A 2018 Philadelphia Marathon recap

Despite a herniated disc that had me practically unable to move for a few days in early September and left me with considerable numbness and pain in my back and upper left leg for most of that month, I never imagined missing this year’s Philadelphia Marathon. That was not an option.

I finished last year’s Philadelphia Marathon in 4:51:22, but I had already run a marathon earlier in 2017 and did not have the disruption in my training schedule I had this year. Before the herniated disc, I was targeting a time of 4:45:00 or better. Based on the training I was able to get in post-injury/recovery (I was only able to get in up to 16 miles twice), I had to shift my goal to simply finishing the race. Honestly, I wasn’t 100-percent certain I wouldn’t aggravate the injury and have to withdraw.

Internally, though, I still wanted that 4:45:00 or better. After feeling pretty strong during my last few shorter training runs (about 6 miles each), I made the tactical error of going out strong the first 10K, pulling back the next 10 miles or so and hoping to have enough in reserve to finish strong. At first, I thought I had made the right decision. My time at the halfway point was only 34 seconds slower than my time last year. But without the 18- or 20-mile training runs under my belt this cycle, I was gassed by mile 17. I wound up walking and running verrrrry slowly the final 9.2 miles, fighting nausea, cramping and tightness.

That said, I still thought if I could get to mile 26 with about 10 minutes left before that 5-hour mark, I could push myself to cover the final 1.2 miles in 10 minutes. However, I wound up missing that by a minute and a half, finishing the marathon with a time of 5:01:29.

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So, on one hand, it’s an accomplishment I was even able to finish after what I went through in September. On the other, regressing to a plus-5:00:00 time on a marathon is extremely disappointing.

I should have realized it was going to be a bad day that morning as I was headed into Philly from South Jersey on a PATCO train. I was in a seat with a door behind me. As the train was nearing the final stop in Center City Philadelphia, I freaked out because I couldn’t find my ski mask, which I planned on wearing during the race (so I could lift up the mask part every now and then to warm my face). I looked under the seat and it wasn’t there. I instinctively went to look behind the seat, forgetting there was a glass partition there. I slammed my head into the partition, but my sunglasses were resting on my head and one of the nose rests/hinges dug right into my forehead before breaking off, resulting in a gash on my head and uneven sunglasses. So I broke the other nose rest off to restore balance to my glasses as my head continued to bleed a bit. The dumbest part of this story? My ski mask was around my neck the whole time; I had simply lowered the hood part after getting on the train. D’oh!

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Another in a long history of head wounds caused by stupidity.

On the plus side, I took part in a “shake-out” run the day before the marathon with 2018 Boston Marathon champion Des Linden and Meb Keflezighi, 2004 Olympic silver medalist and winner of the 2009 New York City and 2014 Boston marathons. They were very accommodating, and chatted and took pictures with everybody who took part in the run…including me!

 

That was incredibly cool.

Here are a few race photos…

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It’s a “go” for the Crest Best 10!

Well, I still have a herniated disc and numbness/mild soreness in my upper left leg, but I’m feeling good enough to give Sunday’s Crest Best 10 Miler a try.

Obviously, I’m way behind in my training, but have completed runs of 10, 3.1 and five miles this past week. The 10-mile run didn’t go all that great, as my left leg pretty much gave out completely by mile 7 – I was basically just pushing off with my right leg and just landing on my left to stay upright. It took me just under 1 hour, 52 minutes to complete, which is over 20 minutes more than my 10-mile personal best…so that’s kind of frustrating.

The 3.1-mile run was better, but I really felt more like myself during the 5-mile outing. It was first time I was able to cover five miles at an under 10-minute-mile pace (9:40/mile, to be exact) in what seems like forever.

My goal for Sunday is to finish in less than 1 hour, 40 minutes. That’s way off my 10-mile personal best time of 1:27:03, but I have to be realistic. I’m not close to 100 percent and I haven’t been training as much as I should have been. And, really, I don’t want to even try to push it because I don’t want to put too much stress on my back and aggravate it again like I did during Labor Day weekend.

