Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Nice Stroll through Philly

It's December.  It's getting colder, gets dark way too early and we have seen some snowflakes already.  What does all this mean?  It means it's the time of year when a bunch of runners gather in philly to run the exact route of Rocky Balboa in Rocky II.  Yes, the Rocky 50K!

This year was the second annual event.  Long story short, our friend Rebecca created this event after an article was published that stated Rocky actually ran 31 miles in Rocky II if you piece it all together.  As ultra runners, there's no way we could read something like that and not insist on running it!  You can read the full story in my post from last year the inaugural event.

The Rocky50K is what is known as a "fat ass" run.  No fees, no aid, no bibs, no medals, no nothing.  Just runners gathering to run a specific route together for fun (well it's always fun but you know what I mean!).  Just like last year, we gathered at the corner of Wolf and Lambert in South Philadelphia.  There were a bunch of "Rockys" in their gray sweats and red headbands.  Last year I did myself go for the Rocky look and really wanted to again this year.  However, the forecast was for rain, heavy rain at some point during our adventure.  Heavy, soaking wet sweats were not something I wanted to be dealing with so unfortunately I left my sweats at home. 

Rebecca made her few announcements and off we went.  Emir and I ran together the entire 50K.  Mainly because we only had one set of directions!  Just kidding that was only partly the reason ;-)  We really haven't actually run together much lately.  No training runs together probably since at least the summer and in all of the races we both did this fall, we would start together but never end up running the whole race together.  The Rocky was a great opportunity for us to just hang out and enjoy some time together. 

running together
Up until mile 20-21, it was just cloudy and actually a fairly comfortable temperature.  Emir and I just went at a pace that felt comfortable.  Sometimes we were with other runners, sometimes by ourselves.  We managed to find our friend Richard who drove up last year and again this year just to run the Rocky.  We also ran the double Blue Ridge Marathon with him this year.  It was great catching up with him!  We took a potty break at a Starbucks and decided against the donuts being offered in the Italian Market.  There were also people supporting runners by offering water and snacks every once in a while.  I don't know who you were but THANK YOU!!! 

Running down Broad Street towards City Hall

The Rocky run is great because you get to explore parts of Philly that you want to see like South Philly, center city including running down Broad Street, by city hall and through the Italian Market.  You also get to run through some places you would otherwise never see like Kensington and West Kensington.  But all together these are the experiences that make the Rocky so unique and fun.  In one of the not so great neighborhoods a young boy was running along with us for a few minutes in his flip flops shouting "I can run faster than you guys!!!"  Until his mom told him to get his f'in ass in the house ;-)  Another memorable moment is a man shouting "are yous doin that Rocky jawn?!"  So Philly, so awesome. 

running through the Italian Market is the best!
Around mile 19-20 we finally found Rebecca and were able to run with her, her friend Janna and a few others for a solid 4-5 miles.  We were all just chatting away, enjoying the scenery, those miles just flew by even though our legs were starting to feel the miles piling on.  Just before reaching Kelly Drive we passed by the Laurel Hill Cemetery that contains Adrian's grave.  It was tempting to go try to find it but we saw a few other runners wandering around not having any luck and decided as it was starting to sprinkle to just carry on.  As we reached Kelly Drive the torrential rains began.  But no reason to consider stopping even though we passed by the Art Museum, the finish line, with still 5 more miles left to do.  What a tease! 

still having fun in the rain!
But we carried on through the rain, the crowded sidewalks filled with Christmas shoppers and stopping practically every 100 feet at traffic lights.  Those last 5 miles can really be torture.  Those first few steps after being stopped at each light can be almost excruciating but it's a unique challenge to the Rocky 50K

Eventually we made it back to the parkway with the Art Museum waiting for us at the end.  Despite the rain and our fatigue, you really can't help but have a big smile on your face as you finish your journey.  And no matter how tired you are or how bad your legs hurt, every single runner musters one last burst of energy to run up those steps just like Rocky.  It's the perfect finish.   Standing on top of those steps like a champion, looking out over the city of Philadelphia that you just conquered on foot.  I may be a bit biased, but there's nothing quite like it.  I'll see you all in South Philly next December!

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