Move to Seattle

Hi friends!

This summer was a whirlwind. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from Penn in May, traveled a bit (New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Georgia, Colorado, Washington) to visit family and friends, started learning Chinese, drank a lot of coffee and started a coffee blog & Instagram. Life got in the way of running, but I don’t regret that. Giving yourself a break every now and then is good, yeah?

As they say, all good things must come to an end, and for me, that good thing was the seemingly endless summer I had. No job, no internship, no research, no classes. Three straight months of relaxing and pursuing hobbies that got pushed to the back burner during four years of engineering.

It’s funny because I started this blog right after I graduated high school. That feels like a million years ago! Every facet of my life has changed in some way¬†since then. But not everything has changed – I still run ūüôā

When I started this blog in 2012, I was living in (what felt like) the middle of nowhere, Georgia. I couldn’t wait to get out and see the world. College was what I had aspired to¬†for as long as I could remember, and I was going to go to a really good college. I thought the rest of my life was set (oh high school me…).

I went from eager, confident high school grad to insecure, ashamed freshman. Classes were hard. My grades were bad. I had a hard time making friends because I was shy and homesick. It seemed like no matter how hard I tried, I failed, and the harder I tried, the worse the failures felt.

I wish I knew then what I know now – failures happen. Failing doesn’t mean you’re worthless or stupid – it means you need to try again. The whole fall down 7 times, get up 8 deal.

Even though the failures were devastating, I felt like quitting would be even worse than trying and failing. So I didn’t quit. And now I have a degree, and I am endlessly thankful to my family and friends for keeping me sane in the process.

So where does that put me now? In Seattle!

My job is¬†a two-year leadership development program in engineering & business, with the first 6-month stop in Seattle. I’ve only been here about a month, but so far, I’m loving the Pacific Northwest!

I’m excited to continue sharing my running adventures with you. Thanks for reading ūüôā




Peachtree Road Race 2016 Recap

This was my 6th time running the Peachtree Road Race! 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and now 2016. Every year it’s the same course but a totally different experience.

The 2009 Peachtree was my first ever race. I had started running in 9th grade, at age 14, so that I could improve my grade for the timed mile test in gym¬†class (nerd). After the semester ended in December, I kept running so that I might be able to do the Peachtree in July with my older sister. It’s a¬†10k race, which was crazy to me at the time because I had never run more than a mile or so continuously. I had to stay consistent with running so that I would be able to complete the whole 6.2 miles.

This year I flew down to Atlanta from Philly on Saturday, July 2 with my boyfriend. My mom picked us up from the airport and drove us straight to the hospital to see my sister, brother-in-law, and my newborn nephew! I¬†didn’t get to meet my first nephew until he was about two months old, but I got to hold my second nephew when he was just 33 hours old. He is so adorable and¬†meeting him was so special!

We went to the expo at the Georgia World Congress Center on Sunday, July 3 to pick up my bib. I was in wave B this year, which I admit disappointed me a little. The last two times I ran Peachtree in 2013 and 2014 I was in wave A, and my time in 2014 should have qualified me for wave A again this year. However, I got into the race this year because I deferred my 2015 entry, so I thought maybe they didn’t have enough space in wave A by the time I emailed. Whatever the reason, wave B ended up being totally fine. Just my pride getting in the way!

Entrance to the expo at the Georgia World Congress Center
Entrance to the expo at the Georgia World Congress Center

And of course, we’d be remiss to go to Atlanta and not make it to The Flying Biscuit Cafe.

The Flying Biscuit Cafe
The Flying Biscuit Cafe: one of my favorite places to eat in Atlanta

On Monday morning, July 4, my mom, dad (who was also running the race), boyfriend, and I woke up at 4:45 AM to make it to the start line¬†early. Side note, I’m so thankful to have people who care about me enough to wake up at 4:45 ūüėČ

My mom and boyfriend dropped me and my dad off at a road barricade about half a mile from the start line at 6:20 AM. We made our way to the start with a hoard of other runners. My dad was in wave X, so he and I split up once reaching the start area.

