Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why I'm not running on National Running Day

National Running Day!! It is certainly the holiday of holidays for runners. Yet, I am probably one of the few runners who is not running a single step today. Am I injured? Nope! All is well. I simply don't want to run today.

Yes, you heard that right. As much as I love running, trying to race two halves this month (and the lack of a race recap for the BK Half should tell you how stellar that went!) has left me mentally exhausted. I am so glad I haven't committed to a fall marathon, because running 10 miles right now seems miserable. I am the first to admit I am burnt out, and I'm glad I can use the summer as an excuse to put distance running on the back burner, and focus on some other activities.

I'm so excited to have started a Renaissance Periodization weightlifting program, and I'm looking forward to getting back into some sort of regular yoga routine. I have neglected lifting weights for a while, and I definitely missed it. I love lifting heavy shit and seeing muscles in my shoulders. I love feeling strong. I'm hoping that I can build some quads (#quadgoalz) and overall strength in my legs, and crush some 5k's this summer. That's about all I have as far as goals for now, and it feels wonderful. I do have some idea of what I want my fall goal to be, but it's far enough to where I don't need to think about it. Not right now.

Monday, May 16, 2016

What's in a number?

I feel like I've been making a big deal about Saturday's race. My 30th half marathon! Holy crap! But then when I really thought about it, I couldn't pinpoint why this number seemed so significant. I don't really remember which race was my 10th, or even 20th half marathon. So why does 30 seem so different?

Maybe because now I am actually in my 30's? The age that used to loom over my 20-something head is now here, and well, it just is. Maybe there's some sort of weird symbiotic relationship? I've known people who try to hit 40 half marathons when they turned 40, or 50 when they turn 50.

Or it could just be, Brooklyn. Brooklyn was my first, and I'll never forget it. In fact, I think ANY time I every mention the Brooklyn Half, I mentioned how it's special to me.

Case in point: My 2012 race recap.

I wish I was blogging back in 2009 when I ran my first half, but luckily I was keeping track of my workouts on Daily Mile, and I was able to search through SEVEN YEARS of workouts, to find my race recap. Lucky you for guys, I didn't edit out all the weirdness, though I did enjoy making some parenthetical comments, in red.

The full write up -Brooklyn Half marathon 2009 - The Long VersionLet me first say, this was my first half marathon ever, and this was also the longest I had ever run. (My longest training run was 10 miles, one week before the half) Let me also say, that the 2:26:21 minutes that it took me to finish was the quickest 2:26:21 of my life. I cannot believe that the run is over! It's already a past memory!! (What? Samantha, you're drunk. Go home.)

Let me also say, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to Michelle, Kenneth, Ted, Jessica, my mother, Lydia, and everyone else who wished me good luck, and told me I could do it and believed in me, even when I wasn't sure that I believed in myself. What I accomplished today makes me teary eyed. (Samantha, crying at the end of every important race is something you STILL haven't outgrown.) 

I slept poorly last night, and in fact, my alarm never even went off. (Thanks a lot iPhone) but, I managed to wake up at 5:30am, had my Luna bar, some water and went off my way to meet up with Michelle and Ted. There were some dramas along the way (no money for a Metro Card....15 minute line to use the most disgusting porta-potty EVA!) but nothing major, and the race ended up starting late, anyway. We cut in to the corrals (oops!) so we started about 5 minutes after the horn went off. 

We were off!! I'm really doing this!!For the first mile I was having some sort of weird shin/calf tightness that seems to literally only happen when I run in Prospect Park. Usually when I stop and stretch it out, I'm okay, but I kept running, because sometimes it goes away on it's own. By mile 2, it was gone. Okay, so mile 2....where's the water? It's warm, I'm thirsty, where's my water!!Finally, as we're approaching mile 3, there is a loud surge of cheers...the elite runners are running their second lap (In 2009 the course was slightly different--two loops of Prospect park, followed by the stretch on Ocean Parkway) in the park.....jesus..FINALLY 2.75 miles in Gatorade and water!! At mile 4 I lost Michelle and Ted at the water station, and the rest of the race I ran solo. 
I felt exceptionally strong in the park, which gave me great confidence that I was going to finish the race, and I was going to beat my goal of sub 2:30, and I was right on track for my other goal 2:24. Got a great surge of energy at 6.5 - 7 as we were leaving the park. There was pretty good fan support in the park, and other then that first water station, I think they were all spaced pretty well. 

