expos are always fun.

Here we are at the entrance where they had a makeshift finish line where everyone was having their pictures taken, including us. :)



The expo was pretty good overall. The running shirt they gave out was probably the best race shirt I have ever gotten. It's a little big, but that's ok. I was very happy to see it had our favorite tagline on the front. In past tense of course. :)


The back of it is great too, but I don't have a picture of it. Denise posted one at her place here.

We wandered a bit more and checked out all the booths. I also picked up this magnet from One More Mile, which I have been meaning to get.


We stopped by the Back On My Feet booth and talked to the people there for awhile. They were so nice and appreciative we were raising money for their organization. We also got two running shirts from them. They are going to let us leave our stuff at their tent, so that is another place you may be able to find us tomorrow if you're wandering around.

Speaking of BOMF, I want to take this time to thank my bloggy homies for any voting/donation giving you did for us. You know who you guys are. We are so thankful that you all were so giving of your time and money to help out a great cause. I know they all appreciate it too. Their big CNN dinner is tonight and they find out who the Hero of the Year is. Let's hope all your voting wasn't in vain! You can find out for sure on CNN on Thanksgiving.

After all that, we walked over to the Reading Terminal Market were we lucked out with getting a seat at the counter at Hershel's Deli. J and I split a corned beef sandwich and had some chicken noodle soup. Good thing I need salt tomorrow.



We finally headed home where we bibbed up and packed our bags for tomorrow.


Tonight we will eat, stretch and I will take a hot bath (pre-race ritual). Then I will sit with a heating pad on my legs and read running blogs and try to get some sleep.

I think I am as ready as I can be. We decided on a 9:45 pace for tomorrow which should put us at a 4:15 finish. This time will have us meeting all our goals: a PR, beating Oprah and Diddy. I hope we can keep it up and if for some reason we don't, I will just be grateful for being able to be there after all the shit we have been through this year. I am running this marathon tomorrow for many personal reasons and as a sort-of validation for everything that has happened in the past year. Kind of like,

"Hey life, go ahead and knock me down, but I'll not only get back up, I'll get up and run as far as I can to prove I'm a survivor."

Thanks to all of you guys out there who have been constantly reassuring, positive and wonderful. I can't imagine training for a race anymore without all my bloggy buds.

Good luck to all you runners tomorrow. Whether you are running Philly, another race, a training run or your first run ever. Have a great run! :)

Track us here. Bib numbers 6591 & 6590

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Beautiful Finale

For some reason today, I am feeling totally at ease.

I woke up this morning feeling well-rested and peaceful. There was a gentle flurry and a light dusting of snow on the ground. It was something these Miami eyes have not seen in over 6 years and I was in love. Even though there was barely any snow and it soon melted, it was beautiful nonetheless. I was instantly happy.

I spent the morning and early afternoon running errands and cleaning the house so I could relax and focus on the marathon for the rest of the weekend. I always feel so much better after my entire house is clean. After all that cleaning, I made time to head out for one final run.

I decided to not worry about mileage and time and simply run up Main Street and back. Since I live in Manayunk, this run takes me on miles 18-22 of the marathon course. The turn around for the marathon in Manayunk (mile 19-20ish) is literally a quarter mile from my house.


This could either be a really good thing, or a very bad thing come gameday.

It's good because I have run it so many times (as well as the remaining miles of the course) that I know exactly where we are and how far we have to go. But it could be bad since we all know that by mile 19 I will be exhausted and knowing my house is so close and EXACTLY how far we still have left to go could backfire on me. I'm hoping that the strong crowd support on this part of the course will help take my mind of it.

Since the temps were so cool when I headed out (36 degrees, feels like 30) I decided to use this short run to test out my final outfit for Sunday, right down to the underwear and earrings. So here it is. This is what I'll be wearing before I check my bag in the morning. When I check my bag, the jacket will go too. If you are wandering around before the race (or after) and see someone who looks like this, come say hello.


During the race, I'll be wearing black capris, a black singlet, and a lavendar long sleeved tech shirt. Also a black earband. Oh and BLUE gloves. Totally does not match, but if you see someone running in a lavender, Easter-egg colored shirt with BLUE non-matching gloves, run up to me and say hi.

Here I am practicing for Sunday. Look how fast I look!


I also made a final decision not to take anything that goes around my waist, which means I have to pin my Gu to my body. Since my singlet is super-long, it covered up the 5 Gu's that were pinned to my waistband and kept them from bouncing. I wore the Gu's on my run to make sure they wouldn't bother me and it was fine. I barely knew they were there and when I need one, I can just rip it off the pin. Brilliant!

It looks weird here, but when I pull down the shirt, you can't even see them.


It was a beautiful afternoon for a run and since I was going short and slow I grabbed my camera as I headed out. I was happy I did so I could capture some pics of my final training run for Philly and also so those of you who are running this weekend could get an idea of what those miles look like during the race.

This is right by my house headed towards Main Street. I jog on the Towpath below by the canal and hit Main right after the big bridge.





