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Running Stories -- 2011

Seth -- Caesar Rodney Half-Marathon -- Sunday, March 27, 2011

So, I ran Caesar Rodney this morning, also known as the hilliest half-marathon ever. For those of you not familiar with the course, it runs around downtown Wilmington, DE for the first six or so miles, then goes uphill for the next 3.4 or so, turns around, comes back down 3.4 and then goes up a crazy steep hill for the final .3 miles or so. This makes it a bit tricky to run from a strategic point of view. Should you run fast on the flat to make up for time you lose going up or should you take it easy on the flat so you have energy to go up?

I didn't really have any goal for this race other than maybe run a sub-2 and maybe not. I used to do all my half-marathons at sub-2, but the past few years, all of them were over 2 until November at the Philly half when I came in at 1:58:21, but I wasn't feeling particularly confident that I could pull off another sub-2, esp not on this course.

I started out with Brian, who typically runs faster than me and sure enough it took me about 1/4 mile to decide he was going too fast and I backed off. Interestingly, when I backed off, my watch told me I was doing an 8:45 and the next time I looked at it it told me I was doing an 8:34. My watch was cutting the miles a bit short, so when it was telling me 8:45, it was more like 8:55. Anyway, I settled into this 8:50 or so pace on the mostly flat section and it felt reasonably comfortable.

By the time we started climbing, I knew I was having a much better race than I had expected. Even with slowing down up the hill I was on track to come in well under two hours. As it turns out, I managed to keep that pace all the way up the hill. I've been running most weeks in Ridley Creek State Park with Rach and there is a super hilly 4.7 mile loop there so I'm pretty sure that helped. The uphill part was really phenomenal. A couple of runners passed me at one point and I started cheering them on and then I started wondering why I thought they were so awesome for passing me and I realized it was because nobody else was passing me. I was passing everybody. I was running with a bunch of people who started out on the flats at about 8:50 and I was the only one maintaining that pace up the hill. I'm pretty sure those two folks are the only two who passed me the whole way up.

We got to the top and things leveled out and that's where I had my fastest mile, about 8:20 for mile 10, which I think was due to a surge of energy as the course went from uphill to flat. Mile 11 was slower and actually included some more uphill. I found this last part of the race challenging for another reason. By the time I got to mile 10 I realized I was on track to smoke every goal I had for this race or even thought of having. In November at the Philly half, my 10 mile time was cutting it really close for a sub-2 and I knew I needed to really haul it in. For this race, I was sub-2 and sub 9/mi and I didn't really know what to do other than just keep running.

Miles 12 and 13 were 8:45 and 8:30 and the last bit up the hill was at about an 8:10 pace. All in all, a really phenomenal race on a day where I had very low expectations.

Final time: 1:55:46 or 8:50/mi
Max HR up the final hill: 178
Calories burned: 2,152

Special thanks to Brian for driving us down there. Congrats to Phil, who PR'd, Prince, who had an awesome debut, Seebo, who smoked me going down while I was still going up and Rick, who came in sub-2 as a warm-up for the Paris Marathon in two weeks.

Jill -- Phillies 5k -- SBRR/Haiku

I mentioned that I might do an SBRR for the Phillies race (SBRR rather than LBRR because it was only a 5k), and I was told to put it in a haiku. So here goes:

Personal Record,
Phillies 5k Age Group third,
Won Shane V signed ball.

Brian M -- Marine Corps Marathon -- Sunday, October 30, 2011

The preface to this report is that I had not really planned on racing hard at Marine Corps, I was going there to meet old friends and have fun. I BQ'd at Philly last fall and did triathlon all summer. Due to the rule change for Boston I found myself in the position of having qualified but did not get registered. And worse, for 2013 they dropped the time in my age group 5 minutes from 3:35 to 3:30.

I didn't really start marathon training until the end of August, but I felt great and was running at least as well as I did last year. My last training run of 22 miles was at 7:50 pace, so I thought I'd see if I could hit 3:30 and get another BQ.

