Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ben Franklin Bridge 10K - November 1, 2009

Staring at the ceiling at 3am. It's raining outside. My nose is stuffed up, my chest is tight and it feels like my head is being squeezed. Just great, this was not good. The butterflies in my stomach were morphing into aliens. I was more than a little nervous.

Out of bed at 6am, dressed in my new running clothes and borrowed black Phillies hat, the girls were locked and loaded (read snug sports bra here), knee brace on, attempted to eat toast with peanut butter (suggested by Chrissy D.) and some yogurt. Not really happening. I took Dayquil so I could breathe and found an albuterol inhaler to take with me to open up my lungs. Several texts back and forth from Chrissy. Got good luck from hubby and left with number 577 pinned to my chest. My playlist was planned to play Britney's "3" around the time I should hit each new mile.

I should have taken into account the bridge closing traffic. I only live 12 minutes from the bridge. It took me 50 minutes to get close. Then I was directed into 2 (not 1) full parking lots. I was going to lose Chrissy soon because she was leaving her phone in the car. We were going to meet at the large Campbell's sign at Campbell's Field. The race was to start at 8:30am. When I got to the sign, the runners were being led to the starting line (8 blocks away). I couldn't find Chrissy. My phone rings and its her, she ran back to her car to call me. Meet at the front she says. Who knew there were two large Campbell's signs?

Finally, we find each other and take off running for the starting line (did you read where we ran for the start?) We get close and see that the race has started and we had to vault over the median on the bridge. Next came a mad dash through all of the walkers. I was trying to get my iphone to itunes, but the whole playlist flew by and landed on the crappy songs at the end (so much for my carefully timed playlist.)

By the time we broke through the walkers, and made it half way up the first side of the bridge, I couldn't breathe! I slowed way down and took a hit from the inhaler. Chrissy was shouting words of encouragement. Telling me to breathe in through my nose and out of my mouth. It would help if my nose wasn't stuffed. By midspan of the bridge, I didn't know if I could do this, my lungs were screaming. Another hit. (How many hits of an albuterol inhaler would cause SVT on an already overworked heart? hmmm) I told Chrissy to go ahead, don't wait for me. She stayed with me for the first mile and then I made her go. She asked if I was going to be okay. I didn't know how to answer her but nodded yes. With a smile and an "I'm sorry!" the 28 year old took off. What the hell had I gotten myself into, I'm 42 - what made me think I could start running at 42? The crowd started to cheer and I caught a glimpse of the first place finisher blur by me - on the other side of the bridge - OMFG! A few more people, then a whole military division, carrying the American flag and chanting one of those 1,2,3,4 songs.

I was now over the first incline and coming down to the first water station. Yes, I needed a drink. My mouth was so dry. I make the turn around and see volunteers holding gallon jugs and runners cupping their hands for a drink. Are you freakin' kidding me, they had run out of cups. I tried the hand cupping thing and ended up with more down the front of me. Oh well.

Back up the Philadelphia side of the bridge. I could feel my face getting red, I took my new Nike jacket off and tied it around my hips. I spotted a photographer at the top of the bridge and smiled and waved like nothing was wrong as I passed by. (I later purchased this pic, cause it looked pretty good :) Over the hump and downhill now. Can I do this? I saw that I was way behind my recent bridge times when I ran the pedestrian walk. I was doing this just to finish. Just to say that I could. However, it was very disconcerting to look over the bridge into the Field and see the winners already finished. First place was not in jeopardy, but I did not want to be last. That was for Lorraine. I saw on the website that an 80 year old woman named Lorraine had completed the race several years now, almost always in last place. You go girl. I was looking for Lorraine. I had joked that I would be run buddies with her. I had given myself 1 1/2 hours to do this, because after all, I was not a runner. Chrissy said "one hour" and I told her her good luck with that.

Exiting the bridge, I passed by 8 Rutgers students screaming encouragement and telling me "go Phillies hat." 3.1 miles down, 3.1 miles to go. The next water station actually had cups, but when I tried to drink it - I almost choked myself. Volunteers lined the way screaming encouragement - they really helped. Forced me to smile and give a thumbs up and pick up a little energy. I'd like to thank the cops who directed traffic with cigarettes dangling from there mouths, clapping an cheering for us - thanks for that big lungful of smoke - really needed that. Another hit. I actually ran between miles 4 and 5 in less than 12 minutes (read really fast for me) and knew I should probably slow down a little.

The next mile was the longest in history. We also ran through a an AFL-CIO convention. The people waiting to get into the Center were cheering for us. I turned into what looked like a back alley and saw the Navy ships. One more mile, I could do this! I passed by a blind man being directed by his son from behind. The son was riding a bike. I also passed by a little boy with his father(?). I later found out that he was 6 years old.

