I Didn’t Have a Great First-Time Broad Street Run Experience

But it had nothing to do with my time.

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

Photograph by Jeff Fusco

I feel like I didn’t perform top-notch at Broad Street, but it had nothing to do with my race time or the status of an injury. My problem at the race was that I couldn’t, no matter how hard I tried, silence my overthinking.

My local CrossFit had arranged buses to the start line, so I arrived at the start without the stress of having to find parking or deal with transportation. I had my lucky sneakers on. I had my music cued up. I had eaten my favorite pre-race meal. And I had just run a nine-mile race three weeks before (The Hot Chocolate 15K in Philly) and had a great experience. Everything was set for a perfect race experience.

Then, the race horn went off and so did my overthinking. I felt like I couldn’t find my legs. I felt tired, sluggish and miserable. I found myself fixated on the fact that I wouldn’t arrive at the Navy Yard soon enough and therefore I would miss the bus home.

During miles one, two, three, and four, here was my recurring thought: “I haven’t trained enough. It’s my fault that I feel tired. This was entirely preventable. What kind of idiot doesn’t train sufficiently for a 10-mile race? I’m too old for this kind of nonsense.”

I was aware that my thoughts were irrational. I had prepared sufficiently. I had been reassured that the buses would wait for every last runner. But for some reason it was hard for me to calm my anxieties. And it was virtually impossible for me to enjoy the experience of running Broad Street during the first five miles.

Finally, around mile five, I was able to relax and trust that I would be able to finish the race and not miss the bus home. I realized that I was, in fact, running a comfortable pace and was going to be able to complete all 10 miles. I enjoyed seeing the fans’ hilarious race signs during the race. I got to the bus with at least an hour to spare in which my friends and I tailgated and toasted one another.

Somehow, however, the feeling that I had a “bad race” has stayed with me. I keep wondering if training harder or smarter would’ve made for a better experience.

Has anyone had this experience — negative thoughts that you just can’t seem to shut down mid-race — before? And if you have, got any tips for how to shake off this feeling next time around?


Lauren Napolitano, Psy.D., is a licensed psychologist on staff at Bryn Mawr Hospital and in private practice in Bryn Mawr, PA.  To learn more about her practice, go here. And to read more of Lauren’s posts for Be Well Philly, head over here.

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