The last race of the Spring season. Woke up this morning feeling a bit ambivalent about things. I didn't really know what to expect and afraid of the worst after my less-than-stellar Boston and sporadic running this week (since the last blog entry I ran 5.5 on Thursday and 3 on Friday).
But hey, its Broad Street. Not much that I would miss it for. By my records, this would be my eighth, but I know there are at least one or two beyond that which I've run. Having run it so often, there is much ritual attached. There is the logistical brilliance of having the course be a point to point run from high North Philly to deep South Philly - right over the Broad Street subway line. So its the only race where the subway hauls all the runners up to the start. There is hanging out on the grassy knoll at the start and running into all sorts of folks. 22,000 folks registered this year. Seems like anyone in Philly who is in any kind of shape runs it. After running it so much I've got a warm-up route laid out that permits bypassing the port-a-potties and finishing by going a block up Broad Street to hit the start from the other end and bypass all the elbowing to get up front. Here again its like a big room to work, saying hi to folks and wishing them luck. Then its the National Anthem, the wheelchair start, and the third mayor in my time here wishing everyone luck.
The start is the same as it ever is, a screaming downhill that I take easily. The first mile is spent overtaking folks who usually run behind me and I feel great. Split comes in at 5:39 and I can see myself hanging on to this pace. I'm not feeling competitive, just very eager for a decent showing. Mile 2-4 go in 5:45, 5:43, and 5:50 and I'm more at ease. I'm not going to melt down today. I missed the mile 5 mark and at mile 6 the split read 11:36.
This is where the race starts. Up to now the race is straight down Broad St. through North Philly up to City Hall, which the course goes around, and now its South Broad St. for the rest of the run. The downhills are gone and the aching legs set in. I don't have the will to push, but I don't slow down much either. Miles 7-9 are 5:54, 5:56 & 5:59. One more mile. There was nobody I was really duelling it out with, and I was more in survival mode than in competitive mode. I felt like I picked things up, passed a few runners, and saw the clock in the early 58s as I approached the finish. A lapse in concentration and a guy pulls ahead of me just at the finish; I put out a burst and, it turns out, nip him at the line in a very close finish. But, looking at the results, he had me by a few seconds on chip time. He did, however, keep me under six minutes for that last mile, just barely at 5:59. Final time was 58:26, 114th place overall.
Good but not great. A few minutes slower than last year, but pretty much consistent with the race times I've been running this Spring. It exorcises the demons from Boston, and closes the book on this season. I'll continue to run easy through May, and then start training hard again through the summer. I lost a step or two this Spring, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps the injury, perhaps age, perhaps something else. I'll try one more time this fall, I want to train hard and see what happens. If my times still don't come down, then maybe its time to start racing in costume.