The Marathon Diaries: I’d Like to Dedicate This Race to …

… My parents, grandparents, brother, friends—oh, and Ryan Gosling.

I'll carry this cheat sheet with me on race day.

I can’t believe the Philadelphia Marathon is almost here!!! I go from feeling scared to excited to both at once. I guess I’m exscareded, if you will. And I know that I’ll be the most exscareded on Sunday morning as I wait in a Porta Potty line that rivals one at a Justin Bieber concert, except us runners aren’t as giggly (and most of us aren’t as young).

As I waited in the line last year, I only felt one thing: fear. I might have even cried (don’t tell anyone). This year, I know I can cover the distance; after all, I’ve done it before. The only thing that’s had me worried is not meeting my time. I plan on running with the 5:30 pace group, but there’s no guarantee that I’ll be able to keep up. And knowing that I’ll be running without my friends and family with had me feeling very, very alone.

I decided the best way to feel less alone was to dedicate each mile of the marathon to someone in my life who has encouraged me in my running. I kind of stole the idea from Ali Feller, my favorite running blogger/future BFF (I hope). After the NYC marathon was canceled, she drove up to New Hampshire on a whim to run the Manchester City Marathon. (She PRed by 22 minutes, so she’s also my inspiration for this weekend.) For the marathon, she set aside few miles to think of specific people, and those thoughts kept her moving. And in my opinion, the most important rule of marathon running is to keep moving.

This week, I took an index card, wrote out numbers for the miles, and started to fill in the list. Mile 1 goes to my cat, Mr. Martin McFly. Yes, it’s bordering on crazy-cat-lady status, but he was my most faithful companion all those times I woke up bleary-eyed for my 5 a.m. runs. Mile 2 is for my friend Claire, who was with me when I started distance running in high school and has two marathons under her belt. Mile 3, I dedicate thee to Ryan Gosling. Yes, I’m serious. Is there a better motivator than his boyish charm and good looks? (And he’s a running fan. Hollerrrrr.) Number 8 is for my friend, Mary, and her husband, Mike. In addition to putting up with me and my crazy ideas for the last 22 years, Mary has persuaded her husband to join her in training for their first half marathon. (I AM SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!)

Mile 13 goes to my friend, Rachel, and her husband, Victor, both amazing (and fast) marathoners who are there to talk running at any hour of any day. I know thinking of them will keep me moving past the halfway point. I’ll think of my friends Kelli, Aubree and Cassie around mile 16, where they met me for the marathon last year and gently prodded me along for the next 10 miles. Miles 22 and 23 go to my grandparents, who never quite understood why anyone would want to run 26.2 miles but acted very impressed after each race and training run. Mile 24 is for fellow runner Maggie, who is going to rock her first marathon! Mile 25 goes to my brother, who, in addition to being an awesome lacrosse player, is an amazing cheerleader and will accompany me to the start line at the crack of dawn (he’s not a morning person) to make sure I don’t chicken out. Mile 26 goes to my parents, who have been super supportive of my running (and everything else I do) and who show up for every race I ask them to come to, even when they have to drive the two hours from Harrisburg in the early hours of the morning to show up for the 7:30 a.m. start.

The last .2 miles are for me. They’re the most important for any runner. When I cross that finish line, I know that it will be because I put in the work and I went out there and ran a bajillion miles while normal people were sleeping in their beds. But it’s also the smallest part dedicated to everyone in my life because I know that I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere near a marathon without all the support from my family and friends.

All the other miles are filled in, but unfortunately, I can’t tell you how awesome everyone is in enough detail here to do them justice. And there are still more people that I love and will think about on race day.

Well, it’s been about 16 weeks and 400 miles since I started this experience. On Sunday, I’ll set out with tens of thousands of runners who have worked just as hard and for just as long to reach whatever goal they’ve set for themselves. Keep your fingers crossed for all of us that we reach the finish, and if you get a chance, come out to the course to scream your head off. As usual, anyone who wants to greet me with a cold beer is welcome.

Good luck everyone! Five days until race day!

>> Fellow Philadelphia Marathoners: Who are you dedicating this year’s race to? Who’ll be cheering you on to the finish line? Share the love in the comments!


