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Philadelphia Marathon
By David Panza

November 18, 2001 - Good evening everyone. I thought I'd share some miscellaneous thoughts about the Philadelphia Marathon, which was run today, while my thoughts are fresh and while I'm still quite sore.

My result was not what I'd hoped for, as I needed to run below 3:20 to qualify for Boston, and instead ran 3:24:17. But before you shed a tear for me, I had decided during the race that I was running my last marathon, no matter the outcome. I still pushed for my goal, but my body caved in during the latter stages. It wasn't until between 23 and 24 miles did I finally realize I could not beat 3:20, but I'm grateful I had a shot for that long. Today was my 12th marathon, and it did rank up there with one of my better ones.

This race is a good one, as many SIAC members and Rockets had told me. It met all my expectations, and I recommend it to all who have not tried it. The day was perfect for running, clear and crisp, 45 to 60 degrees, little wind. The course is relatively flat with some rolling hills. The race ran through many scenic areas, and was circular in nature, so you actually ran through the finish area at 14 miles. Thus, the crowd assembled there got a chance to see you twice. The crowds were sporadic, but quite vocal and very encouraging to the runners.

There was a vaunted hill at 9 miles, which some locals described to me as treacherous, and so I expected a hill like Manor Road at the Ronaldson race. But it goes to show you how tough our local races really are in comparison, as I would liken this "vaunted" hill to the hills in Central Park in the Corporate Challenge race.

The early part of the race is fast, and though I tried my best to slow down, I was still doing 7:00 per mile, and 1:33 for the half. But I was already hurting from my herniated disc pain in my hip (lifelong, very likely) and a recently sprained ankle. Add to that two pulled calves that developed today, and I was suffering greatly from 12 miles on. So I'm proud of my effort today, but realize I am no longer able to commit the time and energy toward training for a marathon (half marathon is a different story). I'm lucky I'm in one piece, to be honest. Spencer Ellis ran with me briefly at around 5 miles, then took off. I'm guessing he ran a great race. Good job, Spencer!

The race is still in its infancy compared to NY. You had to pick up your number in one line at the Expo, and the shirt on a different long line; no bags of goodies. After the race, there were long lines for food, as opposed to NY, where you get an individual bag right away. But overall, it's a great race, and if I reconsider ever doing a marathon, Philly would be at the top of the list. And special thanks to my wife Janet for coming to the race with me and being my number one supporter.

If any of you want to talk to me about this race, just approach me and I'd be happy to share more. Finally, yes I did think about Tom Celic and Steve Lauria during the race, and almost started to cry in the final few moments before the gun went off, thinking about both of them, and how much they loved racing. I also thought about them during the race, and I know they helped me through my painful moments.