Sunday, November 21, brought the Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon. It was an excellent event. The course is outstanding, passing by so many interesting and scenic places. The weather was perfect, with a temperature of a crisp 37 degrees at the 7:00 am start, reaching the mid-forties by the finish. Skies were sunny with no risk of precipitation. For a city visitor staying in a typical Center City hotel (like I did) it is so convenient being able to walk a mile or so to the start.
Several members of my New York Reservoir Dogs team ran the marathon or half, and one of Nola’s Mercury Masters colleagues ran the half. I ran the half, coming off the NYC Marathon 2 weeks earlier and in no shape for another marathon yet. I was quite satisfied with my 1:58 time under the circumstances.
The organization of the event was excellent and the crowd was enthusiastic. The main takeaway from some of my marathon-running colleagues (and I concur) was that you should not consider this a no-brainer flat course. It is not an extreme marathon but not a piece of cake either. Compared with my two marathon runs this year, I would rank it half-way between the Toronto Lakeshore Marathon (easiest) and NYC Marathon (toughest).
This is a great event for any east-coaster seeking a fall marathon and not running NYC!
Warwick at Mile 23, courtesy Meredith Sulser
The New York City Marathon, the world’s largest and most spectacular running event, was run Sunday November 7. I ran. Nola also ran it as her first marathon.
The running conditions were close to ideal: temperatures in the 40s throughout with sunshine and moderate winds. From the weather perspective, the million-plus spectators probably experienced more discomfort than the 45,000 runners.
From the runner’s perspective, the NYC Marathon comprises three steps which can be comparably challenging: 1 Getting to the start line at the Staten Island end of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, 2 The race, 3 Getting home. I feel step 1 is the toughest: picture 40,000 people loading the early-Sunday-construction-limited subway system, the Staten Island ferries, and a gargantuan shuttle bus system from the ferry terminal to Fort Wadsworth; followed by waiting for up to two hours in a crowded, cold, windy, muddy camp for your start slot.
Step 3 can also be surprisingly tough. It took me over an hour, in cold, windy conditions, from when I crossed the finish line to get to my apartment a few blocks away. Imagine the logistics faced by anyone not so fortunate in location.
But what is really important is the race. There is nothing like it in terms of environment, crowd support, and total hoopla. The start is unforgettable, launching off onto the lofty bridge to the strains of Frank Sinatra’s New York New York. Then you pass the amazing crowds through the length of Brooklyn, followed by the Queens supporters, and the enormous encouraging throngs in Manhattan and the Bronx.
There are enough hills in this route to make it a substantial physical challenge. I loved the run, while disappointed with my time. More importantly, Nola was successful in completing her first-ever marathon with great enthusiasm and no complaints.
As for the inevitable post-race pain, the post-race partying with my Reservoir Dogs teammates quickly pushed that out of cognition.
What a day!
Following a test run of the Philadelphia Marathon course last week, I have produced a more detailed commentary of the course from what I posted previously. It is really a very exciting course but not, as sometimes suggested by the organizers, flat. See my revised and expanded description at www.funonfoot.com/resources.html
I shall be giving a presentation on the Philadelphia Marathon course at the Expo at 12:00 noon on Saturday, November 20, touching on history, scenery, and tips for runners.
Nola and I shall also have a booth at the Philadelphia Marathon Expo on November 19-20 to sign books and chat with runners. If you are running Philly, I hope you will drop by.