Race number 13 was the U.Penn Alumni Run 2-miler. It was 2 miles through and around campus – the most beautiful campus in the world!
Goals: to place for my class and to run sub 8:00 pace for the 2 miles.
This might be a little long. I’m going to include a reunion recap (I’ll set the race in a separate paragraph so you can skip to it, if you want). First of all, I should say that I loved Penn. I still think those were the 4 best years of my life. Second, I love my campus. It is old (the oldest university in America) and the architecture is stunning. My college was the Wharton School (the first business school in America), but its main building isn’t one of the nicer ones. Anyway, Friday night, I took the local trains to Philly, listening to my smart playlist of the songs that came out while I was in college. I went straight to my hotel to check in. I called my friend, Leib (we were neighbors in our freshman dorm) and he was just heading up to campus, so he picked me up on the way. We parked and then went over to College Green so I could register. We wandered around campus and then I dropped Leib off at Hillel for the evening services. I headed over to the bookstore, where I marveled at the prices. On my way down to our class party at the World Café Live, I stopped in at a new food hall. I wish we’d had a Taco Bell/A&W there when I was in school!! World Café Live is in the radio station and they’d set aside a nice area for us downstairs. I met a few people and hung out until Leib arrived. Some of our wranglers (seniors and early alum) came around asking for song requests, so I begged them to play “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by the Gap Band (the girl betrayed her youth by asking me how to spell the band’s name!). When I was a freshman, Leib requested it on the radio for me, because I loved it so much. As soon as it started, he came running down from the bar area, so we could dance. Then, because it was late and I had a race the next day, I had to leave.
RACE DETAILS START HERE
My hotel was out in Center City, about 2 miles from campus. I had already decided to run up to the race for a warm-up, so I got up early, packed my waist bag with a padlock for the gym (so I wouldn’t have to wear it during the race), plus some ID, the hotel room keycard, inhaler and my camera. I jogged up, walking only when I crossed the Schuylkill River. Check-in was at the Pottruck Fitness Center. I might have started exercising when I was at Penn, if we’d had such a nice gym. There were 5 floors of fitness equipment and classes, plus a pool on the lower level! Anyway, I picked up my bib and t-shirt, put everything in a locker and walked over to the start at 37th and Locust. Except that it wasn’t there. I saw a sign with an arrow turning onto Locust Walk from 37th and followed it out, across the SuperBlock to where I could see a race clock. During the race announcements, it was all cleared up. There was so much construction going on, that they’d had to choose between shortening the race and keeping it on campus or keeping the course length (presumably 5k, but I’m not sure), and taking it off campus for at least part of the race. Happily, they choose a shorter distance on campus. I’d been looking forward to running through the campus, since I read about the race in the Alumni Weekend activities.
We lined up and were sent off with an actual starter’s pistol. I thought I was going too fast, because I started wheezing before I hit the Locust Walk bridge, which is incredibly steep, but, thankfully, short, as well. I slowed up a bit and decided to enjoy myself and take in the campus as I ran. We passed the Palestra and there was a guy at the approach to Franklin Field (home of the Penn Relays) calling out the time. I couldn’t believe it when he called 7:55 as I passed him. I wished we could run a little on the track in the Field, but the course took us past, not in. I ran up Spruce, then turned onto 36th. I knew there was the arrow turning the course back onto Locust Walk from 7th Avenue, so I thought we had a lot longer to go. I was struggling with the wheezing and stopped to walk the block between Spruce and Locust. I started running again as I turned onto Locust Walk and was confused about the course, then, because I was expecting another turn-off. I had been wrong, though – all I had to do was run straight up Locust, over the bridge, and back across the SuperBlock to the finish. I just missed finishing in under 16 minutes and I really wished I hadn’t seen that sign, because I might not have stopped for the walk, if I’d known it was a straight shot from 36th to 39th, even with the hill on the bridge. Oh, well. I got my medal and my recovery drink certificate, then milled around with the other finishers, including a couple of women, who were 2 of the 3 runners there who had run the race since it’s inception in 1979!! They’ve been running this race for 30 years now!!