The cold wind was blowing - it was 51 degrees. The rain had stopped at the starting line, but my feet were soaked. Not too badly. I was taking inventory. Calves were okay, shins okay, ankles okay. Just the breathing was given me trouble. I spotted Campbell's Field. A couple of turns through the parking lot - dodging cars full of runners who were done and leaving. I turned into Campbell's Field and was overwhelmed emotionally. I almost started crying. I spotted Chrissy behind the finish line cheering me on. I looked up and saw that I was coming in at 1hour and 27 minutes. I actually beat the time I gave myself! (The chip time came back at 1:25.14 - even freakin' better!!!) I put the finishers' medal around my neck - I did it!

I said goodbye to Chrissy after she told me I could do the Broad Street 10 miler in May with her now - what's another 4 miles? I drove home all proud of myself. I couldn't wait to show my family my medal. Well, hubby was at the gym, my oldest was still in bed and my youngest comes up to me, wrinkles his nose and says "you smell funny." Yep, I did it!
P.S. Lorraine was there and she finished last. You go girl!!


  1. You did smell what can i say, good job mom give you a hug then throw up next to you?
    No really im proud of you.

    -You favorite child.=+]

  2. I'm not a runner...really I'm not!! And I don't plan to start! Sorry Chrissy and Chris but you won't recruit me. I was short of breath just reading this blog. Great job Chris! I am so proud of you!


Getting ready for my very first run!

After I renigged on my promise to run the Broad Street 10 miler with my friend Chrissy D - I decided to make it up to her by running the Ben Franklin Bridge 10k. Did you read below where I NEVER ran before? She told me that if I cancelled on her again, she would drag me across the bridge by my hair. Okaay then.

I was in shape until a work injury side-lined me (a patient decided to herniate two discs in my neck and tear my shoulder in two places - thanks!) So kiss that bikini goodbye. Pain and inactivity followed. I found myself unable to sleep and in front of the pantry at 3am - everything screaming "eat me!" My day consisted of Percocet, Valium, Red Bull. Percocet for the pain, Valium for the muscle spasms, Red Bull so I could pretend to play mommy for my children. So, physical therapy, epidurals, steroid injections and 40 pounds later, I decided that getting ready for this run was going to help me get back into shape. (I decided against 3 surgeries at this time.)

I had already conquered the ellipticals at the gym. I could do them for an hour on level 6 and barely break a sweat. Surely I could run a measely 6.2 miles. I moved on to the treadmill. I couldn't even run .25 miles continuously. This was a lot harder than it looked.

The Ben Franklin Bridge is almost 3 miles back and forth and it went up, up, up!! and then down. The first time I crossed it (walking, mind you) on the pedestrian cross-walk, my calves were cursing me in three languages. What did I sign up for - who was I kidding?

I downloaded inspiring, fast beat music to keep me pumped up and ready (Britney, Buck Cherry's Crazy Bitch (yep that's me), Pink, PCD, etc.) I decided that I would go for distance and not speed. I discovered that I had exercise-induced asthma when I pushed a little too far (anything at that time was too far). Soon I was able to run a mile, then 2 - at once. I continued to "do" the bridge and even took my kids a couple of times. I had to find a better way to keep my iphone close. They didn't make an arm band that I liked so I found a "runner's belt" online and soon had it. I tried it out one day in the park. My 11 year old was with me and started laughing when I put my iphone in it. "Seriously mom, a fanny pack?" It is not a fanny pack, it is a belt. It stays still, doesn't ride up and I can put my keys in it too. So there!

The weight was slowly coming off. I decided to take a drastic measure - no alcohol at all for the month before the race (oh no, what was I thinking.) My goal was 20 pounds by race day. I continued to plod along on the treadmill. I was up to 5k with almost no problems. However, when I tried to run outside, my body rebelled. The park trail was 1.3 miles - however, it was not flat (but hey - either was the bridge). I was a wheezing, sweaty mess .4 miles into the "run." I was running faster than I was used to on the treadmill. (GPS is a wonderful thing - an app I downloaded on my iphone let me know my distance, speed, and even mapped my route - love the gadgets!)

Strep throat struck my son (11) and he generously shared it with me two weeks before the race. I bought new sneakers (Asics Nimbus Gel 11) and my shins and calves let me know it was not a good idea to change things two weeks before the run. So I went back to my Nike Lunar Glides and made everybody happy. My 16 year old decided he would like to try on the Swine Flu one week before the run. My throat was still bothering me from last week and my chest was tight. I was having some serious doubts if I would be able to finish this race. Not to mention Lysol toxicity from degerming the whole house.

I completed 5.5 miles on the treadmill on my birthday, 6 days before the Sunday race, and for the first time I thought I might be able to do it. It rained for the next two days, so I didn't run the bridge (think shuffle up and run down). I worked Friday night and had off on Halloween. Was I ready? I made my goal of losing 20 pounds two days before the run - yeah me! (20 more to go!)
P.S. Read posts bottom up :)

Ben Franklin Bridge

Ben Franklin Bridge

Kids on the Bridge

Kids on the Bridge