Philadelphia Marathon Race Recap – A Shiny New PR!

There was once a girl that had a huge goal of one day becoming a sub 3:30 marathoner! She knew it would take lots of hard work, dedication and determination & last Sunday Runday that girl’s dream came true!!Β πŸ’™πŸ’›πŸ¦„Β Just 8 weeks ago I made the final decision to run a fall marathon! After running Boston Marathon in April; I told myself I’d take the fall off from the marathon! After pushing through wind, pouring rain & freezing cold temps in Boston it took my body some time to recover. As the months went by; I felt better and better with each run and continued increasing my mileage. I kept my weekly miles between 6 & 7 miles and stuck with a longer weekend run. I was itching to run another marathon but deep inside I knew I promised myself I’d take the fall off. So I continued running for pure joy; running shorter distance races and just enjoying every moment of it. In early October; shortly after my 38th Birthday & after running a comfortable paced half in 1:43 in humid temps – I did it; I made the commitment to run a fall full marathon!
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I chose The Philadelphia Marathon! Only a 1 hour drive from where I live & a full that I’ve run two times before! I was feeling good & so excited to officially be training for my 15th marathon! I continued increasing my mileage; continued with my tempo runs etc. and just enjoyed every moment. On 10/15 I ran the Seaside Half in 1:44 just practicing pacing for the marathon. After I finished; my Dad said to me – “you looked like you were just running a comfortable race!” I felt amazing that day & it was just what I needed 6 weeks out from my 15th marathon!
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Training continued; that next weekend I ran my 1st 20 mile of the training cycle at 8:06/mile pace.
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2 weeks later; my 2nd 20 miler of the training cycle in extremely windy
conditions with an overall pace of 7:57/mile.
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I was in shock; I have never hit sub 8:00/mile in a 20 mile run! It was officially taper time for me & this run was just what I needed going into it! For the next 2 weeks; I focused on allowing my body to recover! In the days leading up to the race; I focused on extra sleep, loading up on my carbs and all positive thoughts! The Friday before; hubby took the day off and went to the expo.
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We picked up my race bib; I was so excited to be running Philly again!
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They even had all the shirts displayed from previous years! I was so excited to see the race top displayed from the year that I ran it for the 1st time in my 2nd marathon in 2011′.
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I packed a bunch of snacks with me for the trip, kept hydrating and made sure not too stay on my feet too long. After the expo; I grabbed lunch with hubby (more carbs) before heading home to rest & pack my race check in bag. After 10 hours of sleep; I spent Saturday resting with the exception of a shirt shake out run. I spent the day hydrating & carbing up for race day!
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I went to sleep before 8:30pm and woke up at 3:55am on race day full of energy & soo ready to tackle my 15th marathon!! We arrived by 5:30am to Philly. We quickly found a lot to park that was just blocks from the start. It was chilly with temps around 33 degrees!
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I wore a fleece zip up with a pair of fleece pants that I’d throw off prior to the race. I also had on “arm warmers” long socks that I cut to keep my arms warm.
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Before the start I used the restroom, took my gel and drank water before getting in my corral. I gave hubby a kiss, then he said “you are going to do amazing!”
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I was filled with so much excitement and had a good feeling! I was going into this race with no nervousness, no pre-race jitters with the mindset of – this is another long run, you’ve got this!
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As I stood in my corral waiting for the race to start; I spotted fellow Tiux Ambassador & friend Christine! We had been trying to meet up all morning and with the crowds I wasn’t sure if I’d find her! I was so excited to see her! We lined up with the black corral & in minutes we were on our way! The crowd was amazing! Christine and I were chatting while taking in the positive energy of the spectators as the miles just flew by! We ran through the city streets & rolling hills completely full of energy enjoying every moment! Christine and I ran side by side for the 1st 8-9 miles before losing one another in the crowd. At mile 13.1; I looked down at my watch seeing 1:46. I was feeling fantastic and thought to myself; if I can hold this pace – I’ll finish in 3:32 earning myself a PR and another BQ! In the back of my mind; I knew after all it is a marathon & anything could happen over the next 13.1 miles! I continued running; staying completely in tune with my body – fueling along the way and just enjoying every single step! Shortly after; I heard the announcers cheering on the winners coming through the finish! I then passed my good friend & running buddy Steph who recently finished Chicago & NYC Marathons! I looked down at my watch at mile 15 & immediately knew that my time was quicker than the 15 miles I did in training! With 11 + miles to go – I knew anything could change at any time! The energy of the crowd was truly amazing & I was powering through the miles! At mile 20, I spotted Janelle! I heard her yelling “Go Mer Go” as I ran by I smiled and waved at her!! Minutes later as I approached mile 21; I saw Elizabeth who yelled to me! As we ran passed one another; we high fived & I yelled good job girl! At that moment I heard someone yell “Go 3:30 group go!” I looked up and there was the 3:30 pace group