Annie Acri is an administrative assistant at the Drexel University College of Medicine and is working toward her master’s of communication degree. The 2012 Philadelphia Marathon will be her second marathon. Follow along every Tuesday as Annie posts about the ups and downs of training as she prepares for the big race on November 18th. Catch up on the series here.

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  • Michelle

    YAY!!! I can not wait to cheer you on this Sunday!!!!! (and I can’t wait til mile 7 when hopefully M. Bolt comes on your ipod and you dance just a tad as you run)

    • Annie

      Even if it doesn’t come on, you know I’ll be fist pumping in my mind.

  • Aunt Denise

    Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.
    -Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Enthusiasm is a quality you do not lack. I will be cheering for you from NJ!

  • Spanky

    Mile 14 is far better than mile 12, that’s for sure.

  • GO!GO!GO! Thanks for using my age as my no.(21)

  • Jackie Shep

    Good luck Annie! You will do great! Awesome job on the blog, too!

  • Jane Acri

    I am so proud of you! Loved the blog! Cried a little. Big surprise, huh. Love, Mom

    • Annie

      Shocking. :-) It’s ok…Anne cried too. Love you!

  • Dad

    Words can not express how proud you make me. Mom and I maybe 26 on the list but you are #1 on mine. Love you.

    • JessD

      Awww!!! Hi Mr. Acri!

  • Tara

    Thank you so much for your posts over the last weeks/months. Sunday will mark (hopefully) accomplishing a HUGE goal of mine…running my very first half-marathon. My dad has run 3 marathons, including the Marine Corps in D.C. One day I hope to be just like him. Have a great run on Sunday. I just know you will meet and exceed your goal. Best of luck!!

    • Annie


      Thank YOU. I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying my entries. The feeling you get when you cross the finish will be like none other. I am so excited for you. Your dad must be so proud…I’m proud and I don’t even know you! :-)

      Good luck on Sunday….I know you’re going to rock!

  • Annie, so excited for you! We actually make water-proof bracelets called Grace Bands which have a line for each mile. If you contact us, we can send your list on a specially made Grace Band for you. Best to you this weekend!

  • JessD

    ANNIE! This gave me chills. I am soooooo so proud of you and can’t wait to be there cheering you on :)

    YOU’RE THE BESTTTTT! BETTER THAN ALL THE RESTTTTT… know the rest better than I would….since I’m so young, haha

  • Conni Miller

    Looks like we run the same pace. I will be one of the OAR runners (Run for Autism :) My oldest is autistic and such an incredible blessing to me. I am fortunate to be his mom!

    I could have written this also. Last year I ran the half and it was the hardest thing I had ever done. 3 hours and 39 minutes to cross the finish line, but wow did that ever change me. This year I’m going for the full Monty and will cherish every step. I have grown by leaps and bounds this year so I know I will rock up the Zoo hill that did me in last time.

    I so enjoy these runs not for my pace time, but for the fascinating and inspirational people I meet along the way. Everyone has their own story for doing this and I treasure every one of them.

    I am running for my boys and for everyone that has encouraged and supported me along the way. I run for my patients who are unable to do this. (I am an ICU RN. :) I run for my sister, father, and grandparents who have passed on. I will look for my special pennies from Heaven that my Grandmom always leaves for me during my runs.

    Thank you for this wonderful post. See you on Sunday!

    • Annie

      Yay Conni! I know you’ll do great. The inspiration you’ll be getting from all of your awesome loved ones will keep you going until the finish. I am so excited for you to have this experience…you might not love it during the race, but you’ll love it at the end! Good luck!!!!!

  • Stacey

    I am running Philly tomorrow too! It is my first marathon and I am also dedicating each mile to someone special! Also, I idolize Ali too, we should be bff’s! I haven’t finished my list yet (after dinner) but my training buddies and my boyfriend who was my inspiration and will be at the finish are a couple of them! Good luck tomorrow and I hope I see you out there!

    • Annie

      Stacey! I’m so excited for you. :-) You’re going to have a great race. I’d love an equally-Ali loving BFF! Let me know how you do, and if you see me out there PLEASE say hi. Can’t wait!