Runner’s World, you are a class act! What an incredible weekend.
So this is the race I’ve been waiting for – my big one! Well, three races, actually – The Hat Trick! I have been wanting to run this race since they first started two years ago. We go up to Bethlehem a lot for musical events – Musikfest, Celtic Classic, and the ArtsQuest events at the Steel Stacks. Every time I’m at the Steel Stacks, I imagine running under the flaming arch to the finish! The day had finally come where I’d get to run under it, not once, but three times! I knew that the race would be hilly because I watched Bart Yasso’s tour of the course – how cool is that?
Apparently they changed it up this year so it was “flatter”. I saw a few guys at Musikfest this summer who had run the Hat Trick and they told me that it really wasn’t all that flatter. I was still looking forward to the challenge. I never wanted to do a hilly long race, but after doing the Icicle 10 miler twice in Wilmington and the Caesar Rodney 1/2 with the giant hills, they don’t scare me anymore. Not that they ever scared me – I just thought I didn’t want to run a hilly half.
So the day started early early. Kristine and I decided to drive separate since I wanted to stay for a seminar after the races on Saturday. When I got to the parking lot, I was just about to text her that I had arrived when I received her text – she overslept! I was on my own. Bummer.
Oh well, I’ll make the best of it. I always talk to people on the course anyway so I’ll make friends for the day! I parked in a free lot that didn’t look too far from the start but the bus driver told us that it was near impossible to walk because there was no sidewalk on the busy road back and there was road construction that had part of the road torn up. Here I thought I could come and go to and from the car to get and leave stuff. I had a throw-down shirt on and my phone belt so I really didn’t need to come back to the car. I usually don’t gear check but I figured I’d give it a try since it was right at the starting line. It was easy. They had bib pickup first and then you get your shirts later so I didn’t even have too much to check. The bathroom situation was easy too. I knew it would be better than most races since I’d been to Steel Stacks before I knew they had around 50 flush toilets with hot running water, in a nice heated building. They also had portapotties outside if you wanted the traditional race experience. I did not use a portapotty all weekend!!
I’m about to gear check here. I decided to check the throw down shirt and I’d save it for the next race. The Steel Stacks are behind me and the sun is coming up. I drove in the dark the entire way. I got up there just before 7.
I am usually up here in the evening when the sun is going down and then they light up the stacks with colored lights. It was just as pretty to see the sun lighting them up. This would be my home base for the weekend. Both the 5K and the 10K would start right near here and all three races would finish right out front.
When I arrived at ArtsQuest, there was a tent out front and there was Bart Yasso, just talking about stuff and getting ready for the day. Bart follows me on Twitter. He followed ME first. (Twitter is so weird.)
I lined up at the 9:30 pace group. It’s not often that they have pace markers for a 5K but since they were having three different races this weekend they would need them for the 1/2 so why not? The starting line had a party atmosphere and music blaring. It was fun. And then it was time to run!
The plan was to take it easy and not kill myself so that I’d have the energy to get through all three races. I tried my best. Funny, right around 1/4 mile there was a water stop! But it was really for the way back. I passed on the quarter mile water. Shortly after that I looked up on a bridge in front of us and saw all these runners! We just got started – how are all those runners up on that bridge already? I actually asked someone if that was a different race (duh!) and then next thing you know, we are going under the bridge and looping up onto the bridge too. It was pretty cool because you could see back to the Steel Stacks and up the river – it’s such a pretty town!
The course was good, challenging and fun. There was a bit of an out and back on the bridge where we got to see the leaders for a bit.
