26.2! {Philadelphia Marathon}

By Meg - 8:00 PM



On November 16th we packed up and hit the road for another big road trip!
Reaghan and Lilly are the best little travelers. Lilly has her occasional cranky moments and it helps that we have a tv in the van that we use on and off during the trip, but they travel so well for 2 littles!

It took us about 8 hours to get to my cousins house in Pennsylvania where we stayed the night before heading into Philadelphia for the Marathon Expo.



It was so nice to hang out with family for a night and let our girls see each other again after they met for the first time at our family reunion this summer. It's such a blessing to be friends into adulthood with your cousins and their spouses. 


There was snow everywhere! It apparently doesn't snow in PA much before Thanksgiving but a day before we headed up there they got almost 8 inches. Thankfully 8 inches isn't enough to shut things down there like it is here in Hampton Roads! But it still meant it was freezing up there!

We drove about an hour from my cousin's into the city the next day so we could go to the expo and pick up my race packet. It took us forever to get there because driving in the heart of Philly is sort of like driving in New York City and we paid $24 to park for an hour! The girls were starting to get a little weary of the travel so even though I love race expos and looking through all the vendors we didn't stay too long. Which in hindsight was probably for the best because that meant I didn't buy anything!



Mark was so supportive, making sure I got pictures even though his stress level always goes up in busy, crowded places, you can see below that Lilly was about to have a melt down, and we couldn't find a pizza place to deliver to our hotel! 


Thankfully we eventually did find a pizza place for the hotel. Pizza is my pre-race, carbo load dinner of choice and it was wayyy easier with the girls to just have something delivered to the hotel then spend hours in traffic driving around the city to find something to eat. It was the perfect pre race night. We got checked into the hotel, had an early dinner and an early bath and bed time. I did my usual pre-run stretching video from Sydney Cummings Workout Channel and was in bed around 9! I have a ritual of laying all my race gear out the night before to make sure I don't forget anything.


I didn't sleep super well. Does anyone else wake up every hour when they know they have to be up early for something and CANNOT be late? It always happens to me. But it was okay, I had mentally prepared for that and tried to get good sleep the few nights before, so I was excited to get up at 4 to get ready even though I hadn't slept well.
 It was supposed to be 30ish degrees at the start so I was layered up with a tank, my long sleeve shirt, a light weight zip up hoodie and an old thick hoodie. I had capri's and calf warmers pulled up over top. Gloves and of course an ear band.

 

It was definitely COLD at the starting line. I kept bundled under a foiled blanket until the race started and spent some time in warming tent before heading to the starting corrals. 

This was my first full marathon running solo and it was a little weird not having anyone to share the excitement with, but I also trained all by myself this year too so it was all good. 


Despite the cold, it was a beautiful morning!


Back at the hotel my little family was staying nice and warm and making me signs before they walked from the hotel down to the finish line to wait for me! It was a mile and a half walk but Mark said they enjoyed strolling through the city and the Christmas Markets that were set up.


Race day makes all the long training miles worth it. It's a blast to run with so many others, especially through a new city! We ran past Ben Franklin's resting place, through the streets of down town Philly, and along a beautiful river. Although the river got a little boring after 13 miles ; ). The first half of the race was exciting and interesting but with more hills than I anticipated. My knees were feeling the down hills about half way through. I had been hanging out with the 4:30 pace group for the first half of the race but lost them around mile 13 when I stopped to use the bathroom. I never caught back up to them and wonder if I would've been able to push myself a little more if I had been able to stay with them. But even so, I'm happy with the race I ran. 

The last half of the race was a 6 miles out/ 6 miles back in a park along the river. It was tough mentally because you had to pass the finish area to start the out and back and the whole time could I could see runners, faster than me, heading the opposite direction back towards the finish! I seemed like it took forever going up/down hills to get to the turn around point and I started to walk the up hills and run the flats and down hills. Thankfully the last 6 miles on the way back seemed to go by a little faster! I grabbed my phone out and texted Mark when I was getting closer to the finish line so I could find out where he and the girls were standing!

I loved kissing their precious faces right before finishing.


I wanted to get a picture in front of the famous Rocky steps but unfortunately I finished the race at 12:10pm and we had to be out of the hotel by 1pm to avoid the $85 late checkout fee so after the race we took a couple pictures and made a mad dash to the shuttles to get back to the hotel! Haha


We got back to the hotel at 12:50! We raced up stairs and Mark took the already packed bags down to the car and turn in our room keys while I kept the girls and took a quick shower! We left the hotel room at 1:05! I don't think I've ever moved so fast after a long run!! I was surprised at how well I was feeling after the race. I think sipping on the warm chicken broth they gave out at the finish line really helped restore some sodium and keep me from feeling faint and cramping. That and the adrenaline stayed peaked a little longer with the hotel checkout excitement! haha


My official finish time was 4:41:56! 
I was thrilled! My goal was just to break 5 hours because I hadn't in my previous two attempts! 
But I'm liking my Nike Run app a little more that said I ran 26.7 miles and finished the 26.2 at 4 hours and 34 minutes. : ) Both times are great for me, but I'll take the second! 



After we left the hotel we stopped and got a legit Philly Cheese Steak. Mark says it was one of the best he's ever eaten! My favorite post race activity - stuffing my face!!!


We then drove the 6-7 hours home with 2 little sweet hearts who did amazing again.

I don't recommend sitting in a car for 6 hours after running, talk about being sore and stiff every time we stopped at a rest stop! I was super sore the next day, but stretched and soaked in an Epsom salt bath and by Tuesday I felt almost normal! I was surprised but a friend at work made a good point that all of my training runs were done in the morning and I would come home and have to be a mom for the rest of the day which was good recovery training for my body! Who knew caring for 2 littles came with marathon recovery benefits?

I'm so thankful for my husband who loves me enough to drive 8ish hours both ways and help take care of the girls in a busy city just so I can run! It was a crazy, busy weekend but it was phenomenal. I'm so thankful to God for the breath in my lungs and the physical ability to do something fun like this race. Memories and accomplishments that I'll always carry with me!

{Two weeks after the race I did a 20 miler to keep me primed for my 50k on my birthday in 9 days! 
I've never run that far following a marathon so it was weird, but it totally got me pumped for my last race of the year. Can't wait to reach that goal and then, honestly, be done with long distance running for a little while! I love it, but I'm ready for the break!}









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