Most of the Beer Runners were not new to running over the bridge; I on the other hand was making this trek on foot for the first time and openly was a little scared.
We gathered at our regular meeting spot in Fishtown at 7:00 and hit the road. I never know what our route is and find it easier to follow someone who does. Last week our fearless leader didn’t set us up on the most direct route and we wound up running across lanes of traffic, but we all made it to the bridge in one piece. Some of the faster runners waited for everyone to arrive before heading over as a group. I had sent out a few texts prior to meet up requesting a hero to keep me from 1) freaking out and/or 2) falling off the bridge (which I later learned is pretty much impossible).
The running up and over the bridge itself isn’t what had me scared. The hill was tough and I was prepared for it to be. The height of the bridge over the water was what really had me concerned. I’m not much for even standing on a chair so this was going to be interesting.
We started up the bridge together. Some ran ahead, some fell behind. I was racing, as was my heart – my goal, get over to Camden as quickly as possible so that this run is over. I took the hill far too fast, which quickly made me feel both tired and sick. The anxiety mixed with pushing myself so hard slowed me down and I stopped to walk, but not for long. A friend grabbed my arm and got me running again. A few others boxed me in and joked with me so that I could run at a slower pace and not feel afraid at the top of the bridge. I was pretty silent as we climbed but I appreciated them very much! Once we were over the hill and headed back down, the feelings of fear completely subsided and the feeling of joy I felt from my fellow runners who had my back was overwhelming.
We made it into the game for the 4th inning. Other than our group there were not many people in attendance so in true FBR fashion we pretty much took over the stadium! It was an all around memorable run and evening. Beers, laughs and a quiet walk through Camden to the PATCO following.
Something I’ve always prided myself on as a runner is that it is mainly a sport of one, where I am competing against myself and can push as little or as hard as I am willing to allow. My first run over the Ben Franklin Bridge showed me this isn’t always the case and that friends can easily become heroes on runs where I no longer feel like I can carry myself.