2009 Blue Cross Broad Street Run: Diary of a First Timer


For the umpteenth consecutive year my fat ass failed to run the Broad Street Run but many of our fine readers enjoyed the ten mile stroll down the scenic north-south artery of Philadelphia. Carl P. was among them and his tale of putting one foot in front of the other for 10 miles is below. It's basically the diary of a non-runner catching the buzz and joining the fun. Big ups to Carl. Also, Carl is not pictured in any of these photos.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
8:00am:  I wake my lazy ass up on a Sunday morning to go
watch my sis run the Broad Street Run, a perfectly beautiful 10-mile
race through the city I grew up in, but a race I wanted no part of.  I
hated running, I hated mornings, and I especially hated happy people
cheerfully running early in the morning.

9:30am:  I arrive at my little outpost on Broad and Spruce,
and start watching for my sis with the camera ready.  As expected,
people are happy and cheering, and I'm miserable.  But I'm starting to
feel a certain vibe and energy in the air - the same kind of feeling I
get at bike races and world championship parades.  I look around, and
the city looks healthy and alive.  Hmmm.. not so bad.

10:00 am:  Boom, found the sis.  Good lord, she's yelling
at me and running and jumping.  This the happiest my sister has ever
been to see her older brother.  Haven't I been pretty much making fun
of her every day for the last 24 years?  What the hell is going on?

10:30 am:  I WILL do the Broad Street Run next year.  And I will beat her.
Saturday, May 2, 2009

10:00pm:  I've done my training, I've bought my gear, and
I'm as nervous as a 15 yr old on his first date. 

Last weekend, I had
run seven miles (the most ever for me) and spent the rest of the
day/night in bed with a splitting headache and screaming feet.  I have
to go three more miles than that for this race.  I was also averaging
12+ minute miles in practice runs, which would put me in the
last grouping on race day (2+ hours).  So not only will I be herniating
discs all over Broad and Pattison, but I'll also suck.  Am I even going
to make it to Broad and Pattison?  What am I doing???

11:30pm:  Just finished putting my itunes mix together for
the run, even though according to the website, you're not allowed to
listen to iPods during the race.  Apparently that rule is a lot like
the, uh, "No Open Containers During the Manayunk Bike Race" law.  Oops.

11:50pm:  I'm in bed but suddenly decide it would be
awesome to have Chase proclaiming "WORLD EFFING CHAMPIONS" somewhere in
the last few miles.  To say that thinking of more ideas for my mix was
keeping me awake would be an understatement.

Sunday, May 3, 2009
5:30am:  BEEP BEEP BEEP *smashsnooze*
5:40am:  BEEP BEEP BEEP "aw man"
6:10am:  I'm wearing the shirt, shorts, socks, and shoes
that everyone said to wear.  I've eaten all the foods that everyone
said to eat.  I've applied the Body Glide to... well... I've applied
the Body Glide.  I'm ready.

6:15am:  My buddy Charlie picks me up.  Charlie has run
about 79 races in his life, including the Boston Marathon.  He's
training for the Iron Man, which throws in a marathon at the end just
for kicks and giggles.  He eats races like this for breakfast. 
Meanwhile, it's my Super Bowl.

6:20am:  It's pouring.  Charlie mentions that he almost
went back to sleep because racing conditions will be poor.  Sure, he'll
just run 20 miles tomorrow, and there won't be so many people in the
way.  Again, this is my World Finals Stanley Cup.

6:45am:  I've now got a headache, probably from some
combination of nerves, lack of sleep, and heavy traffic on 76 at
freaking 6:45 in the morning.  It never fails.  Luckily, my girl made
me a Broad St care package that included Aleve (along with Heatwraps,
Gatorade, and a stretcher), so I popped one of those (pre-race foul or

7:00am:  We arrive at the stadium complex - we're parking
there and taking the subway up to the start of the race.  We'll just
run back to our car.  The plan ensures disaster if I don't make it.

7:30am:  The subway ride up is JAMMED with happy, cheerful
runners that love early mornings.  I used to hate these people. 
Charlie still does.
7:35am:  There's always a token fat dude on the subway.  Not this one.  I see a few senior citizens that could probably kick my ass.

7:40am:  Charlie: "Don't be discouraged if you get passed by an 80 yr old woman".  Oh, ok.  Thanks for the pat on the back, Char.
8:00am:  We've arrived at Olney Station, where 26,500 very
healthy people are mulling about.  Some are stretching, some are
actually jogging (you know you're going to be doing that for the next
10 miles, right?), and some are looking for a place to pee.  Cops have
the surrounding hospitals, markets, and McDonalds on total lockdown,
keeping happy/healthy runners from their stalls.  I did not understand
this, as the port-o-johns had lines at least 50-deep.  Thinking about
this actually made me have to pee.

8:05am:  I'm scouring the surrounding areas for a bush or a
corner, to no avail.  I almost christened an SUV that was taller than
me and could provide proper cover, but decided this could make some
happy runner out there very, very angry.  I also almost did it in a
fenced-in corner but was in plain view of anyone who wanted to see,
and I got some stage fright.  Forget it.  Gotta hold it for two hours
now.  Nobody told me about this part.

8:15am:  I meet up with my sis and her roommate hanging by
the gear check buses, and we head to broad street to join our "corral",
which is a fancy way of saying "massive herd of people".  Think of it
like this:  You're at a huge concert venue and people are EVERYWHERE
around you, except in about 10 minutes, they are all going to
start running forward.  Weird.

