I ran the Broad Street 10 Miler today, finishing in 1:10:26.
Last year, I had a slightly rocky trip up to Philadelphia the day before, as first my cab to the train station was delayed by closed roads for a 5K, and then my train was delayed due to an incident south of DC that closed the tracks and blocked incoming trains. So, this year I planned ahead, remembering to ask the cab to route around the 5K, and also booking a train that originated from DC.
This all worked well, and it was only when I was sitting on my train that I realized I couldn't find an entry confirmation email anywhere in my email. I had a moment of panic (I knew I had registered). And then I went to the race website and searched my name under "tracking." My name popped up with an assigned bib number, and I breathed a massive sigh of relief.
I got up to Philly around 10:30 am, which was perfect timing to a) grab my bib, b) grab Chipotle, and c) check into my hotel to watch the Land Rover Kentucky 3 day event all afternoon before an early bedtime.
The race day forecast had been all over the place, from perfect to thunderstorms. By race morning it had settled on possible rain at the start of the race progressing to more certain rain as the morning bore on. Fortunately, the temps would be in the low 50s and the wind looked like it would be a tailwind. After a bit of thought, I went with shorts, singlet, and running cap plus latex gloves under disposable gloves, covered by a throwaway sweatshirt and then a plastic poncho.
I got to the Walnut-Locust train station around 6 am, where there was a train waiting for runners to board - very different from previous years, where I had waited for up to 20 minutes. I ended getting to the start around 6:30, which was a bit earlier than I had planned. Fortunately, there is a church by the start line that always opens its doors on race morning to runners, so I checked my bag and then hung out there until it was time to start warming up.
I started my warm-up a bit after 7 am, noting the somewhat steep drop that starts this race. I've done this race many times, but I keep forgetting just how downhill that first mile is. I also noted the strong wind from the north (a tailwind). This was looking like a very fast day.
After doing my standard warm-up (~15 minutes of jogging with some surges, 3 minutes at marathon down to half-marathon pace, 4x30 seconds at 5K effort, and 4x10 seconds at mile effort), I made my way to my corral, entering right before the supposed "7:40 am cutoff" (which didn't happen). Then I stood there, doing the occasional set of lunges to try to preserve some mobility, pretending that the rain wasn't "spittling" (my new word), and deeply regretting my decision not to wear arm-warmers, until my wave was finally released at 8:05 am.
The air horn went off, and the first mile of the race was enjoyable, as always (sarcasm). It wasn't the crowded mess that Cherry Blossom was, but my legs were really stiff and I couldn't seem to get them to roll down the first mile. I did the best I could and reminded myself that there were plenty of miles to make up time once I warmed up.
A bit past the first mile marker, things did loosen up, and I was able to open my gait and start rolling. From then on, I just did my usual - find a tempo rhythm and lock into it. The rain was an off and on drizzle, and the wind shifted around. Sometimes I noted a solid headwind; at other times I didn't notice anything - I'm sure that's when I had a tailwind.
My gait never felt great during this race. Sometimes I have better dystonia days and sometimes I have worse dystonia days, and this was one of the not-so-great days. I just didn't feel comfortable, and timing mats were hurdles to be navigated, as were the train tracks that cross the course at one point (that I'm sure absolutely nobody noticed or remembers except me). The combination of wind and rain meant plenty of wet paper cups all over the road, and those were hard also. I was annoyed at myself, but resolved to keep working through it - what else could I do?
The only other thing of real note during the middle miles was when some idiot (and I don't use that term lightly) standing in the crowds on the side of the road decided to stick his umbrella out onto the race course while opening it. Right in front of me and another runner. We both yelled at him, and he seemed befuddled as we ran by.
Somewhere after mile 7, the weather turned from a drizzle to a steady rain. It was honestly pretty miserable, but I just reminded myself that the quicker I finished the race the quicker I could grab my checked bag with warm clothing. I felt like I was slowing during these miles, but the splits show that I sped up, so I guess my rationalization worked.
There are three variants on the Broad Street Course, and as of this year, I've run all three. The course this year had us turn left a bit after the mile 9 marker and run beneath an elevated freeway for nearly half a mile before turning left again to kick into the finish. I think this finish, though not at all scenic, is my favorite finish of the three options for two reasons:
1) you finish not too far from a subway station (easier to get back to the hotel after) and
2) this gave us a blissful half-mile or so of respite from the rain. The road was still wet, and there was a stream or two to be forged, but it was a solid improvement.
I had mapped out the course beforehand, and I knew that I needed to start giving whatever I had left when we hit that underpass. So I extended my stride as much as I could until I got over the finish line. As I crossed, I noted 1:10:4x on the clock. I was pretty sure I had crossed the start less than 40 seconds after the airhorn, so no sub-70 for me. Oh well.
Mile 1: 7:53
Mile 2: 7:16
Mile 3: 6:58
Mile 4: 6:59
Mile 5: 6:56
Mile 6: 6:58
Mile 7: 7:02
Mile 8: 6:51
Mile 9: 6:48
And yes, I'm really really annoyed by that first mile. And I don't have a chaotic mess of a start to blame it on this time. I need to figure out how to fix that and get my legs to work better when starting a race after standing for a while.
I guess the good news is that I ran this year's Broad Street about 90 seconds faster than last year, so there is progress in some sense. And a month ago I was happy with 70.2x for 10 miles, and now I'm annoyed. So that's progress as well.
- I stayed near City Hall this year instead near the Liberty Center. As much as I love Club Quarters hotels, staying near City Hall made everything so much easier - it was a 3 block walk to the expo, and post race I didn't have far to walk at all in the rain between the subway stop and my hotel.
- A lot of people ran really good races and set nice PRs, with most people running faster than they did at Cherry Blossom. So clearly the rain and wind wasn't much of a factor - it was a good day to run fast.
- I discovered post-race that the Reading Terminal Market has gluten free funnel cake and onion rings, and they were divine.
- When taking the train between DC and Philly, one can choose between the faster/more expensive/less stops Acela train or the slower/cheaper/more stops regional. I intentionally booked a regional train for the return trip so I could get off a stop early, in New Carrollton, Maryland (I'll often do this because the orange line of the DC Metro system terminates in New Carrolton, and it's easier to get on the orange line there and take it home than it is to get to the orange line from DC's Union Station.) Today I learned that the regional train doesn't always stop at New Carrolton. Duly noted.