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by Allison Goldstein, Distance Project NYC

Posted in Blog.

December 5th, 2019

Philly Marathon Race Recap: How to OTQ

Allison Goldstein has been running since she moved to NYC in 2008 and currently runs with Distance Project NYC. Her first distance race was the Philly Half-Marathon, and the below blog is a recount of her successful return to Philly for the full-marathon, where she Qualified for the Olympic Trials (OTQ)! Allison lives in Jersey City with her partner Ryan and their cat Tabouli and is a freelance writer who has been published by Runner’s World, Women’s Running, and Fitbit. She actively writes about her running experiences in her personal blog,



Step 1: Stay with a non-runner. In this case two of them, your cousin and his wife. Answer questions like “How many marathons have you run this year?” and “What pace are you going to run?” and “Are you going to win?” Also enjoy some really, really good home cooking.

Step 2: Receive surprise flowers (and totally mis-guess who they are from). Remember, for the first of many times this weekend, just how wonderful your friends are.

Step 3: Lose your race bib. There are many ways you can do this, but one surefire way is to put it in your training partner’s identical backpack** after you take a photo together at the race expo. Make sure to tear your whole room apart in a panic before thinking to call her and having your fears eased.

Step 4: Watch The Lion King. Followed by an Iliza Shlesinger Netflix comedy special. All while eating white bread and Trader Joe’s Scandinavian Swimmers. (After being fed a personal dinner of spaghetti with marinara while everyone else ate steak and brussels sprouts.)

Step 5: Wake up at your usual “workout wakeup” time. Eat a banana and dry Honey Bunches of Oats, just like you always do. Pack a Picky Bar for later.

Step 6: Squeeze into an over-crowded, muddy “elite” tent, along with all of the pacers for the race, and also Meb Keflezighi and Des Linden, who you will not get a photograph with, because there are only ten minutes left and you need to get to the start line.

Step 7: On the start line, look into the faces of women you know, three of whom were your training partners for the past six months. Let yourself feel excited–this adventure is about to begin.

Step 8: Smile at the rain gods, because they are smiling at you. The rain has stopped. The race gun goes off. It’s time to get down to business.

Step 9: Grab your very first “elite” water bottle ever. Try not to fall over the other eight women going for their bottles at the exact same time on the exact same table. Make sure you snag that yellow pipe cleaner “handle” you duct-taped on for its snagability. Try to get back to your pace group in one piece. Discover that you have chosen a very stiff bottle, which was a mistake; now you must attempt to suck the liquid out while still breathing oxygen and maintaining pace. Eventually pull off the gu you taped to the bottle (with some really lovely pineapple-adorned duct tape) and pitch the bottle to the side of the street, where it proceeds to explode.

Step 10: Avoid the giant puddles. Or at least try, because anything could be down there. No need to twist an ankle this early.

Step 11: Get to the top of the One Big Hill In The Race without getting totally dropped. Catch back up to the pack. Let your breathing return to normal. Finish your gu.

Step 12: Notice that one of your teammates is gone. Maybe not gone, maybe just a few meters back. But this is not the time for feelings. You’ve just come past the halfway point. Refocus. Keep running.

Step 13: Almost trip your coach. Several times. Profusely apologize. Then almost get tripped by the girl running directly behind you several times. Must still be a tight pack.

Step 14: Greet your friend and teammate as she hops into the race. You might only get a word or two out, but that’s okay–she knows how you feel, because she’s already done this many, many times.

Step 15: Wonder if your attempts at “drafting” are working. It is very unclear whether, as the tallest woman in this group, running behind your friend and your coach–two extremely slender average-height runners–is helping at all. Figure that in this headwind, anything is better than nothing.

Step 16: Perform the running equivalent of elbowing a competitor out of the way to resume your place behind your coach. This is your pacer. If she wants to come along, she can run behind you.

Step 17: Arrive at the turnaround cone. Decide it’s too slippery and you’re too tired to make the turn. Stop running. Step around the cone. Then hurry to catch back up.

Step 18: Glimpse another training partner still headed “out” toward the cone. Try to guess how far back she is. Assume it can’t be very far, but your mental faculties are starting to fail. Hope she is rallying for the final push.

Step 19: Reach mile 21.
 Remind yourself, in a somewhat happy-yet-pain-filled fog, that this is the farthest you’ve ever run at this pace. Refocus on mile 22.

Step 20: Lose sight of your coach at the next water table. He had said he would grab water for your training partner. Is he coming back? Nope, because he shouts to go ahead. You’re on your own from here on out.

Step 21: Arrive at Mile 23. Check your watch. Still on pace. You know, despite the dead-hurt feeling in your legs, that you can hold this for three more miles.

Step 22: Start feeling emotions swell at the base of your throat. Shut that shit down. There are still three miles left to run. Anything could happen.

Step 23: Arrive at Mile 24. See a familiar uniform up ahead. It’s a woman you know. You haven’t seen her all race, which means she went out hard. You have two miles. Keep going.

Step 24: Vaguely register Mile 25. It hurts so bad, but you are gaining ground. Now it’s a race.

Step 25: Pass her on the final uphill. (An uphill!) Grunt what you hope sounds like encouragement, because this is a fellow New Yorker*** and you’re both definitely going to make this 2:45 cutoff, so you might as well help each other get there. But you’re also not slowing down.

Step 26: Cross the finish line.


Step 26.2: You did it.

You are going to the Olympic Trials.


Amazing training squad & coach

2019 Philadelphia Marathon Race Results

Race Length
Finishing Time
Average Pace
Overall Place
Gender Place
Age Group Place
26.2 mi
107 / 10,064
5 / 4,220
1 / 651

* OTQ = Olympic Trials Qualify. For women, this means running a marathon in two hours and forty-five minutes or less. For men, . . . I don’t know (2:18 I think?), but it doesn’t matter, because this procedure won’t apply.
** Thanks again to Nike’s Project Moonshot program. The backpack I received as part of the program is my new favorite (and I carry a lot of backpacks). However, it is others’ favorite as well, which can be the source of such confusion.
*** Okay, okay, okay. She lives in New York. I am a Jersey Girl. But we both run in New York, so I’m standing by my “fellow New Yorker”

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