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Broad Street Bully | A Guide to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Broad Street Run

Posted Apr 30 2013 9:32pm
I’m doing it again . I’m taking on the 10 mile Blue Cross Broad Street Run for the second year in a row.
Last year I was so scared. This was not only my first big race - but my first solo race as well. I had to get into the city all by myself, well before dawn, navigate the public transit system, and find my corral all by myself. 

Fun fact: I’m a nervous tinkler. Being a nervous tinkler among nearly 40,000 runners who are nervous poopers does not make for fun times at the port-o-potty city.

This year I’m nervous for very different reasons. I have been completely slacking in the running department. If you follow me on Twitter , you may have noticed a significant lack of #proof in my stream over the winter and early spring months. I went through a terrible depression over the winter and thankfully I’ve been coming out of it in the past two months. While I wallowed in self pity, I completely fell off my exercise regimen and now I am playing catch up. It has been quite a challenge. Last year I ran though the bitter cold of the winter months and by the time May came, I was more than ready for Broad Street. This year I’m slower, less motivated, and feeling like this race is going to kick my ass. I’m hoping that I can at least match my time from last year.
However, nerves over my performance are getting settled because this year I have quite a few friends that are running Broad Street, including my husband! Even though I am still really nervous, I am super excited to share that energy with people I love. As a veteran of the race people have been coming to me for tips. So I thought I’d answer their questions here and share some tips from other veterans as well. Do you have any questions or tips you’d like to share? See anything here that isn't quite accurate? Leave your questions, tips, and clarifications in the comments below and I will update this post as the week goes on.
By now you should have gotten an email telling you your bib number and corral assignment. Print that out and bring it to the expo hall with you. It will make the process go a lot quicker.
Can’t pick up your bib? Give your email to a friend with a brief note authorizing them to pick up your bib. They will also need to present a photo ID.
The Expo at Lincoln Financial Field hours are:
Friday, May 3rd, 10am to 5pm  Saturday, May 4th, 8:00am to 5:00pm The catch: BSR is asking that people try to follow the schedule below base on the alphabetical order of your last name for packet pick-up in order to ease congestion in the expo hall.

Friday, May 3rd: Open pick-up - 10am to 5pm (Sharp)
Saturday, May 4th
G-M  8:00 A.M. to 9:00 A.M. N-Z  9:00 A.M. to 10:00 A.M. A-F  10:00 A.M. to 11:00 A.M. All letters: 12pm to 5pm (Sharp)
There is NO PARKING at the start area. It is suggested that you park at the stadium complex (Citizen’s Bank, etc.). You can also park at FDR park. Lots open at 5:15am. I highly suggest you are there when the gates open. There will be a line of crawling traffic to get into the complex on race day. Keep in mind that even after you park, you still have to catch the train to the start. There is a massive wait to get onto the very packed train. 
Ladies, if you are ovulating and planning on riding the train...well good luck. It’s packed so tight you might come out pregnant. Sorry. There is no parking available at the start area, on Pattison Avenue or inside the Navy Yard.
If you are getting dropped off for the race, please, PLEASE, do not cram yourself onto the train. Get dropped off as close to the starting area as you can manage. But don’t think that means you can wait until the last minute to show up. Streets will be closed off and there will be plenty of traffic to contend with. Check out the corral map to figure out where you can be dropped off.

