Through my running journey, I’ve come to enjoy my 50 State Quest, my quest to 100 half marathons, etc. I was looking forward to the Runners World Festival Weekend for a new challenge. I love the idea of multiple races over a few days. Even though I would be taking it slow for every race, I loved the idea of this challenge. One race was already completed in this challenge and Saturday brought the next 2.
When I woke up on Saturday I was definitely feeling Friday’s trail race. It was primarily in my calves but they were tight! Luckily nothing else really hurt or was tight. My Step-dad and I left the hotel and headed to Bethlehem. We were staying in nearby Allentown, so we had about a 20 minute drive. We had decided to park in the free lots with shuttles and it worked out well. Hardly anyone else was out there, so it was easy to get on the bus and shuttle to the ArtsQuest building.
Mother Nature decided to bring in the first chill of the Fall on Saturday morning. The 5k started at 8am and they were calling for temperatures in the 30’s and 40’s. Brrrr! I certainly wasn’t ready for these temps and all I had brought with me was shorts and short sleeves. Seeing the cold temperatures, my Step-dad and I actually went to Walmart on Friday night so I could grab a pair of sweat pants. I was pretty thankful for those the rest of the weekend. Best $7 spent all weekend.
We got to the Artsquest building with plenty of time. I just hung out until about 7:50am when I finally took off the warm clothes and headed to the start line. Since my Step-dad was just hanging around, he was kind enough to be my bag check basically. As I was headed over, I saw two ladies wearing SCRR gear (one of the local Pittsburgh running groups). I didn’t say hello then as they weren’t close, but I end up meeting them later.
Along the start corral, they had flags with paces and it was a self-seeded corral area. I ended up in the 11:00 (ish) group to start with. Again, I was not racing this as there were still a lot of miles to go. As I was hanging out in the corral, I saw some others that I chatted with the day before at the trail race. All of a sudden we started moving up like the race started. But then bam. We stopped. Since the start line was the same as the 10k race, the actual start line for the 5k was 0.1 miles before it. It was slightly confusing, but finally we got going.
The 5k course was essentially over the bridge to the other side of town, through some square and back again. Once you came across the bridge, you were running basically the last 1.5 miles of every race. The start of the 5k was pretty crowded. The worst part of the crowding came as we were crossing the bridge. The bridge was under construction so we were down to 2 lanes. Since we had super speedy people coming back on the left side, all people still going over the bridge were pushed to the right side. Well, as you turned up onto the bridge, bam, we came to a halt. It was a little annoying, but the bright side was that it kept that first mile nice and slow.
The worst hill of this race came as we entered the square. We had to go up into the square and went left to come back down and back to the bridge. We didn’t spend a lot of time on that side of the river for this race. Just as we were coming across the bridge, I ran into the ladies with the SCRR gear. I briefly chatted and told them I was also from Pittsburgh. They were so nice and it was nice to run the last mile or so with others.
We ended up finishing the race together and all commented that it was a little bit faster than we all expected. We all agreed that the 10k needed to be slower since we still had the half marathon the next day. We parted ways and I wished them good luck for the rest of the races. Well, lucky for me though that wasn’t the last time I saw those ladies.
Once I was done with the 5k, I headed back inside to find my Step-dad. I bundled back up in my sweats since I didn’t want to get too cold and just hung out until the 10k. I didn’t have that much down time with the 10k starting at 9:30am. I honestly had no idea how the legs would feel. Luckily I didn’t get tight at all and even better, Mother Nature was warming up outside. Again with about 10 minutes before the start of the race, I finally removed my sweats and headed back out to the start line.
Official Finish Time:
110/147, F 30-34
In a way this race weekend is a lot of deja vu. Once again I found myself at the start line, but this time it was the actual start line. Since we were just there 90 minutes before, I again saw a lot of familiar faces. Since I did the 5k a little quicker than I thought I should have, I planned to do a 4:1 run/walk to slow it down a bit. I wanted to make sure I had some legs left for the half marathon on Sunday morning.
