Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Streets of Philadelphia - A Diary

My lady and I after she rocks the Philly Half.
When I was in college (which is creeping further and further away these days), I used to be the sports editor for our newspaper and the sports director of the radio station. The sports editing position gave me a blank space to write a column each week. The radio position gave me fodder for that column thanks to road trips (and general shenanigans) to call football, basketball, and hockey games. One of my favorite columns to write was a running diary of our road trip escapades. While we loaded the car up last Sunday for Philly, something felt oddly familiar about the experience. It got me thinking, in place of a race recap (since I wasn’t running, anyway), how about a race diary? So, here, dear readers, is a diary of my Philadelphia Marathon experience.


7:00 a.m. – the alarm goes off; I’m in disbelief both at the time and the incredible hangover I have after having three beers the night before…stupid marathon training

8:00 a.m. – my friend Leikny comes over; she’s driving up to Philly with us to cheer on our friend and former co-worker who’s running the full marathon; she’s never been with a group of runners before

8:05 a.m. – we convince Leikny that we need to eat before we leave even though we’re meeting her brother in Delaware for breakfast at 10:15, err, 10:30…stupid marathon training

8:07 a.m. – the three of us shovel oatmeal in our mouths, a dangerous decision because oatmeal can get that “bad texture” quality to it, the gag-reflex inducing one where you have to swallow carefully or it’s coming right back up

8:20 a.m. – we pull out of our parking space and are aimed at Philadelphia

8:21 a.m. – we pull back into the parking space because my wife, Rachel, forgot to pack underwear

8:26 a.m. – we pull out of our parking space (again) and are aimed at Philadelphia (again)

10:17 a.m. – we pull off 95 in Delaware; barren fields stretch out as far as the eye can see and I’m reminded of a joke that I heard when I almost lived in Saskatchewan for a year (a blog post for a later date). It’s said the land is so flat your dog could run away and you could watch it for three days

10:18 a.m. – the GPS says we’ll be arriving in four minutes, yet nothing is on the horizon except telephone poles and a strip club; not sure about the state of Delaware

10:20 a.m. – civilization appears in the form of the University of Delaware, which then begged the question: what the hell is a blue hen?

10:22 a.m. – we arrive at a nice local organic brunch place

10:24 a.m. – a quick survey of the menu; steak and eggs for $10? I am sure about Delaware…and I love it!

11:30 a.m. – back in the car; the mood is decidedly brighter now that we have full bellies and we’ve managed to chase away any hangry pains

Noon – Leikny pulls out her iPhone and starts to play DJ

12:04 p.m. – Leikny remembers that I was Freddy Mercury for Halloween. It takes her five seconds to pull up Bohemian Rhapsody

12:05-12:09 p.m. – we recreate the famous Bohemian Rhapsody scene from Wayne’s World (another halloween costume of mine from long ago); subsequently, I feel old

1:00 p.m. – we pull into the Westin in Philadelphia and quickly find a small patch of grass for Mattie to pee on; oh, right…Mattie came with us; we are not ready for kids, yet for all intents and purposes, Mattie may as well be our child…it’s actually pretty disgusting...disgustingly adorable!

1:10 p.m. – the hotel lobby is full of runners; the hotel, however, is not full of vacant hotel rooms; we wait around the corner and find our friends who are running the next day; we spend the next hour talking injuries, nerves, carb-loading, weather…typical marathon day conversation; a glazed look comes over Leikny’s face

2:10 p.m. – our room is ready; there are three of us + a dog; there is one bed

2:10:30 p.m. – we call for a cot

2:15 p.m. – we head downstairs and walk over to the expo; it’s easy to find, all you have to do is follow the trail of red schwag bags

2:17 p.m. – I announce that I’m hungry again…stupid marathon training

2:45 p.m. – we leave the expo after getting Rachel's half marathon bib and schwag; then head right over to the Reading Terminal to do the sensible thing and shop at a market while starving

2:54 p.m. – Rachel gets in line to buy an apple; I get in line to buy beef jerky; apparently beef jerky is better than sex even if you’re not running a relay race

2:56 p.m. – the beef jerky is gone

3:30 p.m. – Rachel and Leikny decide to get their eyebrows waxed; seriously.

3:31 p.m. – Tweetdeck

3:33 p.m. – Words with Friends (36 point word...boom!)

3:35 p.m. – Fruit Ninja

4:00 p.m. – we return to the hotel and 2/3 of our contingent have fabulous eyebrows

5:30 p.m. – we meet up with our marathoner friends and walk down to THE italian restaurant that apparently every runner decided to eat at; I wonder if the wait is ever 45 minutes at 5:30 any other night than marathon-eve; oh, well...to the bar!