It was REALLY nice to get there¬†early because it wasn’t crowded yet. I was able to use the port-a-potties twice without waiting in line while they were still relatively clean, and I could jog around to warm up without dodging¬†too many people. By 7:15, the start area was packed and I was glad I had gotten there so early.

Erin before the race
Before the race. I look pretty happy.

As a giant American flag billowed overhead, someone sang the National Anthem. Afterwords, a huge Air Force jet flew by overhead! This was the first year that had happened¬†and to me, it was the most incredible¬†part of the race. The jet was so low to the ground (even closer than the helicopters flying overhead). I wish I’d taken a video but I had no idea it would happen!

Giant American flag
Giant American flag flying over the start line. This Snapchat photo was the only one I had!

My wave started at 7:35. Immediately after starting I thought…¬†this feels hard.¬†

My training leading up to this race was sporadic. I felt like I was in great¬†shape for the Broad Street Run, but¬†two weeks after it, I noticed a large, somewhat painful lump on top of my left food. I was extremely concerned and took about¬†2.5 weeks off before going to the see a sports medicine doctor. She thought it was probably an inflamed tendon or ganglion cyst and told me to take one more week off running,¬†ice 2-3 times per day, and then try going for a short run. I did that, and things seemed to go back to normal. I’m still not sure exactly what was wrong, but I’m glad it was not a stress fracture or another serious injury!

I went about 24 days without running between mid-May and early June and ran just 32 miles for the entire month of June. However, I did lots of cross training during this time. I went to 6 Flywheel classes in June, which were HARD (in the best way). I also did some pilates, barre, and yoga classes. So by the time the race came around, I felt like I was in reasonably good fitness shape, but not necessarily good running shape.

In addition to not being in tip-top shape, the day of the race was extremely hot. It was 77 degrees with 83% humidity and not a cloud in the sky at 7:35 AM. Also, the black asphalt of the road absorbed even more heat, making it feel even hotter on the course. Ugh.¬†The race started off at a yellow warning¬†flag, meaning “less than ideal conditions.”

So anyway – start of the race, I thought¬†“this feels hard”¬†and worried I wouldn’t have a good race. I decided to just run by feel and not look at my watch. This ensured I didn’t feel disappointed if my pace was slow.

The race course itself was relatively unremarkable to me as, like I said, this was the 6th time I had run it. My favorite parts are the holy water mister at the Cathedral of St. Philip, the patients at Piedmont Hospital cheering for runners on Cardiac Hill, and the single turn onto 10th Street where the crowd of spectators becomes very dense.

The first half of the race is mostly downhill, which is great; but what goes down must come up, and the uphill second half of the race can feel pretty miserable. This showed very clearly in my pace:

  • First half of the race: Average pace 7:57 min/mile and heart rate about 160 bpm
  • Second half of the race: Average pace 8:47 min/mile and heart rate about 190 bpm

I can’t believe I managed to¬†run for over 3 miles with a heart rate around 190 bpm. I mean, I can easily believe my heart rate was this high, because breathing was very difficult and my legs felt like lead. But I can’t believe I managed to hold on and not walk (or pass out).

Final time: 51:57 (average 8:22 min/mile pace)

I was shocked by how fast I finished – not that this time was particularly fast (I ran 47:20 in 2013 and 47:10 in 2014), but for terrible heat conditions and minimal training, I was ecstatic with this time. With how terrible my legs had felt during the race, I was sure I was running a 12 minute per mile pace!

Erin mid-race
Near the end of the race. Wish I wasn’t looking at my watch! I looked at it once to see how much longer I had.
Erin crossing under photographer's bridge
At mile 5.75ish – meaning very close to the end of the race. This part is so deceiving because the photographer’s bridge looks like the finish line! I always have to remind myself that I’ve still got a bit further to go.

After the race, I found my mom and boyfriend and greedily chugged water while sprawled out in the shade with an ice cold towel wrapped around my neck. After about 10 minutes of recovering, I checked my watch and realized that, at 8:40, my dad wouldn’t even be¬†starting¬†the race for another 25 minutes!

