Philadelphia is a cool town. I like the little streets and the architecture is truly beautiful. It was even cooler at daybreak as me and 25,000 of my closest running buddies headed to the start line of the 2011 Philadelphia Marathon and Half Marathon.

I ran. I finished.

But first, I met Bart Yasso, Editor-at-large for Runner’s World Magazine and creator of my favorite marathon workout, Yasso 800s. Yes, THAT Bart Yasso.

Hey, Bart!

He’s only the most friendly guy in the world. He’s also very gracious. He signed my book, took a picture with me and chatted with me about our mutual love for lululemon run apparel. His favorites are the Run: Response shorts. He also promised to join us for a Wednesday night run club next time he’s in the city. We’ll be ready for you, Bart!

I spent Saturday afternoon napping at our hotel before we hit up our dinner reservation for some good ‘ol fashioned pasta. Thanks, Maggiano’s Little Italy for making a special dish just for me and my stupid colitis tummy.

Success #1. Drugs. On that note, I was completely hopped up on the ‘roids on race day. Whatever. Thanks to my fabulous drugs, the quick thinking of my awesome PA and last-minute freak-out emails with Ali when I fully should have been listening in Physics class, I was basically bathroom problem-free on Sunday morning. Basically.

Success #2. Corral starts were staggered and awesome. I was put in the perfect corral pace for me and enjoyed a fairly spread-out start. I was also dressed perfectly, thanks to  my favorite lululemon apparel: Energy BraCool Racerback Tank TopRun: Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve (which I ditched at mile 5), Run: Mind Over Matter Pullover (from Spring ’11 line), Run: For Your Life Crops (from Summer/Fall ’11 line) and Run: Brisk Gloves at the start.

Ready to run!

Oh, but I totally bit it in the middle of the road at mile 5.5. Me and two other people all fell in the exact same spot, which made me feel a little better that I wasn’t he only klutz on the course. Super-cool part of it all is that I was fine and hardly spent any time on the pavement, as I was almost immediately drawn to my feet by three rather large male runners, each of whom grabbed my arms and promptly put me back on my feet. Thanks, guys!

I held myself back in the first 10 miles, which kept me at an 8:11-8:30 pace. I wanted to maintain an 8:30 as long as I could, knowing I’d probably end up slowing down in the last 6 miles even if I pushed harder. It felt slow to begin with and maybe I’ll tinker with going out a little faster on training run in the future, but I was really very ok with it yesterday. Saw JB at mile 7 (he looked pretty content with a coffee in one hand, waving at me with the other) and kept on truckin’.

Success #3. Only one POJ stop at mile 13.1. I’ll take it. I am sad that I missed seeing JB jumping up and down, waving his arms looking for me but I was probably too distracted and looking for the nearest POJ to notice a 6’2” Marine-looking dude jumping up and down, which he swears he was doing (for the record, I have NEVER seen him do this in my life so if anyone caught this on film/camera, pleeeeease email it to me so that I might see my husband cheering like a wild animal).

The scenery was really beautiful past mile 13. I know a lot of people hate an out and back and I’m normally with ya’ll on that, but this out and back was gorgeous! It was a beautiful run along the cliff-lined river on our way to Manayunk. Once in Manayunk, we were greeted by hundreds of cheering fans and a DJ nearly every mile. There was that point where they had beer shots out for runners and I almost gagged on the smell of stale beer being heated up on the pavement, but other than that it was lovely!

Success #4. Seeing my friends. I almost cried several times during this marathon. I blame my hormones. And my family. And my friends who came all the way from New York just to cheer for me at mile 24.5. And they made me my very own sign that was “3D”. They were cheering “Ab-by! Ab-by! Ab-by!” as I blew kisses and shuffled on by them and then met me at the finish with JB. I mean, seriously.

Best gals in the world. You shall remain nameless, but not faceless because you're too pretty for that. I hope ya'll don't mind.

Success #5. I did not lose it and cry. Phew. I damn near broke down when I heard several songs: “My Life Would Suck Without You” at mile 16 (weird, but there’s a reason), “Born To Run” at mile 18, “Gonna Fly Now” at mile 24, “Learning To Fly” at mile 25. When I got to mile 22, I knew I was going to finish and be just fine. This also made me want to cry, but I didn’t. No crying = success!

And then I was almost done. Since my name was written on my number as “Abigail” and not Abby, if I ever heard anyone yell “Go Abby!” I knew that they actually knew me! This was the case at the finish when I saw a friendly face from the city who had run the half marathon and stuck around to cheer us marathoners on. Thanks, AH!

