2011 Philadelphia Marathon Race Report


My goals for the Philly Marathon were pretty clear from the start of this year: Break 2:50

In fact, I probably valued the Philly Marathon more than Boise 70.3 back in June.  My previous Philly Marathon time stood at 2:54, and I felt like it was fairly reasonable to try and shave off a few minutes.

But it wouldn’t be easy.  My travel schedule threw a wrench in things from the beginning of the year.  With being on the road internationally until the end of February, I was hardly training like I should have been for Boise in June.  And Boise probably showed the impact of that.  In July I essentially took off basically the whole month from training minus a few scattered non-structured runs.  In my mind I did more, but in reality, I lost the majority of my base during this.  Though, I wouldn’t exchange the awesome time I had leading into my wedding and afterwards in my honeymoon.

So Philly Marathon training didn’t really start until the first week of August – leaving essentially 3 months to try and make things happen.  From a pacing standpoint leading into the races, I was largely on target.  Perhaps a touch high on the HR’s on a few runs – but things were looking fairly good a week out.  The problem with a week out was that I was in San Francisco, in the same way that I was in some place other than DC for just about every weekend from September until November.

There was no doubt this was influencing things – I just hoped it wouldn’t.  Then I got sick last Tuesday.  Not a bad sick, just a stuffy nose and clogged throat.  But over the counter drugs were working and I had an awesome run Thursday night.  Paces were spot on, HR’s were nice and low (not too low though) – and things were looking good.

So by time Saturday night came, I was ready to roll the next morning at the 2011 Philly Marathon.  Oh…and, as a little surprise – The Girl (aka my lovely wife) – was going to run her first marathon.  Here’s the night-before prep photo:


The morning of we easily found parking in a nearby garage and leisurely got ready for the race.  It’s so much nicer than a triathlon from a setup standpoint.  I forgot how enjoyable this was!


After dropping off our bags with the UPS truck we got in a nice building 10 minute warm-up.  Not too hard, but enough to be nicely warmed up for the race start at 7AM.


Finally…the start of the race.  There was a minor delay of game that occurred for a few minutes.  The announcer made a note that something had happened and some city folks really stepped up to get everything all set by race morning.  Though, they noted they couldn’t tell us what happened (thus, I’m certainly curious).

But a few minutes after 7AM the gun went off and soon me and 20,000+ of my dearest friends were enjoying a morning run.  I had started in the first non-elite corral, and I placed myself relatively close to the front.  Maybe 10-15 yards back.  Sorta what I guessed would be about the right starting area for the pace I wanted.

The starting position turned out surprisingly good, and even more surprisingly – there actually wasn’t a massive surge off the front.  Maybe 10-20 seconds/mile faster than I anticipated, but that got back to normal within half a mile.  Sometimes you get massive surges where folks try and run 1-2/min/mile faster than they can – though I suppose at a 6:27/mile pace, most have probably figured out pacing.

The first few miles I was running at 5-10 seconds fast, mostly due to the semi-downhill nature of those sections.  By the 3rd and 4th mile I was pretty close to my target of 6:27/mile.


(You know what’s the best part of this little band? The fact that it clearly tells you exactly how long it takes to run .2 miles.  Trust me, when you get to those last few miles that’s always the most important question that I never seem to have an answer for.  Everyone knows how fast they can run a mile…but .2 miles? Nobody knows that.)

Having run the Philly course a few times (both full and half-marathon), I knew the terrain fairly well.  The only hills of note are really between miles 7 and 9 – with the most substantial in terms of steepness at mile 9.  Mile 7 is a bit longer though, just more shallow.


(Thanks Adam for the photo, really awesome! That’s me in blue around the 10K marker)

So I carefully paced these and ran the downhill sections off of each one quickly to keep the overall pace just about 6:30-6:40/mile – pretty good given I was going up them a bit slower to keep things under control from an intensity standpoint.

At this point I should point out I was right on nutrition – I was taking a dixie cup of water every aide station, and taking a full Gu packet every other aide station.  Which depending on the spacing meant water every 10-12 minutes, and Gu every 20 minutes.  Right where I wanted to be.  As one who routinely fails at nutrition during races – I was very hardcore about getting it right.

The only thing that was strange to me was my HR.  I mostly train by HR and pace.  In this case, I had a specific pace, with a HR governor (upper limit).  The first few miles I was below the HR limit – so no worries at all.  Then as I crept towards miles 6-8, the HR started to drop significantly.  Not a dropout like a bad HR connection (trust me, an expert in solving those) – but rather, just slowly started dropping 10-20 beats, into a Z1ish HR.  At the time I just sorta brushed it off and decided to ignore HR.  It felt about the same – so onwards I went.

After finishing up the hills around mile 10, I dropped down a steep section and onto the flats along the river.  As I dropped down I was feeling good, things were pretty much on target.


(Note the one with 12:58 was merely me missing the lap marker. During races I always manually press lap based on the pavement markers – otherwise you can see how I’d be pacing against not running a perfect line.)

As I hit around mile 11-12 though, I realized I was slowing some (on the flats no less).  All of a sudden I found myself running 6:40’s to 7:00’s a mile.  Before I knew it, I was at mile 13 and already down 90 seconds off my goal.

