If we have learned anything from Beyoncé this year, it’s “When life gives you rain, you must make rainade.”
2016 continues to be the year that tests me. Good thing I’m a good test taker.
If you know me, you know the Broad Street Run marks my absolute favorite day of the year and I refuse to let anything ruin it. I’ve run the BSR every single year since 2010, when it was a record-setting 100 degrees in Philadelphia and I was a new (and very unfit) runner. I finished that race in 1:46:39. It was the proudest day of my life.
Over the past six years, I’ve slowly whittled away at that time. In 2011, I ran 1:15:16. In 2014, I ran 1:13:49. In 2015, I ran 1:11:23.
Last year, I averaged 25-30 mile training weeks in the months leading up to the BSR. I thought that was pretty good mileage. Now I know it’s not. This year, I averaged 40-50 mile training weeks. I have realized that I don’t feel fit on anything less. Before, I didn’t actually know what fitness felt like.
In addition to discovering true fitness, I’ve become pretty good at setting running goals that are challenging, yet attainable.
I set two running goals for 2016:
2) Break a 70-minute 10-miler.
Going into this year’s BSR, I was in the best shape of my entire life. My body loves running higher, easy mileage. I’ve also taken serious measures to improve my diet, so I don’t just feel fit; I feel strong. I knew I was asking a lot of my body to run a 10 mile race at what had been my 10K pace just a few months before, but I believed it was entirely possible.
I also knew it was entirely possible that the weather would suck this year. I’d so far had pretty good weather luck with the BSR, so it was bound to rain eventually. This year, it rained hard.
I spent Saturday obsessively checking the Sunday weather forecast (rain, rain, and more rain). I also went to the expo to pick up my bib, shop the running merchandise, and hang out with Angela at the Sparkly Soul booth. It was really nice to see her, since the last time we raced together was the Adrenaline 5K back in March.
I bought a “Run Philadelphia” Sparkly Soul headband and took it for a spin on my 5 mile shakeout run Saturday evening.
Surprise! I woke up to pouring rain at 6AM on Sunday morning. Chris and I jokingly considered sleeping in and not racing, but (of course) that was not an option. I decided to make the best of the day and offset the stormy weather by dressing as sunshine bright as possible.
My friend Brenda, who is a designer for Saucony, sent me this light, bright, breathable orange jacket in the mail last year. It turned out to be the perfect top layer to shield me from the elements. I also decided to wear compression sleeves (I’d been dealing with a sight knot in my right calf) and a relatively new pair of trainers I’d saved specifically for this race. I packed two trash bags to keep Chris and myself as dry as possible at the starting line. We actually had a lot of fun laughing at ourselves and the 40,000 other crazies who came out to race 10 miles in the freezing rain.
I’d also prepared this spectacular playlist. I always bring my phone to the BSR (for safety reasons and in case I have trouble meeting up with people afterwards), so I might as well listen to music.
I drank a Pepsi on the car ride over to the race. I was nervous about drinking my usual sweet coffee, because coffee can sometimes upset my stomach. My stomach felt a little acidic during the first 3-4 miles of the race, but it eventually settled. I ran my first 3 miles fast and strong. I was moving close to 5K pace, so I worried I might eventually crash and burn. But I also knew the only way I’d PR was to take the race out strong. I crossed the 3 mile split in 19:46.
I spent the first few miles trying to dodge puddles and keep my feet as dry as possible (the backs of my heels eventually chafed, but nothing too serious). A few runners ahead of me were kind enough to signal puddles as they passed, which I really appreciated. I would have hit a big one around mile 5, if the guy in front of me hadn’t pointed it out.
I passed the halfway point at City Hall feeling better than I ever had before. I usually feel completely spent at this juncture in the race, but I was still running a sub-6:45 pace pretty easily. I think this is when I realized I would PR.
By mile 7, I was completely drenched. Even though I was wearing light, tight, spandex shorts, they became extremely waterlogged and started to ride up and slide down at the same time. My left hip began to feel tight, as a result, and I slowed to a 6:50/7 minute mile, which was inevitable, given how quickly I started the race.
I still had fire in my legs. At mile 9.5, I started to hone in on the PR finish I’d worked so hard for. I was really enjoying the intensity of the experience, when two men barreled into me, trying to position themselves in front of a race photographer. One nearly knocked me over. It was kind of upsetting, but I managed to salvage the moment.
I crossed the finish line in 1:08:13, which is over 3 minutes faster than my time last year.
I don’t ever really feel relieved when I cross a finish line. Even though this particular race was kind of brutal and I was glad to be done running, I immediately fixated on how I can run faster next year. I’m never satisfied. But I was still extremely happy.
I usually like to find friends and hang out in the Navy Yard after the BRS, but it was so rainy and miserable that Chris and I decided to leave right away. Because of road closures, it took us over an hour to get an Uber home. Wandering the streets of Philadelphia in wet clothes was far more challenging than running the actual race.
Chris and I went out for a celebratory pizza party after the race. I had a delicious personal-sized pie topped with broccoli and olives.
My goal for next year’s BSR is to run sub-65 minutes on 60 mile training weeks. I think this is an extremely attainable goal for me, now that I’ve crossed the threshold into competitive running territory.
I will probably spend the summer continuing to improve my 5K time. I’d like to race weekly or every other week as speed workouts, while maintaining a 10 mile weekly long run.
Questions for the Internets:
What are your summer running plans?
Do you run the same race every year?
What are your best rainy race tips?