Runner’s World Half and Festival 5K Course
Things were going well. I tried to talk to a few people here and there but I didn’t make any friends. 5K funners aren’t all that chatty. At the beginning of the last mile we started going up a slow incline. When I am alone and don’t have music, I notice my breathing a lot more than usual. I noticed that my heavy rhythmic breathing made me sound like a pervert – like a dirty prank phone call. Then I heard someone coming up behind me – who also sounded like a pervert – like a dirty prank phone call. So this amused me that we both sounded like we were making dirty prank phone calls. So when he came up beside me I turned and said pleasantly, “You sound like a dirty prank phone call.” He looked at me with dead eyes and no response. (No wonder I was making no friends in this race…) At this point he was in the process of passing me. So I said to him, “Huh – no sense of humor!” and I took off. I was already pushing my pace at this point but now there was no way I was going to let this humorless guy pass me so I booked it at least 3/4 of a mile to the finish. I really wanted to take it easy but when this kind of thing goes down, my competitiveness kicks in. Yeah, eat my dust, buddy boy. I never saw him again. I finished with an official time of 27:18. That is on the faster side for me. I felt great and Bart Yasso called MY name!! Oh, and btw – he led all the races on his bike (without a helmet, bad Bart!) and then cheered everyone through the finish! Talk about the host with the most! Yay! I’m loving this race!!
So now I had an hour to the next race so I decided to go get my shirt, socks and hat. Yes, hat trick racers get a shirt, socks and a hat, in addition to a finisher’s medal for each race! This was the first time I would receive a finisher’s medal for a 5K or a 10K. Hey, if you want a medal and don’t want to do a long race to get one, do one of these!! They had the Hat Trick logistics planned out well for us. We could claim our 5K medal after the 10K so we didn’t have to worry about what to do with the medal during the next race. Thank you!! I went over to bag check and got my bag. I texted Kristine to send me a copy of her ID and registration email so I was able to get her stuff too. I checked the bag again with all of our goodies and got ready for the 10K. The gear check was so easy!
The 10K started and ended in the same location but obviously added on. This time we didn’t loop under the bridge and around, we got right on it. The weather was perfect for running and this race took us through neighborhoods with grand and gorgeous homes. I was thinking how pretty the town was and wanted to tell someone how nice their town is. Then I heard a runner greet a spectator by name so I asked if he lived here and noticed he was RW staff. He said he did. I told him how gorgeous the town is (as if he didn’t know already) and how great this weekend was turning out to be and that I would be telling all my friends and making this my must-do fall event! He was very nice and I noted his name to look him up later. Marc Parent – the guy who writes the Newbie Chronicles! So cool – I love his column. I noticed that the 10K runners were friendlier than the 5K runners – more willing to chat. I’m beginning to put together why I like the longer races better – what’s more fun than running AND making friends along the way?
Runner’s World Half and Festival 10K Course
The 10K took us down Main Street too, which is such a pretty downtown street. I just loved seeing the different locations that I’ve been to before by running all over the place!
I didn’t feel like I was pushing too hard and I was having a great race. We headed back over the bridge and back the way we came. When I reached the spot where I met up with that humorless guy in the 5K, it was soooo quiet but it was a busy road with traffic. I decided that I’d get a trucker to blow his horn for us! You know, like when you were a kid in the car, you’d do this:
I just love how you can find anything on the internet in 5 seconds to illustrate a point. So I do this. A lot. And the response I get from the truckers? NOTHING. Just like my humorless friend from the 5K. Now I’m feeling like an ass and I turn to the guy beside me to tell him what I am trying to do here because it is so quiet. He does smile a bit and then his wife (I’m guessing wife, it was his female running companion, whatever their relationship – we didn’t get that close since it was the last mile) decides to try and help me out. She gets into the act too, and gets NOTHING also! Really, people? 10:30 on a Sunday morning – what else do you have to do when traffic is backed up a bit – show us some love! Whatever. At least I had fun with my new acquaintances trying to get some love.