Okay, y’all, this is where the shit really gets hairy. If you can, get dropped off near the start. Taking the train from the stadium area to the start is an up close and personal experience. You will touch other people. The BSR website encourages you to board the train no later than 630am. Follow this advice. SEPTA will offer every registered race participant a free ride on the Broad Street Line. Additional buses will be running from Little Broad Street just north of Pattison Avenue. Mychal of My Life in Mommyland who is a Broad Street 1st timer and speed demon has lots of questions. The most important of them being about the potty situation.
How bad is the "traffic" while running? Will I be slowed down by other runners?
At times, yes, others will slow you down. However, thanks to the corrals, runners go out in waves. I believe a new wave is released every 15 minutes (I can’t remember!). It will be very crowded for about the first mile and then people start to spread out, get ahead, or fall back. Don’t be afraid to pass people! The traffic really thins out around mile two. You will see a lot of go-getters sitting on the sidewalk; people that started out way too fast.
By and large, I didn’t have any issues with people slowing me down. However I do wish you dang walkers WOULD MOVE TO THE SIDE. Seriously, its a running race. I get that lots of people will need to walk at times and even I will be one of them. But get the hell out of the way!
Last year a guy on the train gave me a great piece of advice: He told me to run in the middle of the road and even on the median. He said that it’s the flattest part of Broad Street. It doesn’t look it, but Broad Street does have a lean to it as you get closer to the sidewalk.
Would you recommend staying in the city the night before? If so, why? Eh...I’m torn on this. If you live within 45 minutes of the city, I say don’t waste your money. It would be awesome to not have to get up at 430am to get to the race on time. But on the other hand, by the time the race starts, I’m all warmed up and ready to run. If I was able to flop around a hotel room until 730, I’d have a really rough start for an 830 run.  What's the port-potty situation REALLY like?  It’s hit and miss. When I parked at Citizens Bank Park and tried to use the port o potty in their lot, it was roughly 630am and it was a gigantic shit-fest. For real, someone must have either had the beer shits or been so nervous that brain matter came out of their ass. 
Once I got down to the starting area, the potties were much better. However, the wait times were CRAZY. Once you step off the train, immediately head for port-o-potty city. If you are in the Yellow corral with me, you have prime potty real estate. Even though there are more than 300 toilets, again, make it your FIRST stop after the train.
Kelly from the Fabulous Food Fairy recommends carrying some tissues with you as emergency TP. I agree...I had to air dry last year. ick.
So the short answer to the potty situation is that it is bearable...better than Woodstock ‘94 but worse than the port-o-potties at the big family reunion in the park.
Tips from Lindsay of The Naughty Mommy who became ‘Lost Runner’ once and ended up on the Island of Misfit Milers. Other phone tips: Personally, I do not like to run with too many supplies. Water bottles and fuel belts really mess up my stride. I get distracted by my annoyance over extra weight. I don’t even like armbands for my phone but will probably begrudgingly use one so that I can put my ID in the sleeve too. Basically, if I can’t cram it in my bra, I don’t want to bring it with me.
However, if you like to carry your water with you, Jeannette from Eco Incognito suggests that you go green by bringing your own reusable water bottle or using a Camelbak water system .
If you like to travel light, like me, water stations are conveniently located at the start, 2.2, 4.2, 5.2, 6.3, 6.9, 7.8, 8.5, 9.1 miles and the finish line. Water stations at 2.2, 6.3, 7.8, and 8.5 also have Gatorade in green cups.
By now you have probably received the email with your official bib number and corral. If you are a slowpoke like me, then you are probably in the Yellow or Pink corrals. 
The corral line-up goes as follows:
 Corral  Anticipated Finish Time
 Elite & Seeded  N/A
 Red  Under 1:05:59
 Purple   1:06:00 to 1:15:59
 Orange   1:16:00 to 1:24:59
 Green   1:25:00 to 1:30:00
 Gray   1:30:00 to 1:40:00
 Yellow   1:40:00 to 1:50:00
 Pink   1:50 Plus

