I hate to sound like a hipster, but the 2012 Broad Street Run (in comparison with the 2010 and 2011 events) seems to have gotten too popular for its own good. Apparently everyone is a runner now. And while I’m happy to see people getting healthy and taking up such a wonderful hobby, the masses made this year’s BSR a bit of a logistical nightmare.
It started back in February. This year’s race registration was a huge mess, with failing websites and frustrated runners. The 30,000+ capacity race sold out in less than five hours. I spent all morning sitting by my computer hitting refresh and re-entering my info, hoping it would go through. For those that weren’t as lucky as I was to get a slot, the organizers ended up increasing capacity and holding a second-chance lottery. I thought the headaches were over with, until it came time for packet pickup.
For the last two years, I have been able to walk right up to a table, grab my bib and t-shirt, and walk the expo floor, all in just a few minutes. This year, the expo was a crowded nightmare. I closely followed twitter updates of runners waiting in line when the expo opened. Wait times were coming in just under two hours, with lines out the door and around the block! I waited until there seemed to be a lull before heading over. It took me 30 minutes to get my bib, which is much better than I had expected. I am not sure why the expo was such a fiasco this year. Perhaps the increased race capacity was too much to handle. I’d suggest next year the organizers add another day to the expo in hopes of spreading out pick-ups over a longer time. I also noticed the expo was only open until 6 pm on friday… making it tough for anyone who has a job to get there before closing.
With the bibs picked up, it was time to focus on the race. I was cleared by my physical therapist to start running again exactly 10 days before the race, which didn’t leave a lot of time to train. I ran a few miles or did spin class every morning leading up to race weekend. I fit in a long run of six miles the week before the race. The six miles was harder than it should’ve been, and resulted in an asthma attack, but it still gave me the assurance that I’d be ok doing 10. Based on my very limited training, I wasn’t looking to PR this race, but I was hoping to come in around my time from last year. I also developed a kidney infection right before race weekend, and I wasn’t sure how that would impact my time. With all that in mind, I wasn’t putting a lot of pressure on myself.
Race morning finally came, and I gathered my fellow running friends and headed to the starting line. Prior to arriving at the race, I was extremely annoyed with the entire 2012 BSR process. I was convinced this would be my last year running Broad Street. But once we arrived, I remembered why I love this race so much. There were so many familiar faces running this year. I made sure I signed up in the same corral (green) as Jordan this year so we could start together. It’s a wonderful sense of community you get from doing something like this with so many friends. Standing at the starting line with 40,000 other runners while the Rocky theme blares over the loudspeakers still gives me chills. And this race has more spectators than any other race I’ve done. You see so much of the city, from North to South, and neighbors from all around gather to cheer you on. The volunteers are energetic. The signs are funny. You can high five the mayor at the starting line and catch up with the Eagles mascot along the course. And you end your 10 miles with a soft pretzel. It’s really just a Philly thing. And despite the frustrations with the influx of new runners this year, I still love it.
Since this is a fun race, I decided to dress up a bit and wore a tutu. It was actually Matt’s tutu from the Atlantic City Half Marathon, which made it an easy (read lazy) costume choice. Matt wore a kilt. We both got lots of funny looks while hanging out around the starting area. Not as many people dressed up this year. I would imagine a lot of participants were new runners and took it a bit more seriously. But every race I do in a weird outfit reaffirms that it definitely makes the race better. People call out along the course and cheer for you and compliment your costume. And it just makes people smile. It definitely helps the miles go by more quickly.
The weather was a bit cooler than it was forecasted to be, but it was actually perfect for running. Not too warm or sunny. I started out feeling pretty good, and running my splits around 9:30, which is a little better than I had expected. I ran into a friend around mile three and ran with him for a bit before deciding that I needed to start looking for a port-a-pot. I almost never have to make pit stops during races. It’s such a time waster, but I couldn’t avoid it. Dumb kidneys. I saw a row of port-a-pots behind some buses near mile five that didn’t have a line. It was a fairly quick break, although trying to finagle the tutu took a bit longer than I would have liked. I ended up delaying myself about three minutes according to the splits. I learned from my Napa mistake and didn’t try to make up for lost time after I got back on the course. Around mile 6.5, I reached for my Chomps to refuel. I had a rough time opening the package for some reason, but they went down fine. I grabbed a water at the next stop to help wash it down. I can never tell if what I eat during a race actually helps, or if it’s just a placebo effect. At any rate, I was feeling pretty good coming into the home stretch.
Right as you reach the stadiums, the course begins to narrow and the crowds pack in as you hit the last mile and start to make your way into the Naval Yard. This is always my favorite part of the race. I tried to pick up the pace, but there were a lot of other runners slowing down (why?!) around me, which made it difficult. According to my watch, I managed to come in with a 8:30 final mile. My final time was 1:42:29, which breaks out to 10:15 miles. I only came in 2.5 minutes behind last year’s time. Considering the circumstances, I was really pleased with my finish time.
Congrats to all my super speedy friends who PR’d this race (Jen, Jordan, Matt)! And congrats to all the runners who just completed their first 10-miler! A special thank you to Bianca and Kim, who did this lovely piece on a few Broad Street runners for 215 Magazine. Lots of amazing pictures from our riverside photoshoot, with more to come!
I am pretty relieved that this is the end of spring race season for me. I have a couple 5ks coming up, but no bigger races until September. I’m finally healthy again and ready to start training for the NYC Marathon! I plan on focusing on strength and interval training for a while, then start my running routine again in the summer. To get a jump-start on my new healthier routine, I’m currently in the middle of the 3-day Catalyst Cleanse. So far I am surviving, and I will definitely blog about it when I’m done.