And that’s where things pretty much started to fall apart.  My body was saying it was done, and my mind was deflated.  It’s one thing to be 90 seconds off at mile 22 – but how was I 90 seconds and sliding off at mile 13?  Doing quick math, that would put me at 3+ minutes by the end of the race, assuming I didn’t slow down at all and got right back on pace.

Of course, that was turning out to be difficult to maintain anything with 20s/mile of goal pace.  And from there – things pretty much just unraveled – mostly mentally I think.

In my mind, I didn’t really have any drive to keep on going.  I’d missed my goal times, and the desire to finish was pretty limited.  And likely, that’s always been my biggest weakness.  Once I realize that my goal is out of sight, I lose interest in it.  Unlike racing for a place where something can always happen – in a marathon nobody grants you an unexpected 3 minute rebate at the finish.

The only thing that kept me at least running forward (when I wasn’t walking an occasional aide station) was that my wife was somewhere behind me.  I was optimistic that she’d come along sooner or later, and that I’d run in with her.  She was aiming to run roughly 7:10’s – so I figured I had about a 10 minute lead on her.  But I didn’t want her to catch me at something like mile 15, cause…well…that would be 11 miles I’d still have to run.  And honestly – I didn’t know if I could run 11 miles at that pace.

So I mixed and matched.  I mostly just ran along at 7:30’s – something comfortable to get me closer to miles 22-23 and run from there at whatever pace she wanted.  At the turnaround at mile 19-20 (the second half of the race is an out and back) – I saw her and figured she was about 10 minutes back still.  So I started burning more time by slowing down and walking more.

Though, at mile 22 I ran into one of my loyal readers (well, actually, he ran into/by me) and I ended up running with him for two miles to keep him company.  Once I hit mile 24 I decided to walk to mile 25 – where I would wait and run the final 1.2 miles with my wife.  At this point, if I had just kept on going (which I could have done), I probably would have been about a 3:05ish if I kept things as is at a comfortable pace.

I realized that if I flat-out stopped at mile 25 that there was a good chance I’d never get running again.  Unfortunately my mental planning and math estimates were slightly flawed, and I still ended up spending 10-15 minutes standing directly next to the Mile 25 sign watching folks go by.  I did all sorts of stretching, running in place, cheering etc… and surprisingly, I felt pretty good by time I saw her.

And after that – I enjoyed running the next 1.2 miles and finishing with her.  There are few better feelings in the world than that last mile of your first marathon and I was really happy to be able to share that with her. She was pretty excited to see me there, and from my perspective – I can’t imagine a better way to turn around an otherwise bad race.

P1010096(Me and The Girl; she qualified for Boston on her first try! 3:20:26)

I don’t know why precisely my race fell apart.  Perhaps my HR was trying to tell me something early on, perhaps the cold I hoped I could just mask with over the counter drugs was the cause – or perhaps I just gave up too easily.  I’m not sure.  It’s something I want to figure out, but I also want to figure out whether or not I enjoy long distance racing.  I know I really enjoy shorter distances (roughly an hour, such as 10-milers) – even if I’m not quite as good at them.  Over the next few weeks and maybe months I’ll try and figure out what interests me the most. I’ll be sure to let you know.

Finally, I really want to thank everyone for their support and kind words leading into the race, during the race, as well as afterwards.  It was awesome hearing words of encouragement from everyone along the course.  You are of course the primary reason I write here, and why I write so openly.  As you have seen over the last four years, every race I compete in gets posted here – ultimately allowing everyone to learn from my experiences (both good…and bad).  And that’s what I believe so many of you find useful about when I write.  It’s easy to write about having a great race, it’s much harder to write about a race that didn’t go as you hoped after months of hard training.

However, over the past year or so there have been some (well, one) who has chosen to take the route of anonymous and thinly comment attacks against my performances, myself, my friends, my family – and even some other readers that have left comments.  As is always the case, anyone is welcome to disagree with how I present product information or my opinions of products.  In fact, out of the 28,549 comments posted to the blog since its inception – I’ve never deleted a single comment for its content.  However, neither my openness nor this blog is a permissible avenue for personal attacks. Thus, as of yesterday I am simply deleting any such comments going forward.  This isn’t the environment I want to have around here – and honestly, I’d prefer if this individual simply found something else on the internet to read.

Thanks everyone for reading, and have a great Thanksgiving!


Hopefully, you found this post useful. The website is really a labor of love, so please consider becoming a DC RAINMAKER Supporter. This gets you an ad-free experience, and access to our (mostly) bi-monthly behind-the-scenes video series of “Shed Talkin’”.

Support DCRainMaker - Shop on Amazon

Otherwise, perhaps consider using the below link if shopping on Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, but your purchases help support this website a lot. It could simply be buying toilet paper, or this pizza oven we use and love.

Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked.
If you would like a profile picture, simply register at Gravatar, which works here on DCR and across the web.

Click here to Subscribe without commenting

Add a picture



  1. Thanks for a great report and congrats to The Girl on her race.

    Sorry to hear about the negative comments, keep up the awesome work.


  2. Congratulations on toughing it out on a less than optimum day.

    I must admit that I am confused as to why someone would want to attack via a blog comment. It does seem that they could find a better, more pleasant way to enjoy life.

    Keep rocking buddy!

  3. congratulations for finishing your race, even though it did not go the way you had intended.

    i always learn from race reports. please keep it up and never mind the bitter people.

    congrats to the girl too and to her cute hat!