The weather looked great up until a few days before the race and then you all know what happened. SNOW in October. I was so nuts on Friday I went over to Sports Authority and bought all new Under Armour cold weather gear.

Drove down on Saturday in the cold rain. Sitting in the hotel watching it snow the day before the race was a bit stressful. So I ate and read and checked my gear about 100 times. I was able to sleep for 6 hours, which is really good for me before a race. Got up, ate a bagel, and headed out.

It was cold! Like 35 degrees at 6am so I put on my PR fleece and boarded the shuttle. Got to the race site and realized this was the largest race I'd ever participated in. It was a sea of people, and everyone had to pass a Marine waving a metal detector.

Immediately headed to the porta-potty line. Got to see the parachute team, V22 Osprey's, flyovers, and everything else because the line wasn't moving! Then just as I was next up they announced the race start in 10 minutes. Ran from the porta-potty to the start and trying to squeeze in to the right corral in less than 2 minutes before the race.

They fired the howitzer and we were off. Slowly. It takes a while for 30,000 people to get moving. First mile was a shuffle, just trying not to trip over someone. Same for miles 2 and 3. 5k time was 25:20 and panic is setting in. I start trying to weave through but it's almost impossible. It doesn't really thin out until 6 miles in: 10K time 49:38. Oh boy I'm in trouble, but it's opening up and I get into stride. Now I'm hot, so I pull off my PR fleece, hand it to a couple, and ask if they can post a message on the board. I'd hate to lose the fleece, but I'm in the groove.

Finally find some people running at my pace. Actually my pace is not 7:50, it's something under but I'm just focused on getting into rhythm. At mile 10 I'm feeling great. People are incredible, everyone is having a blast, and the Marines have the hydration stations perfectly organized. I had some issues with hydration and nutrition last year, so I had practiced drinking and running. It worked!

I hit the halfway mark and feel really good. All those hill I was warned about are in the past. Actually, it's not really any hillier than Philly. HM time: 1:42:17. Looks like I made up that lost time and then some, I'm on a 3:24 marathon pace.

Now I'm making deals with myself. If I can hold that pace 'till mile 18....If I can hold that pace 'till mile 20... Meanwhile we're running through DC and the crowds are wall-to-wall and cheering like mad. We run through the Mall and past all the National museums. But I'm hardly noticing it, I'm just trying to hold that pace.

At mile 20 is the "Beat the Bridge" where you cross back over into Virginia. This is mentally tough for me. I have an issue with bridges and this sucker is a mile long. Plus there is no crowd support and it's dead quiet. Now I'm starting to pass people walking. And I'm getting some twinges in my right calf that in the past have turned into major cramps. Grab 2 gatorades at the next station and keep moving.

I get to mile 24 not believing I'm still holding that pace. Then I start feeling...tired. I have a huge cushion so I know I at least BQ'd, but I've already decided my new goal is sub-3:25. I'm at the 'just keep moving' phase of the race. And then, there is it, the finish line, .2 miles ahead. Up a seriously steep hill, at the base of the Iwo Jima memorial. I stagger up and break into a run to get across the finish. Final time was 3:24:58. Over 5 minutes under my BQ goal. Get a big handshake and my finisher's medal from a Marine, and walk over to get my picture taken at the memorial. I'm happy and dazed, and it seems like everyone else is equally as happy and dazed. Everyone is friends at the finish.

This is one of the best races I've ever done. The Marines did an excellent job and when off duty are pretty entertaining as well. We did close the hotel bar Saturday night! They truly represent the very best of this country.

Everywhere you went Sunday night you'd run into other people wearing the MCM shirt and the camaraderie was instantaneous. It really lived up to it's billing as "The People's Marathon."