right in front of me! At this moment; my emotions overcame me but I had to stay calm. “Did I really catch up to the 3:30 group?” I couldn’t believe it! I stayed calm as I ran left passing the 3:30 group staying in complete tune with how my body was feeling! I looked down at my watch and said to myself “Mer, just 4.2 miles left – you’ve got this – let’s do this!” The final 4 miles were filled with slight inclines but at that moment – I was running on pure determination! I felt strong and I was on a mission! With every mile; I was running stronger and stronger! I looked down at my watch & knew that there was a good chance that today – I’d become a 3:30 marathoner! I stayed calm & controlled just putting one foot in front of the other! At mile 24; I heard “Mer” it was Gabby! I had no idea she was running this race! We said hello & good job and I kept on running! I knew the finish line was near & I knew I had a big PR! I pushed through the hills, took in all the energy from the crowd and could hear the announcer at the finish line!
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I knew I was getting near & there it was! The finish was in sight! I looked down at my watch & couldn’t believe what I saw! As i ran closer; my pace became quicker and quicker!
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With a smile from ear to ear and tears in my eyes – I crossed the finish line in 3:27:27!! I was officially a sub 3:30 marathoner!! I was completely beside myself and as I write this; I am crying happy tears! I went into this race with absolutely no pressure on myself! I had no time goal in my head! My friend Haley asked me a few days prior “What is your goal?” My reply was “to beat my fastest Philly; which was 3:34:03 in 2011”. Deep down running a sub 3:30 marathon has been a long term goal of mine but I never in my life imagined it would happen today!! I crossed the finish in complete shock! I kept looking at my watch to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! At that moment; all the tough training runs, all the times I pushed through the tears, all the times I stood up when I fell were all worth it! This moment was truly magical! Within minutes I found my husband! I ran over to him and cried on his shoulder as he said to me “you are freaking amazing my love – I am so proud of you!”
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I was freezing cold but at that moment nothing mattered – I felt a joy that I haven’t felt in years & I wanted to hold onto that feeling forever!
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I turned on my phone that hubby had been holding while I ran and was so humbled by the number of texts, comments and messages from all of the kind souls that have supported me through it all!
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I’ve had some terrible races, had several days I’ve thought about giving up on running; questioned if I was too old? Not the runner I once was! This girl just crushed a 6 1/2 year old personal best by 6:07 qualifying for Boston for the 6th time, while running my 1st ever marathon with negative splits & I can honestly say I am PROUD! I immediately called my parents to tell them the news! They had been tracking me the whole race & were soo proud! They said “you were flying!” They asked how I felt and I said “AMAZING!” I knew my sister; my angel was right beside me through the whole race! I felt stronger & stronger with each mile! I felt energized throughout the whole race & my legs just kept powering through quicker and quicker with each mile! After the race; I saw that Christine who I had started the race with finished in 3:39!!! I was soo happy for her!! She ran a huge PR & BQ! I texted her and told her where I was! I said “meet me by baggage; I want to give you a huge Congratulations hug!” We took some pics and chatted about this amazing race!
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Such an incredible day for us both! We were both freezing so we hugged one another & she headed to go find her family and I found somewhere to quickly change into some warm clothes!
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After I changed; I saw Gabby who i had seen at mile 24! I asked how she did & she told me 3:28! This girl just ran an 11 minute PR after just running a marathon weeks ago! I was soo happy for & proud of her! We took some pics together before going to grab something to eat!
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Hubby and I found a little pub just blocks from the finish where we grabbed a bite to eat! After days of eating carbs – the 1st thing i wanted was chicken & a celebratory glass of wine of course!
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After lunch; we took a walk around Philly through the Christmas Village!
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There was so much positive energy in the air and I was on Cloud 9!
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We then decided to go to Franklin Institute!
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Hubby asked “are you ok to go?” I said “oh yes, I’m on such a huge runners high!” So we headed inside and spent the next few hours in the planetarium and exploring all the awesome things there are to see in the Franklin Institute.
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We left Philly just before 5pm. All I could think as I left is how this would be a day that I would never forget!
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Here I am 8 days later; still on Cloud 9 & I don’t think I’ll be coming down any time soon!
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There will be tough days; there will be days that you want to quit, days when you question why you are doing this – keep showing up & keep putting in the work!! In the end it is all worth it! There is no feeling like accomplishing something that you once thought was impossible! Dream. Believe. Achieve.
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Thank you as always for following my journey & thank you all for your constant support!

