Old Race Recap: 2004 Philadelphia Marathon (my first marathon!)

Blogs really did not exist in 2004.  They kind of did ... kind of.  But not really.  If they had, I so would have had one.  Instead, I had (and have) a message board of a bunch of girlfriends all over the country.  We met when we were planning our weddings around 2001 and are still going strong.  Back in the day, I posted a race recap from my very first marathon, the 2004 Philadelphia Marathon, for the group.  

A couple of things to note:  (1) I did not run with music at this race; (2) this was back when the Philadelphia Marathon was just the marathon and did not have the half option; and (3) yes, that is still the same damn Fuel Belt that I have and use now!   I finished that race in 4:39 and some change.  

Here's my finish photo and the recap cut and pasted from my 2004 self.  Enjoy :)

WOW! Yesterday certainly ranks as one of the most important, monumental, happy, painful (!) and just all around life-defining days in my life. I am still experiencing so much emotion - all of it happy, blissful, euphoric. Each time I step, my legs ache, but those aches are a tangible reminder that I accomplished my goal!! 

I know this is going to be long, so I apologize in advance ... 

Friday I was pumped! Each of your encouraging posts meant so much to me. My friends, my coworkers were also sending me great inspiring emails. 

Saturday I went to the gym and did one last light jog. The gym was playing great music - and the last song that they played while I was on the treadmill was Dancing Queen which I considered an awesome omen. I then went to my grandmom's for dinner (she made chicken & dumplings - perfect carbo-meal!), where my parents had told everyone about the marathon the next day. My husband and I checked into our hotel and I tried to get sleep, but it was difficult. 

SUNDAY MARATHON DAY!!!!! I woke up at 5:45 (the Four Seasons agreed to give us 3 wake up calls - and I set my watch - yes, crazy girl). I had my typical pre-race breakfast of oatmeal, piece of wheat toast with peanut butter, coffee, some gatorade. I got dressed and asked my husband to write my name on my shirt. Which he did. But he spelled my name wrong!! He put "SHANA" (he hadn't had his coffee). I decided I would just cover it with my race number, which was fine. 

We were able to walk the 3/4 mile from the hotel to the art museum. My husband walked with me to keep my jitters down and to keep me company. I immediately got in line for the port-a-potties. There were over 10,000 people signed up ... and the people behind me in line for the port-a-potties were obnoxious! Sort of "Oh ... whatever ... marathons. They are not that bad. I prefer triathlons. I mean, if I do anything less than 8 minute miles, I will be really bummed." So, I tuned them out. I repeated "Calm. Calm. Calm" over and over and just tuned them out and focused on ME. My husband left me to go wait outside the hotel and I found the start and got in my pace group (10 minute milers - go us!). After what seemed like an eternity, the starting gun went off. It took me about 4 minutes to get to the start. I still remember the rush I felt when I heard my chip on my sneaker *beep* as I crossed the start. I got teary ... especially when I saw the tons of people lining the Ben Franklin parkway as I made my way down. I then saw my husband outside our hotel! "Go Shanny! Go get em!!" he screamed! I saw him hit the guy next to him and say, "here's my wife!!". 

I felt fantastic for the next few miles. The crowds were sparse here ... which was fine. I had to keep reminding myself to pace myself. There was so much energy around me with all the runners. It was hard to reign myself in, but I just kept thinking to run smart now, and it would pay off later (and it did). Once we got to South Street (mile 5 or so), the crowds started to get bigger, which was awesome. I had my second emotional moment when a woman was on the street corner, holding a hand-made sign that said, "Thank you for inspiring me." I yelled "thank you!" to her as the tears came down my face. At this point, I turned around to see what was behind me ... and I saw a girl I went to high school with!!! Crazy! We recognized each other and gave each other a huge hug!! 

At this point (mile 6-7) the crowds were intense on Chestnut St. I saw a partner from my law office cheering - he saw me and cheered me on. Then I knew I was coming to the spot where my family would be: 17th & Chestnut. And there they were! And they had made a sign that said, "GO SHANNA" on it .... and they all were smiling and my parents were there - beaming and gave me high fives. It was awesome!!! I kept going - running strong. 

