Broad Street Running


I have a well-documented history of not loving to run.  By all accounts I should like it.  I actively enjoy going to the gym and exercising. It makes me feel good. Two of my favorite hobbies are cross-country skiing, and hiking, both cardiovascular workouts that you can make very taxing.  However, I’ve always viewed running as a necessary evil I must endure so that maybe one day I could see my abs.  I thought people who christened themselves “runners” must be a serial masochist, and that the elusive runner’s high they spoke of was bullshit.

As of writing this, I recently completed Philadelphia’s famed Broad Street Run. I, along with some 40,000 other people woke up Sunday morning and ran ten miles down Broad Street from North Philadelphia to the Navy Yard. As of writing this, I’ve recently slept for almost 14 hours straight. My whole body aches, and if you asked to amputate my right foot from the ankle down yesterday, I would have gladly said yes. As of writing this, I still consider people who christen themselves as runners  serial masochists, but I think I might have finally got at least a little glimpse of this runner’s high, because as of writing this, I’m looking forward to doing Broad Street again next year.

The Broad St. Run, if you haven’t picked it up, is a 10 mile run down Philly’s Broad Street, typically the first Sunday of May.  I though Broad Street was a newer race, but upon doing some research for this very post learned that this year was its 38th anniversary, so, my bad.  I do know that it’s super popular and for years have watched multiple friends and acquaintances pop up in post-race photos the day of, all over social media.  Because of my aforementioned disdain for running however, I never had an active want to do it.

Because it’s so popular, one needs to enter a lottery in order to see whether or not you can race. A few days before this year’s lottery I found out that my brother and sister had a created a team for said lottery. Do you know what I hate more than running? Missing out. Thus, I found myself entering my credit card information the day before the deadline.  Three days later, my card was charged the $55.00 entrance fee, guaranteeing that I’d be spending the first weekend of May running 10 miles, instead of some sad Cinco De Mayo/Kentucky Derby shitshow that I’m probably too old for at this point anyway. Maybe, I thought, there will be some silver linings.

Now, I hadn’t run more than 6 miles in something like 5 years. I’ve skied more. I’ve hiked more. But as of late, I hadn’t run more, so was a wee bit nervous.  My brother did this whole running schedule that I probably should have followed, but chose not to. That being said, I did up the number of times I ran, and did do a 7 mile run with my siblings and cousin on good Friday, that didn’t result in death or injury, so I was pretty confident going into this.  I was also assured by a great many people that “the whole thing is downhill.”  I think the people who told me this meant well, but it was a lie.  I was also comforted by the fact that I know people who ran it in much worse shape than I, and I think it’s worth noting that while I’m bitching about running, I’m for the most part in shape. I don’t want to make it seem like I’m one of those people who couldn’t be bothered with exercise, and thought training was beneath me.  I don’t have an aversion to exercise or physical activity, simply running.  I drove to Philly Saturday afternoon confident with my ability to finish. I was so confident that I had three Moscow mules during my carb loading pasta dinner.

I woke up Sunday morning not feeling great.  To start, I had somehow lost both my own, and my sister’s race bibs and Broad Street tee shirts. Are they in a cab? On the corner of Arch and Broad where I put my bags down to hail a cab? Somewhere on South Street? We’ll never know, but I woke up around 6:00 AM Sunday morning and just knew that they were not on my person, and a quick check of my bag and sister’s apartment confirmed this.  When I told her, she wasn’t worried. We paid. We had email confirmations. We just wouldn’t get official score times, which to be honest I was fine with. I just wanted to finish. That was one of my three goals. The other two, were to not weep at any point, or, and sorry to be crass, but not have to #2 in a port-o-jon.  What can I say? I have principles.

We took the subway up to the starting line in North Philly, and the sheer amount of people on said subway in running gear, both made me lose my last minute case of nerves, and start to get excited, as well as realize just how big this race was.  40,000 people is crazy when you think about it.  Susquehanna County, which is for all intents and purposes where I grew up, has a population of 41,000.  Kudos to the organizers for having everything run smoothly.

We ended up (or rather, my brother, as there are no official records of my sister or I finishing the race) finishing the ten miles in one hour and fifty-one minutes.  We were shooting for 2.5 hours, so I was extremely happy when I learned of this time.  And while there are several uphill segments that I wasn’t expecting, being promised a completely downhill experience and all, they were VERY small uphills. What made the race so fun, and what I think helped me not focus on how many miles were left, is that the Broad Street Run is an event.  There weren’t just people cheering at the start, end, and various strategic points in between, but rather lining the entire 10 miles.  They were encouraging, they were very peppy, and on South Broad, they started getting rowdy. Many of the residents in South Philly weren’t as much watching the Broad Street run, as they were tailgating the run. There were bands, DJ’s, and you could’ve amused yourself solely by reading the signs made. My personal favorite was, “Watch out, that might not JUST be a fart,” and I owed my sister a drink, after daring her to hug the guy whose sign read “I love sweaty hugs.”

A few people had told me that the last mile was hard, because you see the stadiums and think you’re done, when there’s still an entire mile left, but I didn’t think the last mile was that bad.  I did think the last ¼ mile was, only because there was a big sign over the course that read “1/4 Mile Left” that from afar I thought said “Finish,” which therefore caused me to say “It’s too soon to say I enjoyed that,” when I finally did cross that threshold.

I’d changed my tune less than forty-five minutes later when we sat down to have brunch. It felt very good to be sitting down for this knowing you’d just tackled a ten-mile race course, and lived to tell the tale. Not to get overly mushy with you, but I also really liked doing this with my brother and sister. It’s not like we don’t spend a lot of time together (we do), but it was nice to be in something  together. I feel like we haven’t done that in a while.  So I think this might be that fabled runner’s high. I’m not sure what else could make me already excited for next year, especially because as of writing this, I still very much feel like I’ve been possessed by the body of someone very geriatric.

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