Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

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Philadelphia Mayor Nutter & I.

The picture above sums up well how I feel about this past weekend and specifically my Philadelphia Marathon finish. Friday the race director, organizers, and elite coordinator held a press conference to open marathon weekend. As a local (I went to Upper Merion high school) I was invited to participate. 99% of people would find the press conference to be boring but because I was in it, standing in front of Bill Rodgers, being announced as an elite marathoner in my home city and being given my race bib by the city Mayor; I was the happiest girl in Philly at that moment.The Philadelphia Marathon team really knows how to take care of it’s runners. Post-press conference, I was able to get one of Mayor Nutters famous high-fives. Every year at the Philadelphia Marathon, Mayor Nutter gives out hundreds of high-fives to the runners as they cross the starting line. To get mine two days early started the weekend off absolutely right.

Saturday morning I slept in for the first time in months then went for a solo 3 miler in a nearby park. The rest of the day was spent with family getting pedicures, having lunch (boring, plain foods only!), watching a bunch of tv, laughing, etc. Staying with family, just outside of the city, was one of the best decisions I made. I never had a chance to get nervous and barely allowed myself to think about the race. I had packed my Bedgear pillow and was able to sleep in a familiar bed leading to the best nights sleep I’ve ever gotten before a marathon. I woke up at 3:50 am on Sunday morning getting about 7 hours of rest and quickly ate my planned breakfast. 2 1/2 scoops of Hammer Perpetuem (55ish grams of Carbs), 1 Philly Soft Pretzel (70 grams of carbs), and an hour later 1 small bottle of Gatorade (21 grams of carbs), with 1 Gu gel 15 minutes pre-race. I did NOT want to eat an entire soft pretzel that morning. I was not hungry and even though they are one of my favorite foods, I had to force it down. Earlier in the week I had read an article that stated I needed around 170 grams of carbs race morning for my 106 pound body. That amount is almost double what I would normally have pre-race but my gut instinct was telling me to follow the article and as I write this, I’m glad I did.

My high school running coach, Dave Symonds, and his wife took me to the race and were a huge comfort to me. There is something to be said about the fact that as a high schooler, I dreamed about doing what I am doing now. That fact was not lost on me and I was incredibly grateful for every moment of the weekend. Thanks to the elite coordinator we had a nice warm tent to relax in pre-race with restrooms so we wouldn’t have to stand in line. Before I knew it, I hugged my sherpas goodbye and was standing on the starting line listening to the National Anthem with a big, stupid grin on my face. I had been dreaming of this moment for months of hard training and happily soaked it all in. Calm & confident as Coach Hadley likes to tell us.

The course was fantastic. Within 4 miles I found two guys to run with who were aiming for 2:45-2:46. This was the exact range I was hoping to run on Sunday. If you’ve read my last blog entry, you know this didn’t happen. I finished in 2:47:09. Am I upset? Nope, but we will get to that. I clung with these two guys for the next 10 miles. The first 7 miles of the race went by like we were running a Sunday long run. I knew the area well so it wasn’t at all intimidating like some other marathons have been for me. We ran through the city with spectators cheering the entire way. Mile 7 started a huge climb but there were a group of drunk college boys chanting “USA, USA!” as a happy distraction. The two guys I had started running with were great pacers so I reassuringly told myself; stick with them until Mile 10. At Mile 10 I said; stick with them until the Half. At the Half I said; stick with them until 15. Somewhere close to 15 though their sporadic surging concerned me so I let them go, while feeling thankful for how long they let me hang on with them (thanks strangers!).


At this point I had seen so many friends spectating that my spirits were still incredibly high. I knew that soon we would hit a lonely spot though and I made it a point to remind myself to maintain absolute focus. Stolen from Rocky I told myself “Fighters, Fight!”. Not until mile 18 did I really start to feel heavy legs. We were starting to head into Manayunk with a very nice decline but knowing full well that decline would turn into an incline on the way back was a bit discouraging. Manayunk was booming with the Rocky Theme song and hundreds of spectators, including my Mom, Aunt, and Cousins screaming. I hit that turnaround near Mile 20 and told myself; you have six miles left…get after it! Here is where I have to give a BIG thank you to Coach Mark Hadley. I have had so many marathons where the last 6.2 miles is about survival and now I feel like I’ve been trained to really fight in that last 10K instead. At the 20 mile turn around I was in 12th place, hurting terribly but able to keep my head up and focused on passing girls.
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Along the last 4 mile stretch back into the city I heard so many familiar voices cheering my name which was an amazing feeling. As I was cruising along, trying to fight every ounce of pain that was screaming in my body, a man listening to head phones came to a complete stop right in front of me, throwing his elbow into my chest. It caught me off guard and knocked the air out of me. Because I was already breathing so hard, I couldn’t catch my breath for 30-40 seconds. It felt like an eternity. A few weeks back a good friend, Anne Spillane, told me “Something WILL go wrong, you just have to prepare for it.” That little sentence popped back into my mind. I told myself that was my one thing, no dwelling or pouting about about it…get moving….and so I did.

