Friday, May 12, 2017

2017 Broad Street Run Race Report

I last ran the Broad Street Run back in 2007.  It was insanely crowded the entire ten miles and I found it nearly impossible to get a decent pace going.  I swore off the race and usually referred to it as a "shit show" every May when the race rolled around again.

Over the last few years, though, I'd been considering giving it another shot, and I finally pulled the trigger this year.  And I'm so glad I did.  It was an amazing experience.

Let's go back to the beginning.

I woke up at 5am on Sunday, and by 5:30 I was on the road.  Drove into South Philly and parked at the stadiums in-between the Wells Fargo Center and Citizens Bank Ballpark. Walked to the nearby subway and was on the train by 6.  It was packed with runners - standing room only.  15 or 20 minutes later we arrived in North Philly.

I checked my bag at gear check and then had a good hour and a half until go time.  I walked around, used the porta potties which still had no lines at this point, ran into Emi and hung out with her for a bit, sat around for a bit people watching, found the secret elite enclave and did a warm up run with them, then got into my corral.

For the uninformed, the Broad Street Run, named for its course down Broad Street in Philadelphia, is now in its 38th year.  With 40,000 participants, it is the largest 10 mile race in the United States, and the 6th largest of any race distance.  When I ran it in 2007, there were only about 17,000 runners, and even then it was obscenely crowded at the start.  Races back then had yet to figure out the wave/corral system, so race starts were always a free-for-all. People placed themselves wherever they wanted and were all sent off at the same time.

Like most big races, Broad Street now seeds runners based on expected finish time (though they have volunteers checking bibs, it is still very easy to sneak into any corral you want), and they send runners off in waves, waiting a few minutes in between each one.  Because of these new measures, the course was a lot roomier this time and never felt crowded.

Having just run Boston three weeks earlier, it felt nice to know I only had ten miles ahead of me as opposed to an entire marathon.  I had no plans to go hard, but you know me.  Once I was out there, I just wanted to run as hard as I could.  I stopped around mile 3 to use a porta potty, which cost me about 30 seconds.  But I was still surprised that I ended up running negative splits.  At the 3 mile mark, my average pace was 7:01.  At the 5 mile mark my average pace fell to 6:55, at the 7 mile mark it fell to 6:52, and I finished the race in 1:07:46 for an average pace of 6:46, good for 869th place.

The course had a lot of great spectating sections, and the aid stations were perfectly placed and expertly manned.  I remember thinking in the last few miles how much room I had, and how uncomfortable I was due to how hard I was running.  My previous 10 mile PR was 1:09 from last fall, but I wasn't wearing a watch this time and wasn't sure what the difference between my gun time and chip time was.  The upshot is that I wasn't sure if I was headed for a PR or not, but I decided to keep my foot on the gas anyway, so to speak, and obviously it ended up paying off.

After finishing, I caught up with a few friends from Who's Up, including Emi, but once again failed to get a picture with her as we immediately lost her after getting our gear from the buses.  Again, I swear she exists.  So here's me with Kim:

After enjoying the finish line festival for about 30 minutes, I made the short walk back to my car, then the short drive back to NJ.

I already have a feeling that I'll be back next year for more.

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