Thursday, May 7, 2009

A rainy run day

So, yes, the Broad Street Run. I did it.

Oh, you want to know more? Well then, here goes.

The Buildup

As I mentioned before, my mom and sister flew in from Indiana to join G, me, and our friend Jim on the run. They arrived Friday night. Saturday we prepared for our carbo-loading party. We had various in-laws and friends come by, and we served broccoli rabe pizza on whole wheat pizza dough as an appetizer and pasta with olive oil, garlic, and basil as the main course. My mom made a coconut cake which we tried not to pork out on too much.

Race Day Morning

Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5:45 am. The four of us took turns in the bathroom while we sipped coffee and ate our breakfast of choice for a run. Mine was a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Then we slathered ourselves in body glide, pinned on our numbers, and hit the subway. The ride was free for racers, so thank you city of Philadelphia. With every stop, tons of fit looking people in athletic clothes crammed in. My mom and I were getting a little nervous looking at all the racers--I didn't see anyone close to my weight, and my mom didn't see anyone near her age. Truthfully, though, I wasn't nervous. I felt like I didn't have anything to prove. I had done the training, and this was just another run.

Bathroom Stuff

When we emerged from the subway, it really hit us how many people were running (over 22,000). Jim and my sister took off for their starting corralls. G had signed up for the last corrall without really thinking--he could have moved up, but decided to just start in the grey group. However, we needed a pit stop before the race. Here's the thing--everything about the race was smoothly run and nicely planned except for the port-a-potty situation. You'd think for 22,000 people you'd try to get a couple hundred toilets, right? I didn't count, but I don't think there were more than 50. The lines were insane, backing up to the far side of Broad Street, weaving through all the corrals. As we waited and waited, the clock crept closer and closer to starting time. We decided not to worry about it since our times wouldn't start til our chips crossed the start line, but it was still kind of stressful to see the racers inching, then surging, forward, while we waited for our chance to pee. Those bathrooms were absolutely disgusting, too.

Ready, Set, Go!

Because of all that, we started at the absolute back of the pack. Ahead of us was a mile long wall of bodies, and behind us were one or two stragglers. The good thing about this scenario was that it let us feel like we were passing more people than were passing us. As we crossed the starting line, the mayor was there urging us on. I took the opportunity to yell at him not to allow casinos in the city, my pet issue. My mom laughed, G sped ahead of us, and we were off.

All About My Mother

My mom is 51 years old, and weighs about what she did in high school. G says she is the most healthy person he knows. All I know is that I have been training for this race for months and she has not. Nonetheless, she kept pace with me the entire time. In fact, she easily walked next to me while I ran. Having her beside me was the absolute best thing I could have hoped for. We took it nice and slow, enough so that we were able to chat and make jokes. I do not know where she gets her energy, but I want some. I plodded along with my head down, just trying to keep moving. My mom, on the other hand, was skipping, jumping, high-fiving the spectators, thanking them for their encouragement, waving her hands in the air--I've never seen anything like it.

Steady On

Once we got moving, the miles passed pretty quickly. We ran through the grimy streets of North Philadelphia, then past Temple University, where I spend most of my days. At some point we were able to make out City Hall through the mist, and eventually we ran around it. From there, we ran down the Avenue of the Arts and all the performance venues, then hit South Philly (aka My Hood). When we passed my street, about 7 miles into the race, we joked about peeling off and heading home, but we kept going. I anticipated that the last stretch would be miserable. In some ways, it was. We could see people who had finished the race heading back up Broad Street, and every part of me was beginning to ache. But the miles kept coming.

I really owe a debt to everyone who stood out in the rain and cheered for us. Some people were there with groups, and there was one particularly annoying woman with a megaphone who was urging us to vote for her candidate in between her shouts of encouragement. But there were also little old ladies in wheelchairs and people standing by themselves with signs. I don't know what convinced them to come out into the rain and watch people run by for hours, but I really appreciated it. I drew a lot of energy from their cheers. Sometimes I yelled back at them, like when one woman said, "Start running, folks, the end is close!" I yelled back, "I AM running!"

The Finish Line

Finally we passed ths sports complexes and saw the Navy Yard in the distance. My mom told me to go on ahead, but she still stayed next to me until the very end. I knew that you had to keep going about a quarter mile after entering the Navy Yard so I tried to pace myself. But once we entered, I just couldn't go slowly any more. My legs picked up speed of their own accord, and my arms started pumping. I saw people on the sidelines pointing at me, noting my sprint. I saw the finish line, and between it and me, a group of about 5 girls. I charged, plain and simple. I wanted my name above theirs on the results list. In the last second, I crossed the line right before them, feeling like a total champion.

My mom came through about 20 seconds behind me, and we quickly found the rest of our party, who were chilled to the bone by that point. We grabbed some snacks, and then set off for the mile walk to the subway. Honestly, that mile was by far the most difficult, painful part of the whole day. When we climbed down the stairs into the station, I had to take them sideways and one at a time. But eventually we got home. Jim, ever the patient one, chewed some Ibuprofen gel caps and washed them down with beer. I swallowed mine, and then had a bit of coffee. We all showered, warmed up, and headed out for a well-deserved burger and fries.

The Results

Jim's time was the quickest, then G, then my sister. They all did under 10-minute miles. My mom and I finished in 2 hours and 13 minutes, just under 13.5 minutes miles. My main goal was just to finish, but I had hoped to do it in under 13.5 minute miles, so everything worked out perfectly. If you had asked me around mile 8 whether I would ever do this again, the answer would be an unequivocable NO. But then I watched the Biggest Loser the other night and they ran a marathon. Hmmm.... : )


I hadn't said this clearly: I did run the whole thing. It was slow, but there was no walking involved.


  1. Congratulations on the run! I think it's even greater that you ran the entire thing!

  2. Congratulations on running the race!

  3. Thanks folks! May it be the first of many!