Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 recap

2013 was easily one of the best years of my life.

In February, together with one of my students, I won a charity dance competition at my high school for which we'd been rehearsing for months.



April was an action-packed month.  Over three days of spring break, I completed a 50 mile trail through the Pine Barrens of NJ.


I also won a long term bet with a co-worker about riding my bike to school for 100 days out of the year.

At the end of April, months of planning came together for Stevie's and my wedding at Camp Ockanickon.  Friends and family came from far and wide for an unforgettable weekend of campfires, capture-the-flag, running in the woods, dancing, plenty of drinking, and of course a gorgeous outdoor ceremony led by my uncle.

Directly after the ceremony on Chapel Island.

June was another epic month.  I ran my first Tough Mudder, two half marathons on consecutive weekends, and my first 10k trail run.

Like the wedding, months of planning came together when I then chaperoned a group of students for the first time, taking seven of them on a ten day trip to Germany which I designed and organized myself.  We visited Berlin and Munich, stayed in youth hostels, visited more museums than you can count, and sampled the culinary delights of the Vaterland at all turns.

With my students at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

In July Stevie and I headed west for our honeymoon: Alaska and the Yukon Territory.  We spent time on a cruise ship, and on buses and trains taking in the scenery and imbibing at every brewery available.


In August my sister and her family flew in from Minnesota and spent time with us in Ocean City, NJ.  Together with my stepsister and her family, and my dad and stepmother, we spent a week at a beach house together.

Using my nephew Oliver for strength training at the Jersey Shore

In September Stevie gave me an introductory flying lesson for my 32nd birthday, and in November I flew a plane for the first time.

My focus for the majority of the fall was on the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon and attempting to qualify for Boston.  I threw myself headlong into a training regimen I made up myself.  With amazing support from Stevie, I managed to balance starting my third year of teaching with the rigors of training, and prevailed with a time of 3:03:05 in November.


December brought with it more changes and projects that will carry over into 2014, such as a roadtrip with Stevie during spring break, a year long documentary that I began filming over Christmas, the setting of some very ambitious running goals, and the decision to move out of our current apartment this summer.

As cheesy and clich├ęd as year-end recaps can be, I like them because they give me an excuse to reflect and remember just how blessed I truly am.

I have no doubt that 2014 will be even bigger than 2013.  Here's to it.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 running goals and resolutions


1. Run 2,014 miles.  Seems like a good number for 2014.

2. Make more running friends.  This will probably mean joining the South Jersey Athletic Club and going to more of their events.

3. Run a Tough Mudder with friends.  Not having friends that are into running means doing a lot of races alone.  I did a Tough Mudder last year alone, which wasn't terrible, but I think it could be fun working through it as a team with friends.

4. Run a spring marathon.  As yet undecided, but probably somewhere on the east coast in March or April.

5. Run my first ultra.  Specifically, the Dirty German Endurance Fest on May 18th.  I am a German teacher so this makes perfect sense.  I plan on doing the 50 miler that day.  Go big or go home, yes?

6. Run across the state of NJ.  I mentioned this last year, but I want to make it happen this year.  I plan to start at the Delaware River and finish at the Atlantic Ocean.  It is roughly 50 - 60 miles, so this seems doable.  I plan to buy a Camelback and throw my iPhone and a credit card in it and just go.

7. Run a sub 3:00 marathon.  This will probably be my toughest goal of the year and I'm not thoroughly convinced it will happen.  Of course, I said that about the BQ, didn't I?

8. Run a beer mile.  4 laps around a track.  4 beers.  I can't wait for this one.  

9. Complete my first triathlon.  I've been saying this one for years.  It's been an official entry on my bucket list since I wrote it in 2007.  It's time to finally make it happen.

10. PR my half marathon time.  I will probably target the Rock n' Roll Half in September for this one, and will run a lot more halfs throughout the year in preparation.

11. Streak 2014.  Nudity optional.


2014 is going to be one hell of a year, in ways you or I can't even imagine yet.

_________________________________________________________________________

And don't forget, if you're interested in a free running book, click here and leave a comment.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Give Away - Going Long: Legends, Oddballs, Comebacks and Adventures; The Best Stories From Runner's World

I don't typically do give aways.  In fact, I've only ever done one, which was about two years ago when I got a copy of Born to Run for Christmas.  I already owned an autographed copy, and decided to give away the second copy to a reader of my blog.

