As promised, a race report from 40,000 feet [although I'm not getting to post it until now]. Its somehow unfair that there is this great race in my backyard in the morning and I have to fly out to
For those of you unfamiliar with the Philadelphia Distance Run, it is one of the premier
Got a call from Allen yesterday, who blew back into town after spending the summer off in various points west. Me, him, his girlfriend and another friend who’s running headed down to the race together. I get there and hook up with Bill, the fearless leader of the team I’m running for, and we warm up a bit, running into folks we know along the way. The day is sunny and warm, a bit too warm but nothing to complain about after
A strange calm comes over me as I’m in the corral waiting for the start. I just keep repeating “patience” to myself in a mantra-like fashion as the National Anthem gets sung and the wheelchair athletes start. The gun sounds and there is more congestion around me than I’d like, but my chants pay off and I wait. We are going down the
The race now becomes a familiar scene, I’m steadily overtaking clusters of runners and somehow miss the 3-mile mark (5k in ). Mile 3 & 4 pass in 11:21, a bit slower and still comfortable. Going up
Mile 5 (5:33) and now we’re on the Drives. We pass Emily around this point. We run halves at about the same time and this is a good benchmark that I’m running strong. I can now anticipate all of the mile markers, and know that I need to hold steady here and prep for the only real hill on this course located just before
My plan now becomes to hold it steady until the crossover to
By now all I have to do is hang on, and a personal best is assured. I am, however, starting to tire. Buddy #2 pulls ahead, and I can’t hang. Mile 10 in 5:41, with the mile 10 checkpoint showing 55:58. Still in the no-hit zone. But I’m alone now and starting to slow. Footsteps start coming up behind me. Mile 11 in 5:45 and that will be my slowest mile of the day. A guy is coming up on me hard and I find I can still dig deep to respond as he overtakes me. For the rest of the race we swap surges and pass a few folks. This I later find out is Greg Watson, a local masters triathlete and better known as husband of local celebrity/weather person Cecily Tynan. Mile 12 drops back down to 5:33 and I know this will be big. Mile 13 passes in 5:43, due in part to the insidious uphill
I glance up at the finish clock and its ticking off in the 1:13’s. This is rarefied air for a guy with a previous best of 1:15. The official (chip) finishing time is 1:13:35 (1:13:43 gun).
1:13! I am stunned. In my best case scenarios I had hoped to dip into the 1:14s. I finish with Duncan, who usually finishes well ahead of me, and he immediately recognizes the hugeness of this for me. He gives me a sweaty hug and warm congratulations and I babble something incomprehensible back.
Then life becomes a cocktail party on the street. I run into various folks I know and chat, give and receive congratulations, and go home to shower and pack.
Now you’ll have to indulge me while I end by reflecting upon how huge this is for me. At this point in my running “career” to PR by over a minute and a half is unimaginable. It changes my perception of myself and what I can do. It also has a vague air of redemption to it. Look at what I’ve written on these pages over the summer and you’ll see that I poured myself into my training. I had no choice. Psychic pain and emotional turmoil provided fuel for my training as much as anything I ate, and the drive to finish strong took on new proportions. My training responded by burning up the baggage I brought with me in a way that alcohol never could have. More mornings than I can count I told myself “this will be hard” before going out and, upon finishing the workout, I was able to acknowledge that I was now stronger. In writing that I just made myself cry. With outcomes like these I gotta hope that things have turned a corner. We’ll see.
For the geek stuff, I scored 88th place and third masters finisher. Watson, the second finisher, was two seconds ahead (damn!) and Darren DeReuck (Olympian Colleen's husband) was top master about 45 seconds ahead. This means I should now be getting two age group trinkets from Elite Racing. But I will hang on to this one. We also finished first in the Masters team competition and sixth team overall.
I get back from