Some people celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary with a trip to Bermuda. My husband and I, we get my dad to come and babysit for the weekend so we can run. Hey, whatever floats your boat.
Jamie only decided to run the Philly marathon 10 weeks ago, right before it sold out, and I am already registered for the California International in two weeks, so I decided to sort of do the half marathon. They don't really care at Philly what bib you are wearing on any part of the course, as long as you have a bib, so instead of doing the south loop, I jumped in for the north loop to run with my training partner Brittany who was attempting to qualify for Boston. It seemed pointless to run the first half with her since that's not where it gets mentally tough. And plus I didn't really want to race all out when the marathon is only two weeks away. I assumed she would do 8:10ish miles, which would be a good pace run for my own race.
We were staying at the airport Courtyard hotel (as all the downtown hotels were booked) and set off for the starting line at 5:30 a.m. All was going smoothly til we got to the exit for the Art Museum (where the start line is.) It was backed up. Crazy backed up. Brittany and Jamie still needed to check their bags, and the traffic was not moving. So I figured I'd try the next exit and backtrack. Except.. oops. We ended up over the river. And the traffic going the other way on the interstate was backed up for miles. I guess this is what happens when you put 33,000 runners at the start line all at the same time and there isn't really a great public transportation option. It was already 6:25... race starts at 7. I said I would check in their bags. We finally got to an exit (though not the one we wanted) and noticed runner after runner hopping out of their cars. My GPS said we were .7 miles from the start. So Brittany and Jamie jumped out and I went to go find parking. I was able to get off on the left exit, which let me out at Rittenhouse Square. I found a parking lot, stuck the ticket on my window, and ran the 1.5 miles to the start with both of their gear check bags.
As it turned out, I didn't really need to be concerned. Plenty of people were still checking gear bags at 7 when I arrived... and past 7. In fact, people were still being dropped off at the starting line at 7:25. At 7:37 they made an announcement that they really needed everyone racing to cross the start line because the first half wheelchair participant would be over the line in less than ten minutes and they needed to change it to record the finish instead of the start. Guess we were not the only ones with traffic problems.
I headed over to Whole Foods to have some coffee and wait for auto texts with Jamie and Brittany's 10K splits. Jamie's came first, saying he was on pace for a 3:21 and Brittany's next, at 3:33. I still had some time. I chatted with some people, used the bathroom, and waited for the 20K split. Except it wasn't 20K, it was half -- Jamie's came in (on pace for 3:18) and I realized I needed to get back to the start line to catch Brittany for the North Loop. I bolted out and grabbed my phone -- no text yet. Phew, I hadn't missed her. I was freaking out that I was the worst friend in the world who was more interested in my coffee than helping a friend through a grueling 13.1 miles when I heard "Gretchen! I'm here!" And we were off.
The north loop runs up the Schuykill River and had some nice fall views, but it definitely isn't the most interesting half -- I was glad I had Brittany to talk to. Our pace was just conversational - we weren't out of breath, but if I ran any faster I would have to quit talking. Jamie had my Garmin on and so I had my old Forerunner and I turned off the pace since this was Brittany's race, not mine. I did notice that we were getting further and further ahead of the 3:35 pacer, to the point where we couldn't see him anymore.
Soon we saw the lead man come down the other way. As the out and back crowd got thicker, we tried to keep an eye out for Tuan and Jamie. Then I got another text that my darling husband had crossed the 30K on pace for a 3:15. Seriously? The guys runs 40 mile a week max for 10 weeks and is on pace to qualify for Boston? Around that time we passed Tuan, who was right alongside the 3:05 pacer and only had two miles to go. He was definitely going to Boston. Brittany, I was pretty sure at this point, was going to Boston. Jamie had a chance of going to Boston. Talk about putting on the pressure for my next race.
I spent miles 22-23 staring at my phone, willing it to text me right at 10:22. It did not. Jamie had not made it across in a sub-3:15. His final time was 3:17:43. Which doesn't qualify him as a 41 year old man. It does, however, qualify him as a 41 year old woman, which he was mistakenly entered as. This is the second time this has happened. Last December he won the female masters division of the Jingle Bell 5K in 20:05. He does not check the female box. These things just happen when your name is Jamie.
