Sunday, September 17, 2006

2006 Philadelphia Distance Run - Part One

The Warm-up

Even as I waited for the train Saturday afternoon, to go over to the Convention Center to pick up my number, I had no idea how I was going to get to the race the next day.

In the past, when the Philadelphia Distance Run started on Market Street, the Expo was in either the Ben Franklin Hotel on 17th & The Parkway or at the Marriott on Market. It was a pretty simple decision: take the train. But, with the Start / Finish at the Art Museum, I had to either, drive over park and walk; or drive to the train and walk just about the same distance. The deal maker would be timing.

I could figure it out on the way home from the Expo.

I got my number, my chip, my 2006 T-shirt and proceeded to browse the Expo. I considered purchasing a pint and / or shot glass, but after putting out $14 for three 2005 left-over shirts, that was a bit much. Besides, I could always get them on line later.

On the way home, I consulted the train schedule. If I took the 6AM train, I would be in town by 6:30 and – with a half hour walk to the Art Museum – I could be in place by 7:00 with plenty of time to warm up. Missing the 6 though, would move everything back ½ an hour … too close.

Six o’clock it would be; 5:30 departure; 5AM wake-up.

“If I know you - you have your equipment organized in your head if not already out and ready to be packed” Annabelle had e-mailed me Wednesday. I was already ahead of her. I put all my gear for Sunday in the wash Tuesday. I had my pre-race, race and post-race gear all settled upon. [I would wear the same thing as Broad Street – Cerveza tank, etc.]. My back pack was packed: towel, toothbrush, toothpaste, change of socks all accounted for. My MP3 player was loaded. I was as ready as I would be.

As I lay in bed, and the doubts started, I thought of three e-mails from my coach.

“Not running will have little effect at this point - honestly!” She had said when I missed a couple workouts around Labor Day, due to a cold I caught on the ride home from Bingo. I couldn’t tell if she meant that missing wouldn’t make things worse; or that adding miles wouldn’t help any.

“Anyways - Not to worry - you'll do fine. Anyone who has run the miles that you have covered this summer, who can throw his bike over a fence and ride around in the mud [BMX reference] and has your attitude, can do a little old race like this one. Keep with your current plan - don't wear anything new - stop at the water stops and walk a few steps while you drink - you need to stay hydrated and the best way to do this is walk and get the fluids down.”

“Eighty degrees [the forecast] is pretty hot - you may want to consider starting out slower than you planned if it is that hot - you will make up the time on the end if you can. If you start out to fast you may not have that option at the end to make up the time. If you start out slow and stay that way the entire race, that is also okay - speed goes down as temp goes up. You probably already know all this, but just in case.”

I fell asleep with two final thoughts of my own:

1) NOT finishing was NOT an option.
2) Visualize success.


I woke up in the dark. I brushed my teeth and took a shower – a courtesy I was sure many of the 15,000 I’d be spending my morning with hadn’t considered. After dressing, I took a quick look on for the current temperature.



I put a pair of small apples and a bottle of water into my backpack for the ride over. I left the house at exactly 5:30.

I left the house again at exactly 5:35 after I realized that I had forgotten my wallet, and turned back.

This was going to be a long day


The sun was just coming up as the train crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge. I got off at 13th Street. I figured that, with a walk through the underground concourse, it would be the closest stop to the end of the parkway nearest City Hall.

The crowd was gathering and moving up the Parkway to the Start. Some were even running, as if 13.1 miles wouldn’t be enough for them today.
I got to Eakins Oval around 7 and found a nice place to stretch out, near the George Washington statue. After stretching, I txt’d Annabelle, put my phone away, and pulled out a pair of Sharpies. I had seen in the “Race Together” forum on, that one of the members would be starting in the same corral as me [#9]. Using a green and a purple Sharpie, I tagged “400 BEERS” on my left calf … a little self-promotion wouldn’t hurt, would it???

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