What I Learned on Broad Street

This past Sunday I completed the Broad Street Run. Now, prior to Sunday the most  I had ever run was 5 miles and this run was exactly double that. Broad Street is a race very well known in Philadelphia, in part because for half a day one of the major streets is blocked off. But more than that, every year 40,000+ runners step up and run Philadelphia North to South.

Originally, it had been on my bucket list to run Broad Street before I turned 21, but my lottery number wasn’t drawn and I didn’t find a bib switch. But this year, I got a spot through the lottery and marked the date on my calendar: May 1, 2016 was to be the day I checked it off my bucket list. Normally, this would be the part of the story where I  tell you about all the training I did, the early mornings I woke up, how I found the perfect pace and how it all worked out. But, I’m not here to lie. The truth to be told I had many freak-outs before stepping up to that Start sign on Sunday. One involved calling my sister 10 minutes before the deferment date passed to ask her if I should defer my running to next year. And to be perfectly honest, I didn’t train half as much as I should have. But nonetheless, Saturday I drove to the convention center to pick up my bib and Sunday morning I got up at 5:50 to get ready for my 1st Broad Street run.

The weather was less than ideal, it was about 50 degrees and Rainy and I was ill prepared. It was only through the kindness of a stranger that I was able to get a poncho to wear to keep even a little bit drier before the race started. I had a goal  of just finishing that I was telling anyone who asked but secretly had a pace of 10:00 min/mile that I was hoping to keep. Before I knew it I was off and running, and almost immediately wondered why in the earth I thought I could do it. Still, as I watched the street signs pass I just kept reminding myself to put one foot in front of the other and run towards the faint outline of city hall.

Mile 4 felt like it stretched on forever, and honestly I had never remembered Temple’s campus being so long; but the people (both the other runners and those who  had braved the weather to come out and cheer us on) kept me going. Finally I realized that this was something I really was doing for myself, and no one else. So I made a promise to let go of one “thing” every mile, and as I did so I felt lighter as the race went on, despite my clothes, socks, and shoes being a bit waterlogged.

Broad Street taught me many things: it reinforced my love for this city and its people, though I’m pretty outspoken about that; it showed me that if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, you’ll still get there; but most importantly Broad St showed me how rewarding it can be to take a chance. I might still  be a little sore even a few days out but the sense of accomplishment I felt crossing the finish line far outweighs the slight discomfort now. As I let go and forgave myself of decisions I made (or didn’t make), friendships I could have held onto more, things said (or not said), and chances passed up on; I crossed the finish line a much lighter, happier, and energized person.

Here’s to crossing things off bucket lists, taking chances, and forgiving yourself for when you stumble. And who knows, maybe next year I’ll find myself back at the starting line again, maybe I won’t. Either way, I’m thankful for what I learned this year as I ran down Broad Street through a city I’m proud to call home.

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