  4. Sorry to hear about the bad race I guess one step back two step forward and congrat to the girl this is an awesome first marathon time!

  5. I am disappointed Ray, not even a hint of a joke about “finishing together” … ;)

    Well done to both of you!

  6. Bill H

    Congrats on finding the bright side! Btw – about the hr thingy, same thing has happened to me a couple of times in races. First time I noticed it was at IM Ca 70.3 in ’09. I felt fine before the race but as I got further along, my hr and performance both started dropping. Ended up sick for a week.

  7. Congraturation for the final time! Your girl’s time is incredible!

    Good luck for the next Marathon :)

  8. Oh my God! You are an awesome couple, sorry for your missed goal, there will be other races you will excel at!!! And congrats to The Girl, what an awesome first marathon! (I was pretty happy with my 4:02:43 in NYC for my first timer, but now I feel I have lot and lot of training ahead :) ).

    Keep it up and sorry about the negative comments, don’t know why people do it …

  9. congratulations Ray for finishing the marathon with your wife, I could only imagine the feeling. Hope you rediscover your zeal and motivation for long distance running, you’re so good at it.

    Also congratulations to The Girl for an awesome time on her first try, hats off

  10. too bad it didn’t work out, hopefully the next race will go better.

    sunday I’m racing my first marathon (pretty scared as I acquired a cold too since a few days)

  11. Internet + anonymity + jealousy = ***hole.

    Sad fact of life. Keep up the good work for all of us who enjoy it.


  12. I’m sorry about that I can’t think what your problem was, maybe just the running gods were against you, that happens…

    I had a little race against you, I had also been aiming for a sub 2h50 (ok sub 2h48) and only lost a couple of sec per km at the end finishing with 2h50:23 so I felt I had left the door open for you to beat me in your race. I was on the internet Sunday evening looking to find out how you did and was sad to see you haddened pulled it together, but didn’t know what had happened. A 3h05 would have been ok, but finishing with your wife makes you a HERO!!!

  13. What a great way to turn things around and finish with your wife. I think THAT was awesome and amazing!! I am willing to bet it was really special for her too :) COngrats to her on a super race and the BQ.

    Anon comments attacking you huh? At least grow a set and identify who you are if you’re gonna do something like that. Geeesh. SOrry to hear about that :(

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family

  14. It’s good to see that you run race as deeply as you revies gadget !

    Not matter for me you miss your 2h50 target. Sharing this and finishing with “the girl” worth all the personnal best !

  15. Marathons can be a cruel beast. Three months of really intensive training and you get sick, pick up a small injury or simply have a bad day and it all seems worthless.

    Luckily I haven’t had a ‘bad day’ in my three marathons so far, but I’m very aware it can happen. I just hope I’m mentally strong enough to deal with it when it does happen. Writing this blog post must have been tough and I admire you for being so open.

    I think it is a great thing to have waited to finish with your wife.

  16. Congratulations to the both of you, and thanks for the report!

  17. Yes another great report. It’s always a bummer to invest so much into an event and then have it not go the way you had hoped. But you know you will bounce back from this disappointment. Soft people don’t run marathons in the first place! But what an awesome Plan B. Congrats to both of you on that one.

  18. Congratulations! First of all, thanks for sharing with us this wonderful text. I learn a lot reading running reports and I appreciate your openness. Sometimes things are not as we expect and it is important to take good experiences from everything that life brings. Wonderful decision to wait for your wife, this is the kind of thing you both will always remember!
    As for the bad comments, in the past I suffered the same problem, as I have a running blog in Portuguese. By that time I had to include the option to pre-approve every comment. Fortunately after a while the bad comments stopped and I could open the space again. There are people who are unhappy and try to destroy other people happiness. With time we learn to ignore those folks.
    best regards,
    sorry for my bad English,

  19. Here from Spain, ..

    Ok we know “the Girl” write her own impression in her frist marathon, please, please please, it will be very interestint u too but for people who is like me newbe in this is very interestint her impresion.

    Please, “Girl”, write some lines about ur marathon.


  20. Good run, excellent race report! I hope that you got extra Husband Points for waiting for, and finishing with, The Girl.

    Glad that you remember that we do this for fun.

    Oh, as for the AIA (anonymous Internet a******) – please do delete his comments. They add no value.

  21. Here from Portugal.

    Congratulations Ray, and The Girl! Thanks for sharing your histories and your reviews like you do. Keep being an inspiration for many people like me so far away, and that only can run 10k in 55min. keep enjoying sports, do it in first place for yourself, and secondly for us too! . Grande abraço!

  22. Sorry to hear your race didn’t go as planned. Like they say,” Sometimes life throws you some lemons” At least you made some Lemonade. Congrats to you and “the Girl”. Just wait to you and the Girl have your first child, those marathon moments won’t even compare. Keep on Keeping on.

  23. Anand

    Hearty Congratulations to you Ray and your wife!
    I would like to know what “her training” for this Marathon was. You know, BQ, that too in the first ever Marathon is far from being a joke – so please shed some light on what she was eating/drinking/preparing like!!

  24. Hi Ray,

    There is a russian proverb that says: “Falling down is permitted… Getting up is compulsory”. So, all the best for your next challenge.

