Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 Bridge Run

The weather for today's bridge run was gorgeous. It started out cloudy and ended up bright sunshiny. I'll spare you having to read the whole post and say now that I had an awesome time.

I arrived early. I was in the parking lot around 6:45. I did that on purpose remembering from two years ago that the traffic backs up quickly on Cooper Street leading to Campbell Field. I woke up at 6 am; grabbed my bagel and water and got in the car. I ate the bagel and drank the water to pass the time while I waited in the car. Around 7:30 I headed over to the stadium. There were quite a few phillyfitters running this race; John C, Kristie, honarary member Jamie, Jim, Roy and Julius. Sophorn elected to save her legs for the 50 mile run she is doing on November 19th. Maggi woke up sick.

I headed to the field and immediately spotted John C's orange hat. Roy was there with him. We stayed there through the opening ceremonies which featured the best rendition of the "Star Spangled Banner" I have heard. I don't like the song - but I have to admit this woman sang it very well. Among others, Carl Lewis spoke for a minute or two and reminded everyone not to go out too fast. Then we began the walk to the base of the New Jersey side of the bridge. On the way over we saw Sophorn and her camera. She returned my gloves that I had loaned her last week when she did her 30 miles in the snow and glop. They were toasty warm from being in her pocket and I was glad to have them. I saw Julius and his friend Karen when I arrived at the bridge.

The race began as the sun began to peek through the clouds. I thought this might present a problem on the return trip over the bridge but fortuenately it didn't. My plan was to stay slow and steady up and let gravity take me down. I started near the rear of the pack knowing that I did not want to go out fast. The first three miles over and back on the bridge were uneventful. I was pleased at how good and smooth it felt for me. My hands warmed up after the first mile as is typical and I was fortunate to see Sophorn again on the bridge taking photos. She took the gloves to the finish for me.

The climbs on both sides of the bridge really are not bad. They are long slow climbs but not very steep at all. It's very nice having the first three miles be out and back like this. I got to see John C and Kristie running back as I was still heading over and I was able to give them a shout out. I also saw Roy going the other way when I was returning to NJ. Another nice things was seeing the leaders of the race coming back over the bridge and hearing everyone cheering for them.

Bridge done and now it was 3.2 miles around Camden. The course was different than in 2009. I was glad for that. This course had more turns in it. I enjoyed the break from long straight stretches. Mile 4 came and I still felt amazingly good. I had no thoughts of walking and very little pain anywhere. On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being run stopping pain I had a 1.5 in my right foot coming off the arch and heading up the inside of my leg and another 1 in my left hamstring. I had not joint pain at all and all pains were gone within minutes of finishing.

The last water stop was just before mile 5. This is also where the course headed up a slight incline heading back to the ballpark. This incline was actually steeper than the bridge but much shorter. There was a guy running near me for most of the city portion of the run. He was listening to something on an I-pod and when it got to a certain point he would yell out and pick up speed. He would pass me and then slow down and I'd pass him. After the first two times I stopped being startled by his yelling. He was oblivious to how loud he was.

Between mile 4 and 5 there was a very badly beaten up speed bump. An adult and a child stood there warning the runners. The child was very serious looking; clapping for everyone and calling out "Watch the speed bump". Someone in front of me tried to high five him. He did but the look on his face said, "This is not what I was told to do". It was cute.

I passed mile 5 and headed up the hill there still marveling at how good I felt. Still no walk breaks and did not feel like I needed one. We entered the stadium and ran across the grass of the outfield toward the finish. The soft ground afforded me the chance for a nice sprint to the end. I saw Sophorn and John C. cheering and broke into a huge smile.

The time on the clock said 1:08 and change. So I definitely did better than 1:10. Still waiting the results to be posted online for the official time. Even at 1:08 - just 4 minutes slower than 2 years ago when I was in way better shape - is not too shabby.

The half marathon on November 20 will be the real test but I feel like I'm finally coming back from the funk I was in all summer. While we waited for the start, Roy asked if I had any winter or spring races planned. I told him no. I will run this winter and if all goes well I might sign up for something but I'm not going to do so in advance. I'll take my chances and run without a goal or the pressure of a goal over the winter.

One difference in this race is stretching. I spent some time before the race doing careful stretches of calves, hanstrings and quads. I thought with all the pains I've been having this might help. Maybe I need to do that more often.

EDIT: Race results posted. Chip Time 1:06:28. :) 10:42 pace. 2 minutes and 24 seconds slower than 2009. I'll take it.

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