In the spirit of the holidays, I want to do the same thing this year by giving away this book:


Like it says on the cover, it's a collection of stories from over the years in Runner's World. Some I'd read in the magazine, some were new to me, but almost all were fascinating, inspirational and wonderfully written.

Please know this is not some lame attempt to garner more readers or pageviews or whatever. I simply want to give back while sharing my love of reading and running, and hope this book and its stories will inspire you like it has me.

Just like last time, in order to enter this give away you do not need to like my facebook page or retweet my inane tweets or any of the other hoops other bloggers make you jump through.  All you have to do is leave me a comment on this post telling me your 2014 running goals and resolutions, and a way to contact you.

I'll write a post in the next day or two detailing my own 2014 running goals.  Let's just say it's going to be an epic year.

The give away will end one week from today on Friday January 3rd.  I'll draw a name from a hat, and then send one reader the book.  I'll even pay for shipping and handling myself.  Good luck, and thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Streak Day #29

Welcome to my roof.























Yes, I'm still streaking.  Day 29 today since Thanksgiving.  1.5 miles around Knight Park.

There have been days when the last thing I wanted to do was go out and run, even if only for a mile, but for the most part it hasn't been terrible.

For now, I'm planning to streak all of 2014.  So, once I start bumping up the mileage again, it may be a different story.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Christmas Eve gets a little hectic between racing around between NJ and PA and various friend's and family's houses and church.  On Christmas day, however, we go ten minutes down the road to my dad's house for the day.

I build and maintain the fire all day, we skype with my sister and her family in Minnesota, we eat a lot, and then we go to the neighbors' Christmas party at night.  This year I also played a game of Settlers of Catan with my uncle, which Stevie got me this year.

And speaking of Christmas gifts, I got the following from my sister:


"I thought they said rum" medal and race bib hanger!

From my family to yours, merry Christmas!

Uncle Gary, Stevie, me Grandmother, Dad, Debbie

Friday, December 20, 2013

Santa Claus is comin' to town...

Our final day before break was today.  Half day at school which included a holiday assembly. Various student singing and music groups performed, and then the teachers hijacked the assembly in a surprise flashmob.




Thursday, December 19, 2013

Run Lola Run Ultra

A few months ago, a Philadelphia writer studied the film Rocky II, specifically Rocky's training montage, and deduced that he had run 30.61 miles en route from his home in South Philly to the iconic steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum.


It didn't take long for someone else to organize an actual ultramarathon to mimic the same path through Philadelphia.


Sadly, I missed the inaugural run, but may take part if there is a second edition next year.

This week in my German II class, we've been focusing on another film that features a lot of running:


Our current chapter focuses on German movies and music, and I'm trying to supplement the chapter with film clips and songs from German bands I like.  We dissect the lyrics or the words from a scene, we talk about how and why subtitles may vary from what is actually spoken, and the impact of movies and music on both German and American culture.  I encourage them to find things they like on their own, because I myself have learned a lot of German simply from finding something I like and watching/listening to it over and over.

Anyway, watching this movie, and having lived in Berlin where the movie is set, got me thinking about the actual route that Lola runs through Berlin.  The film does not have nearly the cultural impact on Berlin that Rocky holds over Philadelphia, and given the film's structure, her route is a bit more fractured than a simple A to B path.

But it sure does have me curious.  Using landmarks and street signs from the movie, could a similar race be constructed around the city of Berlin?

"Lola Ultra," anyone?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Marathon photos

I was hoping to buy at least one of my race photos, if not the whole lot of them, from the marathon last month to commemorate such an amazing race.  But to be honest, I wasn't crazy at how they came out and didn't think much more about them.


Just before crossing the finish line, I had to work my way around a girl whose two friends had jumped in to cross the finish line with her.  To the best of my knowledge, this is a huge faux pas in the running world, especially with bigger races.  If you did not run the race, you do not cross the finish line.

So I swerved to the left, just behind a guy who then took up all the space in my pictures from another angle:


And then there's this picture from mile 13:


Funny, yes, but worth spending $40?  Probably not.

And finally, here is one that I screen capped from a brief video Amy took of me in the final push to the finish:


I like this one the best, and if it was higher quality I would simply blow it up and frame this one.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On a Tuesday night in December...


Stevie: What do you want to do tonight?
Me: Take ridiculous pictures of me cooking dinner while still in my work clothes, duh.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Movie Monday: 2013 Philadelphia Marathon

I enjoy average runners' marathon videos, especially of Philadelphia races.  Here's one I found that details this year's marathon.  A brief recap of Liz Corkum's PR race, set to some knee-slapping banjo music.  Pour yourself a moonshine and give this one your time:

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sunday coffee date

I really like New Jersey

























Let's catch up, shall we?

