Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge Pre-Race:
Just to give a bit of back-story here, a week prior to the race I got a bit of a cramp in my left hamstring at the tail end of my last 20 miler. It had been improving all week and I got in my 17 miler in the day prior to race day (Sat.) so I could “Run the Bridge” on Sunday and still get in all my training for the week. All things considered I didn’t have any expectations other than to get in as much speed work as possible without injury since the Philadelphia Marathon was in two weeks.
The race starts at the base of the Ben Franklin bridge and finishes in Campbell’s Field (Home of the Camden RiverSharks minor league baseball team). Since the course goes right past the parking lots of Campbell’s, road closures were to start around 7AM for an 8:30AM start. I got there a little before 7AM, went into the stadium briefly and then stayed in my warm car until about 7:45 (temps that morning were around 40 degrees). Got my warm-ups done and then headed to the start with the other runners just after 8AM since it’s a good half-mile walk from the field to the start line.
Cooper Norcross Run the Bridge Race Start:
It’s probably the cold weather that makes it seem longer but you feel like your standing out there on the bridge forever waiting for the gun to go off. There was no wind or rain so we were all grateful for that. I purposely stayed back about 15 or so rows so I wouldn’t be tempted to take off. When the gun fired I went out at a brisk pace, waiting to see what my hamstring was thinking that morning. Also with a good ¾ mile uphill climb right out of the gate I wasn’t planning on sprinting out with the rabbits.
Miles 1 thru 3: The first 3 miles are the out and back on the bridge. After about ¼ mile I felt great so I cranked it up until my breathing was the limiting factor (which is a typical tactic for me for 5ks and 10ks). I was managing 6:15 to 6:20’s on the uphill sides and sub 6’s on the downhills. I was surprised I was maintaining those paces so I just went with it and rode it as long as I could. The sun was coming out so the temps were pretty ideal.
Mile 4: The race was pretty much flat approaching mile 4 onward. At this point in a 10k you realize that the folks you’re running with are going to be near you for the rest of the race. The pack I was with looked like a mix of Masters men and one of the top women runners. As two of us were passing a little kid, he was counting “41…42..” I turned to the guy running next to me and said “I guess were are 41st and 42nd” We both got in a quick chuckle, I also commented that the kid was probably going to bail on the counting once he got to 200 or so.
Miles 5 and 6: Camden is not very scenic, so not much to comment here. I was maintaining about a 6:15 pace and as I passed mile 5 I knew I had a sub-40 well in hand. Then the overcautious voice in my head started telling me “Hey, don’t do anything stupid dummy!” and “Don’t risk an injury two weeks before Philly!” So I dialed it back slightly (Mile 6 wound up around 6:20).
Finish: Running on to Campbell’s Field was fun and the Finishers Medal was really well designed. My official time was 39 minutes flat. I was so pumped about breaking 40 that had I realized how close I was to breaking 39 I wouldn’t have eased up as much in the last mile. Post race snack bag and a free massage topped off the event.