I crossed the finish line, as 9th place female, without even thinking of looking at the photographers, completely overwhelmed by the fact that I just ran a marathon faster than I had ever run one before. As a volunteer put my medal around my neck I started crying happy tears. I have PRed in every marathon I have run and to keep that streak alive for one more race was huge to me. I made my way to my cousin Ben, pretty sure I scared him with Gu, tears, and sweat all over me πŸ™‚ Then I found my way to the elite tent to change and gather my things, take pictures, and then we drove home so I could rest and happily eat everything in sight.

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Post Race with the Coach that started my Love of Running.

On that ride home, driving by the city skyline, I let out a huge sigh of relief. Months and months of hard training, sacrificing social events, running doubles, etc. all paid off. Coach Mark Hadley and I had decided the goal for the Philadelphia Marathon was to run a 6:18-21 pace. My Garmin said my average pace was 6:19 for 26.42 miles. Do I think that means I ran a 6:19 pace marathon…no. I get that I didn’t run the tangents and my real pace for the marathon is 6:22 but it comforts me to know I can run 6:19 pace for that long, that I was in my goal range, that I’ve continued to get faster and faster. I consider my race at Philly a successful building block in my goal to run a 2:43 marathon.

Again, thank you all for your support! Thank you to my sponsor Running, Etc. and Coach Mark Hadley. Thanks to my family & friends. Love you guys & gals! Can’t wait to start the next crazy marathon cycle!


28 thoughts on “Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap

  1. Been looking forward to this, Kris. Thanks for posting your race recap and congrats on yet another marathon PR to keep the streak going. I’ve enjoyed following your progress through a very impressive training cycle and know you’ll be shaving off more minutes in races to come. Keep up the great work. Enjoy the recovery!


  2. Awesome awesome awesome! You ran a fantastic, gutsy race, and the recap captures it perfectly. So proud of you, and now I’m even more excited than ever to get back to training and chasing PRs post-baby.


  3. I am truly proud of you. You did a great thing hear and don’t let anyone or anything take away from it. I am not surprised at all you chipped a solid 2 minutes off your time. Your training has been incredible and you truly deserve it.

    I am just so happy for you. I tracked you all morning and your splits were awesome and near perfect. I have no more to add but to tell you how awesome you are.


  4. You did so amazing and this was super fun to read. That’s so cool that Philly honored the elites with a banquet the night before and the mayor gave out the bibs. I love when a city rallies around a race like that and they treat the runners right (as they should, we are there spending money in their city).

    Glad you ate all those carbs! I think sometimes we get so engrained in our eating habits pre-race and scared to try something new or eat more because we’re scared it will hurt our performance- you always hear about these things hurting performance… when the reality is, you never know unless you try, because a new food (or more food on race day) could wind up helping your performance (not that I’m about trying brand-new things on race day, maybe if it’s not an “A” race ya know?).

    Your pace was smoking fast… and I love the pics with your former coach. I bet they’re really glad to have coached a great runner at your high school too!


    • I will definitely be doing the carbs thing again and recommend it. I made sure to eat them 3 hours before hand so they weren’t sitting in my stomach like a rock. I never hit a wall!

      My former coach is an amazing guy. I’ve been lucky to have 3 running coaches in my life and all 3 were great!!


  5. What an incredible day you had! Congrats for all the hard work and effort–so nice to see it pay off like that. You are a true rock star.

    I used to live in West Chester–love Phila!


  6. YAY! Congrats, Kris!!! I loved reading your recap – and congrats on a fantastic race and continuation of your PR streak – that’s amazing!! I have also experimented recently with eating more carbs than usual before the start of a marathon and (like you) I was glad I did! Can’t wait to see what is next for you! Oh – I did have a quick question. I was thinking about adding the Roller Recovery R8 to my Christmas list – I know you were using it. Are you still a fan??


  7. Congrats Kris! How awesome to run a PR in your home town! I agree that finding perfect pacers is a huge help. Sounds like you dug really deep and fought off those late stage demons. Headphones should be banned from races, clearly this guy had no awareness of his surroundings. Glad you were able to recover.


  8. It’s time to update that marathon progression on the side with a fancy new PR!

    Congrats! After how hard you worked, it’s so awesome to read about a great experience that led to a fabulous PR, especially after having the wind knocked out of you. And on that note, I’m super happy you didn’t post something like “If that guy didn’t knock the wind out of me…” because so many people (including myself) would have been totally bitter over it! But you didn’t let it get to you and that’s so inspirational.

    Also – do you have the link regarding the article about carbs before your marathon? I’m interested to read it!


  9. Congrats, Kris! Great recap – I’m in awe of your perseverance at the end, even with the elbow in the chest and everything! I was glad (relieved?) to hear you mention the pain you were in in the last 4 miles — a good reminder that we all suffer at the end of marathon, regardless of our finish times. BTW, I saw your tweet from yesterday about the length of this recap, and I think it’s the perfect length and amount of detail. πŸ™‚


  10. So happy for you Kris! What a wonderful little story you have written there! You had many of the experiences I hoped to have (and will someday). That was such a magical read. So happy for you, and very excited to follow your journey to your next goal πŸ™‚


  11. I really enjoyed reading every bit of this race report!! You are so amazing and your story is so exciting!! Congratulations on a new record, on your GREAT finish, and on really ENJOYING the race. I can’t wait for your next crazy marathon cycle, too! πŸ™‚


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