@meretherunner14

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Boston Marathon 2018 Race Recap

Well here I am 7 months later finally getting a chance to post this recap & I can say Boston Marathon definitely lived up to it’s expectations! I still don’t have the words to describe this day, but I can say that this race goes in the books as a day I will never forget for more reasons than one! Strong winds, pouring rain & freezing cold temps greeted us on the morning of April 16th!Β Hubby and I packed up the car early Friday morning; stopped off at my chiropractors office for one last adjustment before the bug day & hit the road! We were Boston Bound & I was so excited! This would be my 2nd Boston Marathon; 1st since running in 2013′. So many emotions as we drove up to Beantown! After years of trying to earn my ticket to Boston; in April of 2017′ – I finally ran my 5th BQ & that earned me my spot! I still remember getting the news & learning of the 3:23 cutoff). I headed to Boston this year with big goals in mind! I heard bad things about the weather, but refused to check! I refused to let that be the one thing that worried me all weekend! After a 4 1/2 hour drive; we arrived in Boston!! Our 1st stop was the finish line. I visited Boston in July while on vacation but prior to that my last time there was when I crossed the finish in 2013′. So many emotions as I stood there at the finish line. As I walked over to it; I got choked up.

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After visiting the finish line; we headed to the expo! I couldn’t believe this was happening; as I picked up my race bib – I got choked up. So much hard work over the last five years brought me to this moment & I was so thankful.Β πŸ’™πŸ’›Β After picking up my bib; I took a walk around the expo – checking out everything & doing lots of shopping!

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This time; I promised myself I’d purchase a lot so can remember this special event for years to come. We made lots of purchases and took lots of photos before heading over to our hotel to check in.

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Saturday arrived & we were up early & off to Boston Common for the BAA 5k. I chose not to register for the 5k so that I could rest up for Monday, but my hubby ran! We arrived early & met up with friends who were also running! We took some pics before everyone headed over to the starting line for the start of the race! I stood there as thousands of people passed by; so excited for this amazing event! I quickly headed over to the finish line to watch from there hoping to see some friends crossing the finish line! While I was watching for hubby, I ran into Karen; a friend on Instagram! It was so awesome to finally meet her! Then I saw Jennifer & Jeff; they ran the race together! I stood by the fence cheering; watching for Damian & there he was!! I yelled, I cheered, I snapped photos & took a video of him as he crossed the finish line of his 7th 5k! I am so proud of him!

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After the race; we met up with my friend Wayne! Wayne and I met at the 2013′ NYC Marathon & have kept in touch since! Wayne has played a huge role in my training and has helped me get to where I am now always offering advice! It was so great to see him & catch up after 5 years!Β  Saturday after the race; my brother & law and sister in law would be arriving in Boston to join us so we headed back to our hotel & waited for them to arrive! We had plans to visit the Sam Adams Brewery when they arrived so that’s exactly what we did! I am not a beer drinker, but I had to try some of the 26.2 Brew!

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We checked out the souvenir shot before heading out & over to Heartbreak Run Company! This was on my list of places to check out while visiting. Such an awesome store & the staff was really kind! Of course we took some pics outside of the store!

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After walking around for a bit, we headed back to our hotel to grab some dinner & continue carb loading! Sunday morning arrived, it was cold & windy! I headed outside for one last shakeout run before the big day! So many thoughts were going through my mind! So much excitement; I kept asking myself “am I really running Boston tomorrow?” “Is this a dream?” I finished up my shakeout run & headed inside to the hotel gym where Jess was working out! We chatted about our plans for the day &Β & about the nasty weather in the forecast for Marathon Monday. I headed up to my room & hubby and I decided to head out for a bit. I didn’t want to do much walking as I knew I needed to save my energy. We grabbed a bite to eat, visited the finish line one last time before the big day and met up with Kyla! Kyla and I have followed one another on Instagram for over 5 years! It was so amazing to finally meet her IRL! She is super sweet & so inspiring! We took lots of pics, chatted a bit & wished each other good luck! Before hubby and I headed back to our hotel; we took some pics, did a bit of shopping (I finally found the Boston Marathon hoodie I had been searching for all week) then we picked up ponchos because we knew there was lots of rain headed our way on Monday.

