We weathered, sometimes with good cheer even, the heat and had a great, busy, sweltering weekend in Philadelphia with friends from Wisconsin, and while I was there I was hoping to get a run in. After all, Philadelphia is where I lived for a year starting in June 1999 and where I made my first attempt to become a runner. It wasn't a very good attempt. I recall on my first or second evening in my apartment going for a run in 95-degree heat. I made it about 2 blocks.
More often, when I went somewhere in my car, I would park at the garage at 36th and Chestnut where I kept my car and attempt to run from there to my apartment at 42nd & Pine. I never made it the whole way -- I specifically recall a freezing night where I made it about 2 minutes before my lungs were just in terrible pain from the bitter cold air and my ankles in complete agony from running in what were probably worn-out, extremely cheap sneakers. I never would have imagined that this would become my favorite weather to run in!
Returning to the present, we sweated out a crazy 18-10 Camden Riversharks game on Friday night, and since it was still 95 degrees at 11:00 at night when the game ended, I decided that there was no way I was going to try to run on Saturday morning.
According to the forecasts on display in our hotel lobby, Sunday looked like it would be a little cooler, but I would still guess it was approximately 80 degrees when I stepped out of our hotel at 5:15am yesterday morning. Still, I took off westward from 15th & Locust, the site of the job that had lured me to Philly, but choosing to turn and run up Chestnut Street since I was familiar with it from some adventures in the Philadelphia Half Marathon (except that it was about 40 degrees cooler then!) and I knew it had a bridge.
I ran up Chestnut Street and turned onto Locust Walk when I got into the University of Pennsylvania Campus, which I was somewhat familiar with since my sister attended Penn while I lived at 42nd and Pine. Once through the campus, I turned left and then made a right on Spruce, passing Allegro, my old favorite pizza place.
I made it the few blocks down to 42nd Street and turned left. At the corner of 42nd and Pine, a familiar building:
I took a few extra steps on Pine Street to scope out the rear of the building, where my apartment is visible on the first floor (the window you see directly above the two garbage cans was my kitchen):
It never looked like much from the outside, and seems a little worse for wear 12 years later, but I had once felt at home in my little studio apartment. It was a weird feeling to be back on this corner. I wasn't really sentimental about it. There were no roots put down, no neighbors that I'd ever said much more than "hello" to, no sign that I'd ever lived here, and my memories are mostly just of playing video games and cooking turkey burgers and my indoor counter-top grill (Not the one endorsed by the boxer). It was just an odd, deja-vu type feeling, it all looked and felt so familiar, as if it had been much less than the 12 years since I'd walked down this street.
Still, when it's 80 degrees before 6am, there's no time for reminiscing. I'd reached my old apartment about 30 minutes into my run, and I was definitely feeling the heat. I headed back up Spruce Street in the direction of my hotel. After a two-block climb back to 40th Street, it was all downhill to the Schuylkill River, at which point i made a right onto Walnut Street since there's no bridge on Spruce. I took Walnut back toward the downtown and after passing Rittenhouse Square, turned around at Broad Street, a few blocks past my destination, in hopes of stretching this run to an hour.
Here's map of my route. I was out for an hour and two minutes, and during that time only got about 5 and a half miles, which was about all I could take in those conditions. Except for the weather, it was a nice trip down Memory Lane for me. Not counting my failed attempts at running in 1999 and 2000, I'd only run a few times in Philadelphia, and it had been either in races (2 half marathons and 1 Broad Street Run) or boring laps around Rittenhouse Square while training for my first 5K.
For someone who hadn't lived in this neighborhood and didn't need to revisit old, yet boring memories, I would suggest running the other direction, toward the Delaware and the historic sights of Old City instead or perhaps the jogging/biking path along the Schuykill. Philadelphia's downtown is very flat, so it seems like it could be a nice place to run. Just not during a record-breaking heat wave.
As predicted, last week was the lowest mileage week I've had in months. Of course, I rested on Monday and Tuesday for a one-mile race on Wednesday, and then the heat crushed me on Thursday and Sunday morning. I ended up with less than 13 miles, a weekly total less than my best individual run the previous week. The forecast for this week looks a bit cooler, with overnight lows in the 70s or even high 60s, so I hope I can come back strong.