    Oh, BTW incredible time for the Girl. Is there a special ingredient in her cakes responsible for that?!!! ;-)

    Kind regards from Greece,

  25. Great job during the race. I ran the Philly marathon also, and felt the same way you did during the entire race. I was truly disinterested in the race after about mile 11. Completely mental thing, so I know how you feel.

    I continued on and actually set a PR, but I wish I would have had a running buddy (actually wish my wife ran) like you that I could have finished the race with. You two are a great couple and definitely lucky to be together. The only thing better than setting a PR in my mind would have been crossing the finish line with my wife for her first marathon.

    Great job to you both . And there is always next year to break 2:50. I’m sure you’ll hit your goal

    Dont worry about the negative comments. I bet over 99% of all of us love you and love anything you write

  26. What a rough day :( But it sounds like you made the best of it and The Girl did fantastic!!! Keep on what you’re doing and ignore the clear jealousy on the part of others. Recover well!

  27. Thanks for the report Ray. Keep up the good work here on the blog. Congrats to the Girl! Amazing job.

  28. Hey, I’m glad you managed to find something special in this race, even though it was tough. I’m sure this made it all the more special for your wife. And, of course, congratulations to her!

    The other thing I wanted to say is that I absolutely love your blog. Because of your detailed posts about what good coaching entails, etc, ultimately you are the main reason why I got a coach earlier this year and had a fantastic season. Honestly, from reading your blog it’s clear that you live and breathe this sport. And it’s inspiring. So, don’t let yourself be dragged down by some muppet that just wants to troll. Keep it up!

  29. Great report – my guess would be the cold, btw. Your experience almost perfectly matches mine the last time I did NYC, from a few miles that were a little too fast, to a high heartrate, to the wheels just gently coming off by the halfway point and getting more ragged from there. I think that we’re deceived because you can still run at 90-92% with a cold with maybe minor inconveniences, but when you try to run at 98-100% MGP, everything goes to hell.

    Very happy that you got to finish with your wife, and sad that you’re having to start moderating.

  30. Great job to both of you. I actually felt the same way during the race. I completely lost interest about mile 11. I thought I was going to pull out of the race. But I pushed on and actually set a PR with sub-3 hour mark. But the only thing better than that would have been to wait for my running buddy (wish my wife ran so it could be her) and finish with her during her first marathon

    Sometimes having the experience is better than hitting a certain time. You’ll hit your 2:50 goal soon, but both you and your wife will never forget crossing the finish line together

    great job again to both of you

    and dont worry about the negative comments. I bet 99% of all of us love you and think you are awesome. Keep up the great work.

  31. Chin up. Much like your photographer friend telling you one good photo per ten photos taken is a great ratio, your ratio of good races to bad races is still impressive. Philly just wasn’t a good one. It happens to us all. Salvaging a fun experience by finishing with your wife is admirable.

  32. Ray, I’ve been a quiet lurker for a while, and I was following you Sunday from the anonymity of FB, tracking your race. I knew something had unraveled when I saw your pace drop off, and am happy to see that in spite of missing your goal, you were able to find such a joyous way to finish your race. Trademark Rainmaker! Congrats to your Girl on such a fantastic first 26.2, and my heartfelt thanks to you for showing us all how not to unravel when we miss our targets. Wishing you the best as you unpack your race and figure out where to go from here; I know we all like to autopsy our own training and results.

    Sorry it took hearing about the negativity for me to speak up; please know there are many, many of us who enjoy reading and are learning along with you. Count me running far behind you from Jupiter, FL!

  33. Uh, your wife’s speed makes me jealous! As does yours. I’d sell my soul (part of it anyway) for a PR at this point in my life, let alone anything in the low 3:20s.

  34. Very interesting report, as usual. All of your entries are outstanding, from gear reviews to travel reports to food notes and so on. Sorry you were attacked by some bozo.

    Congrats on finishing the race with your wife, that must have been a lot of fun. :)

  35. wes

    Sorry to hear about the bad race. I was roughly and hr behind you (of course I was only running a half marathon). My experience of the race was a little different because I ran a PR (and I have hopes of doing even better because this is only my second big race.)
    Even though I don’t comment much I love the site and everything you have to say.

  36. Good job Ray! I think personally I’m an every other year marathon runner. There is a big time commitment that’s needed in order to run at or near PR times for the marathon.

    Congrats to B on her BQ run!

  37. Ray – previous comments echo my sentiments – great report and well done.

    As I always say, it is trial and success. Being analytical, I look forward to hearing if you are able to track down what really happened. I know there were a lot of big events (getting married) that has made it a great year for you the and The Girl,, so they could all be factors. However, I truly hope you find it in you to have another crack at breaking 2:50 – I know you can.

    I read your blog on a daily basis and based on your work schedule, I know it can be a challenge to train effectively. I use a 24 week program that has me running 3 times a week to break 3 hours. It is possible and I have the results to show for it (my best being a 2:46:24 in Raleigh). You inspire so many people, so please keep running especially the half/full marathons, I know your biggest competitor is yourself, so take him on and show that you can smash 2:50.

    For the anonymous negative comments, I will pray for him/her as I suspect that is what they need.

    Stay well, stay blessed and congratulations to The Girl. Boston is an awesome experience that any marathoner should sample at least once in their running career.

    Enjoy Thanksgiving and the festive season ahead.

