Monday, May 4, 2009


The Broad Street Run was the last race on my schedule this spring. I’ve been racing full bore since St. Patrick’s Day and my “season” started to feel just like…well, a season, specifically a long drawn out college season. I wasn’t as pumped for this race as I was for Cherry Blossom; I was kind of burned out and wanted to take a short break from racing/running. Everyone who runs claims Broad Street is a super fast course, so I knew I had to put it on my schedule. I’ve wanted to race it for the past two years, but marathon training got in the way.

I blew through the expo on Saturday and did my best to avoid the 28,000+ registered runners. I then drifted back to NJ and stayed at a pal’s pad for the night. I ran against Chris Carvelli a lot in high school and I often see him at races, but we never get a chance to chat. We drank a couple of brews, hammed it up and talked about our glory days as Massachusetts school boys. Chris had a very successful career in high school (4:19) and later at LaSalle (9:04 stch, 8:22, 4:12 etc).

I woke up early and got to the starting line about 90 minutes before the race. I felt good and hoped the rain would hold off. It had been drizzly since 5:30am – sometimes raining, sometimes just overcast. I got a good warm-up in but, like an amateur, found myself in the port-a-john line at 8:26…just 4 minutes before the gun shot off. I got to the start line in the nick of time and found a spot to stand. I did a stride and then got ready for the gun.

The pistol cracked and I bolted to the right (see video of me below). A lead pack coagulated together fairly quickly and a second pack formed on their heels. I tucked back behind the second pack and began my descent down Broad Street. After about a half mile a surged up to the second pack which included 3 Philly Track Club dudes clad in black singlets and a motley collection of other area runners. We hit mile 1 in 4:53 just 10 seconds behind the lead pack. This was fast, but the first 2 miles are downhill and everyone I talked to told me not to worry about going out fast for the first 5k. The plan was to just get into a good pack and compete. I tucked in behind the group and we rolled ahead. I hit mile 2 in 9:57 and looked at the guys around me. Were we too fast, I wondered. None of these Philadelphians seemed to worry, so neither did I. I felt good, but knew this pace was ridiculous. Was this time in the bank or was this going to haunt me 5 miles from now? I cruised through miles 3 and 4 in 15:04 and 20:07. I seemed to fall into my pre-race plan of 5:05-06 miles and things were going well. The rain picked up just a tad and there was a slight headwind. I tucked my face under the brim of my hat but welcomed the cool air on this wet/humid morning. I hit mile 5 in 25:14 and started to feel a bit labored. I noticed that I was breathing heavy and I caught myself falling off the pace. I could feel some side stitches way down deep in my chest, but it was nothing to cause any concern. All it took was a couple of simple distractions…and I noticed my pack was pulling away. I had basically just run a 5 mile PR and it seemed like I was set to pay the fiddler. I put in a surge and caught up to the last man in the pack. I stayed on his heels and got back in the game. The pack began to splinter; less of as pack and more of an Indian file type string out with two men leading another two, leading one, leading one, leading two. My last mile was 5:16 (30:30). I was slowing way down. I struggled to maintain contact and began to fall asleep. I couldn’t take my eyes off the men in black. Don’t lose contact, don’t lose contact…but I did. My eyes would wander and when they darted back to the black singlets, I realized I was losing ground. They pulled away, but they didn’t get far. Within a mile they too had settled. The real estate between me and the pack grew, then stopped. Then it began to close. One of the PTC guys fell back to me. I could see him holding his side. He had a stitch. I wanted to say something to him, to encourage him, to work with him, but I didn’t have the energy. I plugged along running 5:15s for the next two miles and lazily made my way to the finish. I picked off another PTCer, but there were still 3 guys in my initial pack ahead of me. Additionally, I could see 2-3 guys from the leads pack falling back. My legs still felt good, but I couldn’t get them moving. Steamtown Marathon champ (2:22) Kevin Borrelli came storming by me around this time and I did my best to latch on to him. I kept surging and he’d surge back. We surged and surged. I told myself I had only 15 minutes left to run, then 10 minutes left to run. I was still off my pace and I wasn’t getting any faster. I had settled and Borrelli had moved ahead. I hit mile 9 in 5:14. I could see Borrelli lingering ahead of me and I tried to walk him down. I felt like I was flying but I wasn’t catching him. Just ahead I could see my old pack, but they were too far ahead of me to catch. I hammered my last mile in 5:01 but it still wasn’t enough to walk anyone down…though I actually came painstakingly close. I finished with a 51:15, a 14 second PR over Cherry Blossom which got me 15th place. In retrospect, I should have gone out a tad slower (obviously) and it was clear I fell asleep/wussed out from mile 5-9, but I won’t argue with a PR. I was encouraged that I was able to close the gap between me and my initial pack in the last 1.5 miles of the race.. Sometimes you just got to roll with the pack and see what you can do. After running very evenly at Cherry Blossom, I was quite content to go this route here (i.e. – go out hard and see what you’re made out of).

GRC finished 3rd in the team competition – 51:15 + 53:15 + 54:34

Splits: 4:53, 9:57, 15:04, 20:07, 25:14, 30:30, 35:45, 41:00, 46:14, 51:15

Since January I’ve PR’d in 3k, 5k (twice), 10k and 10 miles (twice). Additionally, I set personal bests in every odd distance from 5 miles up to 10 miles (i.e. - 6 miles, 7 miles, 8 mile etc). This has definitely been my best series of races in my 14-15 years of competitive running. I am pretty sure I am done with racing for awhile. Time to take a few days off, regroup and build back up for the fall where I plan to attack the half marathon.


No comments: