This May I ran the 2019 Broad Street
Swim Run. It’s 40th year. My third and the the first time since 2012 (pre this blog).
I had gained entry for this race without the need to go through the Broad Street Run lottery process as I had signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon. As the race organizers are now in charge of both races, if you register for the Marathon (or the Half) you are allotted a place in the race if you register before the lottery. I don’t think I would have entered if this had not been the case. This is the biggest race in Philadelphia and is very much an achievable distance for many people who do not want to run a half or a full marathon. With over 40,000 runners filling into a very narrow street it tends to get crowded. Very quickly.
The weekend forecast called for rain. Not just rain, but lots of rain. In fact, the local TV weather man was on TV showing people how to duct tape their shoes to keep their feet dry during the race. 😦 Hmmm….and I was already looking forward to this weekend so much!!!
I wasn’t able to get to the expo due to a family commitment and a friend who was also running grabbed my race packet and bib for me so I had to do nothing more than show up on the Sunday morning of the race and get to the starting line. With 40,000 people picking up bibs the expo would be jammed. The last time I ran this we were in line wrapped around the building waiting to go in. As this was the 40th anniversary of the race, the race shirt was a nice tech material. Typically they give out a cotton shirt and you have to pay a fee if you want a tech shirt. Surprising for a race of this size. A nice surprise was that my race corral was further up front than I had been placed in prior years so I would be off earlier. I used my 2017 Bucks County 10 Miler as my proof of time (1:22). That was my 10 mile PR so that helped propel me forward.
Having run a marathon in the rain and having done long training runs in the rain I wasn’t planning to duct tape my shoes but I would use my usual rain guard of putting vaseline generously over my feet and between my shoes. At worst I would have ruined a pair of socks but at best I would have blister protection for the run. I packed a poncho to wear before the race to keep me dry and I packed second poncho for after the race in my race belt. I was ready for the weather.
The race is a point to point race. You park at the sports complex nearby the finish line (which is about a quarter mile away at the Philadelphia Navy Yard) and take the subway up to the start line in Olney 10 miles away. The ride is free for runners wearing their bib in the morning.
When I arrived at the sports stadium in the morning the rain and wind was pretty hard and steady. I wasn’t late but there were no parking spaces close to the subway entrance so I would have to stay as dry as possible just getting to the start line. I still had to make the journey to the start so I donned the first of my ponchos and headed to the subway station. People were out to make a buck and were selling rain ponchos in the parking lot for $5 a piece. I saw a few people shelling out money. I was happy with my $1 poncho from CVS (that I had a stash of for emergencies like this).
I got to the subway a little damp and climbed aboard the first train that pulled in. It was just before 7am. It was an Express train to the start line. It was jam packed and already steamy with damp runners. Standing room only and then they added more people. The race start was 8am. I had about an hour to get to the start line and I was on the Express train. I figured I was going to make good time. Well, if this was an Express train I would hate to see how slow the Local train went. As I was getting out the subway I heard the National Anthem and I was still behind the back of the last corral. I made a hurried dash up front to my corral through the hoards of people without any opportunity to find a bathroom pre-race. Eek!!!
The rain was already steady and pooling on the sides of the road. It was going to be steady for most of the morning. We had to suck it up. My friend who had grabbed my race packet had bailed. I’m sure they were not the only one. So as my corral moved forward towards the start line I wished those around me good luck, ripped off the poncho and waited to get going.
It’s not a steep downhill but its a net downhill with a fast start. With such large groups of runners the first mile or two you are dodging in and out trying to find position relative to your pace. People who arrived late and were coming in from another subway station were jumping into earlier corrals which jammed things up a bit. Also…it was not the warmest day so this added to the overall fun LOL!!! By about mile 2 I needed to find a restroom but none were to be seen…I had to leave the course for a couple of minutes to get myself sorted out. Once back I joined the throng of runners and headed down towards Center City Philadelphia.
Between mile 5 and 6 (running by Temple University and City Hall) the rain really started to come down heavier. As you round City Hall the 6 lanes of runners compact into 3 lanes until reaching the other side. The sides of the road were beginning to pool heavily with rain water so if you took an inside line or were positioned on the left you pretty much were running through water until it opened up further down Broad Street. I’m glad I was very liberal with the use of vaseline on my feet. I was stuck on the inside 😦
Once you get past City Hall you are over halfway. Only another 4 miles to go. Broad Street always has great crowds and even in this weather people were out in force to cheer on the runners. That really helped as conditions were not the most fun. I was keeping a fairly consistent pace running between 8:30 and 8:45 minute miles through mile 8. However, I began to slow to 9 minute miles as we approached the last stretch.
As you enter the Navy Yard there is a sign overhead letting you know that you have another quarter mile to go. I dug in hoping to get under 1:30 hours and put in a sub 9 minute mile. I clocked 1:30:09. Oh well. Given the weather conditions and my physical conditioning (I’m a long way from my PR shape) I was happy with my time.
Once through the finish line I grabbed my medal and my food bag and immediately pulled on the fresh poncho that I had been carrying with me through the race. BEST DECISION EVER. I saw everyone around me start to shiver as they cooled down after the race. It was windy and rainy and I was already wet but the poncho stopped me feeling any worse. It was too wet to start eating my food or taking any pictures (okay…I took a picture) but my focus was on getting back to my car, turning on the heat and getting out of my wet clothes. It was just under a half mile back to the sports stadium and I probably got my feet more wet than during the race as I walked back to the car. I had managed to miss any severe puddling during the run, not so lucky on my walk back.
Once dry(ish) in the car and in some dry clothes I sat back, enjoyed my post race refreshments and warmed up with my car heater on for a few minutes before heading home for a hot shower. Glad it was over. Glad I ran well. I am signed up for the Philadelphia Marathon in 2019 and probably will sign up again in 2020 but I may skip the free entry for Broad Street Run next go around.