Two weekends ago, I had the pleasure of running an incredibly fun race in Bethlehem, PA – a gorgeous town in the Pocono Mountains, about 10 miles away from the Runner’s World headquarters (not coincidentally, the host of the event).
But it wasn’t just a race – it was a weekend-long running festival, with a 5K, 10K, half marathon, kids run and dog run, along with educational seminars, food, music and beer. My kind of event!
I was signed up for the 10K on Saturday, which started at 9:30 am (LOVE those late race starts!). We live about an hour from Bethlehem, so my husband and I piled into the car at 7am and headed north. We arrived just as the 5K was getting underway, and got to see the leaders streaking by on their way to the finish line.
The first place finisher came in at 15:29. It takes me almost that long to run one mile.
But I digress.
After parking and picking up my race packet, we wandered around checking out the ArtsQuest campus – located on the old Bethlehem Steel ground (which, according to the race website, is where the backbone of America was literally forged). It was a really cool place for a race – check out the flaming arch (right ahead of the finish line):
Before the 10K start, I was able to meet up with a fellow Enell Ambassador: Sarah, from Sparkly Runner! Poor Sarah is recovering from a stress fracture in her foot, which meant she wasn’t able to run the event, so instead she cheered on all of the other runners like crazy. In fact, Sarah’s smiling face was the first one I saw as I was approaching the finish line!
I also got a chance to meet Dani of Weight Off My Shoulders, who was there for the Hat Trick (all 3 races) as well as a 2-day blogger event with Runner’s World. So cool!
Soon it was time to line up for the start, and I took my usual place towards the back. I like to start there because it feels like there is less pressure – everyone is running about the same pace as I am, and there aren’t a lot of people passing me. Also, it is a lot less crowded.
This was a nice-sized event – just under 2000 runners – which meant that I could actually see the starting line from my spot.
After a few words from Bart Yasso (!!!) and the Star Spangled Banner, the gun went off and it was go time. I got right into my 30/30 pace (30 second run./30 second walk), even though I was tempted to run the first 10 minutes or so. I’ve learned the hard way not to let race-day excitement dictate a faster pace in the beginning of an event – start out slow and save something for a big finish.
The race course was absolutely amazing – first running over the stunning Lehigh River, then winding through the quaint streets of Bethlehem and the beautiful Moravian college campus.
My only goals for this race were to run strong and have fun. I had a great playlist lined up and ran at a somewhat relaxed pace while enjoying the scenery. At the 5-mile point, however, I began to pick up the pace in hopes of coming in under my last timed 10K training run of 1:26:11.
Rounding the final curve with about a half mile to go, I spotted the stacks of the old Bethlehem Steel plant which looked really cool against the sky. At that point I dug deep and really started moving. Running under the flaming arch, finish line in sight, I sprinted for all I was worth and crossed the line in 1:25:40 (chip time). Mission accomplished!
I grabbed my finisher’s medal, found my husband, freshened up a little and changed into clean clothes, then headed straight for the food: pizza and beer. Yum!
Next it was time for the Expo and seminars! There were some cool vendors at the Expo, but fortunately for my wallet, nothing that I couldn’t live without. After that, I headed to a seminar on Women’s Running while Ken went to a talk from an ex-Marine that used running to overcome alcohol addiction.
The talk I went to was really interesting – lots of discussion about running issues specific to women, and we also learned about the launch of Zelle, a new Runner’s World website just for women! One of the topics that came up was about finding a sports bra to support larger breasts. There was some great discussion and after the session was over, I (of course) found the woman that asked the question and told her all about Enell, and what a difference this bra has made for me.
After the first round of seminars, we had to get back on the road to head home. It was a gorgeous fall day so we took the back roads all the way back to Philly, and talked about how we couldn’t wait to come back for next year’s festival!
This was a well-executed event on the part of Runner’s World – the organization and attention to detail was better than any other running event I’ve ever attended. But of course I’d expect no less from the world’s leading running magazine!
Thanks so much to Enell for sponsoring me in this event – it was a really fun day and I was proud to represent the brand. Can’t wait for next year…I see a Hat Trick in my future!