Brooklyn Runner

Philly on my mind
July 22, 2008, 10:35 am
Filed under: Marathoning, Racing | Tags:

I keep thinking about Philadelphia (not the city, the marathon), where I ran my first marathon five years ago…

Today I remember being so excited and nervous and ready to go on race day morning that, in spite of having thoroughly prepared every other aspect of what I would need that day, I forgot to attach my chip to my shoe before leaving for the race. Not only did I forget to attach the chip, but I completely left it at home!

My parents had spent the night so they could see me in my first marathon, and I was beside myself with anticipation. So there I was, with my bib pinned on, fueled and hydrated, lined up at the starting point, when I looked down and saw everyone’s shoes. By then my parents had left me to go get a good vantage point just past the start of the race, and I went into a full panic. Literally just a minute or two left before the gun, and I bolted out of the lineup, over to an info tent, and seem to recall just sort of waving frantically, saying, “Someone help me!”

Somehow in my near hysteria I managed to explain that I had forgotten my chip and I was very quickly swept into the able hands of a race volunteer, an older woman with a stack of bibs and chips and a kindly, no-nonsense face. “Help me!” I repeated, as she grabbed my bib and started yanking off the pins. “I’m trying to!” she said back. She deftly replaced my bib and attached a chip to my shoe — apparently in my state my own hands weren’t quite helpful in this process — when just then I heard the starting gun go off. I think I squealed or something, and she said something, “Don’t worry, you’re good to go.”

Indeed I was. I sprinted back over to the starting line and managed to get over the mats still in my pacing group. When my parents spotted me coming through the start, they scarcely noticed anything was amiss. It took a couple miles for my jittery nerves to calm down, but they did.

A few days after the marathon I wrote a letter to the race organizers acknowledging this volunteer and the help I received. Who knows what ever happened to that letter, but to that one volunteer, I will always be grateful. I hope some day I can be the same kind of help to someone on race day.

Philly Marathon, Revisited…
July 1, 2008, 9:57 am
Filed under: Marathoning, training

I’ve had a chance to review some feedback and conversations with people familiar with Philly and it seems it’s still up in the air whether my initial disdain for the addition of the half marathon should be reconsidered. I discovered that someone I know from work has run Philly every year for quite some time (a true marathon veteran!) and also a veteran New Yorker. When I asked her about the half, she didn’t blink. In her assessment it didn’t register at all. “Don’t even think about it,” she told me. “You’re focused on what you’re there to do, that’s all.”

Other things to consider: Marine Corps filled up pretty quickly, NYC isn’t going to happen for me this year for me, and I would hate for the fall to go by without doing the marathon! I took another look at the finisher stats for Philly over the last couple years. ( is great for easily checking these things out). Turns out the marathon field is substantially larger than the half-marathon field, which is the opposite of what I initially thought. And as a commenter pointed out, by the time you get to the Rocky Balboa finish at the bottom of the art museum steps, you are crossing the line pretty much with only full marathoners.

I guess the bottom line is, it’s been too long since I’ve done some real training and submitted myself to the discipline of marathon training, and I’m starting to feel the itch again…