GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

Training in my Gore Running Gear (RunKarlaRun.com)

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted a GORE-Tex Philadelphia Marathon training update. I’m running the race with Team Gore, and training was going well. Gore helped me gear up for the race with Gore Running Wear and GORE-TEX Saucony shoes. The sky was blue and birds were singing. In other words, all was right in my world.

But on October 20, my GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon training came to a screeching halt.

Skin Scare

During my bi-annual skin check in September, my dermatologist found a mole she didn’t like. She immediately pulled out her scalpel and sliced it off to be biopsied.

A week later, the results were in: it was precancerous, a term used for atypical moles that are more likely than regular moles to develop into melanoma. This particular mole was classified as “severely” atypical, the worst it gets before possibly becoming cancer.

Though my doc had already removed the entire mole, both she and the pathologist were in agreement: an entire patch of skin surrounding the mole should go too. It’s standard procedure when a mole comes back that abnormal.

So the day after the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco on October 19, I went under the knife. It was a simple procedure. My doctor used a local anesthesia to numb the area, remove the skin, and sew it all up with four sutures.

The skin was then sent back to the lab to check that all of the margins around the mole were clear of atypical cells, since it’s impossible to tell simply with a visual exam. Thankfully, all my margins were clear. After three weeks of bandages and healing cream, all I have to remember the incident by is an inch-long red scar.

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

At the Nike Women’s Half-Marathon San Francisco the day before my excision.

Doctor Demanded Downtime

There was just one problem: my doctor didn’t want me to run for two full weeks, lest I inadvertently rip open the stitches. The mole was on the right side of my back, over my latissimus dorsi, a muscle that plays a large role in your running gait.

I never realized how much the muscles and skin on my back move when I do, well, everything—putting away dishes, reaching in my closet, walking my dog, turning over in bed, you name it—until I had stitches. Give your skin a pat on the back—it works really hard.

So my doc told me one week of no activity at all. During week two I could add in the elliptical with no arms, leaving them dangling at my side, or ride a recumbent bike. Marathon training would have to wait.

Two weeks later, I was back in the doctor’s office to have my sutures removed. The gaping hole in my back hadn’t healed quite as much as she wanted, so she told me one more week of no running. Marathon training would have to wait some more.

Blargh! I’m one of those people who follows doctors orders. I figure if my health insurance company and I are going to pay exorbitant amounts of money for a doctor’s services and advice, I might as well follow it.

So after 21 days with no running, some walking, and a few elliptical workouts, I finally went for my first run in three weeks yesterday. I got a side stitch that never quite went away, but otherwise those 45 minutes felt glorious.

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

Running the Staten Island Half in a Gore Running Wear skirt. (RunKarlaRun.com)

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training

But what does three weeks off mean for my GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon training? Unfortunately, the timing couldn’t have been worse.

With my first run yesterday, I’ve got just two weeks until race day on Sunday, November 23.

I missed my last two weeks of hard training—including my 18 and 20 mile runs—and my first week of taper, when I’d get in one last double-digit run.

My last 16-mile long run on Sunday, October 19 consisted of 13.1 miles at the Nike Women’s Half Marathon San Francisco and a 2.9-mile run back to my hotel, broken up by about 2 hours of sitting, eating and mimosa drinking. Not exactly what you want for your last long run five weeks before a marathon.

Before that I’d run two half-marathons—Staten Island Half in New York and Maraton RPP Scotiabank in Peru—along with one 15-miler as my longest runs.

Plus, I’ve just been really tired. Maybe my body was siphoning energy to close the gaping hole in my back. Maybe not exercising as much sapped my strength. Maybe I was tired from marathon training. Whatever the reason, my body needs rest more than it needs to run a marathon.

So I’ve made a really tough decision: I’m not running the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon. Thankfully, the race has a concurrent half-marathon that shares the start and first 13 miles. I’m going to run that instead. I don’t have to totally skip the race.

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

Philadelphia Half Marathon Course

After my experience at the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon last year—where I debated switching to the half before showing up at the start sick—I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. I enjoyed the course and the experience of running Toronto, but my body just wasn’t in a place to tackle the distance. I struggled to finish 20 minutes slower than my personal best. I don’t want to do that to myself again. A marathon is tough even when your mind and body are in the game. When they’re not? It could be brutal.