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We arrived back to our hotel & met up with Jess and Mike for dinner. As I looked at the menu; I thought carbs, carbs, carbs! I had been carbing up the last few days – having packed many foods from home to avoid trying anything new! I decided to go with chicken & plain pasta with a side of Italian bread for dinner! After dinner, I headed up to my room to prepare for race day. I questioned my outfit of choice several times. With a forecast in the high 30’s/low 40’s with strong gale force winds & rain – I wondered if shorts and a tank top was a bad idea? Will I be warm enough? Am I putting myself at risk for hypothermia? Should I wear pants instead? Will I be uncomfortable running in pants? Will the heavy, wet clothes slow me down!? I had no idea what to do, but decided to go with the shorts, tank top, compression socks & hat and play it by ear! I had a hard time falling asleep that night! I felt completely full of energy; restless! Maybe it was all the carbs? Maybe it was my nerves? Maybe all the excitement? I finally managed to fall asleep; only getting about 5 hours of sleep today. I woke up feeling good; excited & ready to conquer whatever it was that mother nature threw our way! I got up, got dressed, kissed hubby good bye & headed downstairs to catch the shuttle to Boston Common where we would get picked up to be taken to Hopkinton! Upon arrival, I quickly headed over to meet Alisa (an IG friend who I’d finally get to meet IRL) at her hotel; it was pouring buckets, windy & freezing so we waited inside before taking an Uber to where we could catch the bus. We checked in our baggage & quickly hopped on the bus. While on the bus; I decided it would be a good idea to run in tights rather than shorts so I quickly threw them over my shorts! I wondered if all these layers; including a long sleeve top & a poncho would be too much but I figured if it was I would throw it off before I started!

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We arrived to Hopkinton in about 30 minutes! It was pouring & we even saw a mix of snow! It was freezing, windy and just plain awful weatherwise!Β  As we walked over to the tents; all you saw were huge puddles & lots of mud everywhere!! It was like nothing I had ever seen before!! Every runner was in a poncho. Runners were sitting on plastic garbage bags, had garbage bags around their sneakers in an attempt to keep them dry – there was just mud everywhere!

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We sat and waited under the muddy tent as it poured and mixed with snow! Finally our wave was called & we lined up in our corrals! We were all completely soaked & just laughing as we headed over in our soaking wet clothing, sneakers; almost all in ponchos! Within minutes we were off! Despite the strong winds, pouring rain and cold – I decided I was still going to give the PR a go! Maybe I could hold the pace; maybe I couldn’t but I promised myself – I was leaving it all out there! I started off strong – right on target! I was conquering those fierce winds & feeling fantastic holding between 8:00 – 8:10/mile for the first 13 – 15 miles. Around mile 15, my legs were starting to feel it from pushing through those 40 – 50mph winds. I was pushing but they weren’t powering through as fast! I kept pushing, some miles stronger than others! When I got to Heartbreak – my legs were just toast! I fought hard; refusing to stop, refusing to walk – I pushed through! Wind in my face, pouring rain & wowie quite the hill! I got to the top & just felt so proud of myself for not giving up!

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As I ran the final miles of the race, I focused on keeping myself warm, staying in tune with my body & finishing strong! As I turned left onto Boylston, I threw off my poncho & sprinted to the finish of my 2nd Boston Marathon (14th marathon)! Arms in the air & tears in my eyes – I crossed in 3:42:42 running a 29:34 course PR!!Β πŸ’™πŸ’›Β It wasn’t the time I trained for but with the conditions that Mother Nature threw our way; how could I be upset? I just crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon!

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I left Boston that day feeling proud; feeling like I left everything I had out there on the course & definitely put out a PR effort!

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Before Boston I promised myself I’d take the fall off from marathons after running 8 marathons in the last 4 years, but I that definitely changed as last week! One week ago; I put my 15th marathon in the books!! Recap Coming soon!

Have you had to adjust your goals in a race?
Did you feel disappointed after or did you celebrate your achievement?
Thank you as always for following my journey!
@meretherunner14