"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Perfect Finish to 2013 - Rocky Run 50K

"Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in" - Michael Corleone (The Godfather III)

I was looking forward to some rest. I was looking forward to few running free weeks following my foot injury and 2 marathons this fall. All for naught! In comes Ms. Schaefer and blows my dreams out of the water with the Rocky Fat Ass 50K Run, 3 weeks after the Philadelphia Marathon.

Much has been written about Rocky 50K already, from how it started to planning, so I am not going to recap that, all over again. You can read more about it at these awesome blogs and pages: Origin, The Planning and the Run. What I will write about is my personal experience and impressions.
Creeper in the subway station
The day started off early - too early! I cursed Ms Schaefer early in the morning on Twitter and got few favorites on that comment.

But Amy and I got up, got dressed and off we went to retrace the steps of the most beloved and popular (fictional) sports figure in Philadelphia history. If you ask people around the world about Philadelphia, they will most likely tell you 76ers and Rocky. That's it. While NYC and DC get all the fame of the East Coast, we get Rocky. I take Rocky any time.
Ready to go!
Rocky 50K happened on such a perfect day. It rained the day before and it snowed the day after. The RD, did a super job bribing the weather gods and keeping everyone on time. There was no starting line or starting gun in South Philadelphia that morning, but just a loud GO from Rebecca, shouted from now dented hood of her mom's car. Approximately 150 people darted down Passyunk Avenue to retrace Rocky's steps through Philadelphia's nice and some not so nice neighborhoods.
There was a perfectly good pickup truck next to her
Going into this run I was very relaxed. There was no pressure and nervousness that usually follows you prior to any race. I went in with an open mind and willingness to experience Philadelphia in a new light. It was great running through this city early in the morning, through some areas where runners usually stay out of. Few times people were not sure what exactly was happening, and we did get many puzzled looks on why these crazy people were running in packs.

While there were few fast bugs at this run, it didn't seem like many people cared about pace at all. For many, this was their first ultra, and it was great to see these people and their excitement at the "finish line". At the same time, we ran with some super experienced ultra runners, Grand Slam finishers and the veterans of many ultras. Such a mixed group of people, running through Philly and just having a great time.

While I was getting pretty tired toward the end, once I reached the famous Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, I couldn't stop myself from running up them. It must have been that 2nd, 3rd or 4th wind. Such an amazing feeling standing on top of the steps doing the Rocky poses. Another thing that made it extra exciting were folks from Spring Moves. They played all the Rocky favorites from their van throughout the course, and of course blasted the Rocky theme song at the steps.
In the books. Done
Some highlights from the course for me are definitely running down the Broad St towards City Hall, the Italian Market and the burning barrels, and of course running up the steps at the end.
Italian Market
City Hall

Rebecca did such an awesome job planning this run, that the only thing she could have done better was to have Silvester Stalone at the finish. Make it happen Rebecca! That being said, Rocky 50K is already on the calendar for next year. I can only see this event getting bigger and better.
With our fearless leader at the end
As for me, I am finally taking my well deserved break for few weeks, before picking it up again for races next year. 2014 is still in planning, but I am definitely running the HAT 50K in March as several other races in the spring. I am also waiting on few opportunities and hope that they materialize before the New Year.
It's true!
Shout out to Altra for keeping my feet comfortable and to Tailwind for keeping me fueled and hydrated!

If you want to run the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke with us, Amy will be giving away an entry soon. Stay tuned.

Go forth and run.

PS. Some photos are courtesy of Spring Moves and Jose Magos.

Some extra photos:
Kelly Drive


Start line

More start

Ready to go


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