I don't know what happened around mile 8 - 9, but i started feeling pretty fatigued. I knew I was more than half way done, (only 6 miles left! only 5 miles left! I kept trying to remind myself) but I was tired. I think at the 8 mile water stop I forced myself to gag through half an orange GU. (Have I told you how much I despise those retched things?!?!) (Sorry kid, they never get better.) There were misting stations at mile 8 and 10 which were FABULOUS! I was worried that I would get wet and it would make me all blistery (Ew), but the ice cold water felt sooooo goooooooood! 

By mile 10 I had felt less fatigued, though my legs were starting to feel sore. I remember stopping to walk some point at mile 11 and I guy said to me, "It's only two more miles! You can do it!" And I knew I could. So close. We were passing Kings Highway! Avenue U! The water stations were chaotic, but organized somehow. (Whut?The volunteers were dipping cups into large lined garbage bins of Gatorade. (In addition they filled up a pitcher and you'd just serve yourself) (Good to see in 7 years NYRR still can't figure this out.)By mile 12, I was feeling almost euphoric. So little left!! DON'T STOP SAMANTHA!!!!! At this point, I did kind of want to get this over with, but in a good way. My legs were still feeling stiff, but no pain. Coming towards the Q train over pass on W Brighton was totally overwhelming. There were a lot of people there cheering, and I could hear people cheering ahead, and there tears that started to well up my eyes. I tried to calm down, because I could feel my throat starting to tighten and I needed every last ounce of air I could get into my lungs. 

I did not run up the ramp to the boardwalk. (What???) You must be crazy. No effin way. I walked up the ramp (What???), took a deep breath, and tried as hard as I could to "power" through that last half mile. And it was not easy, that last half mile was probably the toughest half mile of the entire race. When they tell you "Only 1/4 mile left!!!" it's no consolation, because you see the finish line up ahead and want it to be done, NOW!!Overall, I really enjoyed the race, and I think NYRR did a pretty good job organizing it. It was no where near as crowded as I thought it was going to be. Of course I was happy to end at Coney Island, with it being home, but it was so nice to get those hills out of the way in the beginning, I'm not sure how I would have felt about the race had it been backwards.Right now, my calves are soooooreeee. I also have one blister on my toe, which hurts a little, and I'm a little sun burned on my shoulders. In a few days all that will fade, and all I will remember is number 10119, the good times I had on this day, and the great people I met today. (Still true.)

It's funny how things change, but it's even funnier is how much stays the same. The after party will still include my friend Michelle, but it'll also include so many other wonderful people that I've met over the years. I'll be running with my friend Lou, who I've been coaching for the past few months, and I may be running with a Oiselle Bird or two. 
Maybe that's what I'm so excited for. 30 incredible races in their own right, but most importantly, 30 opportunities to celebrate with 40+ of my best friends.
If you see me at Peggy O'Neals/Coney Island Brewery, say hello! Beer's on me.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The Power of Confidence

There have been some big changes in the Push Through Philly world since I last posted. For those of you not keeping track, that was nearly SEVEN months ago when I ran the Mohawk Hudson Marathon. Good gravy. The biggest change by far is that after 6 years, I have a new running coach.

I'm not going to go into the hows or whys in a public forum, but I have only love for my former coach. There was no drama, no messy fall out. I just knew my body and mind needed a change.

I'm excited to say that the past 6 months of running have felt pretty solid, and although the new plan is not radically different from my old one, there are lots of little tweaks that have me feeling stronger than I've felt in a long time.

One of the biggest changes has been in my confidence. The new coach hasn't done anything super specific to help with this, it's more a byproduct of the dynamics of working with a coach that has clients spread out across the country.

