Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Yo People Read This! -- Rocky 50K

In South Philly ready to start the Rocky 50K

Yo!  That was the best freakin run I've ever done!  When can we do it again?!

I just can't stop smiling and feeling so happy thinking about this past Saturday.  And then looking at everyone's posts, pics and videos, I know they all feel the same way too.  We were all part of something special.  Something that we all know is going to become a tradition and only get bigger every year.  We were the first ones, we paved the way for this crazy, awesome event.  And we loved every mile, all 31 something of them. 
some creepy dude kept chasing me for 31 miles all around Philly

For those who may not know the background for this run.  I will give a brief explanation.  This guy Dan McQuade wrote an article outlining the course that Rocky would have had to run in order to make sense of the running montage in Rocky II.  It's pretty illogical and ridiculous when you look at it on the map plus when all totaled it was 31 or so miles.  As Dan wrote in his article "I don’t recommend anyone try it."  Emir had sent me this article the morning it posted and was all fired up about how cool it was.  I supported his excitement and found it interesting however I have never actually watched any Rocky movie, EVER.  Yes, I know what kind of Philadelphian am I?!?!  I've lived here my whole life well just outside the city my whole life.  However, my parents were not the city going type.  I actually never saw city hall or the liberty bell until college when Emir's family was visiting from Bosnia and we took them downtown to see the sights, hehe.  I did however drive past center city countless times on I-95 growing up going to/from Phillies games, that counts right?!?!  ;-)  I've seen enough pictures, clips, etc of Rocky to appreciate the importance to Philly  so that's the most important part.  Next thing I know, I'm getting tweeted by our #Ultrachat buddy who also lives in Philly, Rebecca Schaefer.  She's asking if Emir and I would be interested in running this 31 mile route that "Rocky ran".  Ummm duh, what kind of question is that Rebecca?!?!  She said she was going to try to organize a "fatass style" run for sometime in December since we were all doing the Philly Marathon and most other runners also had big races in October and November.  And that she did!!!!
Geno's. mmmmmm

Over the next few months, Rebecca created the Facebook group and website for the run.  If you aren't familiar with the term "fatass," it refers to a race that has no fees, no aide stations, no official timing and no frills. So really not a race, just a fun run. Lots of people joined the facebook group and the excitement was off the charts.  As it grew closer to time for the run, there were various articles written about it including one from the Philadelphia Inquirer last week that even Emir and I were mentioned in and the run was even mentioned on the local news.  We were pretty pumped. 
City Hall
 My sister had agreed to stay over Friday night and watch the kids.  We left our house a little after 5, hit up DD, parked at my work (used the potty there) and hopped on the subway to South Philly.  We might have looked a little strange riding the Broad Street Line at 6 AM.  Me dressed in running pants, gray hoodie with "Yo Philly" taped across my chest, orange sweat band, orange gloves and my hydration pack.  Emir didn't go for the sweats but he had a orange headband, total pedophile mustache, hydration pack and a sign across his chest reading "Women weaken legs."  Probably not something the fine folks of North Philly are accustomed to seeing on the subway.  Eventually as we got into center city a few other "Rockys" entered the subway which made us really excited.  There was hundreds of people in the Facebook group, but really this being a sort of all of the sudden event and a 50k fun run, we really had no idea what to expect as far as number of people who would show up for the run.  In our eyes it was a no brainer to run but we were thinking with only a couple months notice there would be a lot of people who were interested but felt like they didn't have time to prepare to be able to complete 31 miles.
150 runners ready

