Philadelphia

Race Report: The Philly 10k

I’m not a running blogger but I tried finding information about this race online and only found old Reddit posts, so I thought I’d share my experience.

A couple of months ago races were starting to open up again in Philadelphia. Covid has made everything sound attractive,  I started thinking about signing up. I’ve done plenty of 5ks and a half marathon in the past, but never a 10k. If you think about it, it’s an ideal distance for a race. Half marathons are a commitment, and 5ks are so short it’s not even worth it to get up so early, pay money and do all the run morning logistics just to run for 30 minutes. 10ks are a manageable distance that you don’t have to do intense training for, and they’re long enough runs to be worth getting up early, but not so long that you get bored. Also you probably burned enough calories that you’ve justified a nice meal after 🙂

The first race I found during my research was the Philly 10k, and I kept coming back to it. It’s a locally managed race in the heart of South Philly.

Training

I am a slow runner and it’s summer, so my goal was mostly “do my first 10k with the least amount of running possible.” I was already running 3-4x per week, with a max distance of 4miles. I had 8 weeks before the race, so a training plan wasn’t necessary.

I’d used Hal Higdon’s training programs in the past, and now he has an app, so I downloaded the app and made a “custom” program while I was still on the trial period. The app unfortunately is crap. It’s glitchy and unintuitive. For example there are days that call for cross training. But when you try to log your training for the day, you have to put it in as a run with a pace. Makes no sense. The value really isn’t there, especially since the basic plans are all free on his website.

I reviewed the plan from the app, and the novice plan from his site, and came up with this general outline for every week:

  • Monday – 3 miles base
  • Tuesday – 45min cross training (yoga, swimming, cycling, strength. Really whatever I was in the mood for that day)
  • Wednesday – 2 miles fast
  • Thursday – 30 min cross training
  • Friday – 60 min cross training
  • Saturday – Long run day, starting at 4miles and working up to 6.2 in .5mi increments. <– I repeated a couple of times
  • Sunday – Rest

I ran rain or shine, mostly in 90+ degree and mega humid temp. Summer is really unfortunate here. I ran 10k about a week before the race in 78 minutes, so I knew that I could do it.

Registration

I waited until the last minute to register. Summers are stormy and hot in the city, and I just kept waffling because I thought the race experience might be miserable and gross. The race was on Sunday. On Wednesday I looked at the weather forecast, and it looked cloudy so I signed up online. It came to about 75 bucks, which I felt was pricey for a local run, but whatever. One nice aspect of the registration is that you had 15 minutes after the transaction to cancel. All you had to do was click a big “CANCEL” button. A few hours later I checked the forecast again and it had changed to rain. LOL

Bib Pickup

There’s normally a kickoff party, but not this year. During my lunch break that Friday, I took the el downtown to pick up my race packet (bib, t-shirt, clear bag for bag check, commemorative poster) at the Philadelphia Runner shop in Center City.  Proof of vaccination or a negative Covid test were required and checked, which I appreciated. I didn’t spend too much time there, but it was HOPPING on a Friday afternoon. I’ll have to head back next time to try some shoes.

The Day Before

It poured rain all day. We didn’t even take the dog out. I was stressed out about work, so I was on the computer all day and night. Didn’t drink, didn’t do yoga like I wanted. Ordered a pizza for dinner and it was glorious. Went to bed at 11, didn’t get to sleep until 12:30am because my brain was still stuck on a work problem.

Race Day

Woke up at 5:30, showered, ate a yogurt and a nectarine, sipped a little coffee. Took the 6:08 el down to 5th st, then walked about 15 minutes down 5th to the race area. Arrived around 6:35am. There was no line for bag check or for id check (for the after race beer). It was quiet and peaceful. I stretched a bit and walked around the festival area. People hung out and warmed up here and there. Masks were required everywhere except during the actual run.

Around 7am it started getting busy. The starting line was at 8th and South, but with 6 corrals, the last corral (mine) was around 12th st. There were plenty of porta potties around.

The weather was about 70 and overcast, kind of misty. I lucked out! It was perfect weather.