Along with my online teammates, I have the amazing team support from the Oiselle Volee. Even though I have all these new teammates, I don't feel like I'm in competition with any of them. We each have our own training plan, train for our own races, do our own thing. This was so much more freeing and liberating than I could have ever imagined. I have run with teammates that live in NY, and it's been great. Some of them ARE faster than I am, but I don't feel like we're in competition with each other. It's precisely that lack of competition that's given me the confidence in my own ability.

That, coupled with lots of "fast finish" workouts has made me feel (and run) stronger than I have in a long time.  So strong in fact, that when I ran the NJ Half two weeks ago, I ran my final 5k in 26:30. That's only ONE MINUTE slower than my PR, and my last mile of the race was in 8:22. Mile 13. 8:22. I am still blown away by that number. Even though I PR'd by a very small amount, executing my race plan to a T, even when the race conditions were against me, was a huge boost.

No one said running a PR in the rain was pretty

I feel like a giant weight has been lifted off my shoulders, and for the first time in a while I approach every run with happiness. (Ok, almost every run. If I have to run in the rain one more day I'm going to scream.)

I'm so excited to run the Brooklyn Half Marathon in two weeks, and celebrate my 30th half marathon. And of course, I hope the weather cooperates a little more, and I can tear up Ocean Parkway and make a bigger dent in that PR.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Marathon #7 - Mohawk Hudson

I wasn't going to do a race recap---I haven't done one in so long, it seems kind of silly to start again. But the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to try and capture what happened this weekend in hopes that I can learn something about myself and racing the marathon.

The short version:

On Sunday I ran my 7th marathon, Mohawk Hudson, and ran a 7 min 49 second PR, and couldn't be any happier. 

The long version:

Pre-race - AKA Downtown Albany Is Weird

I got to the Albany train station around 1:30, by the time I got to the hotel and settled it was closer to 2. I figured I'd have a small lunch and then I could have a normal dinner. I did lots of research on restaurants in the area, the problem is I didn't check their hours. Apparently "downtown" Albany doesn't mean what I thought it did. Most places that I walked by were closed at 2:30, opening at 5pm for dinner. Hm. After a quick walk around I unfortunately decided to just get room service. I stopped by the Rite Aid across the street from my hotel (which closed at 5pm Sat and Sun!) to pick up an armband for my iPhone because that was the *one* thing I forgot, and the race expo was so small they didn't have any. 

I did a little bit of sightseeing before a super low key dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant, and enjoyed a glass of wine in hopes that it would make it easier for me to get a few hours of sleep. (That sort of worked)

Before I spoke to my coach that night, I had a simple race plan in mind: Just get to mile 20. I wasn't going to worry about running 26.2 miles, I was going to focus on running to mile 20, which I've done 3 times in training, and then I'd assess/refocus on the rest of the race when I got there. To some of you this might seem absolutely ridiculous, but for me, this put my mind at ease and I was able to get to the starting line confident. My last 20 miler was great, at around a 9:45 average pace, so I thought "Let's focus on doing that again, and worry about the last 10k when I get there."  I knew I was going to try and take advantage of the downhills on the course and my coach assured me that the pace I was thinking of running on the flats was totally doable, and I shouldn't fear seeing low 9's if they were coming easily. 

Race Day - Unexpected Friends

I had mixed feelings about traveling to this race alone. Mostly, I didn't mind it since I thought there would be less pressure and it would be less stressful, but after seeing all the buzz around Chicago it definitely made me wish I had a few people on the course cheering for me. Luckily, I made friends with the guy sitting next to me on the bus to the start and we chatted while trying to keep warm. I was definitely a bit shocked to see it was 43 degrees when I left the hotel at 6:30am, and even though I had a warm Old Navy sweater as a throwaway, my teeth were chattering and my feet were getting really cold the longer we stood around. The race started at 8:30, and at 8 I decided to jump on the port-a-john line since they were starting to get long. Somehow I started to chat with the woman behind me, and at one point I asked her what her goal was. 

She replied 4:15. Me? 4:10? 4:15? Somewhere around there. The woman's name is Francine and she had run the race 5 time previously.  We ended up running the first 14 miles together. I am so grateful for her company and chatter. She really helped the first half go by so quickly. 

