2001 Philadelphia

The 2001 Philadelphia Marathon was November 18, 2001.

My finish time was 3:50:17 (chip time) which was about 5 minutes slower than I thought I could run.  This translates in a Jack Daniels VDOT of 40.

Marty DiBattista and I drove (Marty drove and I rode) to Philadelphia Saturday morning, November 17, to run the Philadelphia Marathon on Sunday, November 18.  Marty picked me up at 8 and we got to the runner's expo at Memorial Hall in Fairmount Park.  The expo wasn't much, but we got our numbers and shirts and looked around a little.  Then we drove into the city and checked in to our hotel (Loew's) at 1200 Market Street.  We got a room with 2 full beds on the Club Level (30th floor) thanks to a kind clerk.  The view was pretty good.  This building touts itself as the first modern-day skyscraper, at 32 stories, built in the early part of the century.

Across the street we had a Guinness and a sandwich for lunch, then back to the room to lie around and watch Syracuse get drubbed 59-0 by Miami, and take naps.  We looked for someplace to eat and decided to checkout the Reading Terminal Market, also right across the street.  We got there about 6:03 to find out it closes at 6:00.  So we walked around and asked some cops where to get some pasta, and found ourselves at Lombardi's, the country's first pizza place.  I had a terrific spaghetti and clams (white sauce) and a salad, along with a quart of spring water.  Then we walked back to the hotel and fell asleep.

In the morning we made coffee and got ready.  We caught a cab to the start which cost us $2 each.  Then we sat in the sunlight until we had to drop our bags at the baggage tent and get in the starting area.  There was no seeding, so I was pretty close to the front.

I started out running as soon as we crossed the mats, and got into my rhythm quickly.  My plan was to run my target marathon pace (8:30) to mile 20, and then decide about going faster.  I found in my training for this race that I was able to run at marathon pace comfortably and stay relaxed if I took three steps with each inhale and three with each exhale.  So I concentrated on doing that.

The race begins to the East, toward city hall, around the circle on Ben Franklin Parkway, then back to the Art Museum and the start.  Then you go out again in the same direction on the side road, but keep going.  About 3 miles a couple ladies started talking to me - they were joking around and trying to get me to smile.  I really didn't hear what they had said, I was concentrating so hard on running my pace and not paying attention to other people.  We talked for a mile or two and they dropped back at a water station.  Then about 6 miles I caught a lady with a Fleet Feet Syracuse shirt, and she had ridden down the elevator with Marty and me the night before, so I knew she was from Syracuse.  She introduced me to two friends (of course I can't remember their names) and we ran together a couple of miles.  This was in a very interesting neighborhood that reminded me some of running the Dublin Marathon - lots of pubs and shops.  Seems like we were on Front street, Penn's Landing, maybe near the Delaware River.  Then back up Chestnut into the city.  Clicking the miles off at 8:30.

I remember going over a bridge over the railroad tracks right before passing the zoo.  The walls of the bridge had pictures of all kinds of animals, and the animals were all heading in the same direction as the runners.  It looked like they were parading along with us.  The first animal leading the way was a turtle.  Then we were in a park, and running every which way - I lost my bearings.  We ran some switchbacks, I thought, but we came out heading into the park and running by Memorial Hall where we had picked up our numbers the day before.  It was a beautiful sunny day, no wind, probably in the 50s - perfect running weather.  And I was running along per my plan.  After running through that part of Fairmount Park, we came back out near the Schuylkill River (we had crossed it sometime in the first 10 miles).  Now, nearing the halfway mark, the two blonde ladies from mile 3 caught me again.  One asked me if I had found any sand to run in yet.  I didn't know she was talking about.  They ran on ahead of me about 50 yards before I figured out that with my hat with the drapes to keep my neck from getting sunburned, she maybe thought I looked like a sheik.  So I sped up to ask her if that's what she meant - and it was.  Then I dropped back to my pace, which was beginning to slack off to 8:45 instead of 8:30.

Then all of a sudden we crossed the Schuylkill again (and there were people sculling on it!) and were back at the Art Museum where we started.  We ran by the finish line as the clock ticked 2 hours.  Then the 14 miles mark.  That was a little discouraging, thinking that I had to run another 12 miles just to get back to this spot.  Oh well, just keep going.  Now out along the East bank of the Schuylkill, and cones in the middle of the road, and remembering that this was out and back - out to 20, turn around and run back.  So at least I knew I'd see the leaders and maybe spot Marty.  So I stayed near the center of the road.  On past 15, the miles started getting a little slower.  I was figuring 9:00 miles to the finish and estimated 3:48, so thinking that maybe 3:50 was possible.  The leaders approached, and there were 2 guys, then almost a mile gap before #3 came along.  I eventually saw Marty, we yelled for each other, and then I drifted back into my reverie - keep going, keep going, etc.

Now this is where I complain.  I think I am going insane, and if I run another long (marathon) race I will end up finally getting there (insane).  This part of the race is the most desolate, isolated, solitary place (mentally) that I can be.  I can't think of anything but to keep going.  To keep doing the same thing I've been doing for 3 hours.  Keep taking 3 steps for every inhale. Then keep taking 3 steps for every exhale.  Don't think about other things.  Don't let your mind drift away and your pace slacken.  Keep going.  Not another mile, but to 20. At 20, we turn around. Before 20, I almost catch the wheelchair struggling up the hill.  But just as I do (not trying, just running my pace) he crests the hill and coasts away.  Then I catch him again after the turnaround cone because now we're going up again.  Up, up, and keep going up.  Keep going the same pace.  I remembered that at Comrades I would look forward to the uphills because they were an excuse to walk for a little while, and at least that was being able to do something different.  Not here - just keep going.  My feet hurt quite a bit - turn that off and keep going, you can worry about hurting feet later.  At 20, I decided I didn't have enough to pick up the pace.  The smart thing would be to keep running the same pace to 25, then decide about the last 1.2.  Okay, I can do another 5 miles of this, another 44-45 minutes, physically I can do it, just don't make me think about it.  Of course, I have to concentrate to do it.  So I can't do it without thinking about it.  I can't do it and think about it.  This running thing, at least the racing part, is becoming its own paradox.  Do something you can only do by not doing it.  And there you have it - now even you are convinced that I am going insane; maybe there already.

At 25 I start running as hard as I can, and notice, interestingly, that I am only taking 2 steps with each inhale and with each exhale.  This is called racing.  The crowd builds, gets louder, presses in.  I'm looking for the 26 mile mark, but miss it (if it was there at all) and turn a corner and there's the finish line, only 100 yards.  Not enough time left time to sprint.  Sprint anyway.  Clock already says 3:50 something.  Cross the mats.  I go to the side to remove my chip, and a fellow is removing the chip of a lady runner, who is losing her balance.  I reach my arm out to catch her and she leans on me.  When he's done with her chip, I shake her hand and congratulate her - she beat me after all.  She congratulated me back, and said she followed my hat the whole way.

Got my bag back from the tent, looked around for Marty but didn't see him, started walking back to the hotel.  This really hurt, the bag (with my sweats) was really heavy.  But I made it.  Marty was there, already cleaned up.  I showered, packed up, and he drove us home.  I was home by 6 for supper.  It was a good, productive trip.  My VDOT is 40 now.

horizontal rule

Copyright (c) 1997-2004 Gazelle Software, Syracuse, NY  All Rights Reserved.   Page Last Changed 11/27/04 16:18