I’d rather run the half, regroup and target another marathon in January, February or March or just wait until next fall altogether to resume marathon training. I’ve agonized over this decision. I was so gung-ho and excited about this race and this marathon training season. But after 10 years as a runner with seven marathons under my belt, I know my body well enough to know that this is the right decision for me, as much as I hate it.

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Half Marathon

So Philly Half, here I come! With just two weeks until race day, I have no delusions of running a PR. My goal for the next two weeks is to get some good rest, get back into the groove, and run Philly as fast as my body will allow, whatever time that means. It will be a great gauge and jumping off point for some reinvigorated winter training. After that, I’ll come up with a race plan for early 2015.

As sad as I am about not running the marathon, I’m actually excited to run the half. Honestly, it’s the better half of the Philadelphia Marathon course, going through Center City with tons of crowd support and skipping the long, quiet out-and-back of the marathon’s second 13.1 miles.

GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training Update

Phil runs the Kauai Half Marathon. (Sport Photo)

I’m also excited for one other big reason: my husband, Phil, is still running the marathon. He’s got a chance at breaking 3 hours for the first time.

His current PR is 3:03:36, set at the 2012 Philadelphia Marathon. His marathon training has been spot-on, he ran a half-marathon PR of 1:25:31 at the Staten Island Half in October and every race calculator we’ve consulted says he can do it.

It’s going to be a squeaker. He just needs some great race day conditions and to show up at the start healthy, unlike last year. He was sick too.

Since he’s much faster than me, he usually finishes most races with plenty of time to cheer me into the finish and snap some photos. Now, maybe for the first time ever, I’ll finish before him and will be able to cheer him on for a change. If this is the one where he breaks three hours, I really want to be there to see it.

So all the well wishes you might have sent my way for a great race, please pass along to Phil! I’ve been joking in disaster-movie speak: “Forget about me! There’s still a chance for you!”

For now, tallyho!

I’m running the GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon as a guest of GORE-TEX. As always, all posts and opinions are purely my own. I’m always honest about my experiences. Seriously. For more information, read my Disclosure policy.


Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


11 2014

52 Comments Add Yours ↓

The upper is the most recent comment

  1. 1

    Take care of that skin! I’ve had to have moles removed before, but they came back fine, it was strictly precaution because I am so fair, and the skin check ups were recommended by my doctor once I turn 30. I started a year early so my dermatologist has a good baseline to work from.
    Lesley recently posted..TOTR: Another PlaylistMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      So smart, Lesley. I started going to the derm regularly just after 30…so glad that I did!! Fair skinned runners can’t be too careful!

  2. Heath #

    Well wishes on your HM and speedy recovery! Great blog post and an important reminder to get our skin checked regularly.

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Heath! Yep, I’ll definitely be continuing my routine skin checks, that’s for sure!

  3. 5

    Glad you made the smart decision to run the shorter distance. I hope you have a good race nonetheless!
    Jojo @ Run Fast Eat Lots recently posted..Training Log 11/9- Updates on my Ankle InjuryMy Profile

  4. 7

    Glad to hear you are on the mend. It sounds like you have made the right decision. Even with the time off, a half marathon will be doable and you can enjoy the experience.
    I’ll still be looking forward to your race report. I’m seriously considering that marathon for next year, so it will be great to read about the first half.
    Enjoy what I’m guessing will be your last half marathon of the year!
    Kristi@ Blog for an Average Runner recently posted..Finishing StrongMy Profile

  5. 9

    Go Phil! You can do it!

    Good to see you’re on the mend and still able to enjoy the half. Short preparation but it’ll be a good chance to enjoy the day, kick off your marathon training and see Phil break 3 hours!
    Ewen recently posted..The Coffee Club Melbourne 10kMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Yes! Thanks! I’ll pass along your well wishes.

  6. 11

    You are making the right choice Karla. Sorry to hear about the health complications, but I am glad to hear that you were smart about it, got it taken care of, and listened to the doctor. I am not surprised you are feeling tired though. I think its better you are doing the half anyway, that second half of the race can be really lonely, and especially if you are not feeling 100% it is better to stay away, or those negative thoughts will overtake you. The half will be great :) Just watch for the hill around mile 9 :)
    Tina muir recently posted..Sizzlefish Haddock with Honey Mustard SauceMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Tina! I ran the Philly Marathon in 2012 and totally agree about the course. I had to steel myself for that hill. Really happy with my decision.