Ellen -- Philadelphia Half Marathon -- November 20, 2011

I had a great day! It was my first half marathon so I was not sure what to expect but I finished better than I had planned to at 1:54:52. My piriformis started to hurt around mile 5 but I was only going to stop if I collapsed. In the end, I was able to push it at the finish so all those damn Thursday night sprints really helped. I saw Kevin at mile 11 (Hi Kevin!) but didn't wave because I was focused on other things. I was surprised at how crowded the entire half was. Overall, a great morning to run around Philadelphia!

Good job to everyone who ran today and thank you to everyone who volunteered and cheered us on. I wanted to kiss the lady who gave me goo at mile 10!

Seth -- Philadelphia Half Marathon -- November 20, 2011

As promised, here is my race report. Short background: I used to run sub-2 hour half-marathons without a problem, then I had a string of 2+ hour races, much to my frustration. Finally, last year, at the Philly half, I re-broke two hours. Last year's race featured perfect weather and my time was 1:58:23. I ran Caesar Rodney in March, also good weather, 1:55:46. PDR in September, beautiful weather, 1:54:25. My goal for today was to run 1:54:24 or less. Well, the weather cooperated again so if I didn't pull it off I had nobody to blame but myself.

I started off with Ashley and Nan but lost them before the race even started. They ended up running a lot faster than me so it's probably good that I lost them. (Congrats on a great race, guys!)

First mile in 8:58, definitely on the slow side, but to be expected. Felt good, picked up the pace. Mile 2 was 8:41, right about where I wanted to be. Mile 3 was 8:17, a bit on the fast side, but I didn't really like slowing down.

4, 5, 6 and 7 were 8:29, 8:33, 8:30, 8:30. I don't really recall what was going on there that made me run such consistent miles, and on the faster side too, but I certainly didn't object. The rest of the race was not nearly as consistent. Somewhere in there at 3rd and South or so was a cop trying to get runners to stop to let a Septa bus cross South St. This at least provided some comic relief. Needless to say he was not having much luck. Also in here were some Philly Runner spectators including Holly, Jerry and Shanley, thanks guys for coming out! I'm pretty sure some others were in there, but I didn't catch who. Also ran across Drs. Jill and Michelle somewhere in here.

Miles 8, 9 and 10 were slower and less consistent: 8:45, 9:05, 9:00. 9 and 10 involve the hills going up 34th St. and into the park and around the Please Touch Museum. I really felt that hill up 34th St. I could hear myself breathing heavily and my heart rate spiked to 168 on mile 9, whereas a normal cruise for me is 145-155. On the other hand, I was passing people going up the hill so maybe I was doing something right.

Miles 11, 12 and 13 found us back on West River Drive, home turf and last leg. I really tried to pick up the pace here but I was feeling pretty drained. I pushed it as hard as I could, blew by the Philly Runners water stop and took out the last three miles in 8:41, 8:45 and 9:03 for the last 1.1, I have no idea where the mile 13 sign was, it wasn't until I uploaded the data later that it even occurred to me that there would have been a mile 13 sign. If I'm not mistaken, that's about an 8:13 mile pace for the last 1.1, the fastest of the race. It certainly felt like it and my HR spiked to 182. I came in feeling like I had nothing left in the tank, which means I did it right.

Final time: 1:53:24, exactly one minute faster than my goal time.
Max HR: 182 (recommend max HR is 220 - age (37)) =183
Calories burned: 2171, about two days worth of meals for a couch potato, or one pre-race carbo loading dinner topped off with tiramisu for this 6' tall, 210lb runner.

After the half, I walked back down to Lloyd Hall to look for Philly Runners coming in on the full. Managed to cheer on Chris, Peter, Todd, Andrew, Katie, Erin, Morgan, Emily and missed a bunch of others.

It was great to see so many Philly Runners out there today! Congrats to all our runners and thanks to everybody else for coming out and helping out and cheering us on! I look forward to running with everybody through the winter as soon as you all recover from this weekend.

