Yesterday I did something I never thought I could do: I ran/walked 10 miles in the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run. I along with about 40,000 other people made the epic trek from North Philadelphia to South Philadelphia.
I got up at 5am on Sunday morning, got dressed and took my very confused dog out for an early morning walk. He isn't used to being out so early but he got up and happily went out. We took a brisk walk on our morning route. It was a little chilly but I knew the day was going to warm up. We got back home, I gave him an early breakfast, then ate a bagel thin and peanut butter and banana myself. I tape up my legs with KT tape, put on my compression sleeves, fastened my bib to my shirt and gathered my race supplies.
I made it to the subway around 6:05 and was happy to see it wasn't crowded. The SEPTA attendant wish me luck and several other runners exchanged smiles or small talk with me. We were all there for the same thing and there was a strong sense of comradery. Only one subway passed us due to being full. The next one came and there was room on it! I got a seat which I heard was "very lucky on Broad Street Day" and listened to a motivational podcast until we reached Olney station.
I found my friend and co-runner Erin within 5 minutes of stepping off the sub (another amazing thing to happen). We were plenty early, had a short wait in the porta potty line before stretching for a bit and picking a spot in the front/middle of my corral. It was like driving down a highway with nothing but green lights. Erin said it was the least complicated Broad Street Run morning she had ever experienced and this was her 4th.
The only downside to being in the last corral is that the winners of the run were finished before we started. It took an hour and a half before we reached the start. I was a bit nervous. Erin tried to encourage me to run the whole thing and keep a slow and steady pace. I felt like I had to use the porta potty again but it was nervous bladder. The crowd began to move and we were off. I clocked my watch to start, pumped up the playlist and ran.
The "wall of runners" wasn't that thick and I ran and what I thought was a decent pace. It was too fast. We finished our first mile in 12:30 which was fast for me. I got a massive cramp in the center of my chest and had to walk. Then I was off running again. Erin kept behind me. At first I thought she was doing that so she didn't lose me since I was slow and she was fast. Nope, finally she told me "Stop running ahead of me!!!" She was pacing for me! Running at a slow and steady pace for me to follow her with so I wouldn't get too winded too early.
The crowds were great but I had to do a lot more walking than I anticipated. My hips, despite stretching every night, began to feel like knives. My lips developed a thick film over them because they were dry. We stopped at every water station, even just to throw water on our faces. My pace got longer and longer. By mile 5-6 I was walking more. I'll be honest, mile 6-9.75 I walked a lot. I was walking really fast but walking not running. I wanted to quit. I didn't think it was possible. Finally the finish line was in sight. We ran for it but I had to stop to walk again. My body couldn't take it. Then I picked up running and crossed it at 2:26:53.
I had two goals: finish the Broad Street Run and finish within 2:30. Done!
It was the hardest athletic thing I have ever done in my life. I remember around mile 7 (what feels like the longest mile), looking around and seeing tons of walkers. I wanted to tell Erin, "look, I'm with my people!" She ran her slowest Broad Street Run so I wouldn't give up and stay with her. That's friendship. Poor thing ran well over the time she normally finishes. But we finished together!
After the race we got food and medals. We took a shuttle bus to the parking lot. (Another green light!) Then after about 15 minutes cruised down Packer Ave to get to the diner by my apartment for some post-race lunch. I had a delicious burger and fries. There were a lot of other Broad Street runners in there too. We exchanged knowing glances that said "I know what you just went through, enjoy your meal."
I walked home and was greeted by my neighbors that knew I did the run. I had to let the dog out since it had been almost 8 hours since I last saw him. I wore my bib and medal for our walk. People congratulated me or asked me about the race. When I returned home with the dog my neighbors invited me over for a post-race beer. They even gave Bronx some ice water. It was perfect.
Later that evening when I went to pick up my pizza and wings for dinner, I wore my medal again. More people stopped me and asked me about it. Some had ran their 10th Broad Street, some said their knees were already killing them. It felt so good to be a part of something. I've got another Philly tradition under my belt. So far we've got Mummers, 4th of July, Phillies Games, the Christmas stuff, Komen 5K and now the Broad Street Run.
I learned a LOT of things during this race. 1) we're all winners. 2) those signs make a difference including the famous little girl with her sign that says 'touch here for power.' 3) I will train and do the race properly next year because 4) it was a miracle I finished under 2:30 (barely). I didn't train like I should have. My longest run before this was 3 miles. I couldn't even run a single mile straight through (though I kind of did during my first Broad Street mile). I think next year it is going to be a lot different because I will be way more prepared.
But I DID IT. I set my mind to it, I had a great supportive friend and I DID IT. It felt great getting the text updates after the race with screenshots of my friends who signed up for my race updates. I've got one more race this year and then I think I'm going to work on body conditioning for awhile. It's Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Breast Cancer 5K. I do it every year. Its my favorite race. Hopefully I'm able to PR again because after Broad Street, anything seems possible.
Until next time...