  7. 13

    Oh my goodness! I’m glad you’re ok! And I know it was tough for you to make this decision, but it’s important to listen to your body and do what you feel comfortable with. Plus, YAY YOU GET TO WATCH PHIL! (and can I just say DAMN PHIL!…or should I say The Flash?)

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I’m SO excited to watch Phil. It was definitely a factor in my decision. He’s crazy fast, right!?

  8. 15

    First the skin: Wow, what a wakeup call! I’m so sorry to hear you’re dealing with that. My mom has had similar experiences and once they had to remove (ugh this is even hard to write) part of her nose, then rebuild it. Running is so healthy, but one often negative side effect is too much sun, especially with the difficulty of keeping on sunscreen during long runs. You’ve given me a clear reminder of why sunscreen and running early if possible should be on my to-do list. (And drinking more green tea, and eating more carrots….)

    As for the marathon: That is such a bummer and I’ve so been there (with Philadelphia in fact), and I love that you’re looking at the bright side. But for sure it was so important to listen to the doc (so not worth the risk not to!). Maybe Providence in May?!

    Anyway, enjoy your race and good luck to Phil.
    Diann recently posted..Diary of a Reluctant RunMy Profile

    • 16

      And doh, should have said this first: I’m so glad you’re okay!
      Diann recently posted..Diary of a Reluctant RunMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you, Diann! So sorry to hear about your mom. I can’t even imagine how hard that must have been. Like you said, running is so healthy in so many ways, except this one. I loved the Providence Half! Definitely a race I’d do again.

  9. 18

    Awww, I’m sure this was a hard decision, I know how much you were looking forward to this race, but like you said, a marathon is tough under any circumstances, let alone going into it undertrained – you definitely made the right decision!

    Plus like you said, you still get to do the half and see Phil run!

    So glad to hear you caught that mole early though!

    Be sure to let me know what you decide for 2015 – other than Goofy I don’t have anything on my calendar so far so I’m looking for some races to add!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I’m glad I caught it early too! I shudder to think what might have been if I hadn’t. And I’d love to plan a race for 2015! Maybe something in RI/Cape/Boston. I have nothing on my calendar after January, too. Time to start plotting and scheming over the holidays…

  10. 20

    Good luck to both of you! I’m so glad to hear you’ve healed, and I’m impressed you made the tough decision to run the half. (This is not something I’m good at). I look forward to hearing all about it.

    Go Phil Go!
    Susan W recently posted..Race Additions, Sod It All and ArseMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! It’s not something I’m usually good at either! I’ll be sure Phil sees your comment.

  11. 22

    First of all, I’m SO glad you’re okay! That totally sucks about the marathon, but at the end of the day, your health is SOOOO much more important. There will be other marathons! No question about it — you’ve definitely made the right choice.

    Plus, it’s great that you can still run the half and participate in the race experience — and be there to cheer Phil on! (Um, also…he is WICKED fast! Good for him!) Wishing him an awesome race!

    I’ll be there to spectate Todd — and I’ll be looking for both of you! :)
    Jennifer @ The Final Forty recently posted..Race Recap: New York City MarathonMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you! And good luck to Todd, too! Should we have a blogger meet-up on Saturday? And Phil is SO much faster than me. Swimming is about the only sport I can beat him at. He’s just one of those people.

  12. 25

    Sorry to hear that you can’t do the marathon, but health comes first At least you can do the half.

    Good luck to Phil from both me and Ben. Ben is super envious of Phil’s speed. Ben is now really motivated to train harder and beat Phil’s HM PR. It lit a fire underneath him.
    Elle recently posted..Trenton Makes, Elle Takes a PR! Trenton Double Cross Half MarathonMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! Guys are so funny that way. Phil has a group of guy friends who are super competitive with each other. One of them jokes that his goal in life is to be as fast as Phil. Me and my training partners? It’s more hugs and encouragement than competition.

      If it makes Ben feel better, I’m sure you two are the combined faster couple :)

      • 27

        Ben does his best training when he’s competing against someone. All of his long run running partners moved away last year, so he kinda stopped running. Now that he found a couple new long run training partners, he’s started running again.