Andrew -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

Okay, here's my race report! I've had a cold all week that I had hoped wouldn't make any difference, but I think it actually did sap some energy. Nevertheless, I had a goal of 3:45 for the marathon, and 8:35 pace. Ran the first 15 with Todd (who killed it at 3:50!). 1st miles were 9:02, 8:31, 8:27, 8:40, 8:33, 8:37, 8:25. Miles 8, 9, and 10 were a little slower at 9:11, 9:00, and 8:37. Some hills in there in Fairmount park. At mile 11, for the first time in a marathon, I had to make a pit stop at a porta bathroom! Damn cold! Also some dietary issues the prior day may have impacted this. Stopped my watch for that, but my official time ticked away. Nevertheless, I felt so much better afterwards - the run would have been a disaster if I hadn't stopped. And I'm not one of those people who can eliminate without breaking stride - yuck!

Times for mile 11-15 were 8:56, 8:28, 8:39, 8:35, and 8:54. Somewhere around here Todd moved ahead and I wasn't able to keep up. But it was great running together for those first miles! At this point I realized that by not adjusting my goal, I had, like 90% of people, actually run the first half too fast! So easy to do that!

16-20: 8:28, 9:12, 9:05, 9:30, 10:15. I knew I was hitting a wall. I had made an effort from mile 15 to grab 2 cliff shots any time they were offered. Ate one with gatorade and walked through the water stops, and then made sure I had one every 30 minutes to replenish my diminishing glycogen reserves.

21-23: I was maintaining here. The route was starting to look familiar when we got back to Kelly. Pace was 9:55, 9:55, and 9:52. Looking at the clock time, I realized a PR could be possible for me. Also, I remembered prior races where I totally crashed and burned, slowing to 12 minute miles or slower, and I wasn't going to let that happen. I credit my ability to hold on to the Philly Runners Club, Team Joey, and the Thursday night hill/quarter mile repeat workouts!

Miles 24-26: 9:35, 9:58, and then at the end, I had a surge of energy! All the cheering and realizing I was nearly home helped me accelerate. I kicked it in with an 8:52 for mile 26. With my GPS, it registered another half at 4:11.

Final official time was 4:01:50 (my second fastest of 7 marathons), but my clock time that I am going to give myself credit for was 3:59 (not including the bathroom stop!).

Thanks to all the Philly Runners I saw on the course! Todd who ran the first 15 with me, Mehede, Seth (your high five a quarter mile from the finish was a real boost!), Kristen, Kevin and all those at the water stop, Ceasar, Joey, and everyone I can't remember at the moment. This is a fantastic running club and you all inspire me to push harder and run better!

Also, I was raising money for charity, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and I raised over $1500, and as a team we are well over $5,000 now for a great cause to protect the drinking water supply for over 15 million people. So that was a great thought to keep me going in those late miles as well!

See you all at an upcoming run, after I get back from vacation in a few weeks. Hope all of today's runners met their goals and recover well!

Angelique -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

i had an awesome race... i swear the first 16 miles just flew by, i felt great throughout, def never hit a wall (not quite sure how i managed that...i was on it with the gatorade and cliff shots throughout the whole race though and made sure to increase sodium intake in the days leading up to the race). when i got into manayunk i was pumped because i was feeling good and having fun. i def slowed down come miles 22/23, simply b/c my legs were obviously getting very tired! but endurance/health wise felt great. i did something similar to andrew, the last mile i threw it down and was able to push it to the line. my goal time was 4:15, i clocked myself at 4:08, website says 4:10. was pumped, happy at the finish, found my family and able to celebrate afterwards!

Morgan -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

I hope this post-marathon happiness lasts forever!

Miles 1-24 felt like a dream.

Miles 25 & 26 felt like a mini-nightmare.

I ran 3:31:57 made the Boston Qualifying Time with a few minutes of cushion and outran my reach goal!

I am oh so proud of all philly runners and second the notion of celebrating after Thanksgiving (when we can all walk again?)

