I would have to say running the Philadelphia Marathon is one of my proudest accomplishments from 2015. The last time and only time I ran a marathon was the Pittsburgh Marathon in 2011. Jordan was 17 months old. He was the reason I got into running…I wanted to get my workouts in without having to leave him much when he was tiny. So I decided to get myself a jogging stroller. I got hooked pretty quickly with the challenge I gave myself to increase my mileage. I just decided to go for that full before even running a half marathon!!
After I ran my first marathon, I got pregnant with my second child. Once having Ashlyn, training for a marathon seemed almost impossible with working full-time, spending time with my family, taking care of my house, etc. About 8 months after having Ashlyn, I became a health and fitness coach. My health and fitness became an even bigger part of my life. After almost 2.5 years working my health and fitness coaching business, I decided to go full-time with it, so I could work from home and be with my children. I decided to leave my full-time teaching job. It definitely wasn’t an easy decision to make, but it was the right decision for my family and me.
With resigning from teaching and coaching full-time, I knew this was my chance to run another marathon and to do one in the fall. As a teacher, running a marathon in the fall during Back-to-School was definitely NOT happening!! So this goal I set for myself had a bigger meaning….it was my reward for myself for growing my business and making it possible to go full-time with it. Running this marathon signified what was now possible for our family. The flexibility we now had. The time we would have together. The hard work and dedication I had. The faith and courage I had. Crossing that finish line was an amazing feeling…one full of emotions…full of gratitude.
I started my training as soon as I returned from Team Beachbody’s Coach Summit in Nashville, TN on July 20th. My training for the most part went really well. I definitely had my ups and downs, but I had learned a lot from my first marathon training experience.
On November 20th it was time to make the trip to Philadelphia. Robb’s family is from there, so we had plans to stay with his parents and visit with family and friends while we were there. I was nervous about hydrating myself properly while traveling and staying on track with eating. I think I went into the weekend with a good plan, so everything worked out well.
On race day, my sister-in-law and I went down to the city together. Linda was running the half, so we got to start together. That helped so much with my race day jitters!!! I stressed about getting down there, staying warm before the race, going to the bathroom, etc. As usual everything worked out just fine and I had no reason to stress!! However, security was INSANE!!! Every runner had to go through security to get to the starting line. Apparently that was a first (which I’m glad they were looking out for our safety), so the race started late. I don’t think any runners anticipated those security lines!!
The first half of the race was AMAZING!!! The crowd was awesome. I felt great. I was actually trying to hold myself back to save some energy for later. I knew I would get to see my family at the halfway mark….well so I thought!! That was my first obstacle of the race. That security I mentioned for the runners was just as bad for the spectators. Robb and the kids missed me at the halfway point. I was looking all over for them. When I got the text he thought he missed me, I was devastated. That was a bit of a mental struggle thinking about not seeing them for ANOTHER 13 miles! Yikes!! But I just pushed forward and kept staying strong!
The second half was pretty tough. There were a lot less people in the crowd (which I was prepared for). It was an up and back loop. Again mentally seeing runners going the opposite direction to the finish and those mile markers in the mid-20s was something I needed to push through. The temperature was pretty mild, but it got windier and chillier along the river. I was definitely running against the wind the second half. I made sure to hydrate at every station…I alternated between water and gatorade. While on the course, I also had a pack of my sport beans and two carb booms. Apparently I wasn’t quite hydrated enough…I started feeling like I had golf balls in my thighs and I was starting to cramp up at times. When I slowed down it actually felt WORSE! Again it was something I pushed through and kept talking to myself to get through it. Running a marathon is physically draining….but I think it is mostly emotionally draining!!
At around mile 21 I was pretty much STRUGGLING!! See at this point during my first marathon, my brother hopped in the race with me to run the last 5 miles. That helped a TON and I’m so incredible grateful for that!! I don’t think I could really think about my body hurting. However, my amazing friend, Diana, appeared right around mile 22 and it was literally PERFECT timing!!! It was just the boost I needed to finish the race!!
During the last 4 miles, all I kept thinking about was running to my family! I could not wait to see them…especially after missing them at the halfway point. I was also going the opposite direction towards the finish line at this point. Now I was seeing all those people still running to the turnaround point! That helped a lot knowing I was SO close to the finish line!! It’s amazing the thoughts and emotions that run through your head while you are running a marathon and getting so close to the finish. It is a tremendous amount of work that goes into training for a full marathon. It is all totally worth it when you cross that finish line!
The crowds in the last mile were once again incredible! Exactly what I needed in the end! As I crossed the finish line, with a new PR, all I could do is cry! Yep….I told you totally emotionally draining!!! And here goes the crying again as I’m writing this!! Texts and messages were coming in with such encouraging and congratulatory things to say. Some people were tracking me through texts and/or Facebook. I was so PROUD. And I was so grateful for the support I had at that moment and all throughout my training. And I couldn’t wait to get to my family!! The corridor after the finish line seemed to go on forever….I waddled my way to Robb (yes, I was so incredibly sore and could hardly walk) and he took me to the kids. It was the most amazing reuniting!! Jordan and Ashlyn were so excited to see me!!! They were the cutest little fans I have!! As we walked to the car, Jordan held my hand and was so concerned with my poor mobility at the moment And he also asked if we could run on the trail when we got back to Pittsburgh…it’s amazing how much of an impact you can have on your children. I told him I may need a little break, but we would definitely get out on that trail.
The Philadelphia Marathon will definitely go into the books as one to remember!! With a time of 3:52:12, I improved over 7 minutes from my first marathon (3:59:30). Hmmmm….I’m seriously thinking about doing another fall full next year and thinking about NYC!!