On Sunday I ran the ING Philadelphia Half Marathon. It was great. I have never run in such a big event. More than 19,000 runners started the 13.1 mile race. They filled the Ben Franklin Parkway lining up for the start. I started in group 20 out of 22 groups. There were roughly 900 runners in each group so I started with 18,000 runners in front of me and about one thousand behind me.
We ran from the the parkway through Center City to the Liberty Bell then looped back to the parkway past Chinatown and the Convention Center. We then ran down Kelley Drive to the city line, crossed the bridge and ran back on West River Drive, finishing in front of the "Rocky" steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
I ran with my friend and former editor Kristine Chin. She brought her family to the race, so we had a four-person cheering section at the start, 5-mile mark and the finish. This year and last year, Kristine and her husband Rick rode the RAGBRAI on a tandem. Kristine did the 400-mile+ ride across Iowa without training. She did train a little--riding about 100 miles (total) in the months before the ride each year. So she convinced me I could do a half-marathon with minimal training.
She was right. I finished!!!! Not fast, 2 hours 23 minutes, 33 seconds. But I moved up from 18,000th at the start to 11,208th at the finish. And I improved by 45 minutes over my time doing the half-marathon on Tallil in Iraq last year (3:08). It was so much fun to run in a crowd with thousands of people. I was in lot of pain on Sunday and Monday, but I hope to do another one this year.