I wish my Garmin hadn’t died at mile 24.7 so that I knew where I was in the last few miles, but whatever. Apparently, my computer has to be on in order for the silly gadget to charge. Whatever. It did it’s job for most of the race so I guess it’s ok. The finish line was around a corner and I didn’t see it until I was on top of it. This is a good mental note for the next time I do Philly: Finish line is around that big corner.

Success #6. I did it. Official finish time-3:56. Yippeee!

See? Told you I'd have this photo to show ya'll! Wow, JB, I really DO turn blue when I finish a race.

JB was there at the finish line (he tells me I looked great when I was finishing. Isn’t he kind? I know I probably had “the face” happening) where he helped me break the law and hop the corrals and whisked me back to the hotel where he promptly dropped my very cold body into a very warm tub. I know, I know, COLD water bath. Well, I was turning blue so hypothermia > muscular edema. Warm bath wins.

Success #7. We made our train and were home by 3:30 that afternoon. I was asleep on the couch by 8pm with a tummy full of (cheeseless) pizza and breadsticks. Mmmmmm…

All in all, a really great weekend. Thank you all who have cheered me on both near and far for the past few weeks, months and years as I truck along on this crazy journey we call life. I appreciate all the Tweets and Facebook comments of encouragement more than you will probably ever realize. I’m looking forward to lots of great races in the near future and maybe even a Spring marathon (any takers?).

Congratulations to everyone who ran the inaugural Brooklyn Marathon in Prospect Park on Sunday. I do not envy you on that course. Ouch.

Stay classy, Philly. And thanks for the memories.

Now go out and run!

Friday *achoo*

You know what the up-side to having a sexy auto-immune disease like ulcerative colitis is? Nothing. Not a one. Every single time I’m getting a handle on things, my trigger pulls and I flare up, get sick and am sidelined from my everyday life. Boo. Today I have a little sniffle and cough, which isn’t surprising since I’ve been flaring for almost two weeks now. (Can make “flare-ing” a verb? I think I just did. Not flaming, FLARING) Flare-ups = downed immune system = cold/flu AND flare-up symptoms. Yay, me!

Good thing it’s  a long weekend and I don’t have to miss school. You heard me. My, my how things change when you’re a big grown-up paying for your own school at NYU. Missing class is baaaaaaad.

Anyway, I think the extent of my exercise today will be walking up to the NEW lululemon athletica store on Madison Ave & 85th Street to celebrate their opening day. You should stop by, too, if you’re in the city. Say hi! So, no running today. Hopefully, taking it easy will translate into me feeling so much better than tomorrow I can do my long run. Or, at least I can do it on Monday and be better by next week. Fingers crossed.

In the mean time and in-between time, here’s what you should be checking out this week:

I joined Twitter this week. I think I kinda suck at it, but it certainly keeps me up on what’s going on in the world…and in the running world! The famous runner and Runner’s World editor Bart Yasso was my first follower. Weird and awesome!

-Paula Radcliffe’s record-setting time for women’s marathon distance was was stripped of the title “World Record” because the pacer for that race was a man. Are you as outraged as I am? If she’s the world’s fastest woman, who else is supposed to pace her???

-The Chicago Marathon is this weekend. Are you running? Here’s a spectator’s guide to cheering. Should be an awesome day for a run. Go runners!

-The smarties over at ACE (American Council on Exercise) evaluated the popular barefoot-style minimalist shoes and came up with some interesting results. Like, everyone showed over-pronation.

-These coconut granola bars sound amazing. Not that I can eat them because they have oats and nuts and, you know, that doesn’t exactly go with my flare-up. So you make them and report back to me, ok?

-Speaking of my flare-up, did you see the Nobel Prize in Medicine was announced this week for some very smart scientist who did a lot of research about our immune systems? I’m just excited because, after two years of pre-med schooling, I know what he’s talking about!

-ESPN’s ‘Body’ issue is out. What do you think?

-Last, but certainly not least, take a minute (really, it’s that fast and you don’t have to put in your email or anything) and vote for my fellow fabulous fitness blogger friends, Ali & Jess in Shape Magazine’s Best Blogger Awards. They’re awesome and you should check out their blogs AFTER you vote for them (don’t worry, they’re nominated in separate categories)

Ok, folks, I’m out. Oh yeah, I’ve also decided that I won’t be blogging on the weekends. A long time ago, when I was finally able to support myself as a trainer, I made the decision not to work on the weekends. It’s been probably 7 years since then and I realized that blogging counts as work for me. I love it, but it definitely takes away from spending time with the people I don’t get to see during the week, namely my gorgeous husband. So, I hope there are no hard feelings, but I will be a Monday-Friday blogger from here on out. Are we still friends? I hope so.

Now go out and run.

And don’t catch my cold.

What are you reading about this week in the news? I mean, besides Steve Jobs.