Monday, November 22, 2010

The Philadelphia Marathon - Sunday, 21st November 2010

Run Up

I have not posted anything in ages as there was not much going on. My training was going really badly, and I felt overwhelmed by some of the choices I might have to make.  These are potentially life-changing, and given the accelerated rate of change in our lives over the past few years, I had a bit of a melt down.  I have been feeling quite worn out, both physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally.  My running came to a halt, as it seemed a bit futile to me at the time.  I have realized that this is an area I need to sort out as I want next year to be different.  Anyway, on a positive note, I actually managed to take the exam I had been thinking about!  I still don't know the outcome, but I feel it was a step forward in unblocking a stagnant situation.


At work very few people know that I run, and those who have an inkling, have no idea of what that entails. So on Friday, in response to the eternal question of "So what are you doing this weekend?", I told a few people that I was going to Philadelphia to do the marathon, and they seemed shocked. Now, even though my training had fallen apart, I was convinced of one thing:  I would run that marathon, and I would finish it.  The only way I would not, would be if they carried me off the course in a wooden box.  The physical aspect did not concern me either.  By the time Friday evening rolled around, I knew 2 things for certain: I would have a tremendous marathon experience and I would never waiver mentally. 


                     Approach to Philly

I flew to Philly in the morning, and then went to pick up my race packet.  I felt anxious and a bit sad that Stuart was not with me, but I walked around a bit and chatted to a few people.  Since I had no clue about what I was going to wear, I asked for some advice.  In the end I wore something I bought at the expo, but more on that later.  I promised myself no trawling around the expo for hours on end, so I left and had a short walk around the city centre.  Philadelphia is simply stunning with it's beautiful Art Deco buildings.  


After a quick lunch at the Reading Terminal Market, a wonderful indoor market with everything from Amish pickles to yummy Greek baklava dipped in honey, I went back to the hotel and decided to try on my race outfit to see if it was comfortable enough.  On went my newly purchased CW-X Pro Tights after all, if they are good enough to be worn by cheetahs (minus the hole for the tail), they are good enough for me!  OK, I was not just taken in by the publicity, but I had read about them on the Julie, the Hotlegs Runner's blog, and since I have some IT band issues after a long run, the idea of supporting those muscles and the quads seemed like a great idea. Dear all, let me say that was probably the best purchase I made this year.  It was amazing, and yes, it did support my IT band very well.
I had planned on wearing this.......
  but ended up wearing this other stuff instead..


I spent an almost sleepless night and was up at 4pm.  I got to the Philadelphia Art Museum around 6:00am, as I was staying at the airport (and took the train in).  What a beautiful morning!  A bit nippy, but it promised to be warm.  

Now I know what Rocky really saw from the steps of the PAM....

The Race

Was exciting, with a terrific atmosphere.  My corral started at 7:30am, and was the last to go.  The route passes through the Museum District, Chinatown, the Historic District, University District etc, and really showcases this stunning city. Philly is also very green with lovely shady areas, and hilly woods.  I seemed to be trotting along at a decent pace, until I lost the group I was running with around mile 10, as I had to make a stop, and there was a 10 minute queue at the porta potties!  Things moved along until mile 14 when an aching back suddenly seized up. I had to lie down on the ground and stretch it out until it  loosened up a bit.  My new tights really came into their own around mile 20.  Usually my hips and the sides of my thighs are in agony, but they were fine in their new CW-X casing.  My back started up again and I walked for a bit, then ran on until I needed to stop again.  Miles 22 and 23 were a bit hard, and I felt like crying for no apparent reason.  But I also felt rather happy, so no tears came.  All I could do was call out to the others (who were doing the same to me), and tell them what an awesome job they were doing.  It took my mind off things, and miles 24 and 25 were a slow jog.  I had a bit of a walk at mile 26, and then ran about three quarters of a mile.  When I finished, I had nothing left in the tank, and although I was feeling physically sick, it went hand in hand with another very cool feeling: I had completed something I had set my mind to. Perhaps not in the way I had originally imagined, but I did the business, and got the job done despite everything else that had been going on. It really was a great learning curve, even though it took me 6:15.  At work no one asked for my time, but everyone asked me if I had finished.....