Needless to say, we waited in the finish area at Piedmont Park a long time. The wait wasn’t terrible because we had plenty of free food and drinks and had also found a shaded bench next to a nearby lake. We were able to take lots of pictures and talk about the race.

However, we were very worried about my dad. After I finished, the warning condition was raised to a red warning flag, meaning “potentially dangerous conditions” (and one step away from the race being cancelled). Sirens continuously blared¬†as medics tried to make their way to people who had passed out at the finish line. My dad runs consistently and is reasonably fit, but he is 66-years-old and struggles in the heat. I texted him to make sure¬†he would go slow and drink plenty of water.

He had estimated he’d finish in about 75 minutes, but he ended up taking almost 90 (final time 1 hour 27 minutes). He looked beat when we found him; my mom was afraid he was going to pass out and insisted he sit in the shade and drink a Powerade before walking back to the car, which was parked nearly a mile away. Thankfully we all made it back without issue.

We showered, went out to lunch for burgers and beer (does a better post-race meal exist?), and visited with my nephews for a cookout and small fireworks before heading back to the hotel for a quick swim and an early bedtime. We didn’t go see a fireworks show, but this 4th of July still felt pretty perfect.

Until next race!


Broad Street 10 Miler 2016 Recap

Long time no see!

I haven’t written since *ahem* August, but let’s ignore that fact for now and just dive straight into a race recap.

This year was my 4th time running Broad Street. It’s fun to do the same race year after year and make it a tradition. Back in mid-April¬†was also my 4th time doing the 5k Run for Clean Air, and this weekend was also my 4th time volunteering for the Penn Relays. I’ll be graduating from Penn in 2 weeks (!), but I’ve loved being part of the running community in Philadelphia during my time here. Post-graduation plans TBA ¬†ūüôā

Let’s start with the training leading up to the race, especially since we haven’t talked in awhile.

I had given up all time goals in 2015, and my only goal was to remain injury-free for an entire year. After two stress fractures in 2014, I just wanted to get back to doing what I loved.

I ran the Philadelphia Marathon in November 2015 and finished in a fairly respectable 3:58:18. Then I took 25 days totally off to physically and mentally recover from what had been an 18 week training cycle.

I began running again at the end of December, trying to keep my weekly mileage consistently around 15-20 miles per week.

In February 2016, I ran the Feel the Love 5k at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, finishing in 23:57. Two months later, I ran 23:13 at the 5k for Clean Air, my second best time out of four years running that race.

After a year of avoiding putting pressure on myself to meet time goals, I honestly had forgotten just how¬†fun¬†it is to shoot for a goal. It’s a little bit scary but thrilling, and running hard to meet your goal feelings amazing.

I put my most recent 5k time (23:13) through the McMillan race predictor calculator and came out with a predicted 1:20:35 finish for a 10 mile race. I thought this sounded realistic and was also excited to hopefully get my second best time at Broad Street. I decided to aim for under 1:20. My times from the past 3 years were:

2013: 1:17:08

2014: 1:24:43

2015: 1:30:55

Spoiler alert: met the goal ūüėČ


Now we’re at race day. In case you’re unfamiliar, Broad Street is a 10 mile run that is just a straight shot down Broad Street, from North Philly to the midway point at City Hall to the end in the Navy Yard. My Garmin map from today shows as much:

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 1.33.24 PM

Now let’s talk about the weather.

After weeks of beautiful spring weather in Philadelphia, we ended up with 50 degrees and raining for this weekend. I’ve never actually run a race in the rain before (despite coming close at the 2013 Peachtree, when there was 100% chance of rain but no actual rain), so I was apprehensive.

I looked online for how to dress for the weather and ended up with a tech fabric long-sleeved shirt, capri length tights, and a tech fabric baseball cap to wear while running the race. I brought a warm, fuzzy Northface, fleece-lined tights, and gloves to wear to the start and put in my gear check bag. I also had a thin, long-sleeved cotton shirt and a trash bag to wear over my outfit and then throw away at the start line.

Since I was going to listen to music, I put my phone in a plastic bag before putting it in my armband. Almost had a snafu when I was trying to plug my headphones in and realized I needed to tear through the plastic bag. I was glad I had enough time before the race started to get that sorted out.

Things I would have done differently with my outfit: bring a rain jacket instead of a regular jacket. Buy a real poncho with a hood instead of cutting a hole in a trash bag. Wear plastic grocery bags over my shoes until the start of the race.¬†Not run through a giant puddle at mile 6…

I met my friends on campus at 6:15 AM, and we jumped on the subway to get to the start. We got to the start area right about 7 with enough time to go to the bathroom and check our bags. My boyfriend and I lined up in the orange corral (those with predicted finish times 1:15-1:22) just before 7:40 to get ready for the 8:00 start.

I was so cold standing in the corral for those 20 minutes before the start of the race.

I didn’t want to look at my Garmin too much while running because I recently read this article by Tina Muir and really liked what she had to say.¬†The three sentences I think sum it up best are: “If you set a pace you thought you were capable of, and you were ready for MUCH faster, you would not want to slow down¬†just so you hit that time you had in your head. No, you want to run the best you can.¬†Your body does not know that number, all your body knows is how to run to the best you physically can, and the best your mind allows.

However, since ignoring my watch isn’t something I’ve practiced, I just looked at my watch infrequently: miles 1, 2, and 5, then again 7, 9, and just before the finish. I had it set to the “finish time” feature so that I could see with a glance what my estimated finish time was and keep it below 1:20. I also put the distance in as 10.05 instead of 10 because I knew I wouldn’t run the course perfectly (yes, even though it’s a straight line, haha).

Early in the race, my estimated finish time was around 1:16, so I tried to reign it in a bit. After that though, the time was hovering right about 1:19:50, so I knew I was right where I wanted to be.

The hardest mile was probably between 6 and 7. It just felt so long.¬†I also stepped in a huge puddle, which certainly didn’t help. However, I also witnessed¬†a proposal right in the middle of the road in front of City Hall, which made me ridiculously happy. I think running proposals are adorable.

The race didn’t feel particularly difficult at any point. It certainly wasn’t easy, but I never felt like my legs or lungs couldn’t hold up.

When I saw the finish line, I opened my stride a little¬†to finish faster. I was happy that I’d met my goal, but my overall happiness was pretty low given that I was soaking wet and absolutely freezing. I am definitely not one of those people who enjoys running in the rain.

Official time: 1:19:17

For fun, a comparison of four years running Broad Street:

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 1.38.39 PM

I got a medal, a bag of food, and found my friends next to the Dunkin Donuts tent in the finish area. It had rained lightly but steadily all throughout the race, and it still wasn’t letting up. My boyfriend joined us soon after, we picked up our bags from gear check, and headed back to the subway to go home. My teeth chattered the whole way.

Now that I am home, fed, showered, in my pajamas and drinking some herbal coffee while writing this post in my bed, I’m pretty happy. It feels so great to set goals, work for them, and achieve them. I didn’t realize how much I missed having time goals. It will still be awhile before I can work my way down to my PRs again, but I know the day will come.

I’ll spend the rest of today celebrating my Broad Street victory (which will likely involve wine, cheese, and the new Game of Thrones episode tonight), then buckle down for one more week of final exams, then one more week until GRADUATION! I can’t wait.


Running and barre classes

Hi friends!

I don’t know if you noticed this in my post yesterday, but I mentioned doing 12 barre and yoga classes¬†as part of¬†my marathon training.

I actually started working at a barre studio at the beginning of this past summer. After not getting any summer internship offers, I began piecing together other activities to keep me occupied. I ended up taking three summer classes, working part-time in a lab, and working part-time at the barre studio.