  • It's Sunday morning and I already have a case of the Sunday teacher blues.  I have a lot of school stuff to take care of today/this week.
  • The sweats I'm wearing in the picture?  I pretty much live in them all winter.
  • I'm still streaking.  Not sure what day it is today.  Normally I keep in the 1-2 mile range.  Today I hit 3.5.  I'm gearing up for a big 2014, so it's nice to be taking it easy for now (inasmuch as running every single day can be considered taking it easy).
  • There was another holiday party last night, this one for a Shakespeare company I used to work with years ago.  I've consumed ridiculous amounts of food this weekend.
  • Speaking of Shakespeare, I haven't acted in a show in over two years now.  A theater where I have a lot of experience is holding auditions tonight for "As You Like It," but I decided to skip it because, like I said, 2014 is going to be a big running year and I'm not quite ready to sacrifice running for the theater just yet.
  • In January I'm going to a conference in New York for German teachers all across the country.  It's going to focus on using technology to incorporate authentic resources in the classroom.  It's all expenses paid and Stevie is going to come with me.  I have to create and submit a powerpoint by December 29th, which is no fun.
  • I just bought a copy of Why We Run by Bernd Heinrich, which I'm enjoying so far.
  • I'm sitting on the couch, our Christmas tree is up, and our electric fireplace is on.  It's very cozy in here.
  • I don't watch a lot of tv but I am very excited for season 3 of "Sherlock."

Saturday, December 14, 2013

School party

Went to my school's holiday party last night.  At some point everyone in the kitchen began a spirited debate about whether or not the woman on this beer bottle is actually a size D:


It lasted a solid 30 minutes.

Sometimes I really love my co workers.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Movie Monday: Why we run

Here's a short video on Bernd Heinrich, an ultramarathoner and biologist who lives in the woods of western Maine.  Heinrich is also the author of the 2002 book "Why We Run," in which he blends the science of running with his own anecdotes of a life spent on the trail.

I will never get tired of videos like this that manage to capture the beauty and simplicity of running.  Enjoy.



Sunday, December 8, 2013

Streak Day #11


Started running around 11am and was immediately caught in a snow storm.  I ran by the Cooper River and couldn't see past the white to the other side.  The snow kept getting in my eyes while running.  By the time the snow finished this afternoon, there was about half a foot on the ground.  Glad I got my run in while I could.

I ran 4.5 miles today, the longest since the marathon exactly three weeks ago.  Can't believe it's only been three weeks.  Feels like worlds ago.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Streak Day #10

Ran 3.5 miles, partially along the Cooper River this morning.  Haven't gone above 3.5 since the marathon.

When I got home, Santa was standing outside of the garden center near our apartment advertising the Christmas trees.  So I asked if I could get a picture with him.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Breakfast sandwich of champions

I had intended to post much more about the food I eat during training this past fall, but it just never happened.  I've mentioned plenty of times how training and eating must go hand in hand, so I find it very interesting to see what other runners are eating.  As mentioned, I cook and juice a lot, and here is one of the staples of my training this past fall.

Introducing the greatest breakfast sandwich known to man:


  • Two slices rye toast.
  • Two slices tomato.
  • Half an avocado, spread onto toast like butter.
  • Two slices pepperjack cheese.
  • Two pieces turkey bacon.
  • Two fried eggs.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Cut diagonally.  Always.

I'd say I ate this sandwich at least every other day during training.  Together with a banana and fresh juice, it held off hunger until after my afternoon run.  

I still haven't grown tired of it yet and just made one this morning.  This sandwich is delicious in a way that I can't do justice with words.  You'll have to make it and try it yourself.  You're welcome.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Movie Monday: The Runners



Here's an 11 minute documentary in which two guys interview runners in a local park.  In the middle of a run, the runners ostensibly let their guard down and give answers that are stunning in their poignancy, honesty and clarity.  It brilliantly intertwines running and life, reminding us of the important things in life, which don't necessarily have anything to do with running.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Streak Day #4
























Ran for 3 miles this afternoon, then joined Stevie for a late night 1.5 mile run just before bed.

I love living on the main street of our town.  It's all lit up at night for the holidays and makes for a nice, short run.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

2013 Turkey Bowl


After running the 5k this morning, I drove out to Medford to Camp Ockanickon where I've been playing a camp alumni football game every year for the better part of a decade.