I came through the half point at 2:04:54, and here are my lovely splits

Mile 12/13 were weird. We had just spent the past 7 miles or so running on a straight flat bike path, and then we had to briefly get off the path, run on a few streets and up two small hills before we reconnected with the path. For some reason the two hills really confused my legs, and I really struggled. I felt like my right hamstring was going to start cramping up and a quick flash of fear went through me. Oh my god, am I freaking hitting the wall at mile 13?? Is the rest of this race going to go downhill?? (No pun intended!) I knew I was running a 4:09ish marathon and got excited, but tried to keep all my feelings and emotions in check. I finished my gel, took two enduralytes and tried to keep the pace up, but it started to feel hard. At one point there was a bit of a downhill, and I started to pull away from Francine. We had been playing cat-and-mouse for the past mile or so--I would stop to walk at the water stop but then catch up to her, etc, but this was the last time I saw her during the race. She knew I was trying to go a bit faster and didn't want to hold me back, so I slowly drifted ahead. It was around this part that I put my headphones in and tried to zone out. I briefly saw Josh had texted me some encouraging words after seeing my half split and that made me smile. I was looking forward to the downhill section that I thought was between miles 14-18. I was really hoping the downhills would give me legs a boost and I'd be able to get back into the 9:20's again. 

The problem is, I never really felt the downhill. There was one STEEP downhill just before mile 18, but other then that, it was so subtle, it was hard to tell that you were actually going downhill. I tried to not let my disappointment affect me. I was definitely starting to slow down but I felt like I was getting into a more manageable pace. 

Mile 18 - 21 or so were pretty brutal. This was the one part of the course I did not like at all. This is the only time you're running on the side of the road, which I didn't mind, however I wasn't thrilled that the condition of the roads and sidewalks was so shitty. The roads were open to traffic and runners had to stay on the inside of the cones. Again, that didn't bother me because at every intersection there were at least two police officers directing traffic and stopping cars, so I felt 100% safe, but with fatigue starting to kick in, I was getting frustrated. My mile 18 split doesn't show it, but I was starting to lose my mental toughness here. I walked once in frustration. (And then when a few people passed me I realized I needed to move my ass) Somewhere in these miles the 4:15 pace group passed me. I tried to keep up with them, but honestly, I didn't try that hard. The pacer only had 2-3 runners with her, and being in a bad space mentally I didn't even try to keep up with her. That's probably the only thing I regret in Sunday's race--I wish I would have put in the effort to quicken my stride just enough to keep her in sight. 

The last 10k of the race is a bit of a blur. I remember running into a woman towards the end and somehow we started sharing a few words with each other--we must have been shortly before mile 25 because I remember us both saying "I cannot wait to see mile 25!!" 

Thinking about it later, I realized I had never raced a marathon before--I had just simply been running and relying on my fitness to run faster. There was never a strategy or plan involved. Yet this didn't feel like a "plan", it just felt like what I was supposed to be doing. Mile 20 wasn't easy but I couldn't stop smiling. My hips, glutes and low back were so tight, yet I kept moving. Even knowing that my pace has slowed down quite a bit, I was still looking at a 7 minute PR. I was determined to NOT WALK. No matter how much I slowed down I knew it wouldn't hurt me as bad as it would have if I just started to walk. It felt good to know that deep in my bones, my muscles, my heart, I am a marathon runner. Crazy, control freakish, determined, unstoppable. Those late miles weren't nasty like they had been in the past, they were golden. 

They were a celebration of everything I've worked so hard for. My last two marathons were in 2013 and they were brutal. I suffered through both of them, and one of them was 5+ hours (on an extremely hilly course) In 2014 I wanted nothing to do with the marathon. I just wanted to focus on running faster, and though I did accomplish that, I only managed a tiny PR in the half marathon distance, while everyone else I knew seemingly dropped huge PRs on the marathon. I started to doubt myself. Maybe marathon running really wasn't for me. In a lot of ways, this race was the one that was going to determine if I ever ran another marathon. If I had yet another bad race I don't think I would have ever attempted the distance again. 

