Monday, November 19, 2012

Philadelphia Marathon 2012 Race Report

Wow, could this be real? I qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon with a time of 3:08:35 at the Philly Marathon this year. I was pumping my fist and tearing up as I crossed the finish line while the race clock time was showing 3:09. In the Male 35-39 age group, a marathon time of 3:09:59 or less qualifies a runner for the Boston Marathon.

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How did this happen?

Prior to this race, my personal best was 3:15:27 at the Steamtown Marathon last year. I trained hard for the Poconos Run for the Red Marathon this spring but sadly, I failed to qualify by over 30 minutes. I shifted my focus to triathlon in the summer; got used to a very rigorous training regimen and achieved some personal bests.

Coming off my triathlon season, I ran the Rock N Roll Philadelphia Half for charity on Sep 16. I did not train for it. Did not expect much. I did apply some lessons learned from my recent triathlon races, and finished the half marathon in a surprisingly fast time (for me) at 1:32:54.

Around Sep 20, two separate events happened. First, my college friend Ross Snyder @beamrider9 contacted me to ask about my experience at Steamtown Marathon last year. Ross was planning to run Steamtown under 3:10 to qualify. Ross took up running around the same time I did. Five years ago, his running times were slightly slower than mine, but recently he had surpassed me at every distance. His focus on Boston qualification got me thinking maybe I could do it too. Second, around the same time, I somehow found Adam Heiser @sellrunrest on Twitter. I read Adam's blog and realized that I briefly ran with him at the beginning of the Poconos marathon. He went on to qualify for Boston, while I couldn't hold my pace. Adam shared some very personal details on his blog, and someday I hope to meet him to share my prison stories. After reading Adam's blog, I kept thinking about his visual reminder of his BQ goal. He wrote it down and posted his goal on this door.

Between my surprising half marathon success and my interactions with Adam and Ross, I decided that I was going to attempt a BQ at the Philly marathon, and I was bringing a new attitude to this training process.

In past marathon training, I gave myself a target time of within 30 minute range. This time, I was not shy about attempting for a BQ. I wrote it down. I trained with this goal in mind. I executed my plan on race day.

Twitter Marathon messages

Twitter Marathon messages

Twitter marathon message - final

I was able to execute my plan because I trained well. I followed a good program, and pretty much put the rest of my life on hold for 2 months during this training process. I documented some of my training experiences here and here.

I walked to the start line with confidence. I believed that I was ready to have a Boston qualifying race. I banked 2 minutes in the first half, despite a pee break. I was slightly behind pace miles 20-25 but I never doubted that I was on my way to a BQ. Here are my splits that got sent to my Twitter feed:

Marathon: Anh Dang - 10K in 43:24. Pace 6:59. Est: 3:03:05. ETA: 10:06:47.
Marathon: Anh Dang - Half in 1:32:37. Pace 7:04. Est: 3:05:13. ETA: 10:08:55. 
Marathon: Anh Dang - 30K in 2:12:25. Pace 7:06. Est: 3:06:14.
Marathon: Anh Dang - Finish in 3:08:36. Pace 7:12.

Here is my technical race data for running geeks.

This race is getter bigger every year. The crowd support was amazing. Many of my friends were out cheering. My partner Dan was out all day taking photos, some are shown below.

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Celebrating with friends at Taboo after the marathon
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Overall: 642nd out of 11624 total finishers.
Males 35-39 age group: 107 out of 1010 finishers

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