I opted to register for the Philadelphia Marathon this year as I’d never raced it before and had a family wedding on November 5th – the night before the New York City Marathon. Philly 26.2 seemed like a great alternative and I wasn’t disappointed.
We stayed at the Philadelphia Downtown Marriott the night before and made a quick stop at the Race Expo to pick up my race bib and check out the gear. The Expo was relatively quiet, easy to navigate and packet pick-up took less than 10 minutes. Looked in on a workshop being run by former marathon record-holder Bill Rogers. Rogers won the Boston Marathon for times, including three straight 1978-1980 and finished first in the New York City Marathon between 1976 and 1980.
Times was short, but we did swing by a few historic sites, including the Liberty Bell. After that, my wife and I headed to dinner and some games at the SugarHouse Casino, before turning in early for the big race.
The clock alarm went off at 5:00AM, the wake-up call came at 5:05AM and the iPhone alarm went off at 5:10AM. A quick shower, debate about shorts vs tights and I was out the door headed to the 7-11 across the street for coffee before boarding the bus to the start line. Of course, the temperature had dropped from 70 degrees the day before to 38 degrees that morning. Throw in some 45 mile-per-hour gusts and the wind chill was 27 degrees. Onsite security checks went quickly, but Porta Potty lines were epic and within a few minutes most folks had abandoned the long lines to look for semi-secluded spots to take care of business before the starting horn.
The start was well-organized, the crowds were enthusiastic and there were several bands and DJs along the route. The first twelve miles were urban in nature and gave participants a great glimpse into historic Philadelphia. The last 14 miles or so took place in a park along a river where the wind was in its full glory and impacted most runners in a pretty big way. My pace dropped in the last 20 miles, but that’s not uncommon, especially since my long runs capped out at 17. I turned in a 4:36 time, which was ok, and about 3 minutes off my NYC Marathon time from last year.
In sum: The Philly Marathon is a well-organized, solid race with friendly people, a super route and a great medal.
Some of the products I used on marathon day: Gu Salted Caramel (8)