A friend at school and I entered the registration lottery back in February and we were both lucky enough to get spots. I had planned to make Broad Street the center of my training plan in the early spring, but didn’t end up preparing for it until I started this blog at the end of March and ran the Rumspringa 1/2 in mid-April.
I did do some training in red socks, after my friend told me about the Facebook event that had been created to start the trend. Other than that, my preparation was really just focused on the races I’ve recapped here. I love doing races as a way to get miles in. Even if those miles aren’t especially fast, at least they’re done! 🙂
On Saturday afternoon, I went to the expo with my mom, who had pledged to be my supporter for all things Broad Street that weekend. (Aren’t moms great?!) Parking was easy – and free – at the Philly stadium complex and foot traffic into/out of the expo was well-managed. Packet pick-up was really fast, and the t-shirt station on the other end of the expo was also very organized.
There were quite a few vendors of clothing at the expo – compression socks, headbands, sports tops and shorts, etc. There were also a few race info booths, which is where I spent most of my browsing time. The ODDyssey Half-Marathon was handing out discount cards for $5 off their upcoming race AND my mom and I were lucky enough to score wristbands for their Broad Street after-party on Sunday!
On Sunday morning we got to the stadium complex around 645. It was freezing! I had checked the weather, but honestly didn’t expect the below-45-degree morning to feel quite so chilly! Luckily, we got a great parking spot and had a short walk to the subway station.
The idea is that the course is a point-to-point route from north Broad Street towards the south, ending at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, which is close to the stadium complex. Everyone who drives to the race has to park at the stadium and take a free subway ride to the start. The race info said that the train ride to the start takes about 35 minutes and that everyone should plan on boarding a train by 630! This seemed a little excessive to me, but I was soon to find out why they recommended such an early start…
I said goodbye to my mom at the subway station, with plans to meet up at the “lost runners” area in the Navy Yard after the race. When I got to the subway tracks, there was a train loading up that seemed full already. The cars in the back half of the train were all standing room only. I figured I might have to wait for the next train, but kept following the crowd ahead of me to the very front of the train. Amazingly, there was room in the front few cars – and there were even seats! I ducked into the very first car and got a seat, which was an amazing stroke of luck.
The train got more and more crowded the further north we went. Eventually, people waiting at the stops between the stadium complex and the start line were told to wait for the next train. I was happy to be on the train and moving toward our destination!
We arrived at the Olney Septa station around 730. There were massive amounts of people just milling around inside. I talked to a few runners and they all said they were staying in the station because it was warm. Since this was my first time running Broad Street, I figured I’d better sacrifice the warmth and get to the start line to see how things looked. Good thing I did, too, because it was a madhouse! The best way to describe how crazy it was is to tell you that the lines for the porta-johns were 45+ minutes long, despite the fact that the race organizers had rented over 300 of them for the start area. Yes, it was just that busy. There were 40,000 runners, after all!
The start kicked off around 830 with a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem. There were also words from Boston Mayor Tom Menino, a moment of silence in honor of Boston, and Sweet Caroline before each wave started. It was a very moving way to begin the race!
I spent the first few miles of the race navigating the crowds and just enjoying the feeling of running down one of Philly’s iconic streets. I had no idea how quickly I could or should run this race, and I often found myself trying to slow down in these early miles. I definitely agreed with my fellow runner when he said, “I think the crowd just pushes you along in things like this.” I did try to look around and appreciate the spectators cheering and cowbelling. 🙂 I also took some time to snap photos of things I wanted to remember, like the cool shirt the girl above was wearing.
And City Hall in the distance.
And these runners, who carried the flag throughout the race. I don’t know how people have the strength to do this, but it is awesome to see!
I didn’t get a picture, because I almost ran right by her, but I heard someone calling my name shortly after the 9 mile mark and was really happy to see my mom cheering for me! It was just the thing I needed to keep me going for the last mile.
This probably takes the award for the best view. The Navy Yard gates = one-quarter of a mile left!
I picked up my finisher’s medal and food bag (soft pretzel! Tastykakes! yogurt! yes!!!) and walked off in search of the “lost runners” meet-up area. The first information booth attendant I talked to hadn’t even heard of that location and she directed me to the family meet-up area instead. Who knew that even existed?! I would have planned to meet my mom by the first letter of our last name if we had figured that out in advance, but it was just as well that we planned for the lost runners location. The letter meet-up spot was really crowded.
As I was waiting at the lost runners area, beginning to despair of ever being “found,” I looked up and saw my friend from school! I couldn’t believe that in a crowd of 40,000+ runners and spectators we happened to find each other. She was looking for her siblings, so we decided to divide and conquer. We eventually found my mom and my friend’s brother and sister. After chatting for a bit, and recounting our favorite race moments, we parted ways for the day.
My mom and I walked back to the stadium complex, only to find such bad traffic that people were sitting in their cars in line to leave but with the engines turned off. Luckily, we had alternative plans and decided to go check out the ODDyssey 1/2’s after-party. It was at McFadden’s at Citizen’s Bank Park. When we got there I traded my entrance wristband for a free beer ticket and we went to the outdoor bar to enjoy the gorgeous afternoon. (My mom drove. Again, she’s awesome!)
The after-party was the perfect way to spend an hour or so relaxing after the race, and by the time we got back to our car, the traffic had completely disappeared. It was time to go home and recover and enjoy some good food. As my friend said, “calories don’t count today.” 😉
The Broad Street Run was a wonderful race. The spirit and energy there was really inspirational and it felt great to be part of such a legendary Philadelphia tradition. Broad Street definitely lived up to its hype for me, and I plan to be back in the future!
Happy Fitness Friday Linkup, everyone. Enjoy your weekend.