Thank you (a million times) to all of the volunteers - Kevin and Kristin it was the ultimate boost!

Diana -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

I had a pretty good race. Felt awesome during the first half and crossed 13.1 faster than any of my previous 1/2 marathons and also a few minutes ahead of goal pace (probably ended up not being a good thing though).

Things continued to be ok for the next few miles and past the Falls Bridge. I Started getting really dehydrated and then I somehow missed an entire waterstop! I swear it wasn't just the marathon brain and one of the stops along Kelly was much shorter than the others. Finally made it to the next one and drank multiple cups of water and gatorade. It may have been a little too late though because I continued to feel pretty dehydrated for the rest of the race, no matter how much I drank.

Around mile 20 I was feeling some serious pain in my legs and started slowing down quite a bit. I Somehow pushed through and crossed the finish line in 4:08 - not too bad considering the pain I was in. I came in at 8 minutes behind my goal time but I finished and am already thinking about what marathon to sign up for next, so overall, I'll call it a success!

Congrads to all of the Philly runners, volunteers, and spectators- you are all amazing! Team Joey- thank you for making training so much fun (I forgot how boring Kelly drive can be by yourself haha). Can't wait for the post thanksgiving celebration!

Todd -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

I wanted to share my first time marathon experience.

Finish time: 3 hour 49 minutes

I came to the starting line Sunday morning a bit unprepared because I missed a bunch of the long training runs with Team Joey( due to injury). Knowing I lacked the long runs/conditioning I did a bit of research on marathon running and followed the approach of just focusing on running to the next water station then "briskly" walking through it for 30-40 seconds then back onto the fast pace.
This would give my "running" muscles a break/ reduce fatigue and mentally it was never "20 miles to go" it became " just get to the next water station".

I also listened to a podcast called "Endurance Planet" with sports nutritionalist Ben Greenfield and Ultra-runner Tim Waggoner and their advice was geared more to nutrition before and during the race. Loading up on carbs the 3 days prior to the event then using Gels(Gu brand) every 30 minutes during the race. So that is what I followed to supplement my lack of training. 1 quart of rice, a giant bowl of steel-cut oatmeal, 1 large Yam per day(for 3 days) leading up to Sunday. A giant spinach salad for early dinner Saturday afternoon and asleep by 7pm.

My glycogen levels were maxed out!

Running with Andrew and his GPS watch to set the pace was invaluable. He kept me from going out WAY to fast and burning out early. I carried 8 gels with me and 2 bottles of Gatorade. One bottle contained an extra tablespoon of salt to replace salt lost because of my Hyperhidrosis and also to help kill the sweetness of all those gels. I alternated between gels with 2x the caffeine and gels with no caffeine.

Andrew and I made it to the halfway point just under 2 hours and I felt as fresh as can be. Ready for another 13.1 and Happy to do it!!

Getting on to Kelly drive was great but by mile 16 I couldn't hold back. I cranked on the iPod and let the music blast away, sorry to have left Andrew behind. Running over the Falls Bridge was awesome with the sun dappled through the blue lattice-work of the bridge. Push-on, push-on!
Manayunk was crazy! Main street did NOT disappoint. Once I got to the turn around at Green Lane it was just 6.2 to go. Let's GET IT ON!

I did have to stop at the "beer station" to sample some brews. Even though I was running a race there was no need to be hasty when free samples of beer are being offered.

I felt amazing fresh those last miles until mile 25 then it hit me. I didn't stop or slow down but...
then song "Jerusalem" kicked on my iPod:

...bring me my bow of burning gold,
bring me my arrows of desire,
bring me my spear,
oh clouds unfold,
bring me my chariot of fire!

And I floated up that final hill to the finish!(picturing myself running barefoot on the beach- those who know their Oscar winning running movies get the reference!)

