Running Down Broad Street: My Journey to Philadelphia’s Iconic 10-Mile Run

“If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

This time one year ago, I couldn’t run one block without getting short of breath and giving up. I was 35 pounds heavier, dissatisfied with my body, but most of all, disappointed with myself. After graduating from Temple University in May 2010 and accepting a full-time job working in public relations, too many long work days, hours spent sitting at a desk and unhealthy eating habits led to me packing on the pounds until I decided I needed to make a serious change.

At the recommendation of a runner friend, I decided to download the Couch25K program on my iPod, never planning to run a 5K, but simply wanting to learn to run and try a new exercise. Midway through the program, I was so amazed at how much I had already improved, and cautiously registered for my first 5K. I completed that 5K in March 2011, and found myself hooked on running, but never thought I’d surpass the 3.1 mile distance of a 5K.

Last year, on the day of the Broad Street Run, Philadelphia’s well-known 10-mile race down Broad Street, I was driving on I-95 and saw runners heading under the overpass making their way to the finish line. At that moment, I was struck with the desire to do something I never thought I would do before- run 10 miles with 30,000 other people. I quietly set the goal, but didn’t dare speak it out loud, unsure of if one year later, I’d be able to run 10 miles.

But from that moment on, as I headed out for my daily runs and completed six more 5K races, I dreamt of Broad Street. I envisioned myself crossing the finish line.

And when the day came to register for the race, I nervously sat at my computer, determined to claim a spot. When I received my registration confirmation email on February 14 (a very happy Valentine’s Day present, indeed, for this single girl) the training began.

For the past three months, I’ve stuck to a strict training plan, running four times a week and completing long runs and training races on the weekend. Last weekend, I ran 9 miles and was amazed at how much progress I’ve made and how surprisingly prepared I feel to run 10 miles in just a few days.

I can’t wait to run down such an iconic Philadelphia street, through the campus I called home for four years, through the city I’ve fallen in love with, past the stadiums I’ve cheered for our city’s teams at and across the finish line where one year of sweat, hard work and determination will culminate in accomplishment. 

I’m doing the Broad Street Run for the girl who could barely make it through the mandatory mile run in high school.

I’m doing the Broad Street Run for the girl who dreaded clothing store fitting rooms, unhappy with what she saw in the mirror.

But most importantly, I’m doing the Broad Street Run because now, I CAN.  I’m doing this run for the incredible sense of pride and accomplishment I know I’ll feel when I cross that finish line on May 6 and am rewarded with that sweet finisher medal around my neck.

While my story may not be extraordinary or unique, it is proof that it’s possible to reclaim your health and happiness, and accomplish goals you may once have thought unreachable.


15 thoughts on “Running Down Broad Street: My Journey to Philadelphia’s Iconic 10-Mile Run”

  1. Congratulations sister <3 could not be more proud of you. Can't wait to hear all about your journey to the finish line and see you run half marathons and full marathons in the future 🙂 love you

  2. yayayayay!!! I am so excited for you Jessica! You are amazing and I’ve been inspired by your journey. Rock that run! I’ll be cheering you all the way!!

  3. Jess you are truly an inspiration. I know you will go far in life and I wish you all the best! Good Luck!!!

  4. Way to go! I was in the same boat as you, overweight, unhappy with myself and disappointed with who I was. I’ll be running on Broad Street on Sunday as part of my training for a Marathon (something 1 year ago I never would have thought to do!). Congrats on the goals you’ve achieved. Now if you’ll excuse the sports cliche (and shout out to Philly), be sure to keep “the eye of the tiger!”

  5. Way to go Jess! That is a great accomplishment. I started running cross country in high school and before then, the longest I had run was a mile. It was definitely tough and I struggled much of my first year, but by my second year, I was running second or third on my team. It was such a rush and something I wish I had started earlier. I had knee surgery my senior year of high school and have not really felt comfortable running ever since. My mom and I walk 3 miles a few nights a week and a couple of times we have added a few blocks of running in, but I am so out of shape when it comes to running that I am actually kind of embarrassed. If I ever had to run for my life, I would not make it 😉 I didn’t know there was a Couch to 5K app! I’ll have to look into and try it out!

  6. Claudia McGill

    Hi, I don’t know if you remember me, but I am Andrew McGill’s mother (from high school). I read about you in the Inquirer and looked you up here. I congratulate you on the run and even more on your determination and persistance in working toward your other goals. I have a similar story about losing weight and getting back in shape and so I truly know what it has taken for you to accomplish this. I ran Broad Street 2 times and it is something I will not forget. Last year I did a half marathon and I hope to try for another one this fall. Maybe you would like to try one, too?

    Keep up the good work, and I am also glad to hear you are doing so well at work and about your writing.

  7. Congratulations on the accomplishment!

    Like you, when I started running I never thought I’d do any races or go for long distances.

    I surprised myself when I did a triathlon a few months later (swimming is still my strongest portion and always will be because I love it). Then I decided to go for the gusto and try training for a half-marathon. And I completed it…and have now done three as well as multiple 5Ks, a 10K and a 15K. (I just love collecting the shirts from the races!)

    Again, congrats and keep training!

  8. Congratulations Jessica! You truly deserve it. More power to you and keep going, we are just here cheering you. I am looking forward to your next post.

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Jessica_Lawlor_Blog Bio@2x

Meet Jessica

I live by the saying “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone” and help others do the same to reach their biggest, brightest goals. Read my story here.

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