Broad Street Weekend

This weekend was awesome! I got to see some of my favorite people, eat delicious food (I miss you, Wegman’s), and kick butt in the biggest 10-mile run in the county. Not too shabby, eh?

I took a half day on Friday to catch a bus to Philly that would get me in at a reasonable hour. At least that was the plan. I was supposed to get in at 8:50pm, but after waiting for the bus for a half hour, making unscheduled stops at Burger King, and taking the most random route through Jersey, I arrived just before 10pm (never again, Bolt Bus).

Late or not, it was still awesome to see Sarah. We had a snack at her place then went to her boyfriends for a late dinner and game sesh (normally I don’t write about daily activities, but he kept making fun of me for blogging so I just HAD to give him a shout-out. So there).

Saturday we went to Dick’s to drool over all the running stuff we were too cheap smart to buy. Let me take a moment here to say that although I have recently become a “runner,” my wardrobe would suggest otherwise. Cotton is the main material in my closet, mainly b/c all the free shirts I’ve been given through college and volunteering are cotton. When you’re running on the cheap, these shirts aren’t half bad. When you’re running in 70+ degree weather, these shirts are shit. So I caved and dropped an assload of money. But now I’m going to look so cute that I’ll want to go running all the time! (at least that’s what I told myself to justify the purchase)

these plus the outfit I wore for the race. didn't come cheap, but how cute is this stuff?

Saturday afternoon we headed into Philly to pick up our race packets. Packet pick-up was at the Linc (Link? Can you tell I’m not an Eagles fan? The whole time I was thinking of the It’s Always Sunny episode when the gang did the tryouts) and it was inSANity. The line was outrageous. It was humid as hell. And people kept asking where the wine expo was (really Philly, a wine expo and a race expo at the same venue on the same afternoon? That’s just cruel).

Saturday night we spent at Michele’s, chasing around her gorgeous babies toddlers (I can’t believe how big they’re getting!) and eating a delicious dinner for our big pre-race meal. We went to bed early, since we would be getting up at 4am (unfortunately, that is not a typo). Or at least, we tried to go to bed early. Sarah was successful (that girl could sleep standing up) but I wasn’t so lucky. I’m not even exaggerating when I say I probably got an hour of sleep. Nerves, anxiety, excitement; whatever you want to call it, that shit kept me up all night. I was lying there, contemplating waking Sarah up and asking her if she was having trouble sleeping (a tactic I use on B sometimes), and imagining myself falling asleep somewhere around mile six, falling down, and get trampled in the stampede of runners. Needless to say, those calming thoughts were unable to drift me to sleep.

Sunday morning break down:

4am: Alarm goes off, laughing in my face. I make some tea, hoping to get things moving (if you’re a runner, you know what I mean. TMI? Maybe. But not compared to what’s coming)

5am: We’re on our way to Philly!

5:45am: We park and start shedding the items we don’t need. There were gear-checks available, but none of us wanted to have to check a bag, so we wore only what we would be running in. Michele decided being warm was worth more than her hoodie, and wore it all morning, planning on ditching it somewhere along the course.

early morning parking lot pics

cold but excited!

6:00am: We board an express train to the starting line. Not all trains were running express, so this was a definite advantage. Getting there super early has its perks!

6:20am: We get to the starting area and realize we have over two hours to kill. Getting there super early has its drawbacks...

6:30am: We go to McDonalds to use the bathroom so we don’t have to succumb to the porta-potties just yet. Brilliant, yes. Original, no. We were in line for about 10 minutes before Sarah felt bad and bought a water and an OJ.

6:50am: Woman leaving the bathroom mumbles something about the toilet not flushing (yes, we were standing in line for a single stall). We knew it was only a matter of time before the men’s room was out-of-order, so we cut our losses and left.

7:00am: We reach a cluster of porta-potties with minimal lines. We do our business, and are all disgusted at the fact that there’s no hand sanitizer. At least I was disgusted at this fact. Sarah and Michele, who have done more races than I have, seemed to take it in stride. I said hell to the no, we needed to get some hand sanitizer up in here.

7:10am: We walk along Broad Street, looking for a CVS. We see a gas station a few blocks away, which looks like our only option. At the gas station Sarah gets some hand sanitizer, Michele gets the biggest cup of coffee she can find, and all three of us get accosted by a homeless man. He had a pretty sneaky tactic, asking us about the race to get us talking, and we were pretty excited until he turned a 180 and solicited us for money, which, at that point, was hard to ignore, since he knew we weren’t mutes.

7:15am: Leave the brilliant homeless man and head back toward the starting line. When I say starting line, I mean our corral, which was actually nowhere near the starting line. Even though we registered at the same time, Michele and I were in the yellow corral (second to last), and Sarah somehow ended up in the pink corral (dead last). This was no issue, since we aren’t speedsters.

7:20am: Wander around, trying to get warm. It’s freezing out. The weatherman straight-up lied to us. Clear and sunny with a high of 72 my ass. It’s currently overcast, threatening to pour any minute, and it can’t be warmer than 60. My new compression shorts and wicking tee can’t save me from this.

