Diary of a Marathon

What it was like to run 26.2

Jane Morley after running 26.2 this weekend!

Congratulations to each and every runner who completed the Philadelphia marathon, half-marathon, and Rothman Institue 8K this weekend! I hope you enjoyed the crisp, bright morning as much as I did, and that you had a wonderful experience.

As for me, I had a great time and ran a great race. Whereas last year, I dealt with hip pain from the zoo until I reached the beer tables in Manayunk, I was mostly pain-free this time around, and as a result, I didn’t struggle with the same mental exhaustion. Because my goal was to stay as comfortable as possible for as long as possible, I had no problem with running a slowish (for me) pace in the early miles and as needed in the second half; this plan worked well, and it was only around mile 24 that I had to tell myself, Yes, your legs feel like cement right now, but walking is not going to change that, so you might as well keep running. My Garmin showed an average pace of 10:22 per mile, and I finished in 4:34:44—nearly four minutes better than my 2009 time.

I liked the course changes (Goodbye, Lemon Hill! Hello, Memorial Hall!), and I met some lovely people, especially my fellow orange corralers Tamara and Alexa. And like last year, I loved having my and other runners’ names printed on our bibs—not only because I got lots of shout-outs from total strangers, but also because I could distract myself by shouting out encouragement to other runners in the hairpin turns and along Kelly Drive.

Now, Christmas music is playing on the radio, the holidays are almost here, and I finally have a chance to do the things I haven’t had time for during training. Lots of these things pertain to my personal life—cooking more often, accepting party invitations that’ll keep me out late on weekends, partaking of an alcoholic beverage here and there—but some of them are fitness-related. For one, I can’t wait to return to my favorite weekend yoga class, the one I’ve skipped for months in favor of banging out long runs early on Saturday mornings. I’m also itching to get back into the pool and increase my swimming endurance. Though I wouldn’t say I’m eager to resume weight lifting, I know that it’s good for me, and I’m going to try to do it more.

I won’t lie: I’m looking forward to more running, too. Just less running than I’ve been doing in the past five months. I’m talking about turkey trots and jingle jogs and hangover runs, all in balance with snooze-button-hitting and Christmas-cookie-eating. I’m excited to run because I want to, not because I have to.

At least, until the next marathon. ;)

What about you, Be Wellers? What was race day like for you? Do you have a specific fitness plan for the holiday season and 2011? Tell us in the comments!