We again started in the same way as the 5k started. However, this time we didn’t have issues going over the bridge. I don’t recall why necessarily, but we didn’t come to a dead stop as we headed over. However, since it was pretty crowded, I didn’t do my run/walk to hold people up. It wasn’t until we got to the other side of the bridge and down the first little hill that I did my first walk break. We also deviated from the 5k course and instead of going right and up and around the square, we headed left.
The course we took was a nice little tour of Bethlehem. The city was certainly much different on the other side of the bridge. Lots of great little shops, beautiful houses and well, Jesus. But more on Jesus in a minute. I mean it’s fitting I did find Jesus in Bethlehem, right?
The worst hill for the 10k came in the 2nd mile. We ran along side a creek and then turned right up the hill. This was probably around mile 1.75 (ish). Once you crested the hill though you turned into a cute little Main Street with lots of shops. This was probably the best place for spectators on the course. The one thing about this race and all races from the weekend is that it wasn’t a spectator plenty race. There would be pockets of them out there, but nothing crazy.
The whole time during the 10k I was just smiling. I was having a blast! There absolutely zero pressure to this race and that showed. I was just out to finish the race and nothing else. During mile 3 I ran into two guys from Altra. It was hard not to miss them with their Altra flag backpacks. I started chatting with them about the shoes and which are our favorites.
Then we got to mile 4. Mile 4 was all about Jesus. As I am just moving along, I look up and notice there is a church out there manning their own water stop, which was awesome. But then upon further inspection, there was a priest or pastor, I don’t know based on the religion of the church, spraying what she said was holy water on us and blessing us as we went by. Certainly was the first time that has happened to me mid race. But that wasn’t it! Next to her was Jesus. Okay, it was some guy dressed up as Jesus, but again, this was a first for me to see Jesus mid race. I thought about grabbing a quick selfie with Jesus but I was on the other side of the road and it just didn’t work out. Bummer.
It was also around this time that I saw the SCRR ladies up ahead. They looked to be doing a steady pace and I didn’t think I would catch up with them. Somehow though on the downhill headed toward the bridge back, I did pass them. However, since I was doing a run/walk they passed me right back on the bridge. As I passed them though they gave me a nice cheer and told me I had it in me. Well, then I saw the best race photographer ever. I was just about done with my walk break, looked in her the eyes and just jumped. I asked her if she got it and she said yes and she kept her word! It probably made one of the best race pictures I’ve ever had.
At that point, I was back even with with the SCRR ladies, which I later found out were Beth and Heather. Instead of breaking off with my next walk break, I just decided to stick with them. They were beyond welcoming and so nice. They were also going at a great pace so I didn’t feel like I was going too fast without the walk break.
We chatted for last nearly 1.7 miles and it really helped those miles go by quickly. Again though just like the 5k, the last bit of this race was the same route to the finish line. For the second time that morning I crossed the finish line with Beth and Heather. I was very grateful to them for letting me tag along on the races. I was definitely glad I happened to see them again on the course.
After the 10k race, we parted ways but made note of what pace we’d be around for the half in the morning to try and meet up again. Once I said goodbye to them, I went inside the ArtsQuest building to find my step-dad. There was so much over the weekend that I wanted to check out, so we decided to split ways for the afternoon. He went back to the hotel to relax as I grabbed a quick shower and then headed back to Bethlehem for the various seminars, etc.
I was happy to get back and enjoy these. I also got to meet and chat with so many amazing people from Altra, which included Golden Harper. It was great to talk shoes and how great they are and share everything they’ve done for me. After a few hours, I headed back to the hotel to relax a little myself before grabbing dinner at this amazing little Italian place. It was a fantastic dinner! Finally we called it a night. I was halfway through the weekend with only 13.1 miles to go. I seriously had no idea how the legs would be come morning.
Official Finish Time:
124/158, F 30-34