  38. Hey Ray + Ray girl – congrats! That’s an awesome first mara + PB! Way to achieve so much so quickly!

    I think that’s great that you waited for her. I’m sure she appreciated that immensely. I’ve had a similar race and well was walking it in and when I found a friend who was trying to BQ, I found the fire to run in the last 1.2 miles with him.

    There will be other days. Hopefully you won’t have to travel so much before a long race. That always throws me off at least.


  39. Sad to hear that someone would write something that needed to be deleted. That has no place on a blog. Especially your great blog.

    Congrats to both of you on the marathon finish.

  40. you did great. i enjoy your blog alot….keep in up


  41. Sal

    Congratulations to you and your wife, and thank you for sharing your experience with us.


  42. Jed

    Nice write up. I think its really instructive to see someone take a crappy race and flip it to a good day, something more of us really need to work on (me included – maybe even especially).

    Was also really happy to see this:
    ‘Over the next few weeks and maybe months I’ll try and figure out what interests me the most.’

    I have seen far too many athletes in far too many sports NOT do this and walk away from sports they truly loved because they lost sight of what they enjoyed and focused on the frustration and pain.

    relax and recover well… thanks for letting us all into your life a little bit.

  43. Good race report as usual, sorry to hear that some people can’t keep their negativity to themselves.

    On another note, your picture at the 10k mark has a guy from my city dead center of the pic….too weird…had to do a 2x take as he is a triathlete too and I ran by him with a “Hi” about a week before this race. Wonder what’s in store for the rest of the week?

  44. I have an idea for the folks who decide to personally attack you (really? did we not finish middle school) – keep the comment, find them, and then we can drop kick them into the Potomac. In January.

  45. As someone whose longest race is an 8K, I think that finishing a marathon no matter what the time is impressive in and of itself. Congrats! And as for the trash talkers, very few of us live our athletic lives with such transparency. I know I have races that I am not proud off, or have dissappointed me and I know that most everyone else does too. I applaud your honesty about something that fell short of your expectations. Thanks for sharing and enjoy some rest over the holidays.

  46. Ben

    Hang in the Ray. You’ll get it next time for sure. Nice job getting the finish line.
    I too was reaching for the 2:50 mark in NY earlier this month, got sick and fell short. There will always be another race.
    Happy thanksgiving, and congrats to your wife.

  47. RWJ

    Great race report. I know you must be disappointed but you were sick and weird things happen when you combine sickness with long distance racing. But I’m glad you toughed it out and finished with The BGirl (btw, I think she should guest write her own first marathon report). Don’t let this get you down!

  48. Mark J.

    Good for you for deleting stupid posts. Some people with nothing better to do get off trying to make others feel bad.

    Your issue started with your physical ailment but then when you missed your goal your mind just shut it down. I’ve been there. That’s why I carry my own water during races – if I stop at an aid station I’m done. Just keep going.

    You know deep down you didn’t train hard enough to really hit your goal. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Good for you for taking time off from training to spend the time preparing for your wedding. You will look back on that and NEVER regret it. The marathon is one race, your marriage will last forever. Just wait until you have a kid or two. Then your times will really slip back into mediocrity like the rest of us! :-)

    Take a little time off and get back on that horse once you decide what you have the most fun doing. Try something different to see what you like.

    Enjoy your holiday. Thanks for posting.

  49. I’m fairly new to commenting here, but I just wanted to say I love the blog! I’m not sure why anyone would say negative things about you. I also ran Philly, and had a similar experience with unraveling a little too soon. (Although I’m nowhere near your pace level). Anyway, keep writing and I’ll keep reading!

  50. RWJ

    Also, I don’t know what this person is saying, but I think it’s pretty impressive that you have a full time shade-thrower. He is probably pretty jealous to be all up in your business all the time.

  51. Great story! I am familiar with the dreaded HR drop during a hard race. For me it was severe overtraining and I did not recognize it until it was too late. It is startling to feel like you are putting out the effort you should and watch the HR drop. No matter where you are mentally, your body will not let you push it, mine told me I had enough. It required 4-6 weeks of little or no exercise to recover from my summer of overtraining. Now I am aware of the somewhat subtle signs of overtraining and hopefully I can avoid this in the future.

    Funny thing is my wife was racing as well, she finished 3rd in Master’s Nationals (bike race) so our day kinda ended up like yours.

    I do wish you all the best and I think it is absolutely fantastic that you are willing to share this, it lets other amateur athletes know that sometimes you don’t reach your goals and to remember that you are doing this for fun!

  52. Awesome report. Thanks for Sharing your experience, I hope to just finish a Marathon. :) Good Job to you both.

  53. Good work you two. I ran my first marathon this year and am still trying to decide if I enjoyed it enough to do another one. Mine also didn’t go entirely to plan finishing in 4:09. Gareth

  54. ps – Ray please delete any comments by Mr anonymous, I for one don’t want or need to read them. I come here because I enjoy what you do, if Mr anonymous doesn’t then he should go elsewhere. Gareth. Keep up the excellent work.

  55. Hi Ray,

    It’s great that you worked hard towards a tough goal, even if the end result wasn’t what you expected. Not everything comes as soon as we want. It’s awesome, though, that you waited to finish the last 1.2 miles with your wife. She’s a lucky woman.

