Oh boy. This is gonna be a long one. Let me just say-Broad Street did not disappoint at all. This was probably one of the most fun races I have done in a long time. And I intend to be back. But to back up…
My regular readers probably know that I was targeting Broad Street as my spring “A” race-I was working my way back from a calf injury and not really up to doing a half-marathon…and I had never done a 10-mile race before!!
Even though I didn’t say em publicly-I had goals. And I can say what they are now:
Main “I’d be happy” goal-1:20 to 1:21ish-which would be in line with my recent 4-mile race.
Secret stretch goal-sub-1:20
Uber secret super stretch goal-beat my “unofficial 10-mile PR” of 1:19:09 (first 10 miles of the Vegas Half.) This I felt would only happen if the stars were aligned…
So anyway, a couple of encouraging recent speed workouts left me feeling like I was ready to “pop a good one.” I was ready, the only thing concerning me was the weather report…
Saturday morning, I make my trip to Philly. Subway to Penn. NJ Transit to Trenton. SEPTA to Suburban Station. Easy peasy, right? I’m sure you can guess which was the weak link here. Yep, it was the one and only NJ Transit. As the train headed towards Trenton, NJ Transit kept doing their NJ Transit thing-it kept slipping further and further behind schedule and left us in jeopardy of not making the connection at Trenton. And we had to run for it once there. What was supposed to be about 10 minutes to make the connecting train was less than 1 minute. But make it I did, and they did even hold the train a coupla minutes. First stroke of good luck for the weekend…
Got to my hotel in Center City which-I didn’t realize it at the time, but I could not have picked a better location. Was not even 5 minutes from Suburban Station, from the shuttle bus to the expo, right in the middle of everything-so convenient. Oh and my favorite part-on every floor they actually had a water cooler and bottles to put the water in-so no having to buy bottled water-it’s like they catered to runners or something 🙂 Anyway, dropped my stuff in the room and went to hit the expo. Only thing I did not like about the expo was you had to go to one end to get your bib, then all the way to the other end to get the T-shirt…I bet it was their sneaky way of making sure that everyone sees all the booths :-p Actually didn’t spend too much money-and really wanted to stay off my feet. Later, me and Flyer NH hit up Buca di Beppo for dinner (same place we went to the night before the SF Half too!) A little pasta, a little merlot-all was well-and time to rest up!!
Race day!! I woke up too early as usual-had to have a cup of coffee, have a bagel with white chocolate peanut butter, get dressed, stretch, hydrate, make sure I have everything…and left my room a little after 6:30…a little on the early side, but I had heard horror stories about the SEPTA train on race day. I stopped by Starbucks to get a concoction that did work in SF-coffee with a shot of vanilla syrup. Walked the couple of blocks to the subway and didn’t even have to wait long for a train. (And gotta love that I was able to ride the train for free but just showing my race bib!) We got to the start area by 7:15-in plenty of time!! Better to kill time than sit on the train and stress, methinks. So I hit up the port-a-johns, stretched for a bit, then went to the baggage busses to drop off my bag…and who do I see? Crazy Bandanahead. Yep, he was there running the race with a friend of his. We chatted for a couple minutes before they headed towards the start. Before I checked my bag though I had to make a decision-to iPod or not to iPod? Even though I had a good playlist…I leaned towards no. Although it had stayed dry so far, there was still the 30% chance of rain-and also I had good results in my last race without the iPod. But I did have to listen to my lucky song-“Pocketful of Sunshine” by Natasha Bedingfield. My last 2 races, I’ve heard that song before leaving my apartment, so it’s become my lucky song 🙂
Warmed up a little bit and then lined up near the front of the 8 minute group with Crazy Bandanahead 🙂 We both could not believe the crowds-over 20,000 people there!! The announcer said that probably the following year they would move to a corral system-which would be a good thing…the “honor” system doesn’t work!! As the race start drew closer I didn’t have the nervousness I usually feel…I was strangely calm. Hmmm. The horn sounded and I crossed the start line…about 2 and a half minutes later. The speakers were blasting “Eye of the Tiger”…nice song to kick things off!!