My physical therapist, who used to be a more avid runner, has supported my shorter runs if I’m feeling up to it. She’s not all that crazy about my doing a 10-mile race, but she knows I’m going to do it anyway if I feel I’m up to it. She just asked me to take it easy…so that’s going to be my approach.

I’m basically using the Crest Best 10 Miler as a training run for next month’s Philadelphia Marathon. That’s the race I’m really concerned about. The injection treatment for my herniated disc is scheduled for October 18, and I’m hoping to try a 16- or 18-mile run between now and then since I’ll have to take it easy for awhile after the treatment (also, I have possible jury duty the following week so that may cut into training time).

If the treatment doesn’t really work, I’ll probably need surgery. But I’ll schedule that for after Philly and hope I can get through 26.2 miles, but it’s going to be tough. It’s one thing to have to walk part of the course, which I did for much of the final eight miles last year. It’s quite another to do it on one leg, which may very well happen if I’m in the same condition I’m in now.

But that’s for next month. Right now, as the headline says, I’m a go for the Crest Best 10 Miler on Sunday. If you would like to track my progress, please click on “Is Live Tracking Available for This Event?” on the event’s FAQ page. There are instructions on how to find/download the DelMoSports Elite Events app for both iOS and Android, and a link for desktop tracking is promised to be available soon.

*** 10/6/18 UPDATE ***

Well, the desktop link for live tracking hasn’t been posted yet and today is the first day of the Crest Best Run Fest (kids race, 5K). I did find a URL that would work on desktop, but it asks you to register or login with Facebook in order to look up a runner. That leaves the best option as the DelMoSports Elite Events app, but it’s doing something a bit weird on my iPhone…you may have to open/close the app a few times before the Crest Best info appears (you may see previous events instead…if you do, close and open the app again until the Crest Best info shows up).

Get DelMoSports Elite Events App for iOS

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2017 Broad Street Run recap and time to rest

Well, exactly one week after my disappointing 5:14:25 finish in my first-ever marathon, the New Jersey Marathon, I lifted my spirits with a PR in my third Broad Street Run in four years on Sunday, May 7. Even that wasn’t easy, though.

During my training runs the week between the two races, I was experiencing pretty excruciating pain in my left knee that usually popped up around mile 3 or 4 of the run. That resulted in my having to walk or flat-out stop to stretch it out before continuing. On top of that, a persistent cold that I really haven’t been able to completely shake the past few weeks began to flare up again the Friday before the Broad Street Run.

Fortunately, I was able to fight off the cold, but all I could really do was rest and ice the knee…and hope I could get through the 10-mile run down Philadelphia’s Broad Street.

I knew I had to go better than an 8:59/mile pace to conquer the 1:30:00 mark, but I really didn’t know if I could maintain that with my knee in the shape it was in. Once again, around mile 4, I felt discomfort. But then I stumbled upon a temporary, in-race solution…by landing more on the back of my foot, it seemed to take stress off the knee. It was just a touch, but it was enough to relieve the pain enough to keep moving forward.

And I did…at a pace in the ballpark of 8:45/mile.

My Nike+ app was off by about two-tenths of a mile, but I did know that I started about 17 minutes after the elite runners started. So when I saw that the race clock said 1:18 and change at mile 7, I knew I just had to maintain my pace the final three miles to achieve my goal.

And I actually picked up the pace by a few seconds during the final three miles…finishing the 2017 Broad Street Run in a personal-best 1:27:03.

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However, I nearly couldn’t walk back to my car, which was parked nearly a mile away from the finish area. About a third of the way of the way there, my knee tightened up so badly, that it was a struggle just to step up a curb. Just as I was reaching my car, it nearly gave out completely and I almost fell.

What turned out to be fortuitous was that I struck up a conversation with a fellow runner in my starting corral. I mentioned how my knee had tightened up and was causing me pain after running the marathon the week before. He said that he suffered from something similar – IT bands. I read about iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome when I got home from the Broad Street Run, and it sounds exactly like what I have been experiencing so I’m going with that diagnosis.