5:33 p.m. – because I'm not running, a tall Sam Adams Winter Lager is poured for me

5:40 p.m. – I can feel the beer...stupid marathon training

6:15 p.m. – we get seated

6:16 p.m. – the bread basket is empty

6:30 p.m. – the bodily function talk starts; we debate porta-potty strategy and recount the nastiest porta-potties we've ever used; we have officially baptised Leikny into the running culture

6:31 p.m. – Leikny blushes

6:33 p.m. – Leikny blushes again

6:38 p.m. – Paul breaks down proper high-five technique and etiquette ("Look at the person's elbow.); we go around the table high-fiving and I'll be damned if he's not right

6:40 p.m. – Our hydrated friends duck out to the bathroom and that glorious moment occurs when they return to have the food waiting for them

6:50 p.m. – Though I am not running the marathon, I am certainly eating as though I'll lace up in the morning as I devour my plate of pasta and descend upon Paul's extra chicken breast...actually, perhaps it's best that I wasn't running

The rest of the night goes pretty much as you'd expect: PJs, TV, early bedtime.


5:00 a.m. – Rachel's alarm goes off. Everyone groans.

5:05 a.m. – Leikny's alarm goes off.

5:15 a.m. – My alarm goes off. Operation Extreme Redundancy ends.

5:50 a.m. – Our friends knock on the door; everyone is wearing pants this time; we walk to the elevators with them

5:51 a.m. – The elevator is full so we wait for the next one

5:52 a.m. – The elevator is full so we wait for the next one

5:55 a.m. – We finally get downstairs to the lobby to meet up with more peeps

6:20 a.m. – We follow the hordes of runners that eventually converge on the starting line; I get that pang of marathon energy and nervousness just being in this atmosphere and my PTMD vanishes

6:45 a.m. – Leikny and I say our farewells to each of our runners as they break off and move into their corrals

7:08 a.m. – Paul's wave goes by; we miss him

7:15 a.m. – Rachel and Karen's wave goes by; we miss them

7:20 a.m. – Natalie's wave goes by; we miss her; it's official: we suck at spectating

7:50 a.m. – Leikny and I arrive near the 10K marker; she waits in line for bagels and coffee, while I hustle over to the course to catch Paul

8:00 a.m. – My phone buzzes to let me know Paul hit the 10K marker, which means I missed him

8:10 a.m. – Leikny arrives with coffee and a bagel; sweet mercy

8:15 a.m. – Karen sees us; Finally!

8:20 a.m. – Rachel goes by and we all high five taking extra care to stare at each other's elbows

8:30 a.m. – My phone buzzes to let me know Natalie hit the 10K marker; we suck again

8:32 a.m. – Mattie wiggles out of her collar nearly running on to the course; I grab her; a runner yells, "How about a leash for that dog?" Before I can respond, he's gone, but in my head it went something like, "How about you go...." never mind

9:00 a.m. – Leikny and I straddle the course between the halfway mark and the half mile left to go point of the marathon; we've missed Paul again

9:10 a.m. – Ms.Ritz shouts my name and I get so flustered that I yell, "Hey! How's it going?" How's it going? Really? That's all I could come up with? Before I could shout anything more clever, she's gone with her friend heading out to Manayunk

9:12 a.m. – I still dwell on the "How's it going" debacle

9:20 a.m. – Healthy Gumbo runs by (one of my favorite RW Loopers), and I'm much better prepared with encouragement

9:25 a.m. – Karen crosses the half looking incredbily strong.

9:26 a.m. – Leikny breaks off to capture Rachel after she crosses the finish; I wait to see if Natalie needs any extra gels

9:35 a.m. – Natalie speeds by looking sharp; and now we wait

10:00 a.m. – Leikny, Rachel, and I stand at the top of the final hill and shout encouragement to the finishers, things other than "How's it going?"
10:46 a.m. – Paul crests the hill and Rachel yells, "Damn you like sexy!" I go running off toward the finish to collect Paul

10:55 a.m. – Paul and I meet up; we share a sweaty man hug then keep moving so that he doesn't cramp up

11:30 a.m. – Karen goes strong to the finish and earns a 16+ minute PR; I trot back to the finish to collect her, while Paul makes his way back to the finish line

11:40 a.m. – Husband and wife reunite

12:05 a.m. – Natalie finishes her first marathon; I run back to the finish and to get her

12:20 a.m. – Our group is all together once again, salty, crippled and cold but all wearing smiles and finisher's medals

The walk back to the hotel is much slower than it was six plus hours ago, but the nervousness is gone and what's left is the delicious fatigue of a hard effort. Though I didn't run today, I was happy to experience the race with  my friends and have a partner in crime to spectate with.

We capped off the trip with burgers and beers at Ruby Tuesdays (it was the shortest walk from the hotel) then parted ways with our friends to head back to Virginia. My only regret was not making it over to any of the Runner's World Loopfest activities but judging from all the race recaps and photos, it is not a mistake I will make twice.

Tomorrow will make nearly two weeks since our adventure. To mark the occassion, we're shaking off the post-marathon rust by running a 15K and of course our breakfast club will celebrate with a feast at the end.

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