A Rollicking Running Tale Starring Tom Wolf, Tweet-Ups, and Kandy-Kolored, Tangerine-Flake, Streamline GORE-TEX®, Baby!!!
Center-City Philadelphia, Saturday November 22, Mid-Afternoon. I MASHED the brakes and SWERVED into a tight parking spot on Level 5 as echoes of HONKING HORNS and SQUEALING TIRES cascaded up and down the endless BLIND-TURN concrete ramps in the JAM-PACKED parking garage at the corner of Broad and Race!!! I threw off my seat belt and joined in with THOUSANDS of RUNNERS as we SPRUNG from our CAGES and RAN like ENDORPHIN-FUELED CARBO-LOADED MANIACS down Broad Street!!!
WE BUSTLED down the TEEMING SIDEWALKS pressing on TOWARD the Pennsylvania Convention Center which was ALREADY OVERFLOWING WITH FLEET-FOOTED FITNESS FANATICS HAILING FROM FIFTY STATES AND FORTY-THREE COUNTRIES!!!!!! WELCOME TO RACE WEEKEND at the 2014 GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon!!!!
And what to my WONDERING EYES should appear? BOSTON BILLY amidst ACRES of RUNNING GEAR!!!
After snapping that pic of the GREAT Bill Rodgers, my first stop was bib pick-up, then I changed my starting corral from BLUE to BLACK. With a TORN MENISCUS and a HURTIN’ HAMMY, I had NO IDEA how close I might come to the 1:41:25 HALF-MARATHON finish time predicted by my Run SMART Project Jack Daniels Training Plan, but I was definitely going to run faster than THREE HOURS!!! The bib pick-up and corral change were quick and easy, an indication of the OUTSTANDING job that I saw from EVERY race worker and volunteer I encountered all weekend!
Next stop GORE-TEX® EXHIBIT! If you ever need a HEAPING HELPING of ENERGY, POSITIVITY, MOTIVATION, and COMMITMENT to MAKING A DIFFERENCE in the WORLD through RUNNING, spend some time with Scott Crossin, Executive Director of Back on My Feet (BOMF) Philadelphia. BOMF Philly was the charity partner of GORE-TEX®, official title sponsor of the Philadelphia Marathon since 2013. I was a BOMF fundraiser AND a member of Team GORE-TEX® for this year’s race, and I was TOTALLY STOKED that I had a chance to meet up with Scott at the Expo!!!
Scott told me about several AMAZING BOMF Residential Members who had gone from HOMELESSNESS to running the FULL MARATHON!!!!! And many more were running the HALF-MARATHON!!! Scott himself ROCKED the full 26.2 on RACE DAY!!!
BOMF is showing us how RUNNING has much deeper roots than just notching a PR, that RUNNING has a transformational effect on ALL HUMAN BEINGS in building self-worth through HARD WORK and SWEAT. Since September 2008, 230 BOMF Residential Members have gone from homelessness to obtaining employment. Since 2009, BOMF Residential Members have collectively logged over 63,000 miles and boast an 81% attendance rate at their weekday early-morning runs!!!
After talking with Scott, I filled out one of the running-shoe-cut-out notes wishing BOMF runners well (see picture below). For each of the thousand-plus notes that runners wrote, GORE-TEX® donated a dollar to BOMF Philly!! WIN-WIN-WIN…..TIMES A THOUSAND!!!!!!
I drifted over to the shoe display of the GORE-TEX® exhibit to visit one of the FEW PEOPLE who can match Scott’s INCREDIBLE ENERGY LEVEL and DEDICATION…DRUM-ROLL!!!…Kirk Christensen!!! Kirk, GORE-TEX® Running Footwear’s Global Leader, asked me if I had ever been part of something so spectacular as THIRTY-THOUSAND PEOPLE ALL GOING AFTER THEIR GOAL AT THE SAME TIME!!!! WOW!! NOW THAT YOU PUT IT THAT WAY KIRK, IT IS PRETTY COOL!!! How are the GORE-TEX® shoes selling? They’re flying off the shelves!!! GORE-TEX® is in A LOT of the MOST POPULAR RUNNING SHOE MAKES AND MODELS!!! Gore also outfitted BOMF members with Saucony Ride 7 GTX® footwear for the race!!!
As a member of Team GORE-TEX®, I had over 300 Miles on my Saucony Ride 7 GTX® shoes going into the race!! GORE-TEX® adds less than an ounce, is just as flexible as non-water proof shoes, and will protect your feet in the worst conditions!!! MAGIC!! Kirk and I jumped into the mini-pool just to feel the EXHILARATION of standing in ankle deep water with DRY FEET!!!! Go GORE-TEX®!!! Innovations currently in the pipeline are taking GORE-TEX® Shoes from 3-Seasons to 4-Seasons!!! OPTIMUM CLIMATE COMFORT!!! See my post, These are not your Father’s GORE-TEX® Running Shoes!, for more on the WONDER that is GTX® Running Shoes!!!
