Broad Street Run Pre-Race:
In the interest of full disclosure, I had no idea what was going to happen at this race. I’ve scheduled my races this year around my two marathons along with the Mid-Atlantic USATF Grand Prix races since my running team competes in those events. The Philadelphia Broad Street Run is one of those USATF events and when I saw that it was three weeks after Boston I winced as I pressed ‘send’ on the email telling my team captain I was running in it. I normally like to have at least a good month after a marathon to fully recover and even though I have bounced back quicker after each marathon over the past year, three weeks was cutting it tight.
I looked through the race guide a few days before race day and I saw a reference to the “over 37,000 runners” that were registered for the race. The last time I ran Broad Street back in 2005 there were 12,000 runners and the past few years there were about 25,000 each year. Increasing the field size 50% in one year seemed like a recipe for a logistical disaster so I planned my weekend with that in mind.
Packet pickup options allowed for a Friday or Saturday pickup. Trying to avoid having to drive into Philly on Saturday I decided to take a long lunch to see if I could run over and grab it on Friday since I figured most runners would come on Saturday…big mistake. I wound up standing in line for over 30 minutes before I had to leave for a meeting. Never even got indoors. Saturday morning I got there right around the time the expo opened and was in line for only 25 minutes since the line was moving well. I feel sorry for the folks that got there later.
If Philly is intent on making this a big race nationally then they should plan the expo accordingly. Having it at Lincoln Financial Field (Home of the Philadelphia Eagles) is a good start but they didn’t utilize the available space well. Once you got into the stadium the section that housed the expo was fairly narrow and only allowed enough space for the vendors and about one lane of traffic going in each direction. It made for a lot of congestion. Also they staged bib pickup and t-shirt pickup at opposite ends of the expo to force you to walk past the vendors twice. I’ve seen this done at a few races and I think it’s bush league. If you give the runners a good experience they will be more likely to purchase from vendors. Make it difficult for them and all they’ll want to do is get their stuff and get out.
Broad Street Run Race Day:
Enough about the expo. I went into race day hoping for the best but planning for the worst. Since Broad Street is a point-to-point race there is some transportation logistics involved. If you were driving your best option was to drive to the stadium parking lots (about a mile from the finish) and take the subway up to the start area. SEPTA allowed all runners to ride for free which was a nice touch. For a 8:30AM gun time my plan was to get to the start area a little after 6:30AM since I expected a mob scene and wanted to make sure I could take care of any pre-race “issues” with minimal stress. Factoring in the drive and the subway ride, that meant a 4:30AM wake up.
The early wake up paid off. That morning everything went off without a hitch and I found myself at the start area staring at a field filled with porta-potties and no lines. I well up a little just thinking about it.
Our gear bags needed to be on the buses by 8AM so I headed over there to remove my warm ups and get race ready at about 7:30. For me the weather was perfect, temps in the 50′s, overcast and a bit of a breeze. A little chilly for shorts and a singlet but wonderful for running. I did some warm ups and then headed to my corral about 8:10. Corrals were assigned based on time but there’s no verification process so you know how that goes. Some folks took advantage of the honor system. Also there wasn’t any corral enforcement in place so the honor system was getting abused a bit there too. Nothing egregious but noticeable.
There was just one corral between me and the elites so when the gun when off at 8:30 we started about 2 minutes later. This worked out well because over the race there was just the right number of runners on any section without it being over crowded.
If you don’t know Broad Street it’s a fast course, downhill most of the way:
Miles 1 thru 3
I went out too fast but I realized it and went with it anyway. I didn’t have a really thought out plan since I wasn’t fully confident where I was recovery wise. I figured I would start to fade at some point so I went out hard and had the goal of holding on as long as possible. The first few miles didn’t have any spectators and weren’t very scenic so I just focused on finding a workable pace. My first three splits were 6:10, 6:13 and 6:17.
Miles 4 thru 8
These miles were fun while we went through the heart of Philly. We passed Temple University, City Hall as well as the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts. Great crowds, marching bands and mascots all around. One sore point was I could tell the folks working the water stops weren’t pros since at a few water stops it seemed we were getting funneled into a narrow lane from the crowd on one side and the water stop volunteers on the other. I’m sure it widened as bigger crowds of runners came through but it was a brief concern.
Broad Street was in pretty good shape, a few pieces of pavement missing here and there but I’ve seen worse. One section though actually felt a little slick as I was making ground contact. It must have been from motor oil residue on the surface so I moved over near the double yellow and that felt firmer. Still loving racing in the Inov-8 150′s, it’s a great shoe. I don’t think I would have felt the pavement surface change if I was wearing my old Hyper Speeds.
Splits were 6:26, 6:16, 6:11, 6:18, 6:20
Past Mile 8 to the Finish
The course was flat for the last two miles and I thought I was in trouble as my perceived effort went up a notch or two between mile 8 and 9. Being so close to the finish though gave me the mental energy to keep the pedal down along with knowing I was looking at coming in under 1:04. My last two splits were 6:22 and 6:19 giving me a 1:03:06 and a new PR.
Right after I crossed the finish I noticed to the side of the finishers chute Cecily Tynan was standing there talking to someone. She had a post race glow that most runners recognize immediately. Cecily must have a had a good race. I thought back to the Haddonfield Adrenaline 5k where she beat me by one second. She was probably in the corral in front of me so I wasn’t sure how she did. When I got home I saw she ran a 1:02:12. AHHHHHH!!!!!
I think we are officially in nemesis territory here. Her Doc Ock to my Spiderman, her Dr. Doom to my Mr. Fantastic…you know Sheldon was right, it’s amazing how many super villains have advanced degrees. Grad schools should really do a better job weeding them out.