    And… she did a stellar job in her first marathon campaign. Hope the legs are healing up and happy turkey day,


  56. Anonymous

    After reading your post race report in the conclusion you mentioned about running long distances – I couldn’t agree more. I really enjoy the Oly and 70.3 races but put me in a half marathon (not so bad) but anything longer and I feel it is torture.
    My running friends think I’m nuts! They can’t believe I do 70.3s and never wanted to attempt a marathon. I said the only marathon is when I step it up to do an ironman.
    Have a great holiday.

  57. Ray,
    My compliments for your candor about your race. Having read your blog over these last few months I know it must have been frustrating to fall short of a goal at an “A” race. However, years from now when you look back on this one, the memory of finishing with your wife will be the one that stands out above all others including the negative comments you’ve received here. Having been married for over 18 years, no athletic accomplishment has been as satisfying as being a good husband. Regardless of what the clock said when you finished, you did well on Sunday!
    All the best and Happy Thanksgiving!

  58. Another great read. I think we all have been in your shoes where the race just didn’t turn out as desired. But what a bonus to be able to finish with your wife!

    I am glad you’ve decided to exercise editorial control of the negativity. Reading your blog is always a highlight of my day – even if it covers things I don’t do (swimming, or in my case, sinking)! Just focus on the 28,000 others of us that enjoy what you do!

  59. Well done Ray. Great on the hoof plan to meet up with the wife.

    This is my first comment here and i’m super motivated to leave it to make the percentage of the negative ones from that fool even smaller – your blog rocks!


    p.s can you do a write up on half iron training to motivate me? :P

  60. I’m sure you’ve said this on another post, but where did you get the pacing bracelet? I have a half marathon coming up with a specific pacing goal, and I’d love something like that.

    Did you make it, or is there a website somewhere where you can buy one? Did they have them at the Expo?

  61. Bummer about the bad race, Ray. Shake it off – you’ll nail the next one.

    I’ve had a few comment trolls over the years, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with deleting comments. Don’t give it a second thought.

  62. Thanks for the race report – as always a great read! I hope The Girl writes up a race report of her own – it would be great to hear her perspective, especially with such a super finish. Congrats to you both and special kudos to you for finishing with her!

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  63. I hope you can keep such a positive outlook on everything in your day to day. Very inspiring!

  64. hi ray! let me know if you ever find out what the delay (or lack thereof) was related to. It certainly peaked my curiosity too when the guy said he couldn’t say anything about it, but might later.

    One guess was the Occupy the Highway peeps making their way through town?

    There was one section of the course I think it was South St. that I noticed that the streets were freshly cleaned and the DPW guys were still picking up trash. I thought it to be a bit strange to be happening that early during the race, since they usually don’t send the street cleaning crew through until the back of the pack.

  65. 46


    i’m pretty sure the great majoritie enjoy very much your blog. Please, don’t let some folks ruin that and don’t waist your time with them.

    Great time for the Girl. In the beginning of November i did a 3:15 on my second Marathon, so to do a 3:20 in her first is something great.



  66. Congratulations on finishing the girl’s first marathon with her! It’s just a matter of time before you break 2:50. In the meantime, have a blast with your wife and continue to write a top notch and fun to read blog.

    Happy Thanksgiving,

    I can’t wait to check out the girl’s Thanksgiving creations over at Bertie’s Bakery.-

  67. You have been an inspiration to me since I found your blog shortly after taking up road cycling. I have since lost some weight, but more importantly lost 40 points of cholesterol and dropped my resting HR about 20-30 bpm. I have now taken up running. Your reviews are awesome, race reports informative, and little “tidbit” posts (like the shark blimp) bring me a laugh. I look forward to every post. Congrats to you and “The Girl” on the marathon and good luck on figuring out what happened.


  68. Great post as always. It takes a lot of courage to report on an event in which you considered you underperformed. I find it inspiring to have that view. Good luck for all your future events and congrats to The Girl!

  69. Anonymous

    Crossing the finish line with your Girl is as good as PR! I hope you find the strength and resolve to break 2:50. Thanks for inspiring runners come dust or sunshine (that’s about it in Kuwait). 

    As a user of Training Peaks, I’m wondering if you are monitoring rTSS, and if that model would have predicted your performance? I didn’t get the drop in HR , especially with your steady pace. Shouldn’t HR be drifting closer to the upper limit? 

    cheers – @husarrow 

  70. Great race report. Was following your splits and wondering what happened around 30k. HUGE brownie points earned to finish the race with your wife (and a great first marathon time for her btw!).

    I read your blog daily and love reading about your training & race reports. No idea why someone would post negative comments. Seriously dude, love the site.

  71. So, uh. The Girl ran a 3:20 in her first marathon? Does she have a blog I could follow instead of yours? That’s one fast chick you’ve got there. Very impressive. A big kudos to Roberta on her performance. Bummer that the body didn’t cooperate for you Ray. But, there are many more races ahead.

  72. Anonymous

    Hi Ray, I’ve read your blog for a long time – thanks for sharing so much of knowledge and yourself. Congrats to both of you!

  73. Bummer about the race not going as planned. I had a similar experience this spring due to poor fueling in a warmer climate. I’m looking forward to a more in depth post-race analysis. I’d be a shame to see you give up on the long distance.

    Keep on running long!

    Congratulations to the girl!

  74. I can relate to your experience at Philly on so many levels…enjoyed reading about your thoughts on this race. Love your work and appreciate you being willing to open up your inner thoughts and observations to all of us.