We played old guys (of which I was the oldest) vs. young guys while the girls stood on the sidelines chatting.   We used to play full-on tackle, but camp has gotten worried about the possibility of injuries and makes us play touch now.  Football is obviously not my forte, so I'm happy to catch the ball a few times and score a touchdown or two.

The real reason for spending the day playing a sport I'm not good at is to head out for beer and wings afterwards.  We usually go to a small Piney bar where they serve enormous bowls of wings and cheap beers.






















Today we sat right by the giant TV screen playing the Auburn - Alabama game and proceeded to gorge ourselves on meat and pitchers of PBR.  It doesn't get much better than that in my book.

2013 Haddon Twp Turkey Trot Race Report

Thanksgiving is now the most popular race day in the United States, but I had to wait until today for my local turkey trot.  The town where I teach hosts an annual 5k that starts and finishes at a bar with free breakfast afterwards.  It doesn't get better than that.


It was cold this morning - in the 20's - but little wind on a flat course.  This was my first 5k since last August, and I'm in distinctly better shape than I was then, so I was hoping to break 20 minutes today.  I ran the first mile in 5:55, and I thought I might even have a shot at a PR, but my second mile slowed to 6:15.  I thought I might still break 19 minutes, but instead finished the race in 19:19.    I was trying to keep pace with the first female, a girl I know from the local running store, but came up short there as well as she passed me in the final mile.  I came in 25th place out of more than 600 runners, and 3rd in my age group.  My dad ran the race as well and finished in 35:29, faster than his time from last year.  My stepmother Debbie walked the one mile race.

After the race I got a free breakfast sandwich and donut, but passed on a drink from the bar (which was open and doing a brisk trade amongst the other runners).  If I'm going to drink in the morning, I want to feel like I earned it, which means I would need a half marathon or at least a new 5k PR to start imbibing. 

When I came home, a large holiday parade was going on right outside my window.

























I saw the Philly Phanatic go by, as well as a hundred high school marching bands.  

Not a bad morning, all in all.

Friday, November 29, 2013

2013 Holiday Streak

Frank the Tank tells it like it is.

Runner's World has once again issued the challenge to run every day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day in what they call the Holiday Streak.  Minimum distance is 1 mile.  That's about all there is to it.

I actually started two days before Thanksgiving.  I've never streaked before.  Well, I've never done a running streak at least.  We'll see how long I can last.

You in?

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Started the holiday streak this morning with a brisk 3 mile run around town.  I'm going to try to keep the mileage low over the next few weeks to force myself to rest.  As much as I want to keep knocking out marathons now that I've built up my fitness, I don't want to risk burning myself out.  I have a pretty intense set of running goals for 2014, so taking a bit of an off season while still maintaining a base is going to be important.

After running, I baked a loaf of pumpkin bread, then loaded up a small cooler full of Magic Hat beers, then headed out to my step sister's place in West Chester, PA.

Food, family, football, beer... what more could I want or need from life?

While Stevie played Life with Zack and Allison, I noticed the gamemakers had updated the boardgame so that you can now win a marathon and collect $10,000.


On this day of thanks, I'll include a brief list of all the things I'm thankful for:
  • Good health.
  • A job that is challenging and rewarding in which I get to share one of my main interests in life with students.
  • A hobby that I am passionate about.
  • My family, especially my wife Stevie who has to put up with more than the rest.
  • The few people that take the time to read my blog.  Thanks, guys.

From my family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Back to running

First run today since the marathon last week after a pleasant week off.  Was greeted by the following weather:

     
   

Looked at my time from the marathon and noticed I ran really good tangents:


3 easy miles in the cold and wind, then I went to my dad's house to help set up the Christmas lights, which has become a Christmas tradition over the last few years.

To help with the process this year, my dad drew a diagram of last year's set up.


Dad: No one would know I'm not a skilled, union electrician.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Crazy Olympics


Well, so much for taking it easy on the couch all week.

My school's spirit week started today, and to kick it off we hosted the crazy olympics last night in the gym. Each grade had its own team, and the staff all came together to form a team as well.  Dizzy bat relays, blindfolded football tosses, tug-o'-war... you name it.

The teachers were more competitive than the kids.  I think I set my recovery back a few days.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Post marathon thoughts

Welcome to my living room

I've taken up residence on the couch this week, eaten foods I haven't touched in months, and haven't given running a second thought.  It's been amazing.

