Disclaimer: I received a complimentary entry to the Runner's World Half & Festival Weekend. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are my own.
Part 1 Recap
Part 2 Recap
Last Sunday morning, I woke up early, stiff and sore from running 15+ miles in the two days prior. But, I had one more race to complete in the "Grand Slam" at the Runner's World Half & Festival Weekend: the 13.1 mile tour-by-foot of Bethlehem, PA.
As I got ready for the half marathon, I used my Trigger Wheel (from the makers of "The Stick") to roll out some of the tightness in my calves. All the hills in the previous days had caught up to me and I was desperately wishing I'd brought my foam roller with me for the weekend. However, I picked up the Trigger Wheel (as one of the perks of the influencer program) at the expo on Saturday and it helped to ease some of the soreness and muscle pain I had in my calves. You can read more about how "The Stick" is beneficial to runners here.
I got dressed for the marathon, choosing a SparkeSkirt and tank top- the temps were going to be a little chilly in the morning but creeping up near 70 degrees by mid-day. I also chose to wear a brand new pair of compression socks I received from Mojo Socks, also as part of the blogger/influencer program. Now, the rule is "nothing new on race day," but I felt like these socks were going to be super comfortable for the race. Spoiler alert: they were!
After Zoe and I got ready and packed our gear bags, we went downstairs to meet our blogger friends for the last morning of this race weekend. We each grabbed some continental breakfast and made our way towards the start line around 7:15- the race start time was 8 am.
|Lauren, Me, Rylee, Zoe.|
Since we all run at different paces, and weren't sure if we'd see each other after the race, we grabbed a few more pictures, hugged it out, and said our goodbyes. I met up with Matthew and just like the days before, we lined up at the start near the 12:00/mile pace sign.
We decided that we'd run this race separately; Matthew runs faster than me and he wanted to see what he could do on this challenging course. He stayed with me as we moved up towards the start, again doing the wave release like we had in the previous races. Right before it was our turn, we said good luck to each other and then Matthew took off ahead of me.
|Start lines always have more energy when they're next to Steel Stacks. It's a fact.|
I had cued up my headphones- like I always do when I run alone- but for some reason I didn't put them on right away. Since this was a new-to-me race, I kinda wanted to experience every bit of the course, the spectators, just the entire atmosphere. I ended up running the entire race without my headphones; a first for me. It was actually super cool and I enjoyed music-free running so much more than I thought I would.
The first few miles of this course felt similar to the other races as they followed a similar route. As I was running along, sans music, I saw the 2:45 pace group come up behind me. I decided that I'd try to stay with them as long as possible- knowing how hilly this course would be, I figured that 2:45 would be a good goal for me.
|Just after the start- check out those gorgeous fall colors on the trees!|
|Those blurry folks behind me are the 2:45 pace group.|
|This was a really pretty course...even if it was insanely hilly.|
By about mile 4, I noticed that I was consistently ahead of the pace group and I thought if I pushed it, I could finish this race under 2:45. So that's what I tried to do... while stopping for beer, high-5's from kids, and petting dogs, obviously. I even got to see Matthew on a little out and back section and took a potty break! So, while I was trying to be consistent and beat 2:45, I still was enjoying myself on the race course and honestly, just soaking it all in.
I loved almost every minute of this race. The residents of Bethlehem drinking their coffee and cheering from their front porches were super sweet, the other folks running were encouraging and uplifting, and there were some really incredible cheer stations set up with bands, loud speakers with music, and full-on barbecues/parties. Since much of the race was through residential areas, there were folks camped out on their lawns, watching and cheering us on. It was cool.
The only part of this race I didn't love was around mile 6- there was an insane hill that went on forever. I mean, right in the middle of the half?! UGH. But, I made the climb and continued on, somehow feeling stronger and stronger as the race went on.
|It was a beautiful, beautiful day for a race.|
I finished out the last few miles of the course pretty strong: 12:13/11:22/11:55 splits in the last three miles. I reached my goal of sub-2:45 and finished a course with 547 feet of elevation in 2:41:57. I was pretty damn proud of myself.
Matthew was waiting for me near the finisher chute. We grabbed our bags from bag check, collected our bananas, bagels, and pretzels, and then headed to the beer tent. This year, we got Dogfish Head's SeaQuench Ale, an absolutely delicious sour beer made with lime, coriander, and sea salt. Yum! Also, the band playing at the finisher's area was really, really good and there was a great deal of
|Now it's a party :-)|
FINAL THOUGHTS ON RW HALF & FESTIVAL
I've run a lot of races. 24 half marathons, 3 full marathons, and probably close to 100 other smaller distance races. Trust me when I say that this race weekend was one of the best race weekends I've ever been part of. The courses were challenging but beautiful, the start/finish lines were easy and convenient, the expo is full of high-quality vendors, there are ample opportunities to meet and run with Runner's World and Altra staff, and free race photos! And amazing, unique medals. The half marathon medal is not only a bottle opener, but it also had three hooks on it so you could attach the trail, 5k, and 10k medals to it. It is the most unique medal I have ever earned.
Will I be back for 2018? Absolutely!
|Who doesn't love free race photos?!|
|Look at the size of this thing!|
The awesome folks at Runner's World, Altra, Mojo Socks, and The Stick have all generously partnered with me to bring you one heck of a giveaway!
One lucky reader will get:
- (1) Runner's World Swag Bag filled with runner goodies
- (1) Pair of Mojo Compression Socks
- (1) Pair of Altra HIIT XT cross training shoes
- (1) The Stick - intracell stick for muscle relief/self-massage
How cool is that?! To enter, fill out the rafflecopter below. A winner will be chosen at random next Friday- you can tweet once a day to increase your chances of winning! Good luck!
- Contest will run from 10/27/17 at midnight until midnight on 11/3/17
- One winner will be picked at random on 11/3/17 and will be notified via email on 11/3/17
- Winner will need to reply to email with requested details by 11/5/17 or another winner will be chosen on 11/6/17
- Giveaway open to residents in the continental US only
I owe a HUGE thank you to Runner's World and Altra for the invitation to be part of the blogger/influencer program. Yes, being part of exclusive meet-and-greets and getting free stuff is always cool, but the best part of this weekend was all the people I got to meet and get to know. My running family grew larger last weekend and I can't wait to see my new friends out on the road again someday. Thanks, Runner's World, Altra, and Lauren (RW staff who put the whole blogger/influencer program together), for making this an unforgettable weekend full of beautiful memories!
Before memories of #rwhalf disappear in the rearview mirror, and we all focus on the next goal, the next race, etc., I want to reflect on how absolutely awesome my experience was this past weekend (more to come this week on the blog 😍). I've said it before and I'll say it again: the best part of race weekends are the people you get to share them with. All the bloggers/influencers, @runnersworldevents staff, @altrarunning folks, volunteers and other runners I met this weekend filled my heart with so much joy. Running might be considered a solo activity by some, but for me, it will always be the activity that's brought so many good people into my life. Thank you for being part of my running family. ❤✨🏃