Originally I had the idea that I’d try to find a part-time job as a barista. I love coffee, frequenting coffee shops, and¬†creating things, so I thought being a barista would be a¬†fun thing to do before I graduated college as an engineer and (hopefully) wouldn’t have the chance to¬†hold a job like that again.

In the process of looking at opportunities at different coffee shops, I got an email newsletter from a barre studio whose email list I had signed up for but had never actually been to. It mentioned hiring a part-time desk worker to do things like check people in for class and perform light cleaning duties. And it said that classes would be free! I decided to go ahead and apply because it fit the bill of a job related to my interests, in this case fitness.

Based on the description, at first I thought that the work would be done in exchange for free classes, something I’d done before for a CrossFit gym. After a brief phone interview though, I realized it was paid in addition to free classes! (Not much payment, but still ūüėČ ) And just like that, I had a job!

Working at the studio has been really fun overall. I love getting to¬†know the instructors and clients, and I love having a behind-the-scenes look at how a fitness studio operates. I like having a lot of responsibility and autonomy at the job, and I appreciate that I’m able to squeeze in a bit of homework or reading while classes are going on. And I’ve certainly been taking advantage of having free classes!

Initially I wasn’t sure that barre would be something I’d like doing because it seemed to be some girly, ineffective workout (2 pound weights?), but it’s turned out to be a great complement to my running. Lots of lower body exercise, hip strengthening, and core work. I’m noticeably stronger and wayy more flexible. I can squat all the way to the ground without falling over! It’s miraculous.

Barre has been a great addition, and this is the most consistent I’ve ever been with strength training (although having free classes absolutely¬†helps!).

After the marathon is over, I hope to be able to go to even more classes – right now I’m going to at best one a week due to time constraints and mileage goals, but I’d love a break from running not caused by injury!

*Poof* Taper time!

Since I haven’t been writing about my marathon training, you may be surprised to learn that it’s taper time. I am so relieved and grateful to have made it through this training cycle.

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m running the Philadelphia Marathon for the third time on November 22. I did the race for the first time in 2012 (my first marathon) and for the second time in 2013 (a Boston-qualifying time). This year, I’m excited to run the race for fun.

This morning I was picking at a pumpkin maple pecan scone and drinking coffee in a cute bakery in Center City and overheard a woman congratulating a man on finishing the Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon yesterday. He said, “Thanks, it was fun!” And she replied, “Fun?!

I could only smile. I love those moments when non-runners are surprised by the things runners do.

I’ve never followed what I would call a training cycle for a marathon before. I’m not one to meticulously plan my training because my obligations as an officer in Running Club¬†here at school ensure that I get in enough miles to keep me fit (and sane). In 2012, I signed up approximately five weeks before the race, never having run more than 16 miles. I did one 20-miler two weeks before the marathon and finished in 3:49:24. In 2013, I ran a lot of miles leading up to the race, including many two-a-days and a few longer runs, and finished in 3:34:38.

This year, I knew I would need to be more careful about planning my training because I didn’t already have a solid base to build on. When I did the Hoosier Half Marathon in April at a ~10 minute per mile pace, I felt like I’d been hit by a¬†truck afterwards. I wanted the marathon to be a fun experience to look forward to, not something that would strike fear in me every time I thought of it. So back at the beginning of the summer, I marked when 18 weeks before the marathon would be – July 19.

I read the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Marathon Training plan and¬†wrote the long run distances into my calendar. And that’s pretty much what I followed.

Here’s a table of what the suggested long run distances were versus what I ran, so you can see how closely I followed the plan. Most distances were moved around due to things like travel or not feeling ready to tackle a longer distance yet:¬†

Philly marathon 2015 long run schedule

It’s so weird to me that 15 weeks have passed since that July 19 start date. The weeks went by slowly, but looking back they seem to have all gone so fast. But it’s so rewarding to make a plan¬†and go through with it, which is something I’ve been able to practice with running time and time again. Well, I still have those 12 and 8 milers left, but after doing an 18 mile run and a 20 mile run just six days apart, I’m not concerned.