As I was approaching the finish, I was surprised to see the clock reading 1:00 and some seconds. My current PR was 1:01:05 from the Dayton Celtic Festival 10K. I was going to have a new PR! And… with the chip timing, I was guessing there was a slight chance that I could have come in in under an hour! I booked it for the finish, made sure I ran on the left hand side where my friend Bart was calling my name, high fived him and crossed the finish line! I immediately checked my phone for the results. They weren’t there! OMG – it showed my start but not my finish! Woe is me! I sat down and had some snacks and watched the finish for a bit. I love the way the finish was set up so that you could sit and watch. Then I went to information and they told me to check at the timing tent, which I did. The guy was very helpful, found my result right away. He said something had happened with the connection or something. Ok – was was it? He told me – 59:59! I think I may have jumped up and down – “I knew it! I broke an hour!!” YES!! I would have never guessed I could PR at this race. I was trying to take it easy. The course was not flat and easy by a long shot. It was actually quite uphilly. I think that the great energy just moved me faster! I was thrilled!
I had signed up for a seminar so I decided to get some coffee and then check out the expo before the seminar. The seminar was at noon. The speaker was Sean MacMillen: How Running Helped Save a Soldier from Depression, Substance Abuse, and PTSD. I wanted to sit in to get some ideas on inspiring some of the people I work with to do the Love Run with our team Baker Industries Steps to Independence. His talk was great and I am glad I stayed for it. I got some info on Team RWB for two of the guys at work who are veterans and interested in doing the Love Run. Sounds like an awesome group. I see them at most of the big races and Kristine’s brother runs with them in Florida. Click on the photo to read the full article:
Sean MacMillen and another member of Team RWB running with the flag
I headed for the shuttle after the seminar. I stood there for about a minute when I noticed that no one else who looked like a sweaty runner was around. I pulled out my handy Runner’s World Half and Festival app and checked that I was in the right place. I was. But the shuttles stopped running at noon!! Ugh. The bus driver told us that they run about every 8 minutes. She told us that it was near impossible to walk back. She did NOT tell us that the buses stopped running at noon. Ugh.
It was about a mile and a half back. My two medals were amusing me so here’s this:
Love how flattering the front camera and the upshot are. Shortly after this I ended up on a highway road without a sidewalk (top right pic) and then the road was all ripped up and I was lucky not to twist my ankle (left pic) and when I got back to the lot, I noticed that everyone else got the “Shuttles stop running at noon” memo. Oh, well. I didn’t die and I got to listen to my two medals walking for that much longer!
Since it was a two day event and I was home by 3:30, I could have planned other things but I am really glad that I didn’t. We were having our Art Fair at work this weekend. When they were choosing a date, I told them that the ONLY weekend I wasn’t available was Oct. 17 – 19, if my scheduled mattered to anyone. I guess it didn’t because that is the weekend they picked. I actually could have attended but then I would have been in uncomfortable shoes and not as well rested for the next day so I’m glad I said “no” to everything. I had all this energy when I got home but then I took a shower and was DONE. I chilled out and had a good dinner and went to bed early.
Remember I told you Bart Yasso follows me on Twitter? Well, I figured I’d tweet that he called my name and we actually had a Twitter conversation –
He can’t wait to see me at the start! See how special this race is?
The next morning Kristine picked me up (yay! she’s running with me!) and we headed for Bethlehem. We arrived in the dark (again) and this time we parked in the paid lot because the free ones were on the course and you couldn’t leave until 11:30 or something like that. It was close enough. It was COLD AND WINDY!
Good thing we noticed that everyone was walking in the opposite direction of where the race started yesterday because I thought we were starting at the Steel Stacks again but we were starting at The Sands. We headed over to the new start and decided to go into the Sands to use the bathroom. It was a big weird mall with outlets and there was a nice family bathroom right there for me to use. When I came out there was some guy from RW staff waiting after Kristine. When she came out, he told me she was much faster than me in the bathroom and somehow insinuated that I had butt in front of him. Whatever. He was wearing florescent yellow that you couldn’t miss and there was nobody standing outside that bathroom when I got there. I did not catch his name. This is pertinent information to the story, believe it or not.
We got started and the temperature was ok. There were some wind gusts here and there but with the variety on the course, it wasn’t awful.
