|When I reach mile 50, halfway through the Philly 100, I'm passing in front of the Philadelphia Art Museum. It's late afternoon on Easter Saturday and the crowds are starting to thin. On a whim I leave the official race course and run up and down the "Rocky Steps" made famous by the Sylvester Stallone movies. The GPS trackfile shows the digression.|
Earlier that day I'm trotting along the west side of the Schuylkill River Trail. It's partway through my fifth loop of the ~8.5 mile course. A group of nicely-dressed people is standing in the park, clustered around a boy in a suit who's sitting on a bench, talking quietly. On my next lap they're gone. A dozen lilies lie on the ground under a tree.
The Philly 100 is an unsupported "fat ass" event organized by Lauri Fauerbach Adams, friendly Philadelphia ultramarathoner. 2012 is the fourth annual and, Lauri says, last running of the race. Jackie Ong, official Marathon Maniac whom I met at mile ~25 of the Stone Mill 50, tells me about it during our Bull Run Trail excursion together. It sounds crazy enough to be fun. The course is far far easier course than the Massanutten 100 on which I DNF'd two years ago. And the price — free! — is irresistible.
|Jackie picks me up at my home about half past midnight. At 3:30am we're driving around downtown Philadelphia trying to locate the right place to park legally near the start/finish of the race. At 3:47am we're geared-up and ready to go. I carry a printout of directions with me and we follow them as well as we can in the darkness. Our first loop, clockwise, includes a couple of wrong turns that add a fraction of a mile. We stop at the north end of the circuit at a 24-hour Dunkin Donuts for coffee. Along the way we meet a few other runners who started early. Some of them are almost done already.|
At the end of our circuit #1 it's a bit before 6am. We refuel at Jackie's car. Race Director Lauri Adams is lecturing to a small crowd at the starting line. We salute her and set off in the counter-clockwise direction. There are pauses at portajohns and considerable walking. My left metatarsals begin to ache. Jackie is cheerful and optimistic. Back at her car we refill bottles and eat. I'm getting tired now, mainly from lack of sleep. Heading clockwise again we do another orbit. When we get back to Jackie's car at ~10am I decide to stop and take a nap. I wake up a bit after noon. My feet feel much better and I'm ready to try some more mileage. Jackie is back from her fourth lap and sends me out early on mine.
A group of Marathon Maniacs have set up an impromptu aid station on the east side of the river at a parking lot. I meet "Thunder", "Kino", and other friends of Jackie, and thank them for the cookies and soda. Mostly walking, I do ~5.5 miles before Jackie catches up. We're both suffering now from chafing in unmentionable places. I jog ahead and lie down next to the car to await Jackie's arrival. I practice the yoga Savasana pose, also known as "Corpse". A passing runner shouts, "Are you OK?" and tells me he thought I might be dead. Apparently I'm doing the pose well!
When Jackie arrives I refill bottles and head out. Back at the car a couple of hours later the sun is getting low and the wind is chilly, so I wrap myself in an aluminized mylar "space blanket" from the Marine Corps Marathon of 2009. Passers-by ignore me as I rest for ~25 minutes until Jackie arrives again. Refuel, and head out. This turns out to be the last lap for us both: we're tired, I'm past 50 miles. Jackie is beyond 60, and she has a couple of major races coming up during the next few weeks. Yes, we could have gone farther, but no need. The ride home is lovely, with splendid conversation about running and life. A big moon rises behind us. Jackie gets sleepy near Baltimore and I take over driving. At home it's a hot shower and a warm bed.
Times for each lap from my stopwatch (which never pauses):
Start time = 3:47am
^z - 2012-04-18