Here’s more numbers, because I’m obsessed with data (I didn’t get to senior year in engineering by accident!):

Training summary

Believe that you’ll be hearing from me more regularly in the upcoming weeks as I finish my last three weeks of training. Because I’ve never formally tapered, I also haven’t experienced the “taper crazies” I’ve read so much about, so this should be fun ūüėČ Until next time.¬†

That small moment when you realize how far you’ve come

This evening I was reading over the past few blog posts I’ve written. I was reading about the Hoosier Half Marathon back in April when I remembered something very particular about that race — the soreness.

Running 13.1 miles at a 10:02 min/mile pace destroyed my legs. I remember wincing as I stepped down from the curb of a sidewalk onto a road. I remember my hips protesting every step I took. I remember feeling incredulous listening to my teammate talk about how she felt like she could run another half marathon the next day.

In the midst of marathon training now, I have run 10, 12, 10, 12 as my long runs over the past four weeks. The first 12 miler was hard, but my average pace was around 9 min/mile (a full min/mile faster than the April half) and while I was sore the next day, that soreness in no way compared to the just-got-hit-by-a-truck feeling I experienced in April.

Speaking of marathon training, I guess I haven’t really talked about signing up for the Philly marathon again this year. Which I did on April 1st, the day registration opened.¬†I like to sign up for a race as soon as I’m sure I don’t have any conflicts. Thankfully this year, club XC nationals will be the weekend before.

I’m so excited to do the marathon again. Something about pummeling my body for 26.2 miles sounds like a good idea. But really, I know it will be hard, but I know it will be totally different from the past two times I’ve run marathons. For both of those, I felt like I had something to prove (only to myself, but still). My first marathon, I needed to prove that I was physically capable of covering the distance. My second marathon, I needed to prove I could Boston Qualify. For months, I felt sick to my stomach imagining what it would feel like to run an 8:11 minute mile 26 times — I had a hard enough time doing it once or twice! But somehow, I did it.

This time though, I’m doing the marathon solely because I want to do the marathon. I want to run a very long distance throughout my beautiful city on a crisp fall day and spend the rest of the day on my coach reading random things on the internet, eating food, and basking in the post-race euphoria.

I have zero time goals. Some people have suggested that surely I’d be able to BQ again, since I’ve already done it once, but I know where I am fitness-wise and it is not there. Maybe next year will be my year, but this is the year of taking a step back and learning how running fits in with my life — because running is not all that I eat, sleep, and breathe anymore, which is a blessing.

So I guess tonight while reading my own writing, I realized that I’m in a good place right now. Steadily gaining fitness while keeping perspective on what’s important. Life is really, really good right now, and I have so much to be thankful for.

Broad Street 10 Miler 2015 Recap Part II

First off, thank you to my wonderful friend/roommate Courtney for making me a new banner! This one looks a thousand times better than the one I tried to put together.

When I originally started writing my recap of Broad Street, it turned into a 700-word examination of race logistics. So I added this part 2. Just some thoughts I had when reflecting on the race. (You can read about how I actually ran the race this year in Part I)


I can’t help comparing this race to the Peachtree Road Race:

  • Both are the largest race of their kind in the United States (Peachtree is largest 10k, Broad Street is largest 10 miler) — and actually the Peachtree is the largest race in the country based on¬†55,850 finishers in 2013, while Broad Street is the 8th largest with¬†32,075. (Running USA)
  • Both are community events that attract large numbers from the local Atlanta and Philadelphia areas, respectively
  • Both have a mix of super serious athletes (Peachtree was the site of the U.S. 10k Road Championships last year, and the fastest 10 mile time in the country was set at Broad Street) as well as people who have never done a race before
  • Both use lottery entry systems¬†and sell out every year
  • Both run along a single road for most of the race which is also the namesake of the race (Peachtree goes along Peachtree Road for all but the last part of the race when there are a few turns to get to Piedmont Park, and Broad Street is literally just a straight shot down Broad Street to the Navy Yard)
  • Both have been around awhile, although Peachtree (1970) beats Broad Street (1980) by 10 years
  • Both encourage runners to use the local subway system (Marta in Atlanta, Septa in Philly) to get to the race start, since parking at the start is limited and the race isn’t out-and-back

That said, from my perspective the Peacthree is organized far better than Broad Street,¬†primarily due to the way the start is set up. I also think the Peachtree as a more fun, festive atmosphere since it’s on July 4, but that’s not something that could be changed as easily as the start line logistics. Peachtree also boasts a larger elite field, but that doesn’t affect the experience of the “regular” runners as much,¬†although could be part of why it’s more organized.