My plan for the race was as follows-take it easy on mile 1, miles 2-6 are for pacing, 7-10 are for racing. I did have to do a bit of weaving in and out of slower runners, but I kept it easy, not even breathing hard…that was rewarded with an 8:00 mile 1-I was actually relieved!! Then I just decided to pick it up a tiny bit, but to a pace I thought I could maintain for 10 miles, and even pick it up at the end…which turned out to be in the 7:45 range, give or take a second or 2. Miles 2-5 really seemed to fly by, before I knew it City Hall was in my sights…was fun running through all the different neighborhoods, but just also knowing I was having a good day…maybe the stars were going to align for this one!! Hit 5 miles in 39:03…1:19 was definitely doable, as was 1:18…but could I run a negative split and do 1:17? Let’s find out!!
Took a gel during mile 6 as we were approaching City Hall…didn’t know if I’d need it, but it couldn’t hurt. We finished with the one turn (or turns) of the race around City Hall, back onto Broad Street and hit the mile 6 marker…OK, time to get to work.
Miles 7 and 8 were both 7:41…a little faster, but I was definitely tiring. A guy wearing a maroon shirt came up alongside me and said “good pace.” Thank you Mr. Maroon-and you are going to be my rabbit for the remainder of the race. For those last coupla miles…I really had to play some mental mind games. You made it this far. 1:17 is so within your reach. You got it, just do the work. It’s not even 20 minutes to go…let’s go!!! Mile 9 was a tiny bit better at 7:39…and Mile 10 actually had a hill in it!! OK, so minor compared to, say, Mile 13 in the Queens half, but it was still at a time when I did not want one. I really tried to go all out here…but dammit, another sidestitch snuck up!! Breathe. Breathe. 5 minutes to go and then you can stop. With about a half-mile to go, I came up behind and passed another runner I knew from NYC…was surprised as she is usually way in front of me!! Finally, saw the Navy Yard Gate meaning a quarter mile to go…and nope, did not fall for that as being the finish line!! (I had many warnings!) Got closer and closer and saw the finish line…and the clock…dammit, looked like I was gonna miss out on sub-1:20 on the clock. But finish strong. The runner I just passed passed me back (but shouted out encouragement to me)…she had a good kick going but I couldn’t match it. No worries-I just ran my fastest mile of the race anyways (7:34) and more than achieved my uber-secret super stretch goal!!
Yes kiddos…that was a 1:17:30 (7:45 pace)…and a pretty cool negative split too-39:03/38:27!
I was quite sore at the end-especially my quads! But very happy.
Hmm…and a certain someone said to me when I told him last year that I wanted to run this race and shoot for a good time, that I “shouldn’t get my hopes up” because “I may get disappointed.” Ummm yeah…what you said. (OK granted we were both drinking at the time. But still.)
And how great was it that there was no rain, the weather was absolutely perfect…talk about the stars aligning.
I couldn’t stay too long afterwards-had a noon checkout at my hotel. Grabbed some water and Gatorade, a pretzel and my food bag…headed to the baggage buses to claim my bag and then to the shuttle bus to take us to the subway. And we got free subway fare again!! Cool.
Quickly showered, packed, checked out, got something to eat, left Philly at 1:05 pm…didn’t get into Penn Station until a little after 6. (That’s an adventure for another post, don’t want it to detract from the race report!)
What a great race!! First off, was very well executed-especially for the size of the field! The city really gets into it as the support is great…and oh yeah, the fact that it’s a very flat and fast course doesn’t hurt either. Makes me wonder what I’d be capable of on other flat courses!! But I was very proud of the execution-I kept things in check at the beginning, kept on pace for the first half, picked up the effort when I needed to, pushed through the pain when I needed to.
So on what was a cloudy morning in Philly…this race was definitely my “pocketful of sunshine.”
“The sun is on my side
Takes me for a ride
I smile up to the sky
I know I’ll be alright…”