Half marathon course
I felt pretty good, which was nice after all that running the day before. I was excited to show Kristine the sights of Bethlehem! She was the tour guide last year during the marathon. Not that she had run it before, but she had assisted Rose in 2012 with an emergency issue. (Runnergirl code – what’s discussed at the starting line of the Broad Street Run stays at the starting line of the Broad Street Run!) She had run through this section of Philly assisting Rose and I had never run this section before so she gave me the play-by-play. I was able to give Kristine the play-by-play of the parts I’d run the day before and the parts I’d been to that I hadn’t run.
The course was very varied and fun! Uphills, downhills, twists and turns. Cemeteries, golf courses, downtown, uptown, all over town! The hills were plentiful. I could do them but not as quick as Kristine but she would wait up for me and I’d catch up when I got to the top. Along the way we met a girl named Nancy who was our age too and she ran with us. She’d wait for me too! She had run a breast cancer run the day before that they combined the two races and called it the Pink 16.2 – cool! We had a good time. I like meeting new people when I run – in case you didn’t already know that.
At one point, Kristine and Nancy were ahead of me and there were a couple of guys chatting next to me. The one guy asked how I was doing and I noticed he was RW staff. I said, “Are you my friend from the bathroom?” and he said he was not and asked if I always make friends at the bathroom. Sometimes I do. So I checked out his name and saw he was David Willey, the Editor-in-chief of Runner’s World. I was like, no wonder you look familiar!! We chatted for a bit, I told him that the RW Half and Festival is my new MUST DO fall race and I’d be telling all my friends. I told him why I was saying goodbye to the Rock and Roll race and how wonderful and hospitable RW is. Then I told him he ought to catch up with my friend Kristine and tell her “Hi!” and that I was looking for her. So he did. I knew he would. Ha! I caught up and we laughed and agreed again that this race was amazing.
Mile 8 was at the top of a hill. I like to take a Gu around the 8 mile mark during a 1/2 and there was a water stop. AND THIS:
Wow!! This was called the #skirtencounter. I was eating my Gu and said to a girl, “What’s going on?” and she just started putting a skirt on me. FOR REAL!! Oh my goodness! How cute my new skirt is! The skirts are from RunningSkirts.com. They had all different skirts, everyone was getting them, even some guys! It fits perfectly and didn’t ride up. I LOVE IT!!
What a nice perk. The #skirtencounter was so much fun! A Gu, and new running skirt and I was revived and ready to run the last 5 miles!
In spite of the wind, the day was pretty nice while we were moving. The sun was out, the chill was nice now and sometimes we actually felt the wind at our backs! It was such a cool course. I never thought I wanted to run such a hilly long race, but it really added to the interest of the course and the challenge. I loved this race!! We saw our friend David Willey again along the course – he had actually started in the back of the pack and was running and talking to everyone he could. Such a friendly race! If I had my own race and I was super fast, I’d do that too!
As we ran the last mile, some of Nancy’s friends were around and cheered us, which was great! We saw them on foot and then again along that lonely stretch of highway where no one would beep in the races the day before. They did! Hooray!!
As we finished, the crowd support was great! I got my final Bart Yasso high five and I was done the Hat Trick! Happy to be done and immediately looking forward to next year! It was an all-around fantastic experience!!
High five, Bart!
Hooray! Done the Hat Trick! (Nancy is in green and Kristine is in pink next to me)
Not bad after running a 5K and a 10K the day before! 22.4 miles over two days – WOO HOO!!
We got our medals (#3 in two days!!), got our space blankets (those things really work!) and went to the finish festival area for our snacks and to watch some of the finishers coming in. We were hanging out and our friend Dave stopped by.
Thanks for a great race, Dave and Runner’s World! We will be back next year and we are bringing friends! The Runner’s World Half and Festival was the epitome of everything good about the running community, running and being a runner. There was something for everyone.
No, that is not our ride home.
We hit the road after hanging out for a bit and stopped at the Coopersrburg Diner for a nice breakfast. What a great weekend! Can’t wait for next year and the chance to share the experience with more friends!!
Oh, and one last thing – can you say SWAG??
3 medals, front of hat/shirt, back of hat/shirt, skirt, right side of sock, left side of sock (other sock in wash – I hope!)