8:20am:  It has stopped raining, but now I got the
full-fledged butterflies, I'm stretching and bouncing around, and I'm
about to pee on the first 80-yr old woman I can find.
8:25am:  I check out the little strip of paper that I've
placed on my shoe, which has inside it a chip that tracks your time
from the starting line to finish.  It's a pretty cool little device,
which leads to this exchange between me, my sis, and her roommate:

"I wonder how these things work."
"It actually explodes at the finish line."
"Yeah, so you better pick now which foot you want to lose"

8:30am:  We're all pumped now, and suddenly there's a big
cheer, and everyone walks forward, this is it!  And then we stop
again... for five minutes.  People are cracking jokes like, "Boy, that
was a tough race" and "We made it!"  Zzzzz....

8:35am:  Sister's roommate again: "Did you know that this
race is actually only all about the free soft pretzels at the end?  You
just have to do a lot to get them."
8:40am:  After some more walk-stops, there's suddenly a
voice saying "Welcome to the Broad Street Run!", and now we're walking
faster, and now people are cheering, and now I see the starting line,
NOW this is it......

Mile 1:  It's showtime!  People are waving,
yelling, and fist-pumping.  This is already awesome.  I feel like I'm
barely jogging, but I also feel like I'm moving faster than usual.  Is
this the adrenaline rush that everyone was talking about???  Wait...
we're running downhill.

Mile 2:  There's a really, really cool moment where
we're running downhill but the road flattens out ahead, causing a
"stadium seating" effect for everyone running down the hill.  We can
see the entire mob of runners ahead of us, with City Hall looming far,
far away.  Mental photo: click.

Mile 3:  We pass the mile marker to start mile 3,
and everybody cheers.  It says 33 minutes.  I'm completely embarrassed
for a second before my sis reminds me that we started almost 15 minutes
after the first few "corrals".  So it's more like two miles in 20
minutes.  And I don't see any 80 yr old women.  Ok, I'm feeling this. 
And somehow I've forgotten I hafta pee.

Mile 4:  We pass Temple U and there's a mob of
students on the side of the road screaming the fight song at the top of
their lungs.  I've now high-fived a cop, thanked a homeless man for his
support, and fist-pumped to the temple fight song, all in the last 30
minutes.  Ladies and gentlemen, it's Ass-Backwards Sunday!

Mile 5:  "Carl, are you the one who I keep hearing shout random lyrics to songs and humming?"
"Uh... yeah.. you can hear that?"
"I can hear it through my earbuds."

Mile 6:  Maybe the coolest moment of the race as we
pass City Hall.  I've been staring at it for the last hour and watching
it get closer, and now I'll be turning around and watching it get
farther away.  Halfway there.  Shockingly, I feel great.  There's
something big to be said for adrenaline. 

Mile 7:  We pass the Broad and Spruce intersection
where I was last year.  I realize now why my sis went nuts when she saw
me in '08 - I've high-fived so many strangers at this point that it
would be plain old awesome to see someone I know out there.  And
knowing I had friends and family near the finish line kept the wheels
turning.  This is something that you don't think matters until you're
in a race and start feeding off that support.  It matters, trust me,
and I thank everybody out there.

Mile 8:  I switch to my "3 miles to go" mix, which
is 40 minutes long.  Yes, I thought there was a chance I would be
walking at this point.  Without a doubt, the music has been critical. 
For every time that Michael Jackson and Survivor come on my iPod, I get
another boost (and apparently start singing to everyone around me -
sorry again).  I'm surprising myself with how good I feel at this
point, not to mention I need to keep up with the sis.  The stadiums are
getting closer....

Mile 9:  Cue the Rocky music...... The crowds are
getting bigger.... the legs are screaming louder.... Chase Utley yells
"WORLD F'ING CHAMPIONS" into my earphones..... AAAH!!!  I'm passing the
stadiums..... how in all that is holy did I get here..... there's the
fam!  High fives all around..... Let's do this!

Mile 10:  I turn to my sis just after the mile
marker at Pattison Ave and say "I'm going".  I've now got an
ear-to-ear grin on my face as I sprint ahead of her.... and she knows
exactly what I'm doing.... I open up a lead, point back at her, and get
a nice solid pace going, weaving in and out like Mine That Bird...
there are fans everywhere around us, going crazy for everybody (just an
awesome performance, in the rain, by everyone attending).... then out
of nowhere.... she passes me, giving me the "PEACE" sign with a full
head of steam.  Are you kidding me???  She's getting cheers from the
crowd for her Phils shirt, I'm seeing a few friends in the
crowd supporting the cause.... I've got the Stones' "Jumpin Jack
Flash" blaring in my ears.....  With the finish line in sight at the
Navy Yard, I give it one last surge....  and we cross the finish line
at the EXACT same time.  Daaaamnnnn.


It doesn't take long before I'm in both celebration mode and
shutdown mode.  We get our "Broad Street Finisher" medals, which I
proceed to wear for the next few hours.  But even better, we get
our glorious free soft pretzels, which couldn't have possibly tasted
any better than at that moment.  And even better than that, there's a
line only about five people deep for the port-o-johns.  Top 5 whiz of
my life.

I spend the rest of the day on the couch, as expected.  I log on
to check my time before I go to bed.  1 hour, 50 minutes, 31 seconds,
which is apparently in the 40% percentile for my age.  Yup, I suck. 
But at least it's under two hours (a work friend had set the over/under
at 2:04).

Wait - let's check the sister's time.....  1 hour, 50 minutes, 31 seconds.  A freaking tie???  That's like kis... never mind.
Then I see it.  Apparently, the officials of the fine Broad Street Run also determined an "overall place" for everyone:
Carl:  20127th
Steph:  20128th
Sweeeet... sweeeeet.... victoryyyyy

Thanks, Carl! and congrats on the victory.

And this wonderfully bizarre/scary image from Philly.com's gallery:

And a super exciting YouTube. Hey! There's Carl! Did you see him?:

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