And that means I’m going to take a break from running for a week or two and gradually work my way back into a routine. I have a 5K at my alma mater on June 10, but that’s it for organized races in my immediate future.

Hopefully, by then, my knee will be OK because I’m announcing it here — now — that I am officially registered for my second-ever marathon…the Philadelphia Marathon on Nov. 19, 2017. It’s a couple of weeks after the Trenton Half-Marathon, which will serve as a nice marathon training run.

I just need to get the disappointment of my first marathon out of my head.

If you want to join me in registering for the Philadelphia Marathon — or the Philadelphia Half Marathon, Liberty Bell Challenge or Independence Challenge, use the link below to register:

https://runsignup.com/Race/PA/Philadelphia/ThePhiladelphiaMarathon?raceRefCode=qoGqlrRk

 

2017 New Jersey Marathon wrap-up

654315_254882040_XLargeWell, I finished last Sunday’s New Jersey Marathon, so I can now call myself a “marathoner.” However, I’m not at all happy about how it all went down.

During my longer training runs (16-, 18- and 20-milers), I went really slow…around 11:30-12:00/mile slow. I had also tried different forms of in-race nutrition/energy, such as gels and chopped-up Clif bars. Both didn’t sit well with me, so I learned about Sport Beans – carbs, energy and vitamins in jelly bean form. I figured that was something familiar to me so it might be easier to deal with. I only tried a few during a short tune-up run in the week prior to the marathon, and didn’t have an issue with them. The same did not hold true for the marathon…but I’ll get back to that later.

Here’s the good…I perfectly executed my plan for the first 18 miles of the race. I wanted to run around 9:30-9:40/mile for the first 10K and wound up right at 9:40/mile for a 59:59 initial 6.2 miles. I gradually began pulling back so I would have something left at the end (at least that was the plan). I hit the halfway point in a comfortable (for me) 2:14:00. Now, I completed the 2016 Trenton Half Marathon last November in 1:59:06, but I pushed it because I wanted to finish in under two hours. For the marathon, I figured I would cover 13.1 miles somewhere in the 2:10:00-2:20:00 ballpark. Again, I was right there. It was all going to plan.

Until around mile 18.

After the halfway point, I ripped open the pouch of Sport Beans and took 3 to 4 beans with some water. And everything was fine. So at mile 18, I decided to consume the rest of the beans – again with some water (as instructed by the packaging). Well, the same issues I had with gels and Clif bars reared its ugly head again…I couldn’t really get the beans down, which kept the water from going down properly. With each stride, I could feel the water sloshing around just below my chest and it was making me nauseous. I thought I could walk it off, but I wound up walking most of the next three miles.

What was really frustrating was that I wasn’t fatigued. I would’ve still been running if it weren’t making me feel sick. I mean, I would have probably been at a slow 10:30-11:00/mile pace at that point, but it still would have been better than a walker’s pace.

After reaching mile 21, I had enough of walking. I decided to get rid of the water the quickest way possible…I sat down on a curb just off roadway, stretched my legs out a bit and forced myself to throw up the excess water.

And I felt SOOOOOO much better after that. My legs had tightened up a bit, but after a few minutes, I was running again – albeit slowly. With about 1 1/2 miles left to go, I decided to give it all I had until I crossed the finish line…with a time of 5:14:25.

So, yeah, after a comfortable 2:14:00 first half, it took me 3:00:25 to complete the final 13.1 miles…I find that completely unacceptable.

After I finished, I immediately said to my wife and parents that I was never doing another marathon. By the next day, I was visiting the Philadelphia Marathon website and making plans to get the sour taste of this first marathon experience out of my mouth.

It’s apparent that I don’t have the digestive abilities to consume in-race nutrition in either solid or gel form. It just disrupts things for me. From now on, I’m just going to stick with a water/sport drink mixture.

Up next for me is Philadelphia’s famed Broad Street Run on Sunday. I completed last year’s 10-miler in 1:31:52. My goal this year is to come in under 1:30:00. Accomplishing that will go a long way in clearing the disappointing marathon experience from my mind.

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