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A Philadelphia Love Story: Broad Street Run Race Recap

broad street run- Jessica Lawlor
The standard “check out my medal…I finished the race!” post-race photo.

On Sunday, I ran my third Broad Street Run.

I’ve waxed poetic about how much this race means to me.

When I started my healthy living journey more than three years ago, this was always my goal race. It was the race I believed would validate all the hard work and effort I put in to get healthy, grow my confidence and learn to love myself.

The race exceeded all my expectations, which is why I return year after year.

When I really think about it…the Broad Street Run outlines my love affair with the city of Philadelphia. The beautiful city I’m lucky enough to call home.

Before my first Broad Street in 2012, I wrote:

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. 

And each year, my love for this city has only grown stronger. My affinity for the places I run by throughout the course has only grown deeper. I’ve created more memories along the race course and running down this iconic street is a reminder of how far I’ve come and how much farther I have left to go.

As you may have read last week, my sole mission for this race was to finish with a smile. To let go of time goals.

This year, I wanted to fully soak in the race, take in the spectators, admire Philadelphia’s gorgeous architecture and finish the race with a smile on my face.

I believe I achieved those goals.

Training

As I shared last week…there wasn’t much training this time around. I didn’t feel quite as prepared this year as I have the past two years, but I knew that I would be able to finish and that was all that mattered.

The culmination of a horrible, horrible winter that literally kept me inside from January-March and a lack of interest in running combined to make for a not-so-eager to train Jessica.

But somewhere in early April, I woke up and realized, “YIKES, this race is in less than a month. I need to get myself in gear.”

I completed most of my long runs, but really slacked on the mid-week shorter distance runs, which meant that my long runs were that much harder because my body was all, “UH…why do you think you can run 9 miles without physically preparing for this?”

But even still, the week before the race, I completed a 9-mile long run and gained a little bit of confidence back knowing that I would definitely finish the race.

Broad Street Run Race Expo

Broad Street Run- Jessica Lawlor
Race ready!

This year, the race expo moved from Lincoln Financial Field in South Philadelphia to the Convention Center in Center City.

I don’t have a preference for either location, but I will say that the packet pickup process seemed very smooth this time around (I also went on Friday after work, whereas I usually go on Saturday afternoon, so that might have something to do with it).

I picked up my big and t-shirt, no problem, and even splurged on a couple of new headbands that will be perfect for both running and yoga.

Race Day

Once again this year, I was lucky enough to have a member of my family literally drop me off at the starting line at Broad and Olney. I was amazed at just how close I was able to get to the corrals without the roads yet being closed. I heard horror stories of backed-up traffic at the stadiums and packed-like-sardines subways, so I felt grateful for such an easy drop-off.

Broad Street Run-Jessica Lawlor
Hanging with a few friends before the race.

I met up with my friends no problem thanks to a secret meeting less-congested meeting spot I discovered last year. Immediately, we headed off to Porta-Potty City (seriously…SO MANY porta-potty’s) and attempted to find the end of the line. That was pretty fruitless as the lines were literally snaking and curving so much that finding the end was almost impossible. We ended up just
finding a place to stand in line (sorry to anyone we accidentally jumped in front of!) and waited about 25-30 minutes to use the bathrooms before the race.

Quick tip: Even though the porta-potty lines are VERY long at the beginning of the race, GO BEFORE. I saw SO many people waiting in a line 30 people deep at the 2-mile mark where there were maybe 3 porta-potty’s.

From there, we got into our corrals and awaited the start of the race! As I’ve advised in the past, the race starts at 8:30 a.m., but if you’re in one of the last corrals, as I was, you generally don’t cross the start line until about 9:05 a.m.

My corral was surprisingly not as packed as I remember it being in past years and we quickly made our way to the start and we were off!

And we’re off…

The race begins in North Philadelphia and weaves it’s way toward Center City and South Philadelphia. The crowd support seemed a little bit less this year, especially in the beginning of the race, but as we ran toward Temple University and Center City, I knew the crowds would pick up.

My favorite part of the race is always running through Temple (my alma mater…no surprises there) and high-fiving the football team and giving sweaty hugs to some of my friends who work for the university and organize the cheering section.

From Temple, we head toward iconic City Hall and from there the crowds begin to roar. I literally could not hear my music from my phone because the crowds were so loud. Definitely inspiring.

Around mile 7, I began to lose steam quickly. My feet were absolutely killing me- strange, because that’s never been an issue before. I later realized that my feet likely hurt so bad because I did my training runs on a combination of trails and track; my feet were not used to pounding the hard pavement for so long.

I stopped and walked a lot between miles 7 and 9, but once I saw the one-mile left marker, I picked up my speed because I wanted to finish strong. I glanced at my watch and realized I could *maybe* beat my previous time if I kept moving.

I finished the race in 1:54:34, coming in about just a minute slower than last year, but three minutes faster than the previous year.

While I would have loved to set a personal record, I was happy with my time based on the work and training I put in. I kept saying to myself, “Just think how amazing I could do if I trained properly!”

Maybe next year…

The Aftermath

Broad Street Run-Jessica Lawlor
IMG_7637 From high school homeroom to Temple to finishing Broad Street Run three times, so many memories with my friend Monica!

Oh man…here’s where things went a little sour.

After crossing the finish line (HOORAY!), we were corralled off to the left, where we immediately came to a dead stop. NOT exactly what you want to do after running 10 miles.

In past years, I remember the entrance to the Navy Yard being extremely smooth, but this year, there was about a 10 minute gap between finishing the race and getting our medals and food bag. At this point, it also became very cold, windy and started to drizzle a bit.

I finally got my medal (SO pretty and blingy this year for the race’s 35th anniversary) and made my way to the Dunkin’ Donuts truck, the meeting spot my friends and I had settled on. Unfortunately, it seemed EVERYONE else also made the Dunkin’ truck their meeting spot because it was almost impossible to find anyone. I knew this ahead of time from previous years, but there is absolutely no cell service at the finish, so I wasn’t able to call or text my friends. Luckily, after wandering around the truck for about 20 minutes, I finally spotted them!

After we took a bunch of photos, we headed back toward the subway- about a one mile walk. Having to walk a mile after running 10 is never easy, but this year was made way worse by what seemed to be a much larger group of runners this year. It took way longer to reach the subway this year than it has in the past.

And when I came home, before collapsing into bed for a two-hour nap (post-race naps are THE BEST), I did my yoga pose of the day (see my Instagram for the daily pose)- a side plank, with my medal, of course!

Broad Street Run-Jessica Lawlor
Side planking with my medal!

What’s next?

Broad Street Run round three: complete!

To be honest, I have no clue what’s next. I’m just happy I made it through Broad Street.

After I recover from this race, I hope to rediscover my love for running, just for fun. The joy of lacing up my sneakers and running my usual trail and loving every minute of it.

I have  a 5K on my calendar for June, but besides that, I have no big races on the horizon.

I plan to continue my yoga practice, but also hope to get back in the gym for more strength work.

And perhaps I’ll return again to Broad Street in 2015…

For even more Broad Street…

Broad Street Run-Jessica Lawlor
With my work bff Rachel. Her first Broad Street!

I’ve written about this iconic race several times on the blog.

Broad Street Run Round 3: Letting Go of Goals and Finishing With a Smile

Broad Street Run Recap 2013

Broad Street Run (Take Three!): 10 Tips for Runners (As featured in Philly Mag!)

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

And BIG congrats to my friend Amanda who crushed her previous time by 20 minutes (!!!) and my work BFF Rachel who ran her first Broad Street this year!

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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