Sometimes you just know you’re going to have a good race, it’s this warm blanket of confidence that comes over you leading up to the race. Maybe it was the shake out run the day before, maybe it was your favorite pre-race dinner, but somehow you just know. This past Sunday I ran my 3rd Blue Cross Broad Street ten miler, and I just knew it would be my best one yet.
I am not a morning person, but when 4am rolls around on race morning I become one. I went down stairs, toasted my bagel, spread peanut butter on it and watched it melt with the heat; my favorite. I had my favorite Starbucks ice coffee which I bought the night before, and I had a little bit of Nuun Energy just to get things moving if you know what I mean.
I went back upstairs, I put on my favorite race shorts, Nuun tech shirt and my favorite pair of Tiux compression socks. Grabbed my throw away clothes, tied my shoes and decided to look up what my 10 miler PR was. Normally I don’t do that, I don’t want to know because I don’t want to be disappointed, but this morning I had a feeling. Last year at the Bronx 10 miler I ran a 1:24:25, an 8:27 pace… yeah I could beat that.
My parents decided they were going to come to my race today, both of my parents. My Mom comes to a good amount, but my Dad typically only comes to the marathons, so this was a big deal. At 5:30 we started our 50 minute drive into Philly and by 6:20 we were parking (after almost running over the parking attendant, thanks Mom). The key to getting to the start on time is getting on a train before 6:45 from the AT&T station, I arrived with an express train waiting for me at 6:35. I walked on with plenty of room, but soon I did not have any room to breathe in this sardine can of a train.
It took 40 minutes to go 10 miles on this train. 40! We only stopped twice and no one could get on. It was hard to breath and I swear I knocked over the girl in the middle who was not holding on like 4 times. Shortly after 7am we arrived at the Olney station, and it was decorated for the runners! There was balloons, posters, photo opt stations, and it was a real treat! I did not want to spend too much time in the train station because I had my mind set on a warm up lap at the Central High School athletic field, which to most people was a weird sight as we had a 10 mile run ahead of us. I felt so good after this, I stretched, I used the bathroom one last time, and I found my corral, the purple one.
It was warm in the corral, the sun was shining, the wind was blocked, it was a dream. We started on time this year! 8:04 I believe I started, which compared to other years it was practically early. Despite the warning to run your pace because of the abrupt downhill right after the start, I came out too fast again. But I knew it. By the time we hit the first incline I was back on pace and running how I planned.
The support on course was great! Philly crowds really come out to cheer us on! People with mega phones, witty signs, free bottles of water, they hold nothing back! The first four miles you need as much crowd support as you can get because this is where the hills are. I say hills, but they are really gentle increases of elevation. The course claims to be downhill, but if you listen to that you will destroy yourself on these gentle increases. As I have ran this before, I knew the deal, I kept my pace and looked to the crowd for energy and I got it. The first 5 miles flew by, I was at City Hall before I knew it and still running strong. My legs felt good, and the hills were over, it was all downhill from here.
As mile 8 approached I started getting tired, my legs were heavy I wanted to take a break and start to walk but everything in me told me not too. I did quick math in my head and knew I could PR if I just kept my pace.
The crowds started getting sparse, and even when they were there they were oddly quiet, probably waiting for their loved ones further back in the pack. The runners made up for it, we were all cheering on ourselves. “Great race!” “Great pace!” “Looking good!” Keep going!” We were all together just trying to finish.
Mile 9 was cruel. So close to finishing, but so far away. It felt like forever, legs as heavy as concrete, same motion over and over again. Finally I saw the Navy Yard sign… or rather the 1/4 Mile remaining sign. SO many people always assumed the Navy yard sign was the end they finally to made it official that it is not. I hit that sign and went out on my 400 sprint… or it felt like that, it was probably only a few seconds faster than my mile 9 pace.
The crowds on this last quarter mile are so dense it’s hard for anyone to stand out. I knew this was where my parents would be. While I was “sprinting” I tried to look for them, but quickly gave up and focused on finishing. I could finally see the clock and I was pushing it to get there before another minute ticked by.
Crossing the line I had so many emotions. I was ecstatic, I checked my watch and beat my previous PR by a minute. I was sad, if I went three more miles I would have PRed my half marathon time (only by a minute though). And then I was exhausted, if I want to qualify for Boston I have to run an entire 26.2 at that pace… that sound exhausting.
Finally I met up with my parents. My dad was unimpressed, “Why didn’t you keep your first 3 mile pace, you need to train harder.” Thanks Dad. But at the same time I’m with him, I’ve been harder than ever these past six weeks, but it’s only been six weeks. I’ve PRed two things in the past month, and with how I am going, I cannot wait until I am done this training cycle in 6 more weeks.
The word of the day is effort and it is time to show it.