We walked back to Pottruck together and I grabbed my stuff. The finishing ceremony was supposed to be at 9:15, so I went over to Cereality (www.cereality.com) to check it out. When I got back to Pottruck, it was just past 9, but they were finishing up with the awards already. I’d missed everything but the overall winners. I went over to check the class winners and couldn’t believe it when I checked my category (86-90). I’d won!! I was the fastest female in my class category and there was a second place finisher (they only listed the top two in each category), so I beat at least one person! I taught a few people how I tie my shoes so they won’t come untied and then jogged back down to my hotel.
BACK TO REUNION RECAP
Leib and his friends were walking up to campus from their hotel, so they swung by mine and we walked up together. We got to Hill Field and found our picnic tent and dug in. Leib knows so many people that he kept darting off or was darted up to. It was so funny! Especially, because back in the day, he studied Environmental Sciences and there were only five students in his class!! Talk about cutting edge!! We missed the check presentation ceremony, which was unfortunate. Our class broke the record for 20th-year reunion donations. We gave over $5M! I can’t wait to see how we do at our 25th, which is our big reunion year. After we’d eaten way more than our share of cookies and ice-cream (okay, that might have been just me), we headed up to Locust Walk to join the Parade of Classes. Some classes had no representatives, but we had a pretty good group. They played the stupidest song for us, though. It was a Rick Astley song! Of all the songs of 1988, THAT’S the one they chose? Jeez! After the parade, we went over to our old dorm. It is so different! The entrance we used back then is no longer open and we had to enter on another street. I was lucky, though. My old room is now the RA room and she hadn’t moved out yet. She let me take pictures and we talked about how things used to be and how they are now. We had just enough time to get to Houston Hall to check out the kids’ activities. We went because there were animals from the Philadephia Zoo, there, but pigged out on candy and grilled cheese sandwiches while we were there. I missed the Penn Press event, but made it to the Alumni Mass at the Newman Center.* I had planned to leave on the 7 pm train, but couldn’t tear myself away, so I called Leib and we agreed to meet back at the bookstore. I stopped at Cereality to buy a snack for the train,** then met Leib at the bookstore. We used our 20%-off coupons to buy shirts (mine is an UnderArmour tech shirt and his reads “Penn There. Done That.” Nice!), then went to Houston Hall for the Taste of Penn event. Several Penn student organizations create menus and prepare food for the seniors and alums every year. My favorite was the pickled pumpkin from the Native American table and the baked macaroni and cheese from the Caribbean table was good, too. My favorite table was the sweets table. I came home with a bag full of sweets, including Bottle Caps, mini Swedish Fish, Lemon-, Grape-, and Cherryheads, Red Hots, Atomic Fireballs, lemon and grape licorice sticks, candy necklaces, and Tootsie Roll midges. But not before Leib and I did Jello shots! And, then, all too soon, it was time for me to head back to my hotel to get my bag and catch my train home.
Official stats: my official time was 16:05 for an average pace of 8:03. My splits were 7:55 and 8:10. I think I was 36th overall, but the results haven’t been posted yet. I’ll update if I ever get the numbers. The most important number is 1, which is where I placed for my class category (Classes 1986-90), putting me in the 100th percentile!! Woo hoo!! (There were at least 2 of us in the category.) It was 48°F, fairly humid, and windy.
Celebratory (I know this should be consolation treats, because I didn't hit my goal, but I am celebrating my win!!): I ate everything I could get my hands on at reunion, but nothing especially treaty. The entire experience was a huge treat, but Sunday morning, I ate my Cereality mix (one scoop of Cinnamon Life and one scoop of Special K, topped with mini Reese’s Pieces and Triple Chocolate Chips) and I slushed up my last British Dr Pepper with lunch. And, I snacked on Taste of Penn candy all day!
Next up: Wall Street Run 5k (5/20), Media Challenge #1 (5/21), Japan Day 4-miler (6/1)
Race/reunion pictures are available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7411850@N04/sets/72157605122105732/
*I converted to Catholicism while I was at Penn, but never went to the Newman Center. I always went to St. Agatha – St. James, which is right next door. But, I thought I would attend the special alumni mass, just because. There were 21 people total, but it was interesting. I’ll plan to attend it at my 25th reunion, too.
**When I was at Cereality in the morning, I was talking to the manager about the concept and she asked if I was going to order anything. I said that I would come back later, because going for breakfast just seemed too obvious. She gave me a funny look and said something like it was the strangest thing she’d heard there.