The next few miles were fun too - until about mile 10-11. I had to pee. I had to pee badly. There were no porta-potties. So, I remembered the marathon book that I read: "now is not the time to be modest." So, I figured I had three options: (1) pee in the woods with some of the other brave souls; (2) pee my pants or (3) keep running and pray for a porta-potty. I couldn't wait. So I figured "whatever - everyone has seen what I got." I peed in the woods and felt so much better (and learned that it is always wise to bring Kleenex on the run ....). After we finished mile 12-13, we came out around West River Drive, which leads to the Art Museum, where the family was waiting for me again. They all cheered me on and had a new sign for me! This kept me going. I still felt good and strong. The Art Museum area was packed b/c it was also the finish - it was now around 2 hours, 10 minutes or so, so I knew the elite runners would be finishing - you have to run up Kelly Drive and then do a turn around, so you can see the other faster runners, who have finished the leg that you're about to do. 

I saw the first woman finisher and screamed over to her, "Go girl! You got it! You're the first woman!! You rock!" Later I found out she was Russian and probably just heard me say something to the effect of ... blah girl! bleeh blah blah. You rock!" Miles 15-18 I was still feeling good and strong. The miles ticked off pretty quickly here. And there were lots of spectators who were so awesome. After mile 18, my legs started to hurt a bit. I was running for 3 hours, but I knew that the next leg was the turnaround AND was supposedly filled with fun spectators - were there ever! The crowds in Manayunk were amazing - tons of people, playing music, shouting their heads off, saying "You got it! You're almost there! Go Go Go" I got an orange at one of the water stations, which was the best orange I have ever tasted. I then saw the turnaround. And I hit the 20 mile mark. The woman next to me and I looked at each other. I said, "Just a 10K to go right? Just 6 miles!" She put her arm around me and said, "we have this. it's all mental now." Another emotional moment. 

I had to take a little walk break at this point. I speed-walked and felt better and then started up. I then saw the hill - it's an exit ramp from a busier road. While a lot of people were walking up it, this is when I thanked my training runs and the insane hills that I had to conquer. This hill was teeny in comparison to my training hills -- so I ran up it. Just like I ran up the hill on South Devon Road or Maplewood Road. It was a nice break in my stride b/c the course had been flat for awhile. I got to mile 22 and saw my one coworkers who promised she'd be there. She cheered me on, asked how i felt. I said, "Missy! You are awesome!!! I feel great!" And I did - and it was just what I needed. At this point, I realized "Oh my God - I am past 'the wall' that I thought I would hit!!! I did it!!! Just 4 miles to go!!!" Again - the marathon book helped me. I imagined myself, as the book said, bursting through a brick wall, running strong. I kept thinking - just get to mile 25. At Mile 25, you're at Boathouse Row and near the finish, where all the crowds are. At one point around Mile 23.5, I walked a little again. Some woman came behind me and said, "Oh no you don't. You can do this! RUN! You have trained for this! GO!" So I picked up my leaden legs and ran and yelled, "Thank you for kicking me in the ass!" That was the last time I walked. 

I hit mile 25 and then the crowds picked up. People were everywhere - smiling, cheering! People were yelling, "Just 1/2 mile to go!" then "Just 500 yards" I heard the finish line. Then I saw it. Then I saw my family!!! Then I started crying. I turned the bend and I saw the banner with the time 4:41 or so ... I sprinted - I had to! And I felt myself hit the finish mat and looked up at the camera and put my hands over my head and screamed!!! I forgot to even check my watch time I was so excited!!!! After the race, I went to our hotel, showered and then went home. 

I did not stop smiling the entire race. It was wonderful - I felt good and yes, my legs hurt, but not as much as I thought. The runners, the spectators, and knowing that my friends and family were 100% behind me were what kept me going and kept me smiling. My mind thought back to my friends who have done this before and I wanted to give them a big hug ... and I wanted to give a hug to anyone who is considering running a marathon, b/c it truly is worth every second of training and all the pain and sacrifice. 

When's the next marathon? Sign me up!! I am most definitely doing this again. 

Turns out the next marathon was in 2012 ... but two babies intervened and I was happy to take a bit of a breather from distance running.  I still remember every detail of my first marathon like it was yesterday.  In many ways, it feels like it was yesterday.  In others, it was a lifetime ago.  

See you swoon,

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