Therese, my roomie, and I were ready and headed down to the lobby to meet our group. The subway was free for everyone that morning. Runners were everywhere, but I got a seat. From our stop, we only had a few blocks to get to the starting line and our Determination tent. The tent was great! Our own porta potties and food and our own gear check. It was really nice to have all that, especially when you are at a race with 40,000 runners.
|See how close our tent is to the starting line. Really nice!|
|Random fun teammates.|
We had an hour before race time. Mostly we hung around and chatted and snapped pictures. About 7:30, a teammate and I got in line to use the porta potty. It was a long line. Someone told us that there were real bathrooms in the church across the street so we headed there. I thought we had fifteen minutes until our team picture. Remember the itinerary that was in my bag? Yeah, well, I should have read it. Picture was at 7:30 and we missed it! We got there in time for the D-Nation photo but I really am upset that I am not in the LAST photo. I am currently looking for a photo shop expert...
|Oh, where are Linda and Nicole. They are in a church, you know, praying.|
The next decision I made, I go back an forth with wondering if it was the right one. See, our D-Nation tent was at the starting line. I was in the last wave. I could have stayed in our tent till my wave was approaching and then just hopped in and ran. A few of my teammates decided to line up and I followed them. I am pretty sure the walk was a quarter mile. We found a nice spot and really had a good time waiting for our time to run. That BTW was about 30 minutes.
|My starting line crew. So happy to get to know each of them.|
|Crazy crowded start line.|
|Can't even see the start of the race|
None of them ran at my pace. Once we started to run, I was alone. Fifty two teammates and not a one of them around me. So, I just ran and hoped that I would eventually run into someone I knew.
It was a pretty crowded start. I stayed to the left pretty much the whole way. I also needed to use the bathroom before I finished the first mile, but I did not stop because they all had lines. It was a last minute decision but I was hoping to get close to my PR, if not a new one. That is 1:45.
The crowds that came out to cheer us on were fantastic. The energy of this race just lifted you up. In mile two, I high-fived a kid and a man behind me did the same. He came up next to me and was all smiles and just so happy to be there. We started chatting. He had not been a runner very long and this was only the second time he was running ten miles. He told me he ran the first ten after only three hours sleep in preparation for the fight party (Mayweather vs. Pacquiao) he was having the night before Broad Street. I thought that was a good idea actually.
His name was Maurice. We talked about our families and why we were running. We talked about TV and even Bill Cosby. He was local and was looking forward to seeing his family a few miles away. We were together for two miles and then I lost him at a water stop. Insert sad face here.
Somewhere around mile four, kids from Shriners Hospital were on the sidewalk cheering on the runners. My I Run 4 buddy, Wyatt, has spent a lot of time there. In fact, he was just there a week before the race. This just warmed my heart because I knew he was with me.
I ran strong until mile five but I still really needed to find a bathroom. Finally at 5.6 miles, I saw some without a line. I have to cross the street which could of gotten me trampled but I was getting desperate. Looking at my watch at this time, I knew a PR was pretty much gone and that I might not even come close.
Once I realized that, I embraced it. I high-fived every kid and adult that had their hand out. I read every single sign I passed, and boy, some of you were very creative. I thanked every volunteer and police officer for being there and I said good job to every person I passed. Yeah, I actually passed people.
In mile eight I began to look around for any familiar face. I was so surprised that not one of my teammates was near me. To be fair, it was a super crowded race but I was bumming. Here are some random photos of my team running.
|Linda killed it in 1:16:49. And this is after running Boston two weeks ago!|
|Andy and Laurie just having a damn good time!|
|Lindsay because she is just too cute!|
|And this! I saw this sign and really wish now I stopped to take a pic.|
|Because, yes, this is fun!|
|Just too much fun in this picture!|
In mile nine, I passed the neighborhoods that my parents grew up in. The homes my grandparents lived in until they died. Just after that, if I made a right, I could have run to my old neighborhood and the house I spent the first twelve years of my life. Memories just came flooding into my head and my emotions just exploded. I got teary but was happy. I also had more energy than I usually have after a long race. I decided to pick it up and run as fast as I could for the last mile. However, to my disappointment, that did not last long. People were everywhere, I started to zig and zag but felt like I wan't getting anywhere. I had to slow down to get around people and knew that this might be one of my slowest miles.