Kirk told me he would look for me at the finish line as he hung out with with Philadelphia Mayor Nutter and Pennsylvania Governor-Elect Tom Wolf (OK, not…that…Tom Wolfe!!!) in their attempt to HIGH-FIVE every last finisher!!
Now it was time to check out the Gore Running Wear® exhibit where I found Gore Running Wear® SUPER EXPERT and Sales and Marketing Associate Cindy Woods, whom I first met, along with Kirk, during my visit to Gore Headquarters back in September!!
I KNEW I could count on Cindy for a GREAT recommendation on which of my Kandy-Kolored Streamline Gore Running Wear® items to wear on Race Day! Cindy recommended the Mythos 2.0 WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell Zip Off Light Jacket, which has detachable Zip Off sleeves. GREAT CALL CINDY!!! Cindy pointed out that with the Zip Off sleeves, you don’t need any throw-away gear for a cold early-morning race start!!
I let Cindy get back to the throngs of runners eager to buy up some COOL Gore Running Wear®. Then I came upon two MARATHON MEDIA MAVENS, Lauren and Darby!! They are two of the SUPER-FRIENDLY FACES behind the Philadelphia Marathon’s SOCIAL MEDIA presence!!! I realized this was a REAL-LIFE FACE-TO-FACE TWEET-UP!! We had been tweeting and re-tweeting back-and-forth for months leading up to the race and now I got to meet them in person!!!
My last stop at the Expo was a WEIGHTLESS JAUNT on the ANTI-GRAVITY Treadmill!! Running at ten-minute-per-mile pace at 60% of your body weight might look EASY, but you gotta have THE RIGHT STUFF to ride this thing!!!!!
I left the Expo, checked into the Marriott Downtown as a guest of Gore, then hurried up to my seventh-floor room to get ready for a six o’clock dinner with my GORE-TEX® and Gore Running Wear® teammates at Bliss Restaurant on Broad Street. We met our host, Gore Associate Cynthia Amon, and walked through the City Hall Courtyard and down Broad Street to Bliss. Cynthia gave us each a wrist band for access to the GORE-TEX® tent after the race and a MEDIA PASS for access to the press-only areas around the finish!! COOL!!! The food was SUPERB and the company was COMPELLING!!! Make sure to follow my teammates: @TheGearJunkie, @SaltyRuns, @rhodymomrunner, @KBruning, @rowdy406, @kitfoxnews, @ROJRunning!!!
After dinner I met my wife Charlene, who had taken the train into the city, then we grabbed a couple frappuccinos at Starbucks in the Marriott lobby and went upstairs to lay out my racing gear, pin on my bib, and get some sleep!!!
MY GORE-TEX® and Gore Running Wear® RACING GEAR!!!
I went with Cindy’s pick, the Mythos 2.0 WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell Zip Off Light Jacket, for SCALABLE COMFORT that turned out to be PERFECT!!! I trained in this one A LOT, so I had a good feeling about wearing it!!!
With their LIGHT, SHEER, COMPRESSION FIT, the X-Running 2.0 Shorts were made for RACING LONG! I TRAINED in these babies a lot too!!!
I love my Gore Running Wear® SO MUCH I dipped into my own pocket to buy this Mythos 2.0 Neon Beany to COMPLETE THE PERFECT HALF MARATHON RACING KIT!!! You won’t get lost in the crowd when you’re wearing this LIGHT, BRIGHT, EAR-WARMING GEM on your NOGGIN!!!
POST-RACE: I picked the Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex Active Jacket for after the race. I’ve trained in this waterproof beauty in the rain, but it’s just as comfortable in dry weather. You’ll see it in some of the post-race pics!!!
I did all of my training and racing in my Saucony Ride 7 GTX® Shoes with GORE-TEX®!!! They are my new favorite shoes, so wearing them for the race was a NO-BRAINER. In the picture below they had over 300 miles on them; they have over 400 on them as I write this and they still look and feel brand new after slogging through endless puddles and muddy trails!!!
I didn’t sleep very WELL or very MUCH!! Five-thirty came early!! Charlene wished me luck and said she’d be out there on the course cheering and we’d meet up at the finish! I grabbed coffee, met my teammates, and we walked down the parkway to the start. The corrals were filling up!!! The ADRENALINE started to PUMP!!!!
The last time I toed the line at the Philly Marathon was for the full 26.2 in 2004. That’s the day I ran my 2:53:14 Marathon PR back when I was a spry 45-year-old. I’m not in that kind of shape now, but I was still ready to GET AFTER IT!!!
I started STEADY!! I felt GOOD!!! I EASILY unzipped and stowed the ZIP OFF sleeves in my pockets at mile three while keeping up a sub-seven-thirty-per-mile clip!!! I ran a pretty even race, slowing on the hills and speeding up on the flats! According to RunKeeper, via my iPhone stored in the Mythos Jacket’s COOL media pocket, I ran 13.48 miles!!! Looks like I didn’t exactly run the tangents!!!