The last 6 miles of Mohawk Hudson were my redemption, my strength and soul out there for everyone to see. I couldn't stop smiling. The joy of the PR I knew I'd have, the joy of finally realizing my strength, and yes the joy of almost being done!! The joy of completing a solid race that I could finally be proud of. 

Also something I learned, I ran the last .3 @ 8:30 pace. Goddammit. 

2nd half splits (2:13)

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Introducing...Push Through Training

My Mission:
My goal is simple. I want to use my knowledge (as an RRCA Certified Running Coach/ACSM Certified Personal Trainer) and experience as a runner (including 26+ half marathons, and 6 marathons) to help you push through your boundaries and help you reach your running goals. Whether that goal is to run your first 5k, or to PR at your next half marathon, I can help you achieve it. All of my workouts are carefully planned to suit your fitness level and your goals.

Why "Push Through" Training?
Everyone has their issues. Lack of self confidence, never taking a rest day, not pushing yourself hard enough in a workout, or maybe you're new to running and you're not quite sure what to do. Each of these are a barrier that you need to "push through" in order to achieve your goals. (It goes with the theme of my blog too!)

Personalized Training:
Live in NYC? Awesome! That means not only can I create a customized training program for you, but we can schedule in person training sessions, so I can correct your form, help you keep track of those splits, and motivate you throughout your workout too!

Don't live in NYC? Don't worry, I can still create the same customized training program for you, but instead of weekly workouts, we can email, GChat, tweet, Facetime, Skype or communicate how ever else you'd like to! I will always be available to answer your questions and review your workouts with you.

What are your training sessions like?
It all depends on YOU. Your goals, your fitness level. As a general rule, there's a warm up, followed by a specific workout, a cool down, and some core work. There will also be some days which are rest days, and some days that are XT (cross training)

Ready to get started? Or just have a question about rates and scheduling? Email me at: samantha AT pushthroughphilly DOT com

What people are are saying:
Samantha was great! I needed advice about my form, she watched me on the treadmill and recorded me so that I could see what I looked like. She had a lot of great suggestions that I'll be using going forward.

I worked with Sam over 4 months to get my time down for the Staten Island half-- this included an in person meeting once a month, and a weekly training schedule. She was always available for advice and support via email, and even came to race/keep me on pace during some long runs (including a 10 mile race). In short, Sam really knows her stuff, and is exceptionally down to earth. I definitely know that without her help, there's no way I would've gotten my pace down almost a full minute! I can't wait to work with her again this coming spring.

I'm really pleased that Sam is my running coach. I was coming off a running injury so my goal was to successfully train for a half without serious injury. I wasn't quite sure what i needed out of a coach but knew I'd feel better having some guidance along the way. Sam's been great in that she is able to flex to my needs and she has been thoughtful about my training. She put together a training program that she constantly monitors and adjusts based on my performance and any travel, health, work interferences. Sam recently ran part of a race with me and another client to help with our pacing and then to cheer us on. I'd definitely recommend Sam as a coach who cares about what she does and about her clients goals.


Coach Samantha was great. Very thorough and patient. I'm a new half-marathoner in my early 50s, and she had lots of helpful advice and guidelines for me to consider.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why not run fast?

I'm sure by now you've all read about Kayla Montgomery, the teenage runner with M.S, whos legs go numb at the end of the race, causing her to collapse upon crossing the finish line. If you haven't read the article, the NY Times did a great piece about it here.

I was reading this article the other day, and with the NYC Half coming up in just a few days, there was something that Kayla said that stuck with me.

‘Coach, I don’t know how much time I have left, so I want to run fast — don’t hold back,’ 

And I thought (in a somewhat morbid way) isn't that true for all of us? Why am I scared of going fast?  Why do I fear that by going fast I'll get injured? What's the point of racing when you're not letting your legs and heart be in it 200%? None of us know how much time we have left to run, and we shouldn't let anything hold us back from giving it our all every time we run.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


Is there really much more to say? Winter.