    Also love the positive feeling of your posts and feel bad for those who can’t find something good to say and would rather tear down. DCR you ROCK! Thanks for the inspiration and insight you give to all of us!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and “The Girl” :)

  75. Hi Ray, sometimes things are not what you thought It would be like. This can be the race you have been working on for a year. Or the comments from your readers.

    For the race I can imagine that the girl was surprised and happy to run the finale together. For the reactions, i am surprised too. As I read all of your Posts first thing in The morning, i really love what you are writing about. Most of the equipment is also in my possession. Please keep up this very welcome work. It is totally stupid to critisice you, you’re THE best!

  76. Joepetto


    The negativity is bulls–t, don’t let it enter your head. Been a faithful reader for years and never felt the need to speak up unil now. Honesty is a rare quality and kudos for yours.

    Ran Philly as well for my first full Mary. Came in worse than I wanted, but learned a lot. It was a good day for many of us and we can lose sight of that, especially when there are brothers in arms who went down that day.

    Give the wife a big hug and enjoy your Thanksgiving.

  77. I love your blog Mr. Rainmaker. I appreciate the hardwork you’re putting in. It is not always fun, but we find it invaluable.

    People put down other people is really just reflection of their own faults projecting onto others. Not yours.

    Please to hear more from you.

  78. I think that no race is bad, you always learn from the result.

  79. Nice work man. While I never admit it on race day (or the day after, or maybe even the one after that…), you always learn more from a tough race than you do from one that went exactly as you planned. I’ve had some tough races over the past 2 years, but I am confident that I am a better athlete for it, and will soon enough get exactly the result I want – I’m sure the will happen for you.

    Keep up the good work and don’t worry about what others think. Most of the time they can’t get a good result for themselves, and have to add comments anonymously to make themselves feel better.

  80. Thank you for all your candid race reports. I started reading your blog when I needed help understanding my Garmin and I’ve been an avid reader since. Congrats to The Girl for an awesome first marathon and BQ! I also like that you write honestly about good and bad performances. Thank you!

  81. Ray — your website is an indispensable tool for me, and it’s actually helping to make me healthier as I recover from a nearly year-long injury/rehab (ran for the first time in 11 months a couple of week ago!).

    Anyway, you had (for YOU) a bad race. I couldn’t break 3:30 in a marathon if I had a motorcycle.

    And MAJOR congrats to The Girl, whom I had always figured had run a dozen marathons (shouldn’t she HAVE to in order to make cupcakes and stay that trim??). But for her to BQ on her FIRST is amazing. And big props to you for running her in. Class.

    Don’t sweat the negative comments. When I have seen any here, I just think, “tool/loser” and move on. Feel free to delete them, but we’re all in your corner no matter how long there’s on the site.

    Hey, one last question — I’m not sure I get why an HR drop is a bad thing. Isn’t that an indication that you’re not working as hard? But couldn’t that mean it’s easier for you to work at the pace? I’m sure the answer is “no,” but I don’t understand why. I’m not advanced enough even with my gadgets to do HR data.

    Anyway, viva DCR! Keep up the great work.

  82. Ray, I can’t believe how close our marathon history is (except I was a lot older than you when I set my PR). I had a 2:56 PR on a cold rainy 1997 day and then decided I wanted a sub 2:50. Took me 2 tries as I too began to fade at the half despite a 1:25 and I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I still finished in 2:59, but then put everything I had into my training for a 2:49 about 6 months later in the 1999 Chicago.

    The marathon is a very strange beast that sometimes just eats you up if not 100% prepared. I finally gave them up after my last (30th) on 10/10/10 so I returned back to triathlons that I find much more enjoyable. Not sure I want to do an Ironman, but those 70.3’s sure seem to fit me well.

    You might want to consider ‘training’ marathons when you don’t go all out. I did a bunch of them in 3:08’s so they don’t beat me up and it made the hard effort ones much easier to handle. Also, consider long long marathon pace runs. I go up to 16 miles at marathon goal pace. IMHO those make the full 26.2 much easier.

  83. Ray, I think it is so cool that you turned around a race that didn’t go how you wanted it in the end — that is a true winner’s attitude! So awesome that you finished with The Girl.

    I think your race reports are pretty much the best out there, so please keep it up! Sorry you are getting hit by Negative Nancys – that is just such a waste of energy.

  84. Really enjoyed the RR. It’s actually kind of encouraging for the newbies among us (I mean me, mostly) to see that even someone with lots of experience can have a race fall apart on them but keep moving forward. Huge congrats to The Girl on her first marathon!

    I think your plan to just excise the bad comments is a good one. Life it too short to deal with people that choose toxic behavior over civil discourse.

  85. Matthew Bayfield

    Hi Ray,
    As usual you have put your thoughts and emotions out there for public consumption, which continues to be a brave and entertaining thing.

    I am personally very interested in going long, v going short. In my opinion Going Long, Going Wrong! when over achievers get involved in endurance sport they tend to loose sight their personal goals and adopt those of people around them.

    Looking forward to reading more (although your reviews usually end up costing me money!!)

  86. Keith S

    Hello Ray,

    Just to say keep it going, for every one negative twat out there you have a 1000+ friends, your blog is excellent.
    The marathon gave you a reminder last weekend of its toughness and you learn more from these races in the “long run”, excuse the pun here.