Thank you Fran, and yes I do wish you lived nearer, as I would have loved for you to have come to Philly (maybe another time.....)  a shout out to Stefano, Yogi and Johann who never seemed to doubt that if I could do 20 miles I could do the marathon. A big thank you to Christina who helped me early on in my programme as I was suffering with some minor ailments....and thanks for keeping me on the programme on fb.  Thank you for the good wishes Hungry Runner girl, Ole, Mary, Alan and Jenny.  A very  unexpected source of support came from a group of colleagues, ranging from Rachel who wanted to fly out with me to Philly (and then had a family crisis to attend to), to a few people who wrote me such sweet notes of encouragement (Indra, Eileen), the good wishes (Colleen, Irache,) finally to Kathy who rang me up to ask if I wanted a place on the MMRF team to run Boston next year (which I declined by the way).
I feel like I have finally gotten the monkey off my back and that  my Annus Horribilis is drawing to a close. For the moment though, I am looking forward to the massage I have booked for tomorrow evening!



  1. I'm like you, I don't really talk about my running a lot. My coworkers were also shocked when it was announced at a meeting that I was going to Greece to run a marathon. After the meeting, several coworkers came to my desk to ask me how many miles I was going to run and when I explained a marathon is 26.2 miles, they looked at me in awe and asked me if I run that far every day.

    I'm truly sorry to hear you've been having such a rough time but I'm pleased to hear you crossed the finish line - of a marathon, no less. Congratulations, girl!

  2. Congratulations! You did it! (I love Philly, it's such a beautiful, friendly city.)

  3. Buongiorno Natalia,
    complimenti per il bellissimo traguardo.
    Adesso che hai rotto il ghiaccio, la prossima sarà
    ancora più bella.
    Buone corse.
    P.S. Prima buon riposo

  4. Well done Natalia, you did it! I'm really proud of you! A finish is a finish and believe me, the slower your time, the tougher the run, so you are awesome and tough. It is so strange, I was reading something on The Green Girl's blog a while ago and I thought: "that sounds just like Natalia". Congrats with your marathon finish, be proud and rest well!

  5. Congratulations on finishing your marathon !! Great job!!

  6. Intanto avrei voluto vedere la faccio di coloro che si sono sentiti rispondere che tu nel week end corri una maratona....
    Congratulazioni per averla portata a termine in quello che ormai non è più un Annus Horribilis, questa esperienza ti servirà per le prossime volte. Ora passa questa settimana a recuperare ed a concedere al tuo fisico un po' di riposo.
    Grazie per la citazione e presto voglio vedere la tua di statua a Philly: Natalia che festeggia l'arrivo!
    Infine ecco la mia mail

  7. Congratulations! Sorry to hear you had a difficult time leading up to it. But, you just finished a marathon so remember your amazing accomplishment!

  8. mitica la statua in maglietta! :) la tua gara l'hai vinta, il tuo silenzio dice molto più delle parole....

  9. Congrats Natalia! I'm so proud of you, you did it!!!!!

    Loved your report.

    Enjoy the feeling now that you're a 26.2 runner.

  10. Congrats! Great report and awesome medal. Now, I need to get some of those tights!

  11. Love the race report. I didn't realize you were feeling your training was so poor prior to the race but it makes sense since I do the same thing. It just goes to show you how we underestimate our abilities and how we can do anything.

    P.S. I love the tights and may need to ask for some for Christmas.

  12. Thank you very much everyone for your comments.

    @Mary: You were awesome in Greece, and I thought of you on Sunday!

    @Scarlett: Hope you found the shoes.....

    @Giuseppe: Grazie tante per le parole si, vorrei proprio farne un'altra....ho imparato cosi' tante cose con questa...

    @Johann: Baie dankie vir die mooi woorde, ek is altyd baie bly om hulle te lees. Thanks!

    @Alan...ta very much!

    @Stefano: Grazie mille, davvero sento che ho superato un grande ostacolo - non la maratona di per se, ma piu' che altro, la mentalita'. Quest'anno e' stato un grande learning curve per me..

    @Abbi: Thanks, and I look forward to reading about yours....

    @Marco: Si, Rocky era carino quella mattina....

    @Fran: Now it's your turn......

    @ Trying is for little girls:Thank you for visiting my blog! Yes, those tights are a great investment in your legs.....

    @ Christina: You have to get them....they are pretty awesome.....