Remember when I was stoked about running a full three minutes?
Three years – and one pregnancy – later, I killed the Philly 10K, despite wretched humidity and a recovery that took almost a full week.
So I had to put Broad Street Run on my radar, undoubtedly the most historic, exciting, and inspiring race in Philadelphia – and possibly in the country. Each year 40,000 runners race the 10 mile stretch from Einstein Hospital in North Philadelphia, around City Hall, and past the stadiums to the Navy Yard at the tip of South Philadelphia.
It is an experience on every runner’s bucket list and something that can change your entire perspective of Philadelphia.
It’s also a logistical clusterf^&k.
This I knew from my husband’s race experience over the past few years. At 6:30 a.m. thousands of runners pack the subway as the most efficient route to the starting line. From there, runners brave the porto-potty lines (as I learned firsthand, peeing in the bushes is strictly prohibited) and then assemble into massive corrals where an average-paced runner waits a solid 45 minutes to begin. Getting home is that much worse, as you are forced to walk a mile back to the subway and travel back pressed against thousands of sweaty runners. (I lucked out with a ride back from the stadium but hear the alternative is pretty gnarly).
However, once you begin, the streets are lined with cheering sections, live music, hilarious signs, and strangers feeding you orange slices. It’s remarkable to watch the changing of the neighborhoods as you progress, and you will never feel so heartwarmed and enthralled with the community and spirit of Philadelphia.
But 10 miles is still 10 miles – and that bitch is far. Like so far that you are a couple miles in before you see the iconic “Boner is 4Ever” graffiti. So far that it takes 4 miles just to get to Temple University. So far that when you get to the stadium you still have a mile to go. And when you cross through the Navy Yard entrance, you still have a quarter mile to go.
Throughout most of the race I felt pretty good and kept a decent pace. I was able to mark landmarks with friends’ cheering stations and was only mildly frustrated by the bottlenecking around City Hall.
But somewhere around mile 7 I started to feel an unfamiliar pain. Unlike the normal general ache I begin to feel in my feet due to my oddly heavy elephant foot strike, this was an acute pain in the fronts of my soles. It felt like my shoes had worn through and I was running barefoot on hot tar. I don’t know if my foot strike was taking a toll from the distance or my shoes had seen too many miles, but things got rough quick. I was also experiencing a severe case of “chubb rub” between my thighs (which by all accounts have a damn gap thank you very much!)
Around that same time I developed a serious fear of dehydrating and began pausing at every water station, drinking at least 9 cups of warm Gatorade while trying not to swallow my gum.
Despite these pace-killers, South Philadelphia had never seemed so short. Compared to North Philadelphia, it felt like the distance of my high school gymnasium. I repeated my mantra of “The faster you run, the faster you’re done” and sprinted the final mile. Or so I thought, but my chip time begs to differ.
My goal was sub 1:40, which I thought I would crush considering pacing 9:36 in the scorching hot 10K. But alas all that Gatorade got me and I finished at 1:41. Goal of completing 10 miles done, yes. Respectable time by some measure, yes. Perfect, no. But that is just fine with me because I am ONE AND DONE!
I am over the training and the trains. I like running – I just don’t love it enough to put in this kind of effort. What I love is CrossFit – the constantly VARIED intensity training. I prefer the sound of crashing barbells to the serenity of a steady pace. I like my races to be broken up with hurdles and rope climbs and, yes, even burpees.
Sure, I’ll sign up for 5 and 10Ks to go for PRs and have some fun. I just got word that the next Philly10K starts feet from my house and includes a Federal Donuts-infused Shake Shack Custard. I’ll be damned if I’m missing that.
But as for 10 miles or more? I’ve proven I can do it and crossed it off the Bucket List.
And I am never taking this medal off!