Another Run The Bridge 10K
Two of my favorite races happen to be a week apart. Luckily, the first is the Pennypack Park half marathon, followed by the Cooper / Norcross Run The Bridge 10K. It always seems much easier running a 10k after a half marathon. I don’t stress out the night before and I don’t necessarily do all the other preparations for this one since I’ve already logged in the training months before for the 13.1 and my pace is always better for this 10k than it was for my half. Most importantly, I love this race and it is a really fun one to do. They close down the Ben Franklin Bridge to traffic for a few hours and open it up to thousands of runners who take to the bridge on the Camden,NJ side, go up and over, turn around at the Philly side and head back to Camden. This is 3 miles. The remaining 3 miles are looped through downtown Camden, the waterfront and ends in the outfield at Campbell’s Field.
Without fail, it is always a cold start to this race. The temperatures the day before were in the 70s and humid. Overnight, the cold front rolled in and brought temperatures to 47. I’d say perfect for running but factor in a wind chill of around 38, AND the extra wind on the bridge makes it more interesting. I was coming off a dreadful half and had it in my mind that I was going to enjoy this race and have fun. And I did. I listened to music for most of this race. I always start with no headphones in until the runners thin out a bit. It’s key to be aware of who and what is around you. As I came back into Camden, “Badlands” by Springsteen came on the mix. I’m not a huge fan of the boss and only have 2 of his songs on my running mix (Born To Run) but thought there was something poetically occurring here. I tucked my phone in my pocket and vowed to not look at it for the rest of the run. My headphones have a volume control and track skip on them and I was not going to obsess over pace.
I skipped the first water station since it was barely after 1 mile but took a moment to stop and hydrate at mile 4. I also felt that I was running a bit slower at mile 4 but quickly got myself together and picked up the pace. Later I would learn that according to my GPS I did slow down at mile 4. It wasn’t anything too bad and I kept my pace under 11, which, if there was a goal to this race that would be it. The entire time I ran there was a large group of people in front of me and a large group behind me. Basically, there were runners all around me for this whole race, which made it incredibly hard to snot rocket on this cold day.
Another favorite part of this course is coming up to the USS New Jersey. It looks like you are running straight towards it, then you loop around and run along the Delaware River where you can see the majestic bridge that you just ran over and back. I let my mind wander a but when Sonic youth’s “Sunday” came on the mix. Most wouldn’t picture this as a running song but it’s mid tempo beat, and the fact that it was Sunday made it perfect. There was this girl that I was pacing for a few miles but she got ahead of me. No reason to burn out trying to catch her so I kept my tempo. I was running on feel and not an electronic device, something I should do more often. I know this course very well, having run it four times now so I started to pick things up after Mile 5. I did a power walk up this short hill because I found out I was power walking it faster than if I ran it so for a few seconds I saved some energy.
Campbell’s Field was getting closer and closer. “The End Is Near!” I picked up my pace again. Coming around the last corner I knew we could only be a half mile away from the finish so I gunned it. I didn’t sprint, but I picked up my pace considerably. I was passing people left and right. One guy passed me on my left and I figured, “why not”. There it was, the entrance to the outfield. I was now flying but feeling strong. Out of the corner of my eye I saw my best friend, Bill. I pumped my fist in the air at him. I also saw my boss, Mike and I could tell he wa saying “GO!” I pushed and pushed and crossed the finish line with arms in air and a smile on my face.
I finished a few minutes slower than last year but that doesn’t matter. What matters is I continue to improve and to learn from myself. I ran on feel and finished string. I could have run another mile or two without any trouble. I have a feeling there will plenty of PRs in my life ahead.