A big shout out to Kristen who seem to be in multiple spots on the course cheering away, your cheers were greatly appreciate. Another shout out to Seth at the last 1/4 mile, that high 5 was really needed at that point!

Cheers to Andrew, Caesar, Mehede, Joey, and Erin that I saw along the way.
Many thanks to Philly Runners, this time a year ago I would NEVER in one million years have pictured myself doing A marathon.


Katie -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

First of all I want to thank everyone at Philly Runners especially Joey, Todd, Dianna, Katie D., Justin, Andrew, Ceasar, Angelique, Seth, Morgan and Kevin! You guys are awesome and have inspired me to continue running.

Andrew-Thank you so much for your invaluable information about ending hydration 1 1/2 hours prior to the race. Even though I was still somehow at the portapottie when the first horn went off (because of nerves) I would have probably had to pee throughout the race.

Joey- You are such an inspiration to everyone. I can't wait to race again with you! Thank you for introducing me to Hammer! It has been so useful and so easy for me to get down.

Todd-Despite being sick and injured you are so awesome at persevering.

Dianna- That last 8 mile run was great for both of us. I hope you continue running with us!

Ceasar- I really want to do a bike race now!

Angelique- You have given me words of wisdom (whether or not I follow it). Thanks for pacing us on all our runs and staying positive!

Morgan- Just simply awesome. I will one day qualify along with you (cant say I didn't tell you so)
Justin- Glad I saw you during the marathon to keep me focused.

Seth- Thank you for organizing Philly runners. Thank you for the final cheer in the last 500 meters.

Kevin- Thank you for volunteering especially at mile 11 right after those hills when I needed to see a friendly face! Thanks for grabbing my jacket at mile 11 as well. Man it was hot!

Katie D.- Thank you for making my first marathon so much fun! Sorry I couldn't keep the 8:50 pace with you around mile 17. I loved seeing all the signs cheering "Katie" and our family and friends. Running up the challenging hills around the zoo with you. The first 13 miles were AMAZING!! So much fun. Thank you for not leaving me after I fell at mile 13. If it wasn't for my stupid stomach problems I would have hit under 4 with you. Next time. I am so proud of you. I am so happy we got to the front of purple even if we were afraid we wouldn't make it.

Great first experience for a marathon. Couldn't have asked for a better group to share it with!

Joey -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

Joining Philly runners was such an awesome thing for me. Even though I was disappointed with my finish time for the marathon this year I’ve grown leap and bounds as a runner, not to mention made some awesome friends and did great in broad St and the Philly half.

Looking back years later I will probably forget about having to walk the last 3 miles of the marathon and remember the awesome times this year. Like doing our 20 miler through the sleet and snow while debating the origins of the concept of sasquatch/bigfoot, running a 17 Miler with Angelique where it was so hot and humid that when it finally rained we laid on the ground in front of the art museum for 10 minutes and let it rain on us. The soccer game making all those diving stops in spite of not playing for a decade (I was more sore from that then the marathon) All those Thursday night runs with Todd through the pitch darkness, of course all the BBQs, Katie running a 16 miler with us coming off of a concussion. Good times

Nadeem -- Philadelphia Marathon -- November 20, 2011

What a great experience. After a half dozen half marathons, I thought I would throw my hat into the full marathon ring. A calf injury 5 weeks before the race cast some doubt as to whether I could get the distance in. I was a late addition to team Joey.

I had a friend fly up from Alabama who ran side by side the entire race.

I ran the first half at a real comfortable 9:20 pace. My slowest half to date. After the injury, I was happy to be out there. My family gave me a boost at the Art Museum steps.

I thought Kelly Drive was lonely and didn't care for the detour over the Falls Bridge.

At mile18, I had matched my longest run and now I was just praying. At mile 20, my hamstrings went tight. From this point, I just wanted to make it back. My friend was incredibly calming as we grinded it out.

4:29 at the finish and I felt great. It was a wonderful journey. It won't be my last but will always be my first.

Congrats to everyone




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