I was tallying up my miles for January, and I realized more than 50% of those miles were done on a treadmill. A necessary evil. Training is going well, but I hope that in the next few weeks the weather calms down a little bit. At least for March 16th.

How are you all dealing with this weather?

Monday, January 20, 2014

A New Week

I'm really glad that Monday is the start of my training week. I'm in week 3 of my half marathon training, and I'm not sure what to expect. The first week was pretty good, but by Saturday night, I was feeling sick and run down. I spent all of week 2 being various degrees of sick (fever, sore throat, full blown laryngitis) but after three solid night sleeps, I am finally feeling back to "normal".

Even though last week was a complete disaster, I am trying to be positive about this week. It's only week three, and it is a brand new week. Yes, every run last week sucked, but it's got to get better. Despite the fact we are supposed to be getting another "Arctic Blast" I know I can workout at the gym. For most people that probably sounds like a punishment, but when the temperature is below 20 degrees, I'll take the treadmill. It also means I have no excuse to not do my leg/core exercises. And I also find doing speed work on the treadmill easier (relatively), because I have no other choice but to hit those splits. Otherwise I'll end up on my face. (Or ass. I've never fallen off a treadmill, so I'm not sure which end you end up on--but I never want to find out!)

So there are two positive things about my workouts for this week. What are you looking forward to this week, even if you're battling the elements (or yourself!)?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Happy New Year (right?)

It's only January 13th, so I think it's still appropriate to say Happy New Year....especially when I haven't blogged since....yeah.

There's lots of stuff coming up for me running wise this year, and I'm really excited to share it with you. Though, most of you know already, I got into the 2014 NYC Half Marathon! I'm a little embarrassed to admit this, but this was my first time entering the lottery for this race (the last time I ran it was in 2010, when it was in August and not even a lottery) The timing of the race is perfect, and the fact that I don't have to pay for travel/hotel is nice too. So, I got extremely lucky, and I'm really excited to train for this race and feel like I'm back in shape again. I have an A goal in sight, and after a year of flop races, I am really looking forward to celebrating some new PRs.

Speaking of travel and hotel however, I did sign up to run the Atlantic City Fool's Half Marathon which is the first Sunday in April. I signed up for this race a few weeks back, before I even found out about the NYC lottery. Unfortunately in my excitement to sign up, I totally forgot that this race was on the same day as the Cherry Tree 10 miler in DC, which I really wanted to enter as an excuse to see my favorite cat Livia, and her human Tracy.

There's also some new stuff coming to the blog in the next few days. has to do with the fact I changed the header of the website!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Surviving the Philadelphia Marathon With A Smile...Again

This weekend was such a whirl wind, it's hard to believe I ran a marathon yesterday. The weekend started off great, my Megabus was on time, I got to Philly half an hour early and I was able to check into my hotel before noon. Philly is one of my favorite cities, and I loved being right across the street from Reading Terminal Market. I ended up meeting up with a few friends and we went through the market, went to the expo, and had a hearty pasta lunch.

Later that afternoon I decided to text Josh, and ask him what he thought my predicted time would be. It's sort of a joke at this point, because he can usually predict his athletes time within 60 seconds. Though I haven't officially been training with him this season, I wanted to get his opinion and test his powers. After all, I hadn't done much speed work, and I was going to run it stress free with no time goal. Just have fun.

Josh turned my question around on me and asked what I thought my time would be, to which I replied 4:30's, which was true. It wouldn't be a PR but I knew I could keep a 10:20 pace for the race. Of course Josh had a reply to that. "Really? I was thinking high teens" to which I laughed out loud. 4:18? 4:19?? I asked him what pace that translated to, and when I found out it was sub 10:00 I laughed again. Virtually every long run I'd done this year was on the other side of 10:00. Could I really pull off a 5 minute PR Sunday? We spoke a little more about how I needed to grow a pair of man-balls and race fearlessly. I admit I liked the idea. What's the worst that could happen? My legs would feel sluggish from the start and I would slow down. Best case? Shiny new PR.