When we got to 25 (12 for me) I looked down at my watch and said "Brittany, you could stop and walk this mile and you would still go to Boston." She looked at me and said "Are you crazy? I'm not walking!" "Yeah, I didn't say you should walk. I just meant you are killing this thing. You are pretty easy to 'pace' since all you do is speed up." Which she did. When we got to the 26 mile marker, I turned the pace back on my Garmin. We ran to the finish at a 6:45. She killed it. 3:30. I was so excited for her! Our half split was 1:43:48 which is definitely not the 8:10 pace I was looking for today. More like 7:55. Oops.
And here is where things got interesting...
The plan was to walk back to Rittenhouse Square, have brunch, get the car, and get home at 4:30 or so. I went to get the car while Jamie was paying his bill. I went to the lot where I thought I had left it. No car. I went to to the kiosk and noticed it was $15/ day. My lot was $11/ day. Wrong lot. I asked the attendant where the next lot was. He told me. I walked there. Wrong lot. That attendant gave me another address. Nope. Wrong lot. I took out my phone to try to google map where lots were, and my phone promptly died. Then I got lost. I had no phone, no way to find Jamie, and no idea where I was. I walked. And walked. For an hour and a half. I didn't find the car, and when I got back to the restaurant, Jamie was gone. The waitress let me use her phone and Jamie answered. He was in a coffee shop flipping out that I'd been mugged. I went to find him, and as soon as I arrived, his phone died too. So we had no car, no phone, and no way of getting ahold of my dad, who thought I was missing. Jamie's legs were too sore to walk, so I told him I'd figure out where the car was if he could just stay at Starbucks. I walked for another hour, 6 other parking lots, no car. Back to Starbucks. Jamie had been talking to a woman there who suggested I go to the Apple Store and charge my phone. At this point I had probably walked 6 or 7 miles in the same 2 mile radius. I knew my car was right by that park. What was I supposed to do? I called my dad once my phone was charged, and he thought my car had probably been towed. But I had yet to find an $11 lot.
Finally, I went to the police. "Did you pay with a credit card?" they asked. "Why yes, I did." "Well, call the credit card company and ask which lot you used." So I did. And they told me. And it was pretty much right in the vicinity I had walked up and down and up and down and up and down, except it was kind of up an alley and hidden by four very tall buildings. Yup, less than 2 blocks from the Apple Store and the place we had brunch. There was another very visible lot right across the street, which I had frustratingly visited about 10 times in my search. I picked up Jamie and we headed off.
As we pulled out onto the highway, I noticed that my head was throbbing. I was seeing spots. I told Jamie he had to drive. It felt all too familiar to my Ironman finish and my last marathon finish. Sure enough, in similar fashion, I started puking. Jamie pulled over but it was too late. We headed to a rest stop where I cleaned up. I tried to drink some Gatorade. 20 minutes later I was puking again. Then the tingling arms. Another case of severe dehydration. Not from the race, I don't think -- I had Gatorade at every stop. Nope, I think this was from the three hours that I power walked the streets of Philadelphia searching for our car and didn't drink anything. The 2.5 hour drive home was pretty much torture. When I took off my socks, my feet were swollen up like pillows. Dehydration symptom #782.
I got home and Susanna says "Mommy how was your race? Did you have to go to the doctor again? Are you sick again?"
After a soak in the tub, a half a bottle of Powerade, and a slice of pizza, I started to feel somewhat normal. So much for my taper. I ran 15 miles total - 13 a little faster than I should have - and probably walked 7 or 8. Hopefully I will be fully recovered in two weeks. Tomorrow will be a rest day, and I may cut my mileage a little more than originally planned this week - the legs are very sore, which wasn't in the plan.
AND I learned from my father the important "Drop Pin" feature on the Iphone. I did not know you could basically bookmark your location. An important feature that would have saved me 3 hours of panic.
Overall, a great weekend, and since I am Gretchen, it wouldn't be complete without a "Gretchen Story", now would it?