I had been really looking forward to this race for a while. Characterized as the largest 10 mile race in the US, this was the first year the race organizers went to a lottery system for registration and fortunately I got in. Originally, my husband and I were going to run the race together but he hurt his foot a couple of weeks ago and had to pass.
The day prior, the kids and I went down to Lincoln Financial Field (home of the Eagles) for the expo and to pick up the race packets. I was hoping to find a pair of red socks as it was being urged to wear red socks in support of Boston, however I struck out. Several vendors had brought red socks to sell but all were sold out. The Scholls booth was doing a free photo of people that would show them on the Runners World cover and so my 12 yr old and I posed for one.
The next day, I got up at 4:30 and left the house by 5 to drive to the Sports Complex area. I was worried about how to know where to park but it turned out to be a non-issue. I even got a spot very close to the Pattinson subway station. The Broad Street line was free for all runners and I just followed the crowd of people. From there, it was a 30 minute subway ride to the start of the race. Upon emerging from the subway, I still had about 1.5 hours to kill before the start o the race so I hung out in a Dunkin Donuts for a little bit and downed some coffee. It was still pretty chilly outside but I had to get my sweatshirt checked before 8 am so reluctantly I gave it up at one of the gear check busses. Due to security concerns, no bags were allowed in gear check except for the clear plastic bags they had provided at packet pickup. I was given both a sticker to put on my race bib and a wristband that listed the bus number and my bag number.
With about 30 minutes before the start of the race, I headed toward the porta potties. And wow. I can’t remember how many porta potties they had, but the (many!) lines were still insane. It took almost the full 30 minutes to get through the line. After that I took a few moments to take some pictures and video of the crowds. From my vantage point, I couldn’t see either the start or the end of the crowds of people in the street. While surveying the crowds, I heard the distant sound of the starting gun and the crowd cheered. From there, we slowly shuffled forward for about 30 minutes until my corral made it to the start line. Sweet Caroline was playing over the loudspeaker in honor of Boston and we finally were off and moving!
I really didn’t have a specific plan for how I was planning to run the race. I just figured I would take it easy and finish comfortably. I hadn’t run a longer run than 6 miles since my 1/2 marathon last month so I felt a little undertrained. Although billed as a flat race, it wasn’t truly flat but the uphills were pretty easy and gentle. Crowd support from the start was truly awesome. Tons of people lining the road and cheering, bands and orchestras every mile or so.
Before I knew it, the first mile was done and I was feeling great. Only 9 more to go. Approaching mile 2, we passed the Shriners Hospital and I remember seeing a young patient in a wheelchair, shaved head and head fixed in a metal halo, but smiling and waving an American flag. We all cheered and waved back at him.
Shortly after the mile 2 marker was the first water stop. The crowd was still relatively packed so I didn’t even see the water tables until I was passing them. Fortunately they had many tables for a good stretch and I was able to maneuver over and grab a cup. I’m still not good at drinking and running, so I managed a double fail when I not only spilled water on myself but also splashed a fellow runner when tossing my cup. Oops.
At some point after mile 3, I started thinking about taking a short walk break. I had never run more than 4 miles without doing some walking up until then. However, no one around me was walking and I certainly didn’t want to be the only one so I kept running. Mile 4, same thing. Now I was heading into uncharted territory. People with funny signs made me smile, including the solemn boy holding the sign ‘Run like you have diarrhea’.
The next mile,we could see City Hall getting closer and closer. Hi Ben! (Franklin, in case you don’t know his statue is on the top of City Hall).
Between miles 5-6 we were running around it. And yes, I was still running! I was trying to think in mile increments, e.g. Ok, I’ll take a walk break at mile 5. But then I would get to that mile marker and revise my internal goal.
Once around City Hall, the crowds definitely got a bit thicker and the spectators equally got more numerous. I kept seeing supporters of the Black Girls Run group, what an awesome running group that seems like.
There were 2 water stops between mile 6 and 7, it almost seemed like too much. I skipped the 2nd one. Still running. I thought for sure I would take a walk break at mile 8.
Now I was seeing signs for the Sports Complex, kind of exciting to know I was getting so close to the end. My pace was definitely slowing. Runkeeper had my overall pace at 11:30 for the first half of the race, but now I was approaching 12 minute miles. My legs were feeling heavy but I forced them to keep moving. It was all mental at this point.
Mile 9! Still running. I wanted to walk so badly but I kept thinking of how awesome it would be to say I ran the whole thing and somehow the legs kept plugging away.
Mile 9.5, I see the Naval Yard Sign! Almost there, 6 more minutes. Surely I can run 6 minutes. There was a slight downgrade and I tried to pick up the pace but my legs felt like they were on someone else’s body. I saw the photographer and raised my arms in a victory gesture. Hopefully I’ll have a decent race photo but if so, it will be a first. 🙂
Finally, finally I see the finish line. I manage to keep moving until well past it and in the line for the medals. OMG, I did it. I just ran 10 straight miles without stopping. A day later and I still can’t believe it.
Official time is 2:03:14. Slower than I had hoped, I really wanted a sub 2 hour finish but attaining a different milestone is definitely exciting too.
The volunteers handed me a cold water, and then a bag full of refreshments and I made my way out to the lawn to stretch out my already sore legs.
Bag pickup was super easy and I boarded a shuttle bus to head back to the Sports Complex. This is where things broke down a little. Due to the afternoon Phillies game, and several accidents, traffic in the general area was a mess. It took over an hour to drive the couple miles on the shuttle. I finally got home about 2:30 pm, hugged my kids, and immediately took a long nap.
This was such a fun race, I loved almost every minute of it and hope I make it in next years lottery!
A decent race photo, except don’t ask me why my fuel belt is hiked way up above my waist!