Monday, May 24, 2010

A Fair-Weather Health-Nut on the Broad Street Run

It's kind of silly that it took me this long to blog about the Broad Street Run that took place on May 2nd, but better late than never.
Emily asked me to participate in the 10-miler with her about 6 months before it happened and I gave her a hesitant 'yes.' While most people were training for the challenge, I shoved running to the back burner with the excuse, "I can always quit and catch the subway." I started "training" about a month before the race. I was surprised how easily my body adapted to running, and quickly realized that my stamina is better now than it was in high school... you know, when I was taking 5 dance classes a week and cheerleading for 2 hours every day after school.
In my junior year of high school, Kristin and I tried to train to run a mile for our presidential fitness testing in gym class. The fitness testing was insane. As a student, you were graded on how flexible you were, how many chin-ups and sit-ups you could do and how fast you could run a mile. The grading was not based on improvement, it was based on ability, and as one of the more 'in shape' students in the class, I couldn't even imagine what it would have been like to be an overweight or sedentary student. The mile grading scale went like this: under 8 minutes= A, 8-9 minutes= B, 9-10 minutes= C, 10-11 minutes= D, 11+ minutes= fail. I got a "C" and felt like someone had hit me with a bus when I was finished. If you had told me then that in 12 years I would do that x10, I would have peed myself laughing.
Before the Broad Street Run, I had been eating uncharacteristically well under the supervision of my hippie-holistic-chiropractic-dietitian-spirit guide. He had put me on a strict diet of no red meat, dairy, sugar, vinegar, coffee, alcohol, corn, or wheat. I lined up the first week of the cleanse with my period, so I had this amazing coffee and sugar withdrawal mixed with menstrual exhaustion and I was a miserable bitch. After that hump, I started to feel light and amazing. I carried over some of the dietary suggestions to my everyday life (it was a 30-day diet), and by the time the run came along, I had begun to re-introduce food items to my diet. For some months before the run, Emily and I had gotten into the habit of (in my case, erratically) attending spinning class at the 12th street gym. The intense cardio must have prepped me for the run, because the first time I practiced I ran 3.2 miles in 30 minutes and didn't have to stop to walk.
The Actual Run:
Standing at Broad and Olney, City Hall is nothing more than an imaginary dot behind gently rolling hills of concrete. Suddenly running for 2 hours solid sounded horrifying. The morning was hot and the Broad Street Run staff decided to open the fire hydrants along the route to cool us of as we rolled down the street in a river of bouncing Phillies caps. Emily and I ran for the first 4 miles solid and then lost each other. RAN FOR FOUR MILES SOLID. INSANE. Obviously, the run got harder and harder as the miles ticked away, and progress seemed a lot slower when I hit mile 7, but overall the experience was inspiring. 30,000 people moving together in relative synchrony. From Olney to the Naval Yard, spectators lined Broad Street with signs to encourage their friends and family members. I never thought I would be so excited to see Girard Ave.. Around mile 8 or 9, I started to feel really worn. Nearing the finish line my feet clumsily slapped the ground without rhythm, and I eeked out one more bit of energy to finish as strong as I could, crossing the line at 1 hour and 57 minutes. I felt very peaceful and happy for about 4 hours afterward, and around 6pm I experienced a depressing crash. It was kind of annoying that I am so emotionally sensitive that a natural endorphin rush can result in an emotional low. My joints ached that evening, and for the next 3 days my muscles ached... but that was it. My knees kept with me the whole time, only complaining the evening after I made them do twice what they had ever done in the past.
Needless to say, I haven't been back to the gym since... but I am going to try spinning tonight.