When I ran the Broad Street Run last Sunday, I made the conscious choice to not use my Garmin Forerunner. I didn’t want to take the chance of racing myself when I know I’m not where I could be in terms of running fitness. I just wanted to have fun.
And a lot of fun was had. I enjoyed the race. All systems were running as smoothly as possible. I kept my eyes up and tried to take in the sights.
I also kept my eyes away from the race clocks. The race has two clocks framing the course at every mile marker. After Mile 3, I made the conscious decision to not look at the clocks. When I saw the blue banners announcing the mile, I kept my eyes forward — no looking to the sides to see the clocks. That way, I had no idea how fast I was going or how I might finish.
I paid attention to what was going around me. As is my wont, I stayed to the left of the course and tried to settle into a steady pace. I have to say the race organization on-course was good; in addition to keeping you informed time-wise, there were plenty of water stops and lots of port-a-potty stops (that’s one thing Cherry Blossom somewhat lacks). I thought communication leading up to the race was spotty, but the course management itself was well done.
The first few miles of the race are in North Philly; crowds here were thin but enthusiastic. Getting into the Temple University area, the noise level increased substantially; the marching band was out and even members of the football team were cheering us on. As we moved toward City Hall, the crowds get louder — I got into it by high-fiving a few people and touching the “power boost” buttons that people like to put on their signs.
After Mile 6 and City Hall, the crowds still remained, but I found them a bit distracting. Comparing it Cherry Blossom, Mile 6 is usually where I dig deep in a 10-mile run; during Cherry Blossom, Mile 6 marks the beginning of the Hains Point section of the race. The miles until Mile 9 are relatively quiet and usually I focus on my breathing and pace. With the crowds, I found myself unable to concentrate fully. It was, however, much better than this year’s Cherry Blossom where Miles 6-9 were agony since my only thought was “OMG, OMG, OMG, what is wrong with me?”
Mile 9 in this race was the toughest for me. The sun was beating down in this last mile and there was very little shade in which to take refuge. Though I was dressed more comfortably than I had been for Cherry Blossom, I still overheated and wished I was wearing shorts or capris (I had 7/8 tights). And then running through the Navy Yard gates and still having some distance to go? Oh, cruel! But I persevered and managed to smile for the finish-line cameras.
In the end, I was about a mile faster than Cherry Blossom. I didn’t feel like a Mack truck had hit me at the race’s beginning, either. However, I did notice my body felt tight throughout and my upper body was quite sore in the following days. That means I need to shake up the exercise routine a bit, methinks.
On that note of shaking things up, I’m taking a new approach to running for the summer. Instead of going all out as I’m prone to do, all my runs will be easy runs. They can be fast easy runs, they can be slow easy runs, but there will be no pressure to make them perfect. My first run post-race was a 30-minute run, done at a whatever pace, no worrying over distance.They can be gym workouts, they can be running home from work (taking the long way home), they can be weekend long runs. But they’ll be done at a level that’ll let me enjoy the runs again.
I’ve found that instead of enjoying a run, I let my mind slide to the time ticking away or the mileage adding up. As opposed to finding it inspiring (I’m running more, yay!), I find it discouraging (I’m not running fast/far enough, boo!). So I’m gonna go all Forrest Gump on myself: I’ll just feel like running!
I won’t use apps to track distance. I won’t use pen and paper to track days run. I will just move.
I also signed up for a 13-week intro yoga class that I hope will help me build some strength and become more flexible. I really enjoyed the six-week class I did earlier this year and hope to get into the practice a bit more. I’m going to start biking to work soon, too.
I need to do something besides running, after all.