Monday, May 5, 2008

Sunday morning fun for the deranged

I accomplished something this weekend, and it didn't have anything to do with beer. Yesterday I ran the Broad Street Run 10-miler. My mom and I have run the race together since I was in high school. In the past few years, we've also added the Philly Distance Run to our list of masochism confused as mother-daughter bonding.

But this year, one week before the race, my mom had to drop out. A torn ligament in her knee left me alone... for ten miles. I figured I'd be fine though. I'd run ten miles by myself before. And yesterday, I did it again.

At work today a colleague asked me if the Broad Street Run was fun. My mind immediately launched me back to yesterday morning: waking up at 5:30 a.m. on a Sunday, fighting an expressway packed with fellow runners, scrambling to make the last possible subway to the starting line before the gun went off, and running without my partner... for ten miles.

Somewhere around the second mile, a unkempt, possibly homeless man stood on the corner of Broad St., covered in layers of dingy clothes, yelling at the mob of 22,000 passing runners in their skimpy shorts and water-whicking shirts, "ya'll think I'm crazy! Ya'll the ones runnin' ten miles! Get on the subway, crazies! Take ya to the same place! I ain't the crazy today!"

Past the five mile point, as I rounded city hall, my eyes were on the back in front of me. The shirt read, Running is a mental sport. Everyone who does it is crazy.

As my legs began to feel the first twinge of fatigue, I couldn't agree more. But as the crowd on both sides of the street roared, I knew I couldn't be in any better company.

I was surrounded by grunters, groaners, chatters, those out to set a record, and those out to have a good time, people in the latest hi-tech gear, people in grass skirts and tutus, and people in t-shirts in memory of loved ones.

Bearing down on the tenth mile with the finish line in sight, I had to force myself to look around and enjoy the view. As thousands of us poured into the navy yard, majestic ships sat solemnly, silently in the water to our right, and the warm sun bounced off the river and reminded those that felt half dead that they were still alive, so keep breathing, man!

I crossed the finish line with my best Broad Street time and was greeted by my cheering mom. I wore her chip along with mine, which is probably illegal if you want to get technical, but was my way of having her cross the finish line with me the year she couldn't run.

My legs were aching, my arms were shaking, my body was sore, but hell yes I had a great time. And at a family party later that day, those 26 cookies and 8 slabs of jewish apple cake that I ate greatly added to my contentment, because damn I just ran 10 miles, man, gowmaface.

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