The day after the marathon I showed up at school wearing my marathon shirt and limping severely.  I got a lot of congratulations, and had the following conversation with a coworker who has also run 10 marathons:

Coworker: Did you BQ?
Me: Yeah, I ran 3:03:05.
Coworker: There's only one bad thing about that time.
Me: Now I want to break 3 hours.
Coworker: Exactly.

Three years ago I qualified for Boston under the rules in place at the time of my marathon.  Just three months after I qualified, the BAA changed the registration process and lowered the qualifying times, and I never got to run Boston.  I was heartbroken.  I sulked for a bit, but then decided to just suck it up and qualify all over again.  It took three years, but I'm proud that I kept at it and never gave up on the dream.

For three years I got used to saying 3:09 when asked my marathon PR.  That race had felt like such a Herculean task, and I'd never been more proud of myself for achieving what I did that day.  So it's an odd feeling to have lowered my PR by more than six minutes, especially when I'd expressed so much doubt that it was even possible.  

The marathon is a fickle beast.  You train for months and get exactly one chance to make good on your goals.  Anything could happen on race day: extremely hot or cold weather, rain, wind... I could have gotten sick or injured.  I could have gotten to the starting line healthy and just had a bad day.  It's remarkable the factors that go in to performing well.  I consider myself incredibly lucky that things worked out the way they did.

But the idea of a sub 3:00 marathon begs one question: do I feel fulfilled?  Am I content?  For now I have Boston to look forward to (assuming BQ-1:55 is enough to get in), but what happens then?  What happens when we set insurmountable goals for ourselves and then actually achieve them?  At what point can we be satisfied with what we have?

For now I am driven by one burning question: what am I made of?  Boston is only the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Triumph and handstands



One minute after finishing Sunday's Philadelphia Marathon, I was kneeling on the pavement, eyes tightly shut, gasping for breath.

Three minutes after finishing, I was hobbling through the line for my paltry post marathon rations.

Five minutes after finishing, the thought occurred to me that I'd actually done it.  I'd qualified for Boston after being denied three years ago under the old rules.

Ten minutes after finishing, I was crying and babbling incoherently, wrapped in my wife's arms.

Fifteen minutes after finishing, my mood swung violently as I became surrounded by friends and family and saw the signs and T-shirts they had made for me.  Pictures were taken, hugs were given.  And hell, why not?  A triumphant handstand was performed on the side of Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia, not thirty minutes after completing a marathon.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to train for a Boston Qualfier

In case anyone is curious about what my training looked like over the past few months, here's a recap:

(This will be very boring to non-runners)


Returned from my honeymoon in July weighing 146 pounds.  I'd spent a month on the road first in Germany with students and then in Alaska with my wife.  I started training earnestly on July 20th.

I spent many weeks battling heat and humidity.  Stevie and I don't have air conditioning, which probably helped my body acclimate better, but there were some pretty rough days and nights last summer.  I also spent a lot of time doing laps at our community pool down the street.  My long runs topped out at 15 miles.

In September I started school again, so I had to adjust my training schedule to meet work demands.  During the school year I get up at 6am, am at school by 7am, and leave at the earliest by 3pm.  I started bringing my workout clothes to school with me and running right after work.

I ran the Rock n' Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon in 1:31:33.  By the end of September I'd started doing two-a-days; I'd get up at 5am and run 5 miles, then run between 8 and 12 miles after school.  I was up to 73 miles a week when I developed shin splints and had to take a week and a half off and abandon plans to run the Baltimore Marathon.

Once back on track, I kept the mileage between 60 and 65 miles per week and abandoned two-a-days.  I did speed work on the track every Thursday with some pretty serious sprinting, but hardly did any tempo runs.  I did three 20 milers and one 22 miler.  I did incorporate hills whenever I could, and ran the steps at my school's stadium the same days I did sprints.

I ran six days a week, with long runs on Sundays and rest days on Mondays.

I finally started using a Garmin regularly for the first time, but I still never used music on my runs.

In terms of cross training, I rode my bike the four mile round trip to school and home almost every day. I never set foot in a gym, but did lots of pushups, situps, pullups and arm work involving bricks at home.

My taper was two weeks long.

I'd spent a lot of time over the summer debating whether or not to follow an established training plan.  I even considered shelling out the 100 bucks for a special training program from Runner's World.  I wondered if I would be foolish not to follow professional advice when I had such a lofty goal in mind.  Eventually I did what I always do, which is to make it up as I go along, using experience and listening to my body as guidance.  I was entirely self coached throughout this process, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little proud of that.