    Best wishes from Irl , Keith

  87. Matthew

    Congratulations to you and the ‘Girl’ on your races. I’ve only recently discovered your blog and am finding it a mine of information. Thanks for all your hard work.

  88. Great recap Ray. I’ve been reading your site for awhile and have never commented, but wanted to after reading that report. Congrats to your wife on her excellent BQ race and sorry that you didn’t hit your goal. Love the mindset and the thoroughness with which you prepare though!

  89. hi, thx for your report, I do my training for my first marathon with this equipment :) link to titan-man.blogspot.com
    your site is for me a big inspiration – my next goal after marathon is some ultra or ironman
    thx again!

  90. Great report, and an awesome way to end the race. It was pretty obvious from The Girl’s blog that she felt the same :)

  91. Tim K


    Keep giving us the good, the bad, and the ugly. My wife and I did our first 1/2 this morning in Atlanta. I was happy, but she was battling a sore knee and didn’t do near as well as she wanted. It’s helpful to hear that someone else (who is at a much more advanced level than us) also has bad days and good days.

    Plus, thanks to you, I have bought $1300 worth of cool gadgets.

    While I realize you should never take advice from me, sometimes you need to put away the data and dig deep to get the goal you want. I was aiming for at least 2:30, wanted 2:15 and my super secret goal was 2:00.

    I finished in 2:00:42, and if I were running based on heart rate zones, I should be dead. I don’t think a 44 year old guy can really hit 245 bpm,so either the monitor was going wacky, or I was really giving it all I had. I was thrilled because I knew I couldn’t have gone one second faster but I never gave up.

    And I think I’ve read your anonymous attacker’s comments, and I (and probably most readers)realized right away what they were worth.

  92. Awesome you runned/walked a marathon within 3:30… Still a dream to me. I am sure the next will be even faster!
    Congrats to The Wife also!

  93. Phil Paterson

    Hi Ray, I only recently found your blog and website, but love the reviews and am glad that you got to have a happy ending with your wife, hope the recovery is coming along well. Thanks Phil.

  94. Ray, thank you for the report. I feel your pain. Does one have to have a bad race to really, really appreciate the elation of good one. I had a similar experience with dropping HR and pace during this year NYCM.(reasons?)
    I envy ability to rescue a bad race by finishing with the girl.(Congrats!) My other half did not run NYCM, she did the Philly this year .
    I also will consider if I like long distance racing, but after Apr 16.

  95. Great Job Ray!! Thanks for writing up the race report. I think you hit the nail on the head in the end when you said that we can learn from your mistakes. This is 100% true, and I can’t thank you enough for all that I’ve learned from your blog.

  96. Anonymous

    I cheered you on at the 10 K mark and just before the 13 mile marker and you looked okay but not great at either place, Not straining but not relaxed or focused either.

    Shouted and encouraged you but it was not your day- have to always respect the distance and more importantly your wife!

    Thanks for the work you do and the passionate way you live…

  97. Sorry to hear the race didn’t go according to plan. But congrats to The Girl on Boston qualification!

  98. Sorry to hear the race didn’t go according to plan. But congrats to The Girl on Boston qualification!

  99. Cooriander

    I love that you waited for your wife for the last mile! and I LOVE your reviews too :-D please continue that hard work! Don’t worry about the jerks! the service you are doing goes beyond them! they are insignificant!

  100. Anonymous

    I think you ran an awesome race, as did your wife. Just finishing a marathon is a achievement, regardless of the time it takes.

    Sorry to also hear about the negative comments you have been receiving. Your blog is a wealth of amazingly helpful information, and I would be truly lost without it. Please keep at it!

  101. Jeannie

    You and the girl still inspire me to just stay fit being a stay at home mom to four young kids. If I can get to the Y at least once a week I am pleased albeit 160 lbs.

  102. ugh the tyranny of the minority!

    Sorry to hear your race unraveled but kudos to the girl!

  103. Thanks for the great post and congratulations to your wife. Not all races can be wonderful (or PR’s.). It’s the tough races that teach us the most. I’m sure you will figure out exactly what went wrong and grow from the experience (you seem to be very detailed (LOL)as we all read with your great reviews). Keep up the great work and to any haters in cyber world “Go find another blog to shout your negative comments to”. DC Rainmaker rules!
    Cheers! Take care

  104. Ray-

    That’s a great marathon time! Don’t beat yourself up! AND EXTREMELY COOL finishing with the wifey too! You’ll get there, perserverence pays off!

    Your blog is awesome! The gadget reviews are extremely thorough. I love gadgets and you feed my addiction with those great reviews!

  105. hello there, ray,
    even though i’ve come across your blog only recently and reading this report’s taken place long after the events you’re describing – the fact that someone would react in a negative manner to your admirable openness and an evident all round sound attitude – made me feel the need to let you know how wonderful i think your writing is, very inspirational, fun, moving, informative – simply great! – and is very much appreciated!! Thanks a bunch for the effort you put into sharing, Alice, x

  106. RunningLace


    been reading your blog for a while now. great work. keep it going.

    so just wanted to know this: what’s up with the two spi belts each?

    • Ray Maker

      It was simply because we wanted to carry enough gels for the entire race length – and that’s how many spibelts it took to fit them all in. :)