The going got tough in the final miles, rendering every one of my race pictures UN-purchasable due to the ZOMBIE DEATH-MASK EXPRESSION on my face. I did, however, shell out the bargain-price of $4.95 for the video clip of my finish (I’m crossing the line at the 12-second mark):
We went to the GORE-TEX tent and had some coffee and talked about the race with the others gathering in the tent. We checked my finish time…AND…I…WAS……ASTOUNDED!!!! I ran EXACTLY – DOWN to the SECOND – what my Run SMART Project Jack Daniels Training Plan predicted!!! 1:41:25!!! A BIG Thank You to Run SMART Project Founder Brian Rosetti!!! You and Dr. Jack Daniels are so GOOD it’s SCARY!!!
Charlene headed off to catch the train home and I got a free massage!! Now it was time to use my MEDIA CREDENTIAL!!!! I wanted access to the most deeply-guarded MEDIA areas I could find!!!
The crowds were building and by the time I figured out where the media areas were and worked my way back through the flow of finishers, the winners of the Full Marathon had finished and were already on the podium receiving their awards. I snapped this picture from afar, still not having reached the inner sanctum of PRESS PRIVILEGE!!! I had been SCOOPED by the PROS!!!! You can see Kirk there with Mayor Nutter and Governor-Elect Wolf.
I finally arrived at a gated area just outside the PRESS TENT!!!
“Can I get into this area with this credential?” I asked two young ladies.
“Why of course! Come right in! Hey, are you The Running Jones?”
“Why Yes, YES I AM!!!” It turns out I had walked right into another TWEET-UP!!! This time with SUPER-FRIENDLY Gore Media Associates Kate and Toni, who had been re-tweeting all my tweets about GORE-TEX® and Gore Running Wear®!!!
With my entrance into the inner circle of media insiders, I began to explore my limits. Could I get into that little area in front of the main podium, between the finish lines for the Half and the Full? The PERFECT place for finish line shots? YES!!! RIGHT THIS WAY!!! And just in time to catch Ultra-Running LEGEND Keith Straw, veteran of multiple BADWATER, LEADVILLE, WESTERN STATES, and MANY more ultras and over 300 MARATHONS, as he was finishing the Marathon with a smile on his face!!! I’m proud to count Keith as a friend, and he has helped me TREMENDOUSLY this year as I’ve gotten back into running!! I was SUPER-HAPPY to be in a prime position to get this shot of Keith in his Trademark Pink Tutu:
Then I saw a familiar face as I went back into the area where the Half Marathon winners were waiting for their awards. It was Lauren!! She pointed me in the direction of another tent and said that Mayor Nutter and Governor-Elect Wolf would be handing out the awards for the Half very soon. THANKS LAUREN!!!
I was burst-snapping away with my iPhone, angling for space with the REAL PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS!!! They treated me well, albeit with a few askance looks and requests to see my PRESS CREDENTIAL!!!! Here are some of the pictures of the Half Marathon award winners waiting for their trip to the podium!!!
While I waited for the awards, I continued to meet the OUTSTANDING and EXCEPTIONALLY NICE Race Staff and Volunteers!!! First I spoke with Dawn Roberts, founding partner of KD Communications Group and speaker, media consultant, and event specialist extraordinaire!!!Then I talked with volunteers Vera (who gave me some advice on my upcoming torn meniscus surgery) and BJ (who’s a PhD in Psychology):
I made one last stop back into the media tent to grab a cup of coffee for the ride home and it turned into a FINAL TWEET-UP!!!! As I picked through the last of the bagels, two SUPER-NICE young ladies, another DYNAMIC MEDIA DUO!!!, offered to open a new tray of croissants!!! Would I like one? Sure!! And with that very hospitable introduction I met sisters Heather and Colleen who were at the race working media relations for none other than….. BOMF!!! It was a FANTASTIC experience to finally meet so many GREAT TWEEPS in person!!!
I walked the mile back down the parkway, coffee and croissants in hand, and arrived at the parking garage that now seemed like a far distant memory from a previous lifetime!!!
Running with Team GORE-TEX® and fundraising for BOMF was FUN, REWARDING, and a ONCE-IN-A-LIFETIME EXPERIENCE I’d do TWICE if I could!!!
You can read about my visit to Gore Headquarters and my reviews of GORE-TEX® shoes and Gore Running Wear® by following these links to my previous blog posts leading up to race day:
Gearing Up for the GORE-TEX® Philadelphia Marathon! http://therunningjones.com/?p=382
Training for the Gore-Tex® Philadelphia Marathon in Gore Running Wear® http://therunningjones.com/?p=345
A Rainy Thursday in my Mythos 2.0 Gore-Tex® Active Jacket http://therunningjones.com/?p=315