There were almost no cars on the road, and we got a great parking spot close to 22nd & Benjamin Franklin Parkway. We made our way to the starting area. I hit the porta johns and began to stretch. I could not believe I was here! Two years ago we were there on the exact same day, but I ran the Rothman Institute 8K. I started off too fast, and it was hard. I told my wife that "one day I would return and run the full marathon. Last year they added the HM, and this year it became my goal. To complete the Philadelphia Half Marathon.
My goal was simply to finish, have fun and come in under 3 hrs...2:45 preferably). My strategy was simple...on race day, I was just going to wake up and run for 3 miles (a 5k). no problem...the plan was that after 5k, I'd be in a groove and the rest wouldn't seem so difficult. It worked. I wanted to start out slow and hopefully have enough in the tank at the end for a push to the finish...The first 3 miles FLEW by, and I mean FLEW!!! I couldn't believe how great I felt. no knee pain, nothing...I had Cliff Shot blocks electrolyte chews and drank water an a Gatorade at every stop. It was working...!
This continued all the way to mile 10. the first 6 miles were beautiful and scenic...the last half were hilly. I just ran with my iPod, and for the most part, it felt like any other long run. I would pause the music when approaching a cheering crowd of spectators so I could enjoy the atmosphere. They really helped push through the later miles. At mile 10 I verbally said, "I got this!" then it was just getting to the finish. I got choked-up several times at the late stages in the race. One time was when I saw a Vet holding a sign that simply said, "Dig Deep!" that said it all...
As I approached the last hill at mile 12.5...I began passing people. The crowd was getting bigger, the cheers were louder, then I saw the goal. My wife in her blazing orange winter coat (so I could easily spot her) and my little girl holding up signs and screaming and cheering, "C'mon hun, you're almost there...Go Daddy...GO!!!!!" Another motivation was a dear friend of the family, Allan who had suffered a stoke (or "set-back") as he calls it, on Mother's Day of this past year. He's made great progress so far, and we expect a full recovery. I told him I was going to run it in his honor. If I can finish a 1/2 Marathon...With God, ALL things are possible!!!
As I crossed the finish line with a last push, arms outstretched, looking towards the sky, I said "Thank you Jesus..." I had done it. Chip time of 2:43:59 (36.6% in my age category-3,657 over all)
With God's help...I had succeeded in accomplishing my goal...
"But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." Is 40:31
I owe alot of thanks to my wife for pushing me and encouraging me to go for a run when I didn't feel like it. I also owe a debt of gratitude for all my friends in the RunningAhead.com forums. Their encouragement and advice allowed me to have the confidence and form the plan that got me over the finish line.
I took Thanksgiving week off from running, and plan to start back on Tues 11/27. I've been thinking about my next running goals and I believe I'll maintain 20-25 miles through the winter, and find some races between 10-13.1 miles for next year...then return to Philly next November and run the full marathon...to Celebrate my 40th birthday
Until next time...