I was off on the biggest race of my life to date. We started down Benjamin Franklin Parkway away from the museum. Before my group arrived at the starting line, we saw volunteers unwrapping the medals for the finishing runners. I kind of wondered why they were hanging medals from their arms now - it would be at least 2 hours before even the fastest runner finished the race. I heard the runner next to me say that he would just go ahead and take the medal now. I chuckled, but I wanted to earn the medal. See you in a few hours, guys!
I was less than a half mile into the race when I started to feel the Nano slipping down my arm. I also noticed that I was hearing the same group, and wondered if I would hear the same album on rotation for the next 6 hours. I let the distraction of my music problems get to me. I almost missed seeing Independence Hall and Benjamin Franklin's final resting place. I got my stuff together, my I will never, ever try something new on race day. Lesson learned!
We ran through Chinatown, then turned to go on a road near the Delaware River. With about 2 miles in, people were starting to shed clothes. I was not one of them. We were given throw away gloves in our race bag, but how could I toss cute gloves with the marathon name, logo, and date on them? Nope, that's a souvenir I am keeping.
We hit the first water stop, and headed back into center city. People were out in on the streets cheering for the passing runners. We were greeted by a couple welcoming us to famous South Street, home of bars, stores, and Jim's Steaks where I would be eating a celebratory cheesesteak on Monday. We turned toward Society Hill, and were again greeted. A man dressed in colonial garb shouted welcome at us and informed us we were at mile 5. Five miles, that's it?
Luckily, we had much more of downtown to distract us during the run. I saw Boyd's menswear store. I used to go to Boyd's with my mom and dad when I was a kid. We would shop for suits for my dad there when I was 5 or 6 years old. That is why I picked this race. It is like coming home for me.
We started to leave the downtown area and head to the campus of Drexel University. We ran past many frat houses with blasting stereos and lots of guys checking out the female runners. Apparently, guys were giving out food at some point, but I was too late for it. We went past the Philadelphia Zoo, and then up the worse hill of the race (which honestly wasn't all that bad).
I realized that I had a problem at that point. I needed to pee. I never pee while running. I have never peed during a race. Heck, I didn't have to use the bathroom during my 20, 23, or 25.5 mile training runs. I reached to top of the hill and saw a row of port-a-potties. I went for it. I walked right up and into a stall, took care of my business and got back on the road. I probably lost a minute tops, but it was worth it. Gross, but worth it.
We went down the hills, and had a little bit of course were we ran down one direction of the street, then doubled back on the same road. I saw several folks from Raleigh there. It was so nice to shout encouragement to them, and get kid words back. It kept my going on the road along the Schuylkill River. I saw the museum looming ahead.
I could hear the roar of the crowd. There were hundreds of people at the museum cheering on their friends and family members. There were even marathoners finishing by then. I saw the fork ahead. Half marathon finishers to the right. Mile 14 to the left.
I took a deep breath and went left. Stay tuned...