Another Race? Broad Street 10 Miler

You might be thinking to yourself, “didn’t she just run a half marathon last weekend and PR? Why is she racing again?” Well, those thoughts would be correct. Sometimes I’m smart, but most of the time I’m not.

The Broad Street 10 Miler in Philadelphia is a race that has always been on my radar. So when a bunch of my friends from college decided they wanted to run it this year, I couldn’t help but throw my name into the lottery with them. I had friends from high school, college, and post-college (should I call that “adulthood?”) all signed up for the race, so I knew it would be a good time. Since I was originally shooting to PR at the Shamrock Half, I thought there would be plenty of time between the two races. Thanks to my ITB issues in January I pushed back my PR half marathon attempt, leaving it just one week before Broad Street. At first I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I just skip the run? Run it easy? Eventually I decided to run, but wasn’t really sure what my running plan would be up until I started running.

I had little expectations going into the race. Since I raced last weekend, I knew pushing my body to the same effort level was not smart. It helped that my PR for this distance was over two years old, so I knew I wouldn’t have to push hard (or at all, really) to beat it. That helped to quell my inner competitor a bit and allowed me to have a more relaxed approach to the race. I stayed at my friend’s apartment the night before and slept on her pull-out couch, I didn’t do anything fancy for dinner or breakfast, and I didn’t get to the race until about 20 minutes before it was supposed to start (which was a bit stressful).

While waiting in my corral for the start, I was kept quite entertained by men doing static stretching (tisk, tisk), a guy dropping to the ground and doing a handful of push-ups multiple times, and other antics. It was the perfect distraction from being chilly and wanting the race to just start. The forecast had predicted a relatively warm and sunny day, but by the time we started it was overcast and quite cool. I had my (sweet) sunglasses with me, but decided to hold them in my hand and hope that the sun would come out eventually. At about 8:25am the wheelchair corral was off, and 5 minutes later right at 8:30 the elites and red corral were sent on their way. By 8:33 I was crossing the start of my first Broad Street Run!

Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race
Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race

Per the usual, I took off at the start and made my way to the left side of the road in a comfortable spot. I’d heard nightmares about how crowded and bottle-necked the start and other parts of the race can be due to the nearly 40,000 participants, so I wanted to make sure early on that I had enough room to breathe. Since I was in the second corral and Broad Street is really wide and there were no real turns, I never experienced any overcrowding. While you would think a straight-shot race may be boring, it was quite the opposite. There were plenty of spectators, and the undulation in the road provided a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the sea of people up ahead. My first mile was way too fast and the next two were slower, but still too fast (6:58, 7:05, 7:11), and I knew I needed to slow down.

After passing the 3.1 in just about my current 5k PR, I made a conscious effort to slow. The next four miles were 7:18, 7:13, 7:21, 7:17. It was difficult to actually get myself to slow down enough. I’d lower my effort, and somehow I’d look down at my watch and be running faster than before. It was frustrating because I knew I needed to be running slower, yet my body wouldn’t let me. Of course that sounds like one of those “that’s not a bad problem to have!” situations, but I really didn’t want to be pushing my body too much. My effort was probably at around 90%, when it really should have been no more than 80%. It wasn’t until mile 8 where I actually slowed down to the pace I should have been running the whole race. My fast start combined with the sun and heat (which made an appearance around mile 2) were finally catching up to me. Under normal circumstances I would have been upset that I slowed so significantly from the start to finish of the race, but I was actually relieved! The last three miles were 7:38, 7:43, and 7:35. I crossed the finish line in 1:13:41 – a new PR by 10 minutes!

University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?
University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?

After the race I quickly found my friend from high school and her fellow Central Park Track Club Runners. After that I was able to find Hollie and chat with her for a few minutes before making my way to the port-o-potties to change out of my sopping wet racing clothes. As I was coming out I heard a “Danielle!” and turned to see Oiselle teammate Danielle waiting in line herself! By the time I made it back to the designated meeting place, my friends started to arrive. They all had great races themselves, and it’s fun to look at us now – running road races after spending so many years in the pool as swimmers! We had a great brunch at Fado after scaling a mud wall and hopping over a highway divide to get to the subway. I even got to stop at Whole Foods on the way home! It was  a great weekend with some of my best friends from college with a side of running – what more could I ask for?

I have a week of some more base building before getting started on some 5k work. I can’t wait for summer!

Automatic PR

Whenever I run, I’m in competition with myself. Whether I’m out for a jog, doing a tempo workout, or running a race, I’m constantly comparing myself to… myself. I’m the kind of person that internalizes all of my competition, and in moments where I perceive potential failure, I break down. A great example of this would be last Sunday’s St. Paddy’s 10 miler that was hosted by the Freehold Running Club.

One of my dad’s coworkers is a board member of the club, so knowing that both myself and my husband run, she suggested we come run the race free of charge. I couldn’t help but jump at the offer, with all the expensive races we seem to always be signing up for. Plus, both myself and my husband had a 10 mile run on the schedule as our long run, so it worked out perfectly. Since my husband’s knee has been bothering him, he decided to run with me which always makes me happy. Once again, it’s a good thing he did, because I nearly gave up around mile 8.5.

The race conditions were far from perfect – it was chilly and raining on and off. Despite that, we were able to keep around a 7:50-8 pace for the first 8 miles or so. Then it happened. I got one of those side cramps that’s deep within your organs, where the only way it doesn’t hurt is to apply massive amounts of pressure to the area. While I was doing that, it was difficult to run, and apparently I was pressing really hard – I totally have a bruised stomach now. While in pain, I started to doubt myself. I watched people I had strategically picked off earlier in the race run past me, as I was forced to a crawl. Whining about how I couldn’t do it, the husband told me to stop trying to run, walk for a few seconds, and to try again. After trying that 3-4 times for about a mile, I was able to ignore the pain enough to run the last half mile.

Me & the hubs!

Since I slowed down so much the last mile and a half, our sub 8 minute pace crept up to an average of about 8:18, having us finish in 1:23:09. Crossing the finish line I was extremely frustrated, knowing that I could have full well finished under 1:20 if I hadn’t gotten that cramp. By then, the cramp had gone and I felt far from tired – I wanted to go back and re-do that last portion of the race. Since neither myself or my husband ever place high enough in races, we didn’t stick around for the awards ceremony – I grabbed some water, the husband grabbed some chicken noodle soup, and we headed to a nearby dinner for brunch with my parents.

When we were leaving, I remember saying “I wonder how I placed. I think I came in the top 10 probably in my age group,” to which my husband replied “Eh, I don’t know about that.” I didn’t think much about it, but after getting home I decided to check out the results. Even though I wound up finishing at around 100, I came in 3rd in my age group! After seeing the first and second finisher’s times (1:20), I realized if I hadn’t cramped I would have easily came in first, but that’s neither here nor there – I can’t believe I actually placed! Since we left before the award ceremony, my dad’s coworker was kind enough to take the award for me and bring it to work.

Aside from the cramp, I think this race is a good indication that I can easily go under 2 hours at next month’s half marathon. Fingers crossed!