I'll make this short as I'm tired and it's been a long day. I wanted to capture some of what I am thinking and feeling about today's 2010 Broad Street Run race in Philadelphia. Here's a quick recap of the day: I woke up at 3am from a weird dream, fell back asleep by around 4am and then my alarm woke me up at 4:35am. My friend Tac and I were out the door by 5:20am. Once on the train, at the first stop I ran into one of the mom's who has a son in my daughter's class at daycare. She and I wished each other luck on the race and that was person #1 I ran into. Throughout the day, I saw 4 people that I knew. Not bad when there's 30,000 people there!
At 15th street in Philadelphia, Tac and I transferred from the El to the subway and it was great seeing all the other runners headed the same way. People in their racing gear, wearing their number bibs, and carrying water. We arrived at the start of the race around 6:30am and walked around, met up with our friends Butch and Jen and here are a few thoughts of what I saw, heard before the race:Wow, were the lines for the bathroom long. No, really, really long.
- I saw Green Man (It's Always Sunny in Phila.). My wife saw him running in the race later in the day and I have no idea how he ran with his face covered in all the heat.
Before I knew it, the race was set to begin. I had moved up to the Yellow Corral (by going to the "Solution Center" and asking how to move up in queue. The young girl took a pen and wrote "Yellow" on my bib. Ha, that was pretty funny) so I got to start the race with my friend Jen. The race started at 8:30am and our group didn't get to crossed the start line until 24 minutes or so after that. Yeah, that's how long it took to clear all the people in front of us.
What amazed me the most in the race was seeing how many people turned out to cheer us on. At the beginning of the race, I passed a Church and the priest (all in his white vestments) and a large group of people cheered us on from the steps in front of the Church. I really appreciated that. I saw people holding signs (I'll have to figure out what "B.O.M.F." really means: Back on My Feet), musicians playing drums, a high school band, a few live bands, drummers, etc. The sheer mass of humanity overwhelmed me. People were everywhere and it was hot. Really hot. I don't have the exact numbers but I believe it was in the 70s during most of the race. I would not be surprised if it was in the 80s by the time I finished.
What helped with the heat is that the fire hydrants were on ever mile or so as sprinklers. The heat would be really draining me and I'd swerve to the right and run through the water. A cold blast would hit me, my vision would drop as my glasses would be covered with water and then I'd be out, feeling the sun and heat on me again. I paced myself very slow because I was concerned about the heat and it was hard to run with so many people around me. A few times I nearly had people bump into me or I had to make a quick correction to avoid jostling into someone.
About two miles in, I suddenly started running on top of cups and realized that I had made it to the first water stop. Thousands of used cups littered the street. I hadn't expected that change in terrain. It wasn't dangerous to run on but you had to pay attention to who was swerving past you to get some water.
My favorite part of the race was at City Hall. The music and the thousands of people lining the streets cheering us on was heart warming. I can't tell you how good it felt to see people cheering us on, yelling at us not to give up and to keep on going. The positive vibes helped a lot as the heat wasn't our friend today. At one point, a woman was screaming and cheering us on with a sign that said, "Keep Going! People are watching." I looked at that from a rather positive point of view in that there were so many people who cared about us during the race. People really wanted us to not give up and to go onward. I had never experienced anything like that before. I saw people who were lining the street and it was as though they wanted us to finish it for them--that they couldn't do it but wanted to be part of the experience by challenging us to push ourselves to our limits.
Ten miles might not seem like a lot, but let me tell you: The heat and the distance made it extremely difficult to finish. At around 7.5 miles in, I had my lowest moment. I was overheated, drenched in sweat and water from the hydrants. It wasn't so much that I wanted to stop, but I just wanted the race to be over. For me, I focus on a couple different things during that time. My coping mechanisms are fairly simple: 1. Look up at something odd. A top of a building,the sky, anything. Just to take my mind off of how tired I am. 2. Say over and over again: "Yes. Yes. Yes." 3. Say: "Let Go and let God." For those who don't know me, I'm a spiritual guy (I differentiate between religious and spiritual). So I'd be running and think: "Let Go, Let God. I am a reed in the weed. I will bend. I will allow God to flow through me and use me as His tool."
Now I know that might sound a bit out there, but, hey, you do what works and, for me, that helped a lot. I never stopped running. I just kept going. At the end, it was crowded, hotter and just plain crazy with all the people. Crossing over the finish line was a bit anti-climatic as my legs didn't want to stop and there was a crush of people in front of me.
All in all I enjoyed the race. It was the after race that I didn't enjoy. Yes, it was so wonderful with how supportive my wife was to me. She helped the kids (and our friends' kids) make shirts that said: "My Daddy Rocked the Broad Street Run."On the back, each kid drew a picture of their parent running the race.
I want to thank my wife with all my heart for her support, help and love. She took on a lot today to help out so that I could be in this race and her patience during my training has been angelic.
At the end of the day, I'm tired but have a sense of satisfaction in that I achieved my goal. Now on to a half-marathon...