7:25am: We walk towards an area crowded w/ runners, seeing what all the hype is about. No hype. Just a bunch of runners sitting on bleachers and milling around waiting for the porta-potty.

7:30am: Some woman all jacked up on coke overly excited runner gets on stage to lead us in some pre-race stretching. Arms and legs narrowly miss us as we hightail it out of there.

7:45am: We line up at the end of the yellow corral, figuring the time will fly as we wait for the race to start.

7:46am: see timestamp 7:45am

7:47: see above

You get the picture. Time is not flying. We’re cold and antsy, ready to start. I feel bad b/c Sarah is uber excited and trying to pump us up, but I’m just not feeling it. I haven’t been able to go to the bathroom, if you get my drift. Forget being trampled in a running stampede; getting to mile six and having to pull over in a porta-potty is my worst fear. With my luck, I wouldn’t even make it to mile six. And I definitely wouldn’t make it to the porta-potty in time. Okay, TMI, I’m sorry. You get my mood at this point.

8:30 comes and goes without making any kind of difference for the slow runners us. Our corral is getting more and more crowded and I’m starting to get excited. It’s hitting me that this is it.

It’s just after 9am and we’ve inched up slowly but surely when Michele says that she can’t wait anymore and wants to do a quick pit stop before we cross the start line and our time chips activate. I don’t know if its nerves or I actually have to go, but Sarah and I agree that this is a good idea. My digestive tract FINALLY gets the memo and comes through (isn’t it amazing what your body can do when it has to?)

We get back to our corral, which has hardly moved. We’re smiling and clapping and jumping around, in good spirits and ready to do this. We inch up and stop right before the starting line. We’re the last wave of runners. The Rocky theme music is pumping out of some nearby speakers. The gun sounds and we’re off!

We had agreed to stay together for as long as we could, then break off as needed. Around the first mile mark, Michele and I lost Sarah. She’s had long-standing issues with her achilles and didn’t want to push too hard, too soon (but would end up kicking ass, obv).

Michele and I ran together, chatting and encouraging each other the whole time. It was awesome. We were kind of salty about the fact that the moderators had told us no iPods, but everyone and their mom had headphones on. It didn’t matter, though. Her company was better than any music I could have had. Spectators lined the street and cheered us on, holding up signs and applauding our efforts. The water stations were all well-staffed, and the volunteers were a great source of support. I’ve never cared much for the original Gatorade flavor, but around mile six or so, when Gatorade was offered at the water stations, let me tell you, I’ve never tasted anything so delicious.

Michele kept telling me if I felt like I could, to break off and not worry about it. Girl, please. She was keeping me going, not the other way around. I told her if I got a burst of speed, it wouldn’t be before the final quarter mile or so. The miles flew by and before I knew it we were in the home stretch. We passed the 9-mile marker and shit started to get real. My shirt, sweaty and disgusting, seemed to weigh an extra 20 pounds. My legs wanted me to sit down RIGHT NOW. My feet didn’t want to do anything ever again. There was a sign marking 9.5 and I thought “Are you fucking kidding me? That was only a half mile?!” When we could finally see the finish line, Michele told me to go. “Run like they’re chasing you!” she shouted, and I broke off. I felt like I was sprinting (but by that point, I probably wasn’t running very fast). It was the home stretch, the most spectator-heavy area of the race. I finished strong and turned around. Michele was seconds behind me and gave me the biggest hug.

We got our medals and were shuffled along with the rest of the runners toward the food tents. We had planned to meet up with Sarah before such tents. Not even ten minutes later, we saw her. There was a lot of sweaty hugging going on, and it was all good. Michele and I finished in 1 hour, 37 minutes, and Sarah finished in 1 hour, 47 minutes. We did it!

We barely had time to revel in our accomplishment b/c I had to catch a bus back to Boston. The next hour or so was the worst kind; literally sitting in traffic. Not stop-and-go. Not inching forward ever so slowly. Sitting. Several times Michele and I got out to get items out of the trunk b/c we knew we were in no danger of going anywhere. Philly may have made some questionable decisions regarding that race, but the biggest one was scheduling a Sixers home game at 1pm when 40,000 runners were trying to leave the sport complex parking lots.

Somehow I made my bus. Somehow the kid next to me didn’t kick me out of my seat (I don’t think they make a body spray strong enough to mask my stank). Somehow we made it back to Boston w/in ten minutes of our ETA. Way to redeem yourself, Bolt Bus.

If you’re a fairly new runner, Broad Street is a great course for your first big run. It’s relatively flat and there are no twists and turns to navigate; just a ten mile stretch of road. I can’t thank Michele enough for the great company and encouragement for ten miles. I can’t thank Sarah for pushing me to do it in the first place. And for handling my slight panic attack. And for buying the Fiber One. Good call.

don't think I won't wear this lounging around the house, on an as-needed basis