By Esteban Carrizosa, FHR member since 2013 and a first-time marathoner
“Congratulations! You are now registered for the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon.” That escalated quickly. With less than three months of racing experience including a single half marathon, I apparently decided that running a full marathon was a good idea. Watching my friends train for and run the Boston and Vermont City Marathons, some after significant injury, was tremendously motivating. I went to grad school in Philly and it was there that I picked up running, so it seemed a fitting place to run my first marathon.
I initially followed a training plan that called for some crazy, intense training sessions that I’d have to run alone. This made no sense when I could train with friends by just showing up at FHR’s regular workouts. After about the third Sunday long run alone, I abandoned the crazy program and just focused on getting to every FHR run I could, plus Sunday long runs.
The race started to the sounds of the Rocky theme (heard several times throughout the race) on a beautiful, slightly chilly morning. The first half is a tour of Center City and University City—it was nice to run through my old haunts in Philly. Great crowds lined most of the first half. At the 13 mile mark, memories of runs along the Schuylkill River trail came flooding back. And I was feeling great! Hit the half marathon split exactly as planned. And then Kelly Drive came up and it became a much lonelier trip along the Schuylkill river towards Manayunk - party central, where water stops were supplemented with beer stops. Fatigue started to show up around mile 17, but nothing terrible. Yet. Right at the 20 mile turnaround at Manayunk, however, I really started to feel it. My legs have never felt so dead - the last 10k were comprised of runs interrupted by walking breaks. On the way back I saw some of the other FHR marathoners on their way out, which provided a much needed if short-lived boost. Eventually another runner in the same boat caught up with me and we managed to push each other along. Still, at times my legs just stopped on their own. Then I saw the crowds as I headed back to Center City and the possibility of a BQ, previously well within grasp, start to slip away. I somehow got my act together. At mile 26 I saw my family and our half marathon runners cheering – the final push needed to keep me running to the end. And then…done! 26.2 in 3:04. Not as fast as I’d hoped, but fast enough. To qualify for Boston at my first marathon – I’m thrilled.
I’ve never been so happy to finish a race. Not because it was fiendishly hard towards the end, although it was. Finishing a first marathon, no matter the time, is profoundly satisfying. People who don’t run ask, “why run a marathon?” It’s a totally reasonable question. A marathon is a crazy thing. The distance is way beyond what the body wants to tackle, and it’s a huge mental challenge. That sense of accomplishment, though, is worth it, and it builds mental toughness that applies to all of life. The whole journey from training to the race was an incredible experience, especially with the support of FHR. I’m excited to take on the next one.
- Starting in the end of November 2014, each week we will be updating this blog with personal stories from fellow runners, race recaps, training tips, recipes, and more! If you are interested in becoming a blog contributor, please contact Katie Merrill at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. And remember, as Owen says, Be Amazing! -