I went back to the hotel room after dinner and made sure I had everything I needed for the race. I also grabbed a pen and wrote two things on the inside of my right wrist: STRONG. (The best mantra I've come up with is telling myself how strong I look and how I am so much stronger than I think I am.) MARBLES. (To remind me to grow a pair) And then I drew a little heart. (To remind me of my boyfriend, and how I knew he was rooting for me even though he wasn't with me)

Predictably, I did not sleep a wink that night. But that's okay, I know by now getting a good night sleep before the race doesn't mean much.

In the morning I met up with Jonathan, Eugene and Kate, and we all walked to the start of the race coffees in hand. The security line we were so worried about and warned about took us about 30 seconds to go through. (At least at 5:30am, when we got there) The porta potty lines on the other hand where out of control. We all decided to hop on line for a final time at 6:15, and unfortunately Kate and I didn't get into the corrals until 7:15. Yes, we waited an hour on line for the bathroom, and we were far from the last in line!

Starting the race, I felt great. I was trying my hardest to not look at my watch for pace because I didn't want to freak myself out, either way. I was just running with the group, my legs felt light, the air was chilly. Around mile 2 I looked at my watch and saw I was running a 9:38 pace. HOLY CRAP. I tried to slow down a bit as we were running by Penn's Landing. I kind of hoped there was a 5k checkpoint, so everyone tracking me could see how I was breezing through the first few miles (Ridiculous logic, I know) Finally around mile 4-5 I was able to settle in to a much better groove of low 10's high 9's.

My pace was fluctuating a little bit through miles 5-9, but I hit the 10k in just under an hour, and still felt amazing. The crowds on Arch Street were amazing. I try not to do too many high 5's, because I feel like it wastes energy, but I couldn't help it. My legs felt great, the endorphins were flowing, and I thought to myself, "Holy shit! I can do this!"

The zoo was slightly less brutal than I remembered, however coming back on MLK Jr. Drive was awful. It seemed never ending, and I hate to admit it, but my legs were starting to tighten up. My pace was still in the low 10's, but it was starting to creep up. I just kept trying to focus on my music, getting to the next mile where I'd take some salt or a gel, and just keep moving. I hit the half in 2:12 and I told myself that I was doing great and on track to PR.

If I thought those last few miles were tough, the way up Kelly Drive was brutal. By mile 16/17 my legs were so tight/dead. My left hamstring/piriformis was bothering me. I was tired. I knew the last 9 would be ugly, but I kept chugging along, trying my hardest to keep my walking to a bare minimum. I kept thinking about the turn around at mile 20 and just tried to focus on that. I hit the 30k in 3:13 (10:20 pace) and knew I had to try my best to not lose any more time.

The crowds at Manayunk were awesome, but I never got that huge surge of energy that I had gotten in 2010. I was miserable knowing I had six freaking miles more. I was grateful that my hamstring/butt had stopped hurting, because my quads were fried, and my lower back was aching. I tried to keep moving as best as I could. I stopped to stretch a few times but it didn't seem to make much difference. The worst part about it all is just watching the seconds slip away and feeling like you have no control over it. I mean, I know I am literally controlling the pace, but I think most of us know that feeling in a race where you just give up your goal, and force yourself to shuffle along, and if you walk you walk.

I must have had a burst of energy at mile 26, because it was the fastest of the last 7 miles, at a whopping 11:03 pace.

I crossed the finish line, giving Mayor Nutter a high five, and just started to cry. I was so upset. I was glad that I didn't have a friend waiting for me at the finish, and my boyfriend didn't pick up his cell phone on the first try, because I would have just lost it. I was so sad that it all fell apart in to what I would almost call a disaster. I cried because I was sad the race was over. I cried because I was ecstatic the race was over.

Having a little time to think about it, I realized I'm proud of myself for trying. Those first 17 miles were by far the best marathon start I've had. What difference would it have made if I ran 10:20's-30's the whole race and finished in the 4:30's? No PR is no PR. I'm glad I tried to go for it, and for all those miles I believed in myself and let myself believe I could do it.

This years giant medals vs the medal in 2010
This years giant medal vs MCM 2012

All the medals, all lined up