a race report by ray ingaglio
Ray Ingaglio ran the Philadelphia Marathon (26.2 miles) on November 20th, 2022 in 4:02:04, just a couple months after welcoming his first child into the world!
Click HERE to follow Ray on Strava, and HERE to see his splits for the race.
December 16th, 2021: I recommitted myself to health and fitness. In the past 7 years since graduating college, I have been up and down with my weight and my overall fitness. I was 188 pounds, and I committed to losing 25. At the time, I knew that my body couldn’t handle running without injury without losing weight. I got down to 163 by mid-June. At the same time, I started running 2-3 times a week for 6-9 miles total. On July 4th weekend, down in Wildwood, NJ, I ran 6 miles in just over an hour–a max effort at the time and my longest run since 2009. My head started to contemplate checking a marathon off my bucket list. My wife was pregnant with our first child, and I said to myself, “Do it now, or you will find a million BS excuses not to.” I sat down with my wife and explained the time commitment this endeavor would take, especially Sunday mornings which were my long, slow run days. She agreed and training began immediately.
I looked through different training plans and settled on the 16-week Runner’s World sub-4:30 plan. I chose this plan because it called for 4 running days / week. I refused to give up weightlifting, which I enjoyed way more than running at the time (now it is pretty even between running and lifting). Training went pretty smoothly overall. I worked up to peak training weeks of 30-36 miles which included a final long run of 20 miles in Philadelphia on the latter half of the course. Training was overall enjoyable because after the first few weeks, each week’s long run was a new distance PR for me. Before the training block, my longest run ever was 7 miles. I did miss about 2.5 weeks of training during the block. Mid-September my daughter was born, and I lost about 3 runs during that time. Mid-October I got COVID, which knocked me out for two weeks. This was a turning point for me mentally in the block.
I was pretty confident from the start that with proper training, sub-4:30 was doable. I had the Reading Hospital Half Marathon on October 16th. After not running for two weeks, I did a Peloton class that Friday. I was absolutely torched lung-wise. I said to myself, “No way I can do the half marathon.” On Saturday, I woke up, lifted as usual, and that night decided to go run a 5k to see if maybeeeee I could do the half marathon, as I was seeing people post about it and the FOMO was getting heavy. I ended up running a recent 5k near PR albeit with an elevated heart rate. Signups were open until midnight so I signed up. I ran a 1:59:17, which was encouraging, since sub-2 hours was a goal for the block to hit 4:30 in the full. This was a turning point because mentally I started to believe that 4:30 wasn’t a good enough goal for me. I like a goal that is seemingly out of reach, a goal that is something to work towards. I decided that sub 4:15 was my new goal with a dream/stretch goal of sub 4 hours.
I tapered pretty drastically… by accident. I thought it was a good idea to do a low-weight, high-rep leg day the first taper week. After not lifting legs for 10 weeks due to running volume, I didn’t run that entire week due to severe DOMS. 0/10 would not recommend.
I carb-loaded according to the free calculator by Featherstone Nutrition. 600g a day for 3 days leading up to the race (I only did it for 2). I actually gained back about 7 pounds throughout the training block, as I was super-focused on recovering properly and staying injury free. I’m 5’ 6”, and my weight was 171 pounds on race day.
Pre-Race was definitely different than I imagined. I figured I was being very conservative and would be sitting around waiting for the race to start–this was not the case. I got in line for security at 6:15. I didn’t get through the fence until 6:45. After a porta-potty stop and gear check, it was already 7:10. (The race was officially supposed to start at 7 a.m.). I realized I didn’t have to stress at all because all corrals started very late. My designated corral started 20 minutes late. I found the warming tent, did my normal warmup, took my first gel, and started the race at 7:32.
