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Broad Street Run Race Recap: A 10-Mile Adventure Through The Heart of Philadelphia

Broad Street Run 2013-Jessica Lawlor
Happy little runner after completing the Broad Street Run four minutes faster than in 2012.

Broad Street Run, round two: CONQUERED.

Before I break down my 2013 race experience, I want to start by thanking and praising the city of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Police Department and the team behind the Independence Blue Cross Broad Street Run for an incredibly safe and well-organized race.

In light of what happened in Boston, not once did I feel nervous (and that says a lot coming from this overly-anxious worrywart). An increased police presence was definitely felt throughout the race, but never in a negative or scary way- just in a calm and controlled manner.

Actually, the race was a beautiful tribute to Boston from start to finish with thousands of runners sporting red socks, From Philly to Boston, with love stickers given to every runner at the Race Expo and “Sweet Caroline” playing at the start.

Oh, and SPOILER ALERT: I PR’d and beat my time from last year!

Why Broad Street?

I first learned of the Broad Street Run in 2011 when I spotted the finish line from my car on I-95 and vowed to myself that the following year, I would complete the race. In that year, through running, I completely transformed my body, mind and attitude.

When I made the decision to train for the Broad Street Run, I set out to become a better runner, but in the process became a better person.

Training for and completing the Broad Street Run reminds me of just how far I’ve come and how far I know I’m able to go if I set my mind to it.

Training

Here’s the thing about training this time around for the Broad Street Run…there wasn’t much of a plan.

Before my first Broad Street Run in 2012 and the Philadelphia Half Marathon, I did meticulous research and created detailed calendars both online and on paper for training. Not this time.

Around the middle of March, I realized that it was probably time I put some sort of plan together. I loosely followed last year’s plan (at least when it came to long runs), but slacked a bit on my mid-week runs and strength training. In any case, I completed long runs each week from about 5 miles up until 9 miles.

Despite not training as hard as I did last year, when race day came, I felt ready. I had done this before and knew that I was capable of finishing strong.

Broad Street Run Race Expo

Ready for this? There was ZERO wait time to get in to the Race Expo at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Broad Street Run is a well-oiled machine; the organizers know how to manage 40,000 people and I was in and out of the Expo in no time at all. I got my bib, picked up my t-shirt and browsed the different vendors- I ended up buying a new sparkly pink Sweaty Bands headband to wear for the race.

Broad Street Run Race Expo-Jessica Lawlor
Got my bib! Ready to rock the yellow corral.

Race Eve

The night before the race, my friend Melissa and I went out for a delicious Italian meal, perfect for carb-loading. Together, we devoured an entire loaf of bread (if running 10 miles isn’t an excuse to over-indulge in carbs, I don’t know what is) and I ate pasta and chicken.

When I came home, I finalized my playlist, laid out my race day outfit and got in bed around 10:30 p.m.

Broad Street Run Ready-Jessica Lawlor
Broad Street Run ready…jelly beans for fuel.

Race Day

My dad was nice enough to drive me to the start line at Broad and Olney, allowing me to skip public transportation and sleep a little later (Thanks Dad!). Even though I tried NOT to get to the race too early, I still managed to make it to the start at about 7:15 a.m., more than an hour before the race actually began.

I was able to meet up with a few friends and we hit the porta-potty area- like a good little racer, I remembered my TP, but didn’t even need it- yet again, the Broad Street Run organizers were prepared for the masses of people and all the bathrooms were well-stocked and surprisingly clean.

Race day essentials- Jessica Lawlor
Race day essentials- toilet paper, water and snacks.

My ONLY complaint about the entire Broad Street Run came right before the race was set to begin. As we attempted to make our way to our corral, all of a sudden, no one was moving. Everyone was stuck at a complete standstill, packed like sardines. I’m not sure exactly what happened, but we weren’t able to move for about a half hour, until the race began and some of the faster corrals started the race. Luckily, I was in a later corral, so after the crowd let up, I had no problem making my way to the yellow corral in time to start.