        I’ll let Ben know that we’re faster as a couple, but knowing him, he would rather be faster than Phil. If/when he gets a faster PR than Phil, he’ll “casually” ask if I’m going to blog about it (so that you know and can tell Phil). LOL
        Elle recently posted..Trekking SalkantayMy Profile

  13. 29

    Good call, Karla! Health first – everything else second. Even running. I’ll be in Philly too. :)
    Mer @ ScootaDoot recently posted..Mission Inn-Possible!My Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I hope I see you in Philly! There are going to be so many of us there. Maybe we should have a meet-up?

  14. 31

    Good for you for putting your health first and making a lot of smart decisions! I’ve also had precancerous atypical moles and surrounding skin removed and it’s absolutely a pain, not to mention scary, and I’m glad things are going well for you now! There will be more marathons in the future, and I’m sure you will still rock the half!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Katherine! Sorry you’ve been through this too. It’s the second atypical mole I’ve had but the first one I’ve had to have fully excised–twice. Fingers crossed neither of us have to deal with it again!

  15. 33

    Oh Karla – what a tough decision, but definitely the right one. So glad the results came back clear! And good job following the doctors orders!! Enjoy the half and go Phil go!!
    Emily recently posted..2014 St Louis Half MarathonMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you! I’m going to make sure Phil sees all these comments :)

  16. 35

    Aw sorry that your marathon plans haven’t panned out like you had originally thought, but I agree 100% that resting and following doctors orders is important. It was refreshing to hear someone follow advice rather than ignore it in the name of completing a race.
    Sounds like it should be an exciting day for you and Phil! I’ll be rooting for you both.
    Christine recently posted..Spectating Marine Corps MarathonMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thank you, Christine! It was really hard not to run all those weeks, but I’d always rather be safe than sorry.

  17. 37

    Cheering for the both of you! I’ve had a mole removed, too, but it didn’t cause the disruption of plans like yours did. I’m glad you’re able to race!
    Tina@GottaRunNow recently posted..22 Mile Run: Side Aches & HRMMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Tina! Sorry you’ve been through this too.

  18. Margaret #

    Best of Luck to you on the half Marathon to Phil on the Marathon! I am so glad your mole and biopsy ended up being fine.

  19. 41

    Smart decision! See you in Philly!

  20. 43

    That stinks. I actually have had the exact same thing done, in what sounds like the same place, we probably have matching scars now. It too was shocked when I had to take time off. I am so sorry yours came at such a bad time. I am glad you made a smart decision though and really hope that you still have fun in Philly.
    Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted..Weekend Vacation and Weight WatchersMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Abby! Twinsies! Seriously, though, sorry you’ve been through it too. When my doctor told me I couldn’t run I think I let out an audible guffaw. She kept apologizing–she’s a runner too!
      Karla Bruning recently posted..GORE-TEX Philadelphia Marathon Training UpdateMy Profile

  21. 45

    What a good role model you are for all of us!
    Sadye recently posted..RetirementMy Profile

  22. 47

    Sad to hear about the mole. My lady went through a cyst removal (in what sounds like to be the same place) and it was very worrisome for me. Guess that’s being a hubby. Glad to hear you’re all patched-up well and with a great attitude. I’m sure that Gore=Tex is proud to have you on the team–not just for how you run– but because how you are:) Happy race and get some good snaps of Philius!

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Roberto! Sorry to hear that you guys have been through something similar. One (or perhaps the only) drawback of spending so much time outside. I’ll be sure to put my camera in burst mode to capture Phil as he speeds by!

  23. 49


    Obviously you must be disappointed but you made the right call. And more importantly– glad you are OK! You’ve inspired me to go for a skin check.

    Good luck to you an Phil in Philly!
    Arun recently posted..Race Report: Cold Feat 10KMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks, Arun! As runners, we spend so much more time outside than most folks. Gotta take care of our skin!

  24. 51

    I’m glad your mole got taken care of. I’d never thought of that sort of procedure hampering my running, but with all the time we runners spend outside, we definitely need to be careful of unusual moles.

    I hope you have a great time running the half and cheering on your husband!!!
    Judith recently posted..Gratitude for Sobriety and RunningMy Profile

    • Karla Bruning

      Thanks! I think I guffawed when my doctor told me I couldn’t run. I had no idea that would be the case! I was thinking, eh, it’s on my back, I can still run. Um, nope. You live and you learn!


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