Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Broad Street Run Race Report

I signed up for the Broad Street Run because one of my friends who lives in Philly raved about it and was going to run it as well.  Unfortunately, her training was derailed by injury and she wasn't able to run.  I was disappointed, but figured I have run plenty of races by myself before, so I wasn't going to let that stop me.  I found out that another friend's sister, Katie, was running and contacted her to see if she wanted to try to meet up before and after the race.  Not only was she interested in meeting up, she offered to let me stay with her as well.  I jumped on the opportunity since not only would it be easier not to have to find her in the crowds, she is a local who has run the race several times before and knew all of the logistics.  And, more importantly, she's a lot of fun to hang out with!

I got up bright and early on Saturday morning to head up to the expo.  All week I had been getting emails from the race warning that 11-1 was the "danger zone" at the expo.  There was a Phillies game starting at 1:00 across the street and race organizers were encouraging everyone to come to the expo on Friday or early on Saturday.  I was cruising along and on target to get to the expo around 10 when I hit a major traffic jam right after crossing the Pennsylvania border.  This was right about the time that I was also realizing that I really needed a bathroom.  Good hydration + road trip = major discomfort.  I pulled into the expo parking lot a little after 10:30 and sprinted to the closest restroom!  Fortunately I got there when I did, I'm not sure how much longer my bladder could have lasted.

The expo was not nearly as crowded as I expected.  I guess people actually listed to the recommendations to stay away in the middle of the day on Saturday.  I managed to grab Katie's and my numbers and shirts without having to wait long at all.  When I first walked in I noticed that the volunteers were wearing pretty turquoise shirts, so I was a bit disappointed when I picked up our race shirts and they were school bus yellow.  I guess I should have paid the extra $20 to upgrade to a tech shirt since they were a nice light blue.  After grabbing our stuff I made sure to check out all of the vendors.  Fortunately, I walked away without too much damage to my credit card, but I did get some new shorts and a sports bra (both 50% off) and a fun headband.

cows and pigs!

view of the city when I left the expo

On Sunday morning, Katie and I (and her other friend who stayed with us) were up bright and early.  Because of my paranoia about getting to the start with plenty of time (and with memories of National Half Marathon transportation stories fresh in my head), I insisted that we catch an earlier train that they had initially planned.  I was nervous that the train might be too crowded to get on since we weren't getting on at the first stop, where the free race parking was located.  It was crowded, but we managed to squeeze on and were at the start with plenty of time to spare.  Another advantage of hanging out with Katie for the weekend?  Her good friend lived around the corner from the start area and graciously allowed us to use her bathroom.  It's always a bonus to avoid the porta potties!

Right before the race start, Katie and her friend and I made plans for finding each other at the end and split up to head to our separate corrals.  As I said in my goal post, my plan was to start around 9:00 minute miles and drop the pace from there.  I figured that it would be so crowded that I wouldn't be able to go much faster at the start, even if I tried.  Well, it turned out that was not the case.  I definitely had to do some weaving, but the street was wide enough that I never really had to slow down to get around people or felt like I couldn't run the pace that I wanted.  This was a good and bad thing for me.  I got sucked into running what felt like a comfortable pace at the time, but was much faster than I had planned.   Despite the rolling hills, I was running 8:25-8:30 pace for the first four miles.

By mile 5, I knew I had gone out too fast.  Those sub 8:30s weren't coming as easily and my pace starting creeping up towards 9:00.  I ate some Honey Stinger chews at this point and hoped that maybe they would give me a burst of energy.  I felt a bit better but never returned to my early pace.  I also got a boost from the large crowd when we went around city hall right before mile 6, but it didn't last long.

At this point it was also getting pretty hot.  The sun was out in full force and I could tell that wasn't used to running in warmer temperatures.  I'm glad that I decided to carry my handheld because despite the fact that the race never felt crowded, the water stations looked like they were.  I also feel like I get more water when I'm carrying it myself and not attempting to drink from a cup.

From miles 6-9, I just tried to keep moving.  My pace was over 9:00 and I was doing my best not to slow down any further.  I had studied the course elevation profile and it seemed like this stretch was going to be flat or slightly downhill.  Unfortunately, it never felt like that and at points almost seemed like there was a slight uphill.  That rewarding stretch of downhill that I was waiting for never appeared.  During this stretch I was definitely cursing my fast start and inability to stick to my race strategy.  I knew that one of my friends would be watching somewhere near the 9 mile mark so I tried to focus on getting to her.  Around mile 8, I started to have a weird pain in the back of my upper right calf.  It felt like it was about to cramp up.  I was mildly tempted to stop and stretch it, but I figured that stopping would probably make things worse so I kept going.  Fortunately it never actually cramped and the pain went away eventually.

After seeing my friend a little after mile 9, I knew I was almost there.  Normally at this point I would try to pick up the pace, but I just had nothing in my legs.  There was finally a significant downhill as we came to the Navy Yard gates and then it was just .25 to the finish.  I was trying to kick it in, but I can't say that was all that successful.

Final time - 1:28:17

The post-race area was well managed and I was get my medal and food (already in a bag, not sure why more races don't do this) without having to wait around or even stop walking.  I reunited with Katie who also got her goal time! 
While I made my A goal, I couldn't help feeling a bit disappointed when I finished.  Even when the race got tough in the second half, I had no doubt that I was going to run sub-1:30.  But I know that if I had run a smarter race I could have done better.  At the half I was on pace for a 1:25.  I think with a more conservative start I might not have run a 1:25, but I would have been faster.  It's possible that I might have even run the same time (more or less), but I know I would have felt a lot better about it.

Now that I have had a few days to reflect, I'm thrilled with my time and determined to use my disappointment about how I ran the race as motivation to work harder.  I know that I could have run a smarter race, but now I have things to work on for next time.  And if I run enough races where I make this same "fast start" mistake (and there have been a number of them!), I will eventually stop doing it.  At least that's my hope!

All in all, it was a great weekend and I came away impressed by the race.  I was pleasantly surprised that despite the number of people running, I never felt like it was too crowded.  I had more traffic jam issues with the National Half Marathon which was a smaller field.  I would definitely run it again if I can get in before it sells out.  If I go back, I'm going to be smarter in the first half and mentally prepared for the 2nd half of the course (which wasn't as flat/downhill as I expected)!

Now I'm also even more excited to run through the city again during the Philadelphia Marathon in November!


Katie said...

love the headband! congrats on your race - i've heard this is a great one.

Anonymous said...

I am doing the Philly Marathon too!! I have done the half three times and it is a GREAT race!

Anonymous said...

Love the headband too, too cute!

It's hard on the longer races, esp ones with fast courses to be conservative. Especially, when you're really not sure what you are capable of! You still totally kicked butt and next time you'll probably be more focused on the starting slow format!

Great job!

Beth said...

Nice job! The start slow finish fast race plan is difficult to achieve, but you totally pulled out an awesome time!!

chris mcpeake said...

great race congrats

B.o.B. said...

Congrats! I wish we had a ten miler close. I like that distance. Great job on the run and I'll have to try those honey stingers. I keep reading about them.

MCM Mama said...

Nice job! Love the headband.

I'm looking forward to Philly in the fall as well.

Rachel said...

congrats on the PR! that elusive negative split is easier said than done, so don't feel too bad : ) i've never raced a 10 miler but it sounds like a fun distance, and this race sounds great!