Do you plan to run with a friend but they ended up in a different corral? Don’t cut the line! Move back to the slower corral. In my opinion, this is just good etiquette. Slower runners are in the corrals further back for a reason. You don’t want to jam up traffic by starting with a pack that is faster than you. Technically the race starts at 8:30am. The corrals are released in waves to reduce congestion on Broad Street. Unless you are an Elite or in the Red corral, don’t expect to start before 9am. Last year when I was in the Pink corral, the back of the pack, I did not even see the starting line until approximately 9:20am. It’s kind of annoying but it allowed me to scoot off for one more bathroom break and then jump back into the pack before they even started a slow jog. Your timing chip (which is on your bib) will not start until you cross the start line. This long wait will not affect your overall time. Your nerves are another story. The Finish Line: Both Whitney of Mommies With Style and @KayKyungsunYu1 wanted me to caution you that the race DOES NOT end at the entrance of the Naval Yard. KEEP GOING! “I have literally had almost every experienced runner warn me of this because apparently it can be sucky” says Whitney. I can attest to this. It took the wind out of my sails a bit when I realized that I still had about a quarter mile left to go. As Kay said to me on Twitter, “ #DontKickTooSoon ”. Pace yourself on that last leg and then finish strong!
Kelly from the Fabulous Food Fairy wants to remind you to pace yourself. “I ran it for the first time last year, and the best advice that I can give is to run your own race. When I first started, I was in a huge pack of people who ran a faster pace, and about a mile in, I was fighting to keep up. That is when I decided to stop keeping up, and run at my own comfort level. It was the best decision, and it allowed me to run with success.”
How long will it take me to finish? The answer to this question varies. Currently I am averaging a 12min mile - give or take a few seconds. So it should take me about two hours to finish. However, most people tend to run a little faster when they are in the pack. I am hoping to either meet or beat my time of 1:52:29 from last year.
Even if you have to walk parts of the course, as long as you manage to eek out a 15 minute mile, you will be finished with the course in a breezy two and a half hours. NO NEW GEAR! Do not wear anything that you haven’t worn while running in the past. Now is not the time to show off that snazzy new gear that you just picked up at the expo hall. You don’t want to risk ill-fitting shoes, slippery socks, chafing fabrics or annoying doo-dads that seemed functional when you bought that super-cool looking jacket. Save the fashion show for the running newbs at the park. For once you can be the cool kid that the new runners aspire to be. Wear whatever you are most comfortable in. And for God’s sake don’t be the dork that wears the official race shirt. 
No, I am totally kidding. I just wanted to sound like a douche bag that would say that. Wear your shirt if you want. Be proud. You are running 10 miles and you are a badass. If anyone laughs at you for wearing it, rub their face in your sweaty armpit. If it’s pre-race, shart on them with your nervous poops.
Disposable Gear: I highly recommend wearing a sweatshirt that you don’t mind tossing. It will be chilly in the morning, so you definitely want something to keep you warm. But you don’t want to be fumbling with that sweatshirt or jacket the entire race, right? I don’t know about you but I loathe tying my jacket around my waist. So I will be wearing a sweatshirt that I am ready to get rid of and when I get too warm, I will toss it on the side of the road. Volunteers will be collecting discarded clothing along the path to donate to the homeless. Don’t have anything you want to part with? Hit up the thrift store this week.
If you can avoid it, I would advise against checking your gear. It’s simply a pain in the butt. But if you must bring a bag to be checked, be advised that this year it must be in a clear bag. Checking gear is also another reason to arrive as early as possible - all gear must be checked by 8am.
You can read more about gear checking on the BSR website .
Christine from Love Life Surf wants to know if there are tricky parts and is it really is all downhill. 
Don’t believe it! Running the ‘hills’ in Broad Street aren't like climbing Kilimanjaro - but Amanda and I both agree there are slight dips and waves in the road. If you don’t mentally prepare for them, they will bite you in the butt. The first hill I struggled with was right around Mile 3 at Temple. Thankfully their awesome marching band was out there playing for us and cheering us on. 

As for tricks, I think the only truly tricky part is telling your brain to shut the hell up. Your brain is going to tell you that you are nuts, that you can’t do it, that your knees hurt too much, you are tired, you have to pee, you want to walk. Tell your brain to shove it.

How To Wear Your Bib: This might seem like a no brainer...but you would be surprised. You must wear your bib on the front of your shirt. Not on the side. Not on the back. Not on the leg of your pants. Not on your butt. On the FRONT of your shirt. Like, where your nipples are.

Safety x4: Use four safety pins to affix your bib to your clothing. Don’t get chincy because that thing will be flapping all over the place and for 10 miles, that is insanely annoying.
I.C.E.: Fill out the emergency contact and medical information on the back of your bib. This is important! You may never have an accident during a race. But do you want to chance falling unconscious and no one knows anything about your or how to contact your family? Fill that shit out!


Have fun! Now that Broad Street has adopted the lottery system, who knows when you will get to run this awesome course again. Running Broad Street is truly a delight and a moment that should be savored at every mile. It's the people of Philadelphia, the people that come out to cheer us on,  that we have to thank for that. And in that spirit, as you run through this great city, take a moment to remember all of the people affected by the Boston Marathon bombing. 

On that note, I want to leave you with this excerpt from a blog post I came upon after the Boston Marathon tragedy. It was written by Philadelphia native Dan Colameco. These are the words I will be carrying in my heart on May 5th. These are the words that will carry me through these 10 miles and the many miles of running in my future.
And Today, we run on borrowed strength, strength that cannot be killed, for it belongs to none of us. It is not ours to keep, but rather to pass between us, when needed.
You can read Dan's beautiful Runner's Prayer in its entirety on his blog,

And last, but certainly not least, my running-mentor-in-my-head has an from last year that is like a huge daisy chain of links to other recaps.

Remember, if you have any questions or tips for Broad Street, leave them in the comments below and I will update this post as the week goes on.

I hope everyone has an awesome race day!
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