After all the years of talking smack on running I go ahead and run a half marathon. At least it was as unconventional as expected. I had put a little time into running in prep for my first triathlon, but not much as far as distance. My twice a year running partner on the east coast told me about the Philly half and that I should run it with him. ‘No, no, I couldn’t do that distance. Too far. I am not ready.” He laughed and told me to shut up and run it. It seems most people are more overconfident about my abilities than myself.
A week and a half before the race I decide I want to give it a go. Ride over to Fairmount Park (staying in Philly at this time) on the new extended bike/jog path. I do eight miles on Tuesday and nine miles on Thursday. For the second run I managed to talk Brad, a good friend of mine who had done the Broad St. Ten Miler, to run with me. He decides to run the half as well! So at this point the race is in less than ten days and between us we have run three times for a total of twenty-six miles in the three weeks leading up to it. At least I was in good company.
Friday night. We buy some running gear at the expo where you pick up your number (ed note: Suckers!). Then I am off to West Philly for a giant feast of vegan pizza, meatballs and whole-wheat pasta with Brad and some of his friends from his office. Great time chillin and eating with people almost as unprepared as I am. Afterwards I roll over to a party but only stay for an hour or so in order to be in bed by 1am.
Wake up and fumble around for my ‘gear’. New running shorts are SHORT. Yikes. Put on a cycling cap in order to represent and not be mistaken for a runner. The night before everyone was talking about putting ‘Bodyglide’ on sensitive areas to avoid chaffing. I use KY cause that’s all I can find. Eat some soy yogurt and I am out the house riding over to the start on part of the course. Meet up with the crew and we find our appropriate corral (When you sign up you give an estimated finish time and they corral you based on this). I never find Farnz, the kid who got me to do this, cause he is in a corral closer to the front and we never catch him. Actually, for most of the race we remain on the other side of the passing. It is three of us running together and we take it slow for the first 5 miles through the city.
Public urination is a funny thing. In most places (outside the US) it is acceptable when alternatives do not exist. It was funny to see guys who probably drive BMW SUV’s sneak off to the bushes to take a piss (when otherwise they probably scoff at it). Having to pee did not come up for us cause the sports drink they were giving out was not vegan! What the hell is that about? Putting whey in a Gatorade-like drink. Bullshit! I drink water at every stop though, utilizing the speed walk method in order to actually get the water into my mouth.
By mile seven or eight we had picked up the pace and are now running each mile slightly faster than the previous. We get some Clif shots around mile nine and talk about picking up the pace further at mile ten. Is this a good idea? We hit ten and Brad’s friend steps on it. I keep up. She slows slightly but I am stoked on the new pace and keep it up. Mile eleven hits and I am still going strong. I slow for water and when I speed up the effects of the faster pace are evident in my breathing. The weather (low 90’s) becomes more of a factor when I exit the shade around mile twelve. I am passing people like crazy and imagine them all thinking, ‘That kid is going to blow up. What a dumb-ass!’ The gradient increases and mile thirteen is around the corner or it should be……this is the longest mile of the whole race…..I hit thirteen and people are lined along the course for the last tenth of a mile cheering us on. I really wasn’t sure if I could hold the pace I was at till I saw the end. What was I thinking? I cross the line and have to keep moving. My legs are slightly unhappy. I drink a quart of water immediately and collect my medal.
Meeting up with the others we make our way to the food. Philly soft pretzels! Easily I consumed 10,000 calories of these in a month in Philly and gladly consume a couple hundred more (calories, not pretzels). We sit in the grass and talk about our runs. Good times.