Lots of waiting…

The race started at 7:30, but with 3,000 runners they staggered the start time for each corral, so I didn’t actually get running until about 7:50!

I went to the porta potty again right before and OMG there was some explosive diarrhea in there. Seriously, in the 4 porta potties I went to throughout the day, all except the first one (I went to before 7am) had crazy poop. What in the world is going on with these runners???? It’s not that long of a race!!? Like an hour only… Race nerves?? Too much coffee? Poop at home like the rest of us!

The start! Finally

This was the first big Philly race post Covid, and it’s a fun run, so the energy was super positive. It was crowded for the first half mile or so, then I found a bit of space. Like all races you definitely had to stay aware though and couldn’t zone out. Sometimes runners in front of you would just dead stop and walk, without moving to the side of the road. Some runners were livestreaming????!! Ugh. And oh, the Philly potholes. I almost bit it once, but managed to flail and catch myself.

The course itself was mostly flat and on skinny neighborhood streets. My experience of South Philly has been of insane stop and go traffic and asshole drivers, so honestly the fact that this was a neighborhood run was what appealed to me most. I hate the drivers here with all my heart, so blowing past all the red lights, and laughing at the lines of drivers who were stuck cursing us was incredibly therapeutic. There were also loads of people hanging out on their stoops and drinking their morning coffee with their kids, cheering us on with signs… but what really fueled me was the hate.

It was also fun running past Pat’s and Geno’s, and the Italian market and Little Saigon. There were water stations and porta potties about every 2 miles. About 4 miles in, I started getting stabbing stomach cramps. I wasn’t sure if going to the bathroom would help, but then I remembered the horrors that I’d experienced in the earlier porta potties, so I held on. I was still pretty uncomfortable, but I made it through.

My time: 1:12:38 / Pace: 11:38

I really wanted this dude to get out of my selfie LOL

After Party

Right after the finish line there were ice cold towels, water, and granola bar snacks. I snatched those up, but headed straight to the beer line. It was so long I almost didn’t bother, but I wanted my beer so I sucked it up. It took maybe 15 minutes?? The beer was from Brewery Ars, a South Philly brewery. I’m not sure which beer it was, but it definitely was delicious and I didn’t feel it at all. I might take my mom there when she visits.

For snacks I had a choice between French Toast bites and popsicles from Weckerly’s (fancy ice cream shop in my neighborhood). The line for the bites was too long, so I happily got a mango popsicle, and dunked it in my beer.

There was a band, and everyone was just hanging out having a good time. Among the thousands of people I saw folks from a local running club that I’ve been meaning to join.  Maybe it’s a sign?

Originally I’d planned to have Ryan meet me down there for breakfast, but we’d already planned lunch with a friend a few hours later, so I finished up my beer and headed out.

Swag

  • There’s no medals, but I always want to throw those away, so I’m happy about that. I did hear people grumbling about the medals at the race.
  • Bib – The bibs had your name printed on them. For people who collect bibs that’s kind of cute. I registered late so I have TRACY in Sharpie on mine.
  • T-shirt & Race print (photos from their FB)
    • The women’s shirt is really soft and flattering! I will actually wear it for day to day stuff. It’s not performance material.
    • I think previous years prints were better, but this is cheerful and original at least. I framed it and put it in my office.

Other thoughts

It was a well organized race that felt pretty laid back and fun. Knowing what I know now about the staggered start times, I would show up way later and just not check a bag.  I would also probably bike to the event as well. There was plenty of security and places to park.

What’s next? I wanted to do the 10 mile Broad Street Run in October, but apparently that’s a very big deal race. It’s like 40,000 people and there’s a lottery to get in and they’re all booked for this year since they deferred folks from last year.

I think I might train for the half during Philadelphia Marathon Weekend in November? It’s sponsored by a local deli meat company, which seems very Philadelphia.

There’s also 10 mile and half marathon  options of the Rocky Run, which is the weekend before. But that race seems like a branded cash grab, so meh.

I dunno, I guess I’ll just keep running and see how I feel.

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