We got off the subway in South Philly and started following the other "Rockys" I really had to use the bathroom as I was unsuccessful at my work, of course.  This was the only part that made us nervous about this run was the fact that there would be no pottys.  No water, no food, no fuel no problem. As ultra runners, we are used to training really long runs without support.  We just carry it all in our hydration packs.  However these runs usually end up at some point in wooded areas, nature's potty ;-). We came across a diner.  I decided to give it a shot.  The people who worked there were staring at me and I assumed I was about to get told to get lost as I wasn't there to eat.  However they broke into huge grins and said "bathroom is over there."  That really set the tone for the day.  Not everyone we encountered knew what we were doing but a lot did and were so happy to see us and offer support.  Those that didn't, would ask what we were doing and once they found out, encouraged us on.  After the diner we headed towards the start.  At first we didn't see anyone then we went around this bend and there were tons of people!!  Wow!  And so many in gray sweats or headbands or both! We were so excited!  Reports are that 150 people started the run.  Another great advantage to a fatass run is that people can do as much or as little as they want which allows for more people to be able to participate.
Emir's "women weaken legs" sign

Our fearless leader Rebecca gave us a brief safety talk, thanked everyone, gave a few words of encouragement and off we went.  
Rebecca addressing the Rockys

The first couple of miles just looked like a sea of runners taking over South Philly.  Everyone was kind of sticking together and didn't seem like they wanted to get left behind which caused a few issues at traffic lights but overall no big deal since it was 7AM.  After that people started settling into their own sort of pace groups.  Runners also started making stops to take pictures at some of the sights from the movies, at coffee shops, stores and even the casino to get drinks, food or use the facilities.
South Philly
 It really was just a fun run.  No one was concerned about their time.  Everyone was super relaxed and just taking in the sights and sounds of Philadelphia.  I actually felt so relaxed about the whole thing that not only was I wearing a sweatshirt to run in but I was wearing my brand new Nike free fly knit shoes that I am testing and I used energybits during the run for the first time ever.  Not things I would typically do for a 50K! I will review these in separate entries coming soon. The highlights of the run included South Philly of course especially the Italian Market with flaming barrels, different sections of center city especially by city hall and of course the finish up the Art Museum steps.  I'm not going to lie there were plenty of less desirable neighborhoods but hey Rocky didn't discriminate and some of those areas and people proved just as interesting and entertaining.
Delaware Ave

Center City

City Hall

Italian Market with flaming barrels

Emir and Rebecca are so fast you can barely see them blur by!
Running a "fatass style" 50k that was not a multiple loop course through a major city certainly proved to be a very interesting time.  Most of the time in fatass races there are multiple loops so you can either stop at your car or meet your support team each loop.  This run was perfect in terms of being able to buy extra water or food that you needed along the way.  Also surprisingly restaurants and stores did not seem to care about runners using the bathroom so that was never an issue.  The thing that turned out to be the most challenging about this fatass race which you wouldn't normally encounter in other races was the traffic lights especially the last 5-6 miles that took place through the heart of Center City.  There are traffic lights pretty much every block and yes we hit almost every red light.  Every intersection that we stopped our legs would start killing us, we just wanted to keep going!  As frustrating as it was at times, definitely an added challenge that you wouldn't normally encounter in a 50k  so in the end I liked trying to overcome my legs screaming in agony ;-)
Rebecca jumping the bench like Rocky


Thanks for the water!

Kelly Drive by Boathouse Row

Making my way up the steps
I want to thank Rebecca.  Even though she did not come up with the course itself, she is the reason this event took place and was so amazing.  I don't know anyone who could have put together something like this in such a short period of time. Her idea of making it a "fatass" event so no one had to pay anything was perfect and just adds to the "this is just for fun" vibe.  Her crazy enthusiasm and excitement for this event is why so many people came out, got dressed up like Rocky and ran 31 miles for fun.  I know that she's also the reason that some people who weren't running came out and had a few makeshift aide stations and why these people in a van with a disco ball wearing Rocky outfits kept randomly popping up throughout the course blasting the Rocky theme and "eye of the tiger."  And she's the reason this run had the best finish I've ever seen.  No matter how bad your legs were hurting, every single runner booked it up the Art Museum steps and jumped up and down at the top to the Rocky theme and everyone on the steps was cheering.  I can't wait for next year!

Here's to many more runs with these two!

Here's the Wall Street Journal article covering the run and some of the best pics posted:




No comments:

Post a Comment