I got frazzled. I took a deep breath and just moved with the traffic. I entered the Navy yard and knew I just had .25 to go. Someone yelled to look up because there was a photographer up there. We all cheered and raised our hands in the air.
|Can you see me? I am in the blue with my arms up.|
I made my way over to the left and found I could run better there and then I saw my teammates yelling for me and cheering me on. I was thrilled to finally see familiar faces. There was a break and I sprinted to the finish.
I crossed the finish line, walked a few feet and then BAM! Dead stop. I am not even kidding. We were stopped and not moving. I chatted with the girl who was next to me and she said water is up ahead, then food and then medal. But there was no real line. It was crazy.
|Right before the dead stop. Kind of looks like a smile. Could be pain. Can't really be sure.|
|Dead stop at the finish. This is in front of me.|
|This is behind me.|
I took my phone out for pictures and it was ringing. It was my dad asking where I was. He had come down to cheer me on as a surprise but he missed me! This is definitely a race that needs planning for family and friends. I told him where I was and where I thought I was going and he started his way to meet me. Then a text message came in from Mr. RWM with a congrats on my 1:55:09 finish. Way off the time I thought I could do it in, but will know what to expect next time and think I can do better.
Finally I got my bottle of water and then we were shuffled over to where the food bags were. I chose a line, yes, finally a real line, and made my way into the tent to find that my line has run out of bags. Really loud screams in my head. They were very good about it and a volunteer jumped over tables and came back with food bags for us. There was a lot of stuff in there too. They did a good job with that.
From there it was chaos trying to find where to get your medal. I worked my way into a group of runners to find a tiny volunteer in the middle handing out medals. I grabbed one, walked a few steps and found a teammate. She was waiting for one of our friends and I waited with her. Eventually we started towards our D-Nation tent.
The finish area was huge and apparently, I missed a bunch of stuff. Free ice cream, sunglasses and coffee to name a few.
Once we got to the tent, I was able to give my dad a better idea of where I was. I congratulated a bunch of our teammates, grabbed my checked bag and then a cheesesteak.
|No one does finish line food like Philly. Yum!|
The food in our tent was fantastic. A huge bonus for being part of the team.
|Just a bunch of awesome smiles here.|
|With Stephanie who I will now refer to as Julie from the Love Boat. Best cruise director ever!|
I chatted with my dad, snapped a few pictures and then we started the mile walk to the subway. It was really hot by then too. The subway was still free. No seats on the train but happy to be on it. Hundreds of runners, packed like sardines in a subway car. Close your eyes. Can you smell it? Yeah, not pretty at all!
Once back in the room, I showered and finished packing. Therese and I left together and I said good bye to the friends that were in the lobby and made my way to the train station.
|One last selfie we before we head out.|
I grabbed lunch at the train station and when I was eating I saw Sherri, a teammate, and yelled out her name. We were able to have our lunch together before we both had to leave. It was a very nice way to spend my last hour in Philadelphia.
The train ride home was just as peaceful as the ride coming in. I was so happy to see Mr. RWM and the kids. They were very happy that I was home.
|A little gift from Andy to each team member.|
Over the next several days, tons of pictures started popping up from the race. So many were of my teammates running together. It started to bum me out a bit, but honestly, I really did have a good race. I will do things a little differently next time, and yes, there will be a next time. Despite the crazy finish line, this was one of the best races I have ever run. A nice flat and straight course, plenty of support, fantastic crowds, pretty awesome medal and food at the finish. Do it if you have the chance.
Andy worked his ass off getting this group together and taking it from a three man team to a team of fifty two. I am pretty sure I only know about half the stuff he really had to do and can only imagine how much time it cost him. Thank you my friend! Not just for this weekend but for three years of friendship and support. Especially today. Pretty sure this post would still be sitting in limbo without your encouragement.
Larry was Andy's co-captain. He had a few struggles/injuries leading up to the race. He killed it race day and got himself a five minute PR. Thank you Larry for helping make this team rock awesomeness! Is that a word? You can read his recap here.
To the friends I made this weekend. You all were so much fun and I can't wait to do it again. I know I will see a few in you in Philly for the marathon and I am really looking forward to that.
And to all of you who supported and donated and helped me reach my goal. I had to raise $500 and with your support, my total was $705. And as a team, over $31,000. I am so proud of what we accomplished together and I can't thank you enough for sticking with me all these years. You all are the best!
Run Strong, Think Big! ~ Nicole