My race strategy overall was to run my dream-goal pace (9:08) pretty consistently. I did not want to go out too fast nor too slow. I ran my half marathon the same way. I picked my pace and did what I could to hold onto it to hit my desired time
Miles 1-8: It was pretty cold the whole race, but I honestly didn’t notice too much. Other than splashing water on my hand in water stations, I was pretty comfy. I had compression shorts, running shorts, long-sleeve dry fit, regular running hat, and a pair of gloves. Gloves were shed after the first water station. As someone who is 95% a solo runner, I was not expecting to feel so boosted mentally by the crowd atmosphere. It made most of the miles fly by, and I was so calm, happy, and grateful to be there running the race without any major injuries.
I saw some really good signs throughout the race. My favorite one was early on in the city: “Girlfriend: Hey, do you want to run the Philly Marathon with me? Boyfriend: *just literally a picture of Ben Simmons*”
Miles 9-18: Running the course 2 weeks before felt really helpful here. I knew the elevation changes and tracking to mile 18; I was slightly ahead of goal pace. At this point, I only had one mile that was above 9:10, and it was the mile (9:28) with the Fairmount Park hill. (Worst on the course, but not terrible really). Up until this point, I was listening to the Trilogy Mixtapes by the Weeknd. This was a good choice as it’s slower pace R&B and hip hop.
Mile 19-24: At mile 19, a mini panic set in. I use gels every 3 miles. I packed enough to have 2 extra with the assumption that I was getting a gel at 3 different spots per the race information. At Mile 18, I had used my last gel as I must’ve lost a few on the way. I panic called my brother and had him lookup what mile markers gels were supposed to be given out. I missed them entirely at mile 12. (Maybe because of my late start?) I asked my brother, who was meeting me at mile 22, to find a running shop in Manayunk with gels or as a last resort something carb heavy. About 5 minutes later, I hit the first gel stop. I was able to grab a total of 2 which eased my mind.
I feel like I never really hit the wall. Don’t get me wrong, the race got much harder at this point. I saved a 90 minute David Goggins Youtube video that I frequently listen to for the end of the race. That helped me push through as my legs were feeling very tired. My brother ended up finding a banana and other food, but at the last gel stop, I grabbed three so I was fully stocked for the finish. My splits for this section were between 9:12 and 9:31. I realized around these miles that I was about .2-.3 miles off on my watch compared to the course. I was committed to finishing as strong as possible
Mile 25-Finish: With about 2 miles to go, I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I felt that I could finish strong. My mantra throughout the end of the race, when it started to get tough, was stolen from David Goggins. “What if”… “What if I push through here”… “What if I can hit sub 4 after running a 1:59:17 half”…
Since I hadn’t run the perfect course, I knew that an official sub 4 was out of the question. My brain was too tired to do the math on where I stood pace-wise on my watch distance. I ran 9:06, and for the last half mile I had a strong “sprint” at 8:00 pace. On my watch, I had hit 26.2 just under 4 hours, although my official race time was 4:02:04.
Over. The. Fucking. Moon. Extremely. Satisfied.
Crushed my initial goal I set out for and trained for. Hit my dream goal (on my watch). Couldn’t have been happier with my effort and result.
I couldn’t really do a cooldown; I think the fast finish did more damage to my legs than the entire race beforehand. I walked (hobbled) for about 30 minutes to the car which was the first time all day I experienced a side stitch ironically. I had a buddy locally who let me use his shower and then enjoyed a nice lunch at Maggiano’s in KOP.
My legs are still not 100% recovered. On Sunday and Monday, I was having pain and tightness all over including not being able to bend my left leg fully. After those 2 days, all of my joint/ligament/tendon issues went away, but still, my quads aren’t back to normal. I ran/walked 2 miles yesterday, and I was still recovering. Luckily muscle damage recovers much quicker than other tissue. I attribute this to my weightlifting background. I run heavy, but my muscles are able to absorb impacts putting less stress elsewhere.
As someone who always strives when working towards a goal, I was already thinking about what my next goal was going to be. I don’t have anything scheduled, but it’s going to be another marathon with a sub-3:30 goal. I feel as if I have so much more to give and more to grow as a runner. Personally, I enjoy the length of the marathon as a metaphor for life. The cheesy saying “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” is so true in my eyes.
Hard work consistently over time breeds results, not only in running, but in life in general!