It’s been over a week since I crossed the finish line of the Philadelphia Marathon in 18th place and a respectable time of 2:29:10. This race was also my 12th marathon finish, and after looking back at each marathon performance, it has definitely been an up and down process. Since I’ve never dropped out of a marathon, you can definitely see which ones went bad and which ones when horribly bad. Nevertheless, after each one, I’ve taken away a few helpful lessons, and Philadelphia goes without exception.
To highlight some useful facts, I had a solid summer of training leading up to Philly. I was healthy all summer and fall, and had some decent mileage. I say decent, because I didn’t get as high as I’d like. The 15 weeks leading up to the race I averaged 69 miles a week. That included a 90 mile week and a few solid 80 mile weeks. But it also included some low 50 mile weeks and even a 40 something mile week. My workouts were somewhat quick early on, where I was hitting some 6 Mile Tempo runs in low 5:30s, but as September and October rolled around I was extending my workouts out and hitting 5:40s. It’s hard to gauge true fitness on a few weekly workouts, but I knew I wasn’t super sharp, but perhaps a little stronger.
A big confidence booster was winning the Duke City Half Marathon for the third time in a row. My time wasn’t fast, in fact, it was my slowest of my 3 wins. So, after that race I knew I wasn’t ready to pop a quick time in Philly. My goal from the summer was to run as close to 2:20 as possible and definitely run faster than 2:25:50 from CIM last year, but those dreams slowly washed away. I had a new plan, I was going to run as smart and strong as possible, something I don’t think I have ever done before. Usually, I go out pretty quick and then fade a little in the last 10k to finish with a glorious 2-4 minute positive split. But, if you saw my splits at Philly - that did not happen. And I shocked myself to run relatively even for me, considering my PR came with a 2 minute positive split, and most of my quicker races have had significant positive splits. In Philadelphia I ran 1:13:55 for the first half and came home with a 1:15 positive split to finish in 2:29:10. Not my fastest marathon, but a proud marathon finish.
So, with further reflection, I’ve taken away a few things. One of which is my continued appreciation for being health and enjoying every moment I get to train and be outside. Aside from all the mushy happy feelings that come with training, it’s also a great feeling to push yourself. Either it be with teammates or by yourself, it’s a great sensation of self worth. Having trained on my own for most of my marathon build-up, I only reached a dark place in training a handful of times. I really miss when I can push myself towards uncharted splits that really put the scare in your bones. This will be one thing I would like to work on moving forward towards Boston. I want to push the envelope a little more and not run as conservative as I have in the past.
When looking at the timeline of the Olympic Trials, there’s not a lot of time left. It’s only a spring marathon and maybe a fall marathon if needed. So there’s no time like the present. And looking at my marathon times, someone could say I have no business chasing that dream again. What I really need to do is fully commit to chasing that dream and see where that takes me. I’ve spent too much time afraid of injury and afraid I won’t get to race, when the reality is, there’s only 1 year left of training, after that I can run for fun and not worry about the consequences of overtraining, because let’s be honest, all the guys from the 80’s were constantly overtrained and overworked, but they still managed to run fast! Now, I’m not saying I’m going to train with reckless abandonment but I am going to train with more purpose and self discipline so that the next time I toe the line of a marathon, I’ll be racing all out from mile 1 to the finish.