Do you see what I see??





This looks like the opening sequence from "The Office".





It was a great run. I ended up running a nice, short 3.35 miles. As far as slow goes...woops. I ran it in 29:35 for a 8:47 pace. But when I was done, I literally felt like I had barely run at all. I was meaning to go at a much slower 9:45 pace, but I really have a hard time when it's so cold out. My body felt great. For the first time in weeks I wasn't feeling lethargic and my legs felt like new, which made me happy with my decision to only run twice this week so my legs could rest. Those 3.35 miles were just the boost of confidence I needed to get my mind back on track for Sunday. Now I can't wait.

Tomorrow we head to the expo around 11am and then to the Reading Market to fill up on Chicken Noodle soup for lunch. Those of you from out of town looking for a place to eat, I highly suggest heading there. You can get there from inside the convention center and they have every kind of food you could possible want.

I'm sure I'll post again tomorrow night after the expo (cause I am in kooky, marathon-mode) but for those of you who don't have computer access tomorrow, J and I will be hanging out before the race by the huge fountain in front of the Art Museum steps (when we aren't in line for a port-o-potty). If any of you are around, wander by and try to find us.

Good luck!!! :)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Philadelphia Marathon Roll Call

It's getting closer!!! Eek!

Jeremy went to the press conference yesterday for the Philadelphia Marathon. He is doing research for them, so all you runners be sure to fill out the online survey after the marathon, J wrote it. I am also supposed to remind people that the same question is asked three or four different ways on purpose. Apparently marathon runners like to complain about this stuff after filling out the surveys. But it's for a very scientific purpose! I have no idea why, something about the control group and blah, blah, blah...research stuff. So there, just in case you were wondering.


So apparently when Mayor Nutter saw a poster with the marathon's famous tagline hanging at the press conference, he wasn't too happy. He even made some remark about not using the ad agency again next year.

How dumb is that? Yeah, with everything that goes on in this city, that's really what the Mayor needs to be worried about. That the posters may or may not reference the word ASS.

And is this the first time he has seen this? The campaign has been up for months!

Anyway, enough about that. Who's excited about Sunday?!!?! I finally got my bib number yesterday: 6591. Jeremy's is 6590. I'm pretty sure they will have a tracking system on the website.

Jeremy is still feeling pretty crummy, but we are hopeful he will start feeling better soon. And luckily, it has not been passed to me yet. I'm sure I will get sick as a dog as soon as I cross that finish line...

So I can't believe how many bloggers are running Philly this year. I just wanted to do a quick roll call and give a shout out to anyone who is running this weekend.


First, there is Lil Runner who is making a game day decision on doing the full or the half. She is running her very first Philly marathon (or half marathon) for two. Maybe one day, years from now, they can run it again and she can tell tales about the day they ran it together in '08 (and Jr gave her that damn side stitch...that went away at mile 2 of course).

joyRuN is running her very first marathon this Sunday in Philly just days after her birthday. She's been training like mad, running great and I think she's the one person who is suffering from taper madness more than I am right now. She's going to do awesome!

Actually, Denise is suffering from a bit of taper madness as well (posting weather updates and last minute gel changes on her daily posts, anyone?). Ha, I think we all can relate. I just recently started reading her blog, but it's great. She is running really strong and is going to kick butt (asphalt) in her first marathon on Sunday.

Flyers26 is running his training runs so fast lately, I am starting to wonder if he is half-Kenyan. He's also running his first 26.2 on Sunday and I think this guy is going to blow us all away.

Then of course there is Ted, who was on a bit of a hiatus the past couple of weeks (we didn't forget about you!). He claimed in his last post that he was feeling a bit negative lately but I think we all sort of get there a little bit towards the end of training. Don't let that attitude fool you, Ted is a fantastic runner and going to rock this marathon.

Program2000 had to drop down to the half due to an achilles issue (I feel you, I had to do the same thing last January) but he has been feeling good and is ready to go on Sunday. Lets send him and his achilles good, healing vibes... Just think, a half-marathon just means your lucky butt will be able to drink a beer that much faster than the rest of us! Save me one!!!

And in our cheering section, we have ShoreTurtle (who's blog we still love even though he went to Michigan *shudder*). ShoreTurtle is not running on Sunday, but he has run it in the past. He is also thoughtful enough to get his butt out of bed on a freezing Sunday morning to run to various locations along the course and cheer on strangers all day. That's a true runner right there. With my friends and family being so far away, it makes me happy to know there will be at least one person out there cheering for us.

If I forgot anyone, let me know. Also, anyone running Philly (or another race) feel free to leave a bib number so we can track each other. Does everyone have their outfit planned yet? I want to know what I am looking for while I am out there.

And I know that this is a big race, but there has got to be a place where we can meet up. J and I have to go to the expo on Saturday morning/early afternoon and then are grabbing some lunch at the market (right next door). Maybe an expo meet up or possibly an after-the-race-pic on the Art Museum steps or in front of Rocky? Let me know if anyone is in.

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