Yesterday was a spectacular day.
Truly, it was up there with the best of the best.
This was the first year I ran the Run the Bridge 10K, an extremely popular, unique 10K course that spans the length of the Ben Franklin Bridge and back (first 5K), before weaving through the Rutgers Camden (my alma mater!) campus and along Camden’s waterfront (second 5K). The race usually sells out before I get a chance to sign up, but I managed to squeeze in this year.
November 1 marked the end of Daylight Savings Time and I was extremely grateful to get an extra hour of sleep. It made a big difference when my alarm went off at 5:50AM. I woke up, got ready, and drove over to Campbell’s Field. I stopped for a Wawa pumpkin spice coffee along the way. Even though it upsets my stomach a little bit while I’m racing, Wawa pumpkin spice gives me wings.
I had to get to the race considerably early to avoid road closures, so I had plenty of time to drink my coffee, catch up on Internet news, stretch, and jog a three mile warm up. I really enjoyed running around my old college stomping grounds and I was flooded with many memories.
Stepping onto the Ben Franklin Bridge without traffic was completely surreal. There was a smaller elite and seeded field at this race, and, because I anticipated running a sub 7-minute pace, I got to start up towards the front with the big-shot runners. That was a real thrill for me, because I’ve never been that close to the start of a several thousand person race.
Small Preamble: I hadn’t raced a 10K in nearly 5 years, so I had only a vague idea of what to expect. Based on past experience and my current 5K fitness level, I set two (ambitious) goals going into this race:
1: Run a sub-7 pace
2: Place in my age category
The race went off without a hitch. The first mile was almost entirely uphill (upbridge) and it was windy, so I ran an extremely conservative first split (7:16). I usually like to go out strong (I don’t like playing “catch-up” in the tail-end of a race), but I found it easy to build momentum after the first downhill. There was a quick turn-around in Philadelphia, and then the course went back up and over the bridge. It was really spectacular to watch thousands of runners storm towards me, from the Philadelphia-bound lanes, as I made the trek back to Camden. I hit my second split in 6:41.
I hit the three mile clock at 20:47 (6:44 third split) and I felt great. I was all thumbs up and smiles when I ran by the race photographer. Since I’ve increased my mileage lately (I ran 43 miles last week), I’m starting to truly understand what “fitness” feels like.
We got off the bridge at the 5K mark and charged the streets of Camden for the remaining 5K. This part of the race was kind of a blur. At the four mile split (6:51), I told myself I just needed to run strong to mile 5 (7:04), where Hollie and the other folks from Haddonfield Running Company were cheering and manning the water station.
When I got to the water station I heard nothing but “GO, LIZ!” and it was the best feeling in the world. As you can tell from this photograph, I was having the time of my life.
There was a pretty treacherous hill in the last mile (7:08), but the rest of the course coasted quite nicely into Campbell’s Stadium. A girl I had been racing with out-kicked me in the final stretch, and I threw up trying to catch her, but, other than that, it was a strong finish. (I went to congratulate her afterwards and she ended up being the nicest, coolest girl ever.) My chip time was 43:19 and my overall pace was 6:57. I finished 24th female, out of 1329, and 3rd in the F30-34 age category, out of 216. To say I was extremely proud of myself is a massive understatement.
Here is some dramatic finish line footage:
I ran into Angela in the parking lot afterwards and joined her group of fast ladies for a 2 mile cool-down. I logged over 11 miles in total, which made for an overall nice “long” run Sunday.
Angela and I both placed third in our age categories, so, in addition to a nice finisher’s medal, we won these beautiful awards (mine will surely become a paperweight). I’m thrilled that we both ran well and managed to place in such a competitive race! (I’m also really glad I recently had a birthday, because those twenty-somethings are FAST.)
Questions for the Internets:
Did you race this weekend? How did it go?
Do you prefer the 5K or 10K distance? (I think I may actually be a better 10K racer, after all.)
What’s the most unique race course you’ve ever run?