Time for another exciting race recap! Yesterday I ran the Cooper Norcross Run The Bridge 10k in Camden, NJ. This race was one that I’d been looking forward to for a while for 2 reasons: 1. It’s my New Jersey race on my racing in all 50 states list, and 2. Half of the race takes place on the Ben Franklin Bridge spanning from Philly to Camden. I’d also been worried about it since it was only 2 weeks after the Runner’s World 10k (which I didn’t fully train for) and because the Ben Franklin has inclines on each side, meaning I’d have to spend a lot of time running uphill! Even so, I had a PR goal of 1:05 and a super secret goal of a sub one hour race. Considering how little training I’ve been doing, I didn’t think that was possible just yet, but you’ve always got to have a big goal, right?
Saturday was sunny and 70 degrees in Philly, so it was a bit tough waking up to temps in the low 40s yesterday. I had to break out the Under Armour because I knew that bridge was going to be windy! I was nervous during our super short ride over to Camden, especially when I saw the crowds. 3,400 runners participated in today’s race, which made this the largest race I’ve ever done! We were cutting it a bit close on time, which was fine with me because it meant I had to spend less time hanging out in Campbell Field after packet pickup. Fun fact: this was my first race with chip timing devices for your shoes, which made me feel like a total rookie. I had to sneakily watch other people put on their timing devices because I was nervous about messing it up!
Around 8:10 they made an announcement about moving over to the start of the race, which was at the tollbooths on the NJ side of the bridge. It was a 10 minute walk to the start, which was a good warmup. Andrew kissed me goodbye at the entrance to the pedestrian path on the bridge, and I was left to figure out how to get to the starting line. There was no real direction on where to go, and people seemed to be waiting in line to go into a tunnel to get to the other side of the bridge. After waiting in the line for a few minutes and not moving at all, I got out of line and followed a large group of people to the edge of the bridge. We had to climb over the median to get to the starting line, but I managed to get there a few minutes before the race started and even got into my 10 minute mile pace group! I think the people waiting in line for the tunnel missed the start, because a lot of faster runners were sprinting past us during the race trying to get back with their pace groups. Many people who finished after me actually had faster chip times than me, and I think it’s because it was so hard to get to the starting line and get with the correct pace group!
People around me were all warning each other about going out too fast, and said that the uphill climb and the fact that we were running into the wind was going to slow everyone down. I was getting so nervous about how tough the hills were going to be! At 8:30 we were off!
Despite all the warnings from everyone, I was surprised when we hit the halfway point on the bridge and I wasn’t feeling winded. The uphill section had been such a gradual hill that I barely noticed that we were even on an incline! After crossing the river and turning around in Philly, I was feeling really good about getting back across the bridge. I was really glad I did all my training on steep hills because the bridge ended up feeling much easier than I thought! The views from the bridge were awesome and I didn’t even mind the wind. After high fiving Andrew on the pedestrian path (which is the best feeling ever when you’re in a race and looking for a familiar face in the crowd!), we hit the 3 mile mark back in Camden. At this point the race route zig zaged throughout the streets of Camden. The streets were really empty, with a few groups of volunteers cheering us on at different points in the race. During mile 4 we had the chance to briefly run along the waterfront with a beautiful view of Philly, which really perked me up! After running up the last little hill, we reached the 5 mile mark. At this point I realized that I felt really good. I had skipped all of the water stops to save some time, but I didn’t feel tired and nauseous like I usually did towards the end of a race. I began pushing myself a bit harder while still trying to leave a bit of energy for the end. At one point I could see Campell Field only a few blocks away and started running hard, only to discover that they had us loop around the block before heading into the field! This kind of messed with me (and I could tell other runners were upset too because everyone started yelling “seriously!” as soon as we realized we weren’t running straight to the field!). When we got to 6 miles I started sprinting hard to the finish, which is something I’ve never been able to do in any other race!
I finished in the outfield of Campell Field in 1:03:23, which is a 3:07 PR from only 2 weeks ago! When Andrew found me he couldn’t stop saying how proud he was, and how he hadn’t expected me for another few minutes (um, thanks?) and couldn’t believe I’d PRed again! I was super happy about my time…but not so happy about the post race experience. Two words: goose poop. Everywhere. The field smelled awful and it got all over my shoes! And to get off the field and get my bagel I had to wait in another long line. By this time I was freezing and sweaty so as soon as I got my bagel and bag of goodies we headed out.
Overall, I loved this race! It was definitely overcrowded before/after the race, but I never felt crowded while running and felt really good the entire time. The views from the bridge and waterfront were awesome, and I loved being able to run in 2 states during the same race! Plus, how can I not love PRing again and getting more awesome swag?
I spent the rest of the day laying on the sofa watching the NYC Marathon on ESPN and reading Orange is the New Black. I got up frequently to keep my muscles from getting sore, and they actually feel much better than they did after my race 2 weeks ago! I love feeling stronger during/after a race. It’s definitely going to keep me motivated to run all of my hilly training runs because I know they’re working!
One last thing: I’ve been seeing a lot of blog/facebook/twitter posts that mention something the person is thankful for each day in November. While I won’t be posting on here every day, I’m definitely going to mention something I’m thankful for in each post. So today, I’m thankful for a husband who is willing to wait on a cold, windy bridge for a half hour just to give me a high five – and then walk through Camden to wait on a cold, smelly baseball field just to see me finish. Not many guys would do all that ❤ Shout out to Andrew for being awesome yesterday!
Did you run any races this weekend? Have you ever run a race on a bridge?