And We’re Off…Running the Broad Street Run

The race began with a pride-filled Star Spangled Banner, a brief speech from Mayor Michael Nutter and an extra special message from Boston’s Mayor, Thomas Menino. He thanked the city of Philadelphia and all the Broad Street Run participants for their support and then the familiar tune of Sweet Caroline blasted from the speakers and the first corral was off!

Like I expected, I didn’t cross the start line until about 9:05 a.m., 35 minutes after the race officially began.

The first half of the race travels through North Philadelphia; it’s not the most scenic part of the race, but the local support makes it completely worth it. That’s one of the best things about the Broad Street Run. It truly brings people from all walks of life together to celebrate a special occasion that touches almost every major neighborhood in the city of Philadelphia.

I started out a little faster than I probably should have out of excitement and hit the three mile mark in 32:42. From there, my momentum only grew because I knew we were quickly approaching my alma mater, Temple University, and also the spot where my family was spectating.

Broad Street Run at Temple University
Temple Runs Broad Street.

Running through Temple was one of the most special parts of the race for me. Temple’s Alumni Relations team organized an amazing group of alumni, students, cheerleaders, football players and the marching band to cheer on runners, as they passed through campus. After high-fiving the entire Temple University Football Team, I continued running and spotted my family.

Broad Street Run 2013-Jessica Lawlor
Waving to my family as I passed by at Temple.

After running through Temple, I continued on to another exciting and energizing part of the race- running toward City Hall. This year, I made sure to take my friend Amanda’s advice to have fun and stop for a photo with the iconic building in the background, even if it meant stopping for a minute. I’m glad I did.

Broad Street Run-City Hall-Jessica Lawlor
Philadelphia’s City Hall- an awe-inspiring view of the city.

After City Hall is where things began to go downhill (both figuratively and literally). Mentally, I knew how far I still had to go and physically, I knew I had gone out way too fast in the beginning. I began to slow down to a run/walk and felt pretty discouraged. I popped a few jelly beans (my running fuel of choice), guzzled some water and mustered up the strength to continue.

Even through my frustration, I tried to soak in the moment and enjoy the thousands of spectators, funny signs and amazing volunteers who came out to support the runners.

With my goal of beating my previous time of 1:57:32 in mind, I tried to psych myself up to pick up the pace. I carefully watched my Garmin watch doing mental calculations (leave it to me to discover my math skills after becoming a runner) and figured out that I could definitely safely beat my time, but I still wanted to finish the race strong.

As I approached the stadium area of South Philadelphia, I gave it my all and picked up the pace. When I hit the Navy Yard entrance, I knew I still had .25 to go and continued running. I high-fived Mayor Nutter and finally crossed the finish line!

Broad Street Run 2013 Finishing Time: Jessica Lawlor
Sweet success! Achieved my goal of beating my previous Broad Street Run time.

I glanced down at my watch and saw that I beat my time goal; immediately, my eyes welled up as they do after every big race I complete, a mixture of pure joy, exhaustion and pride. I was handed a medal which I promptly placed around my neck and headed in to the finishing area, knowing that I had accomplished my goal and beat my previous time by more than four minutes.

What’s Next?

My second 10-miler is in the books!

So, what’s next in my ever-changing and evolving running journey?

One of my major running goals for 2013 is to run a sub-30 minute 5K, so now I’m turning my attention and efforts toward getting speedier! I have my eye on a few different 5Ks over the next few months and know that achieving this goal will be a challenge, but it’s definitely do-able.

I’m also excited to jump back into regular Zumba classes and focus on strength training.

And of course, I look forward to conquering the Broad Street Run again in 2014; I hope to make this iconic and special race a tradition!

Have you ever completed the Broad Street Run or a similar large race? Share your story in the comments below!

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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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