First Marathon

Philadelphia Marathon 2009

Pete and I early in the morning before the race.
Andy was with us and took this picture.
This was an absolutely awesome experience! So many of our friends and family came to support Pete and me. The weather was perfect and Pete and I were ready for our first marathon! Before I go any further I really have to thank Pete for deciding to do this.  If it wasn't for him, I would not have decided to join him and become a runner which has become such a fulfilling and important part of my life.  It all started with training for this marathon!

The following race report is from an email I sent to Pete and Frank a few days after the race: 

<race report>
Pete and I lined up at the front of the gray coral. In fact we were so far in front that we ended up starting at the end of the green coral instead. So, that's why it was so slow. I was weaving in and out of people for the first half mile or so. I didn't purposefully intend to make up the time in the next two miles, but I just somehow did. I will honestly say that in the back of my head, I was thinking that maybe I could bank a little time in the first half thinking that I had set a conservative goal. Which obviously was not the case. 

So happy to be done and officially marathoners!
 Taken by Chris.
The hills in the first half didn't bother me at all. I felt so strong in the beginning that I only slowed down a bit, and then I just cruise down on the downhills but I never thought I was pushing that hard in the first half. 

I first started to feel a bit tired right around mile 14. I realized I was slowing down, but I still thought I could maintain a bit of a slower pace. But, then only a mile or two later after I realized I was still slowing down even more, I realized that I was fading pretty bad. This was a new feeling for me, compared to my training runs. I guess I felt it a bit at the very end of the half marathon, but by that time I was almost done. Too be feeling this tired with still 10 miles left was tough. So I continued to slow down, but I was still running in the 9s. 

Then at around mile 20 I started feeling my quads cramping. I slowed down a bit, but kept going. Then, my calves followed suit. At around mile 22 I decided that it was bad enough that I should stop to stretch. When I went to go stretch my calf, my hamstring seized up a bit, which really scared me. So then I decided ok I'm going to start running again, but very slowly. 

Pete is one happy Dad with Sofie!
Taken by Chris.
So the next three miles were very slow with a weird stride and at this point I remember thinking how I'm not really that tired anymore and what's holding me back is definitely these stupid cramps. In the last mile and a half I picked it up a bit even though every so often I would feel like one of my legs would seize up. In fact in the last half mile a friend (Vadim) who jumped in to run with me for a while made me pick up the pace and my hamstring did seize up, but it wasn't to the point of making me stop completely. 

Finally when there was about a quarter mile to go for whatever reason I was able to open up my stride a bit and I did a bit of a kick in. When I finished, despite all that had happened in the last half, I was so happy to be done and finish without walking that I'm not upset at all. 

My only thoughts about it now, is what to do so that doesn't happen next time! Pete and I both already registered for the NYC Marathon. If we don't get in there, then the plan is to run Philly again next year. 

I have an absolutely ridiculous goatee!
Taken by Chris.
From all of the reading I've done so far about muscle cramps, right now it looks like the two main culprits for me were going out too fast in the first half, and not doing enough long runs in my training. But, I'm sure I'll keep reading about it, and talking with people so I can be better prepared for next time. Overall a great first time experience and a great learning experience. I have to do more long runs in my training before the next one, and look into preventing muscle cramps. George W. will have to go down next time!</race report>

Looking back now at my first marathon a couple years later, the feeling and excitement comes back to me.  It truly is an emotional experience.  I'm looking to keep running for a long time to come and I expect to run more marathons as well as many other races including ones farther than a marathon, but because this was my first marathon, it will always have a special significance. Also, I did beat George W's time the following year :)

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