For my diet I reserved almost as much effort as I did for the physical training.  I cooked and juiced a lot and relied on lots of chicken, pasta, homemade pizza and egg dishes.  I ate a ton of vegetables and fruit, and drank a lot of skim milk.  In the last two weeks before the marathon, I didn't set foot in a restaurant.  By race day I'd managed to shed almost 15 pounds.

It wasn't always an easy process, naturally, but it is certainly nice to look back now and be able to erase the self doubt and worry.  Obviously I ended up making enough smart choices because it all paid off in the end.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report

What a day.  What a day.

Ran the 2013 Philadelphia Marathon this morning in a personal record of 3:03:05.  So there's that.

I made my barbecue pizza last night and was in bed by 8:00pm.  Woke up at 4:00am and out the door by 4:30.  Due to the bombings at the Boston Marathon last spring, security had been enhanced and runners were advised to arrive at the course by 5am.  To be honest, security was an absolute joke.  There were multiple security checkpoints, some for runners and some for spectators - why the arbitrary divide when we were all headed right back to the same place?  Once past the checkpoint I could have easily had someone pass me something over the fence.  If someone wanted to do some harm today, the security measures in place wouldn't have stopped them.  While they may have made people feel safer, in truth they were nothing but an inconvenience.

Once close to my corral we sat around for 40 minutes waiting for the race to start.  I took the time to apply bodyglide, tape, and stretch.

Applying Bodyglide at 6:45am.

It was a bit warmer than what I'm used to this morning.  This was my first time opting for just a short sleeved shirt during the race.  It was a cool, slightly humid morning with light breezes, but shortly after I finished the sun came out and the temps picked up.

I started in the maroon corral, right behind the elites.  My plan was to mimic my training in which I started off slow and then built myself up to race pace after a few miles.  Instead, I got caught up in the excitement of the crowd and the pace of the runners around me and ran the first mile in 6:40.  I had the 3:00 pace group in view and rather than back off on the pace, I decided to just go with it as long as I felt ok.

The first half went like this, and I passed the halfway point in 1:29:22 - a half marathon PR - still feeling ok.  I saw Stevie and my dad at the beginning, and Alicia and Brian around mile 6, but missed everyone at mile 13.

I really started to struggle at the 18 mile mark.  The 3:00 pace group started to pull away, and the strain was too much to keep up.  I had gone up to then thinking I was capable of running a BQ, maybe even sub 3, but I started to lose faith at this point.  I picked the pace back up around mile 21.  My friend Tahsin was supposed to meet me at mile 24 to run the rest of the way in, and that's really what carried me that far. Unfortunately Tahsin wasn't there and I knew I had to finish on my own.

Around mile 26 I vaguely heard Stevie and friends call my name as I passed, but I was completely in the zone and could barely acknowledge them.  The finish line never appears when you think it should, and I started to fear I wouldn't make it in time.  Instead I dug deep and managed to finish almost 2 full minutes below the BQ time for my age and gender.

Team Sparteheimer post race.

I openly cried in Stevie's arms when I saw her after hobbling to our meeting point.  I drank some chicken broth, Gatotrade and water and started to feel better, and got a few pictures with everyone.That's where I saw that in addition to signs, she'd made T-shirts for everyone.

Some of the mile splits I drew on my arms.

The shirts Stevie made for everyone.

Stevie and me post race.
One of my favorite signs from the course said: "No Mud.  No Color.  ALL Heart."

Regarding the course, Philly loves to boast that it is a great place to PR due to its flat and fast course (I have now run Philly 5 times and set a PR every time), but others like to complain that it isn't quite as flat as advertised.  Indeed, the hills got to me quite a bit this year.  In other years I barely noticed them, but this year they were a large mental struggle.

I'm lucky in that I never had to stop for the bathroom, nor did I hit the wall in any way.  In past marathons I've felt spasms shoot through my calves or quads, but nothing like that today.  Just overall fatigue.

We stood around the finishing area for awhile taking pictures and swapping stories, laughs, and hugs. Before long some of us headed back to our place where we drank celebratory J├Ągerbombs, then drank beer and ate pizza all afternoon.

Celebratory drinks.

20th anniversary medal.

I'm naturally sore as hell right now, and will be sad when the day comes to an end and I have to take off my medal.  For now I am in incredibly high spirits.

Thanks to everyone.  The support means more than you know.
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