Peachtree has 60,000 entrants and uses a staggered wave start system. The waves go seeded, subseeded, then letters A through Y for a total of 27 waves, with earlier waves being populated by faster runners based on previous race results. Whether they do or not, they claim that they will verify your performance in the race you use as your seed time. If you don’t have a seed time, you are placed in wave Y.

Broad Street has 40,000 entrants and also has a wave system, but they do it by color, which makes it more difficult to figure out who is supposed to be in the faster waves. There are also only 9 waves (including wheelchair start). They ask for a predicted finish time to decide where you place you but do not require previous race results to verify what would be a realistic start wave for you.

Peachtree vs. Broad start corral organization

Notice Peachtree on the left with all the different start waves staggered to begin at different times and Broad Street on the right with fewer corrals and the note that “all runners must be in their corrals by 7:40 a.m.”

The biggest logistical difference, however, comes in the way the waves are staggered. At Peachtree, the first waves go off at 7:30, and the last wave starts at 9:05. Last year I started in wave “A,” and after I finished the race, ate some food, and walked around Piedmont Park a bit, I was in the car on the highway back to my sister’s house before the¬†wave “Y”¬†even started! At Broad Street, the waves basically go off one after another, so you have all ~40,000 people at the start line of the race at the same time. This makes getting to your corral and using the bathroom a nightmare.¬†Peachtree vs. Broad start line spacing

These are the best pictures I could find to compare the start areas. Notice the hoard at Broad Street (bottom) versus how it seems like people at the Peachtree could still move around if they wanted (top)

Interesting, Broad Street has a gear check while the Peachtree does not. I typically don’t use gear check except if it’s cold at the start, in which case I use it to store extra layers. An early May morning in Philadelphia could still be a bit chilly, while no one would ever accuse the 4th of July in Atlanta of¬†not being warm enough. That said, when you have¬†tens of thousands of participants and a point-to-point course, some sacrifices undoubtedly have to be made. Broad Street currently uses a fleet of school buses for gear check, but I’d be in favor of eliminating it to make room for more start corrals. Maybe not a popular opinion because I know a lot of people¬†like gear check, but most necessities (phone, keys, money, ID, gels) could easily be carried in a belt and/or armband, and getting rid of the 50+ school buses that line up at the start would¬†alleviate participants being crammed together and not making it to their corrals.

Broad corral lineup compared with size of start area¬†On the left is the start corral map and on the right is the start area map. The yellow buses are representative of gear check — each must represent more than one bus though, because there are over 50. With all the streets they have closed off, there’s no reason all the participants need to be crammed together.

I know there are probably some unforeseen reasons they don’t do the start like I think they should. For one, it would likely prolong the times roads would be closed, and I imagine that might be a¬†bigger issue in Philly than in Atlanta. Atlanta is huge, and while inconvenient, the road closures don’t stop all transportation around the city. Center City Philadelphia is tiny, and Broad Street basically bisects it. I think there’s a way to use the highway to get from one side to the other, but still.

Whatever the reason… Broad Street is a fun race, but I know some people don’t enjoy it anymore because of how crowded and hectic it is. Last year, after crossing the finish line, I had to come to a dead stop because no one in front of me was moving. There was a huge bottleneck and it took 45 minutes to get from the finish line to the medals/food area. Broad Street definitely has some logistical issues, and I hope that they can get some of them worked out, because there are so many ways they could improve things. If they do, they could even increase the entrant field and allow more people to¬†experience the race.