At 8 a.m. on Sunday, we were bunched in the Pink Corral — the final passel of the 40,000 Broad Street Run runners, alternately wiggling around to keep warm and loosen our muscles as we all stood there waiting for our turn to head downhill.
A few feet ahead of me was the Stay Puff Marshmallow guy (who kind of looked anorexic for a pudgy smores ingredient). He was part of a Ghostbusters team, decked out in costume and safe at the time, until the sun would come out and melt them away in about an hour.
As we fiddled up, down and across in the pen right near Broad and Olney, another costumed character came up to me to chat.
Spiderman seemed a bit inquisitive. You see, I was wearing my Back on My Feet lime green tech shirt from the Back on My Feet 5-Miler last month.
He glanced at the shirt, looking for affirmation and asked if I was running with Back on My Feet. I said, no, just a nice race shirt and a good cause. Then it hit me, maybe he thought I was one of the recovering folks — because of my age and lack of a shave for a few days, I must have seemed a bit scruffy.
He then told me about a great group of runners, Our Brothers Place, which works out daily at 10th and Spring Garden at 5:30 a.m. It involves daily running workouts with the prospects of getting in shape and gaining self esteem. I told Spiderman thanks for the tip. He clearly didn't know he was talking to a sports editor — I save that disguise for work.
That's when it hit me — This race means a lot of things to a lot of people. You could tell by all of the signs and t-shirts that the race has many real-life causes and emotional ties to lost loved ones and cancer survivors
Once the horn sounded, we were off, bounding along as North Philly pride showed on both sides of the street in the first few miles. Church people were singing, kids were high-fiving, the spirit was alive and it stayed that way all morning.
Ed Rendell was at his usual six-mile mark. He high-fived me and I didn't ask him about the Inquirer endorsing Rob McCord ...
For the record, I did not see Ryne Sandberg's 50-yard sideways dash across Broad Street.
There was plenty of water on the course, which was good, but a dearth of port-a-johns once again -- before, during and after the race. Real bad. To paraphrase Newton's law of gravity, what goes in must come out ...
I finished in 1 hour, 59 minutes and 11 seconds. I was aiming for two hours, so I had 49 seconds to spare and a PR by almost five minutes. My right hamstring got me in the last 20 yards as I tried to beat the clock.
The shuttle bus back was a trip. I got the last seat, which happened to be right next to the driver. The chatter on the radio had us rolling in the aisles.
"This traffic is ignorant, yo .." She was right. It's bad enough that every conceivable cross street was closed but Phillies game traffic coming in and Broad Street people fleeing was an accident waiting to happen.
I made it back to Broad and Pattison, got to my car and escaped in time to see my son playing the drums for Rock University's gig at the Brew House in Turnersville, NJ. It was his 13th birthday, so we all celebrated.
When it was all over, it was ice packs and Alleve to the rescue.
Back to the gym tomorrow. Back on my feet, too.
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