David Willey (Editor-in-Chief, Runner’s World) said this race/weekend is “a way for us to bring Runner’s World to life and spend a weekend with our readers.” Him & Bart were all over the race scene, all weekend – you couldn’t miss them! And it really felt like we stepped into their world for 3+ days.
Photo credit: Runner’s World.
The culmination of the weekend, in the form of a half-marathon race, began Sunday morning…
With only one more race left to complete the hat-trick challenge, we had a little pep in our steps. 13.1 miles? GOT THIS. Once again we were on a shuttle by 6:45 am and headed to our second-home for the weekend, the ArtsQuest center.
The only flaw in this half-marathon planning was the distant starting line. Bart had warned us on Friday, during our shakeout run, that it was a little trek to get over there. We may or may not have overestimated that pep, and ended up jogging to bag check & then back to the Starting line to make it in time!
I know all too well how it feels to run/race a half-marathon, but with two races already done for the weekend? What does that feel like? How bad are the hills we’ve been warned about? Will we really be cursing the Race Directors under our breath (announcer’s words, just sayin’)?
GAME-PLAN: line up with the 8:00 min/mile pace, plug into the music motivation and watch-checks for the first time in a while (tunes: ON, Polar GPS: Tracking!).
And with that, we’re off!
Photo credit: Runner’s World.
The first few miles were similar to the 5 & 10K: we went up and around 4th street, over the bridge, away from the Steel Stacks and toward downtown. This time we just kept going, all the way through Main street and then northwest to the heart of the town. We passed golf courses and baseball fields, neighborhood homes, cheerful Sunday morning spectators, two college campuses (Lehigh Univ. & Moravian College), Memorial Cemetery park and then more neighborhoods!
I seem to assume I’m well-trained for hills because I live in NW DC and can’t do even a 3 mile run without hitting an incline somewhere. I assume that “hilly” is perceived differently for all of us: San Francisco? Yah, that’s insanely hilly. Bethlehem, PA? Can’t be too bad comparatively, right?
EGO CHECK: We ran UP (and down) a lot of hills. That was no joke.
REALITY CHECK: This HURTS. There were a few moments of pure exhaustion. There were a few moments of logic-questioning (a hat-trick? Really?) and a few more of thinking it would have been a novel idea to train more for this*.
PACE CHECK: Up to the halfway point, the Polar told me I was staying close to negative splits, or at least consistent ones (depending on where I was on that chart you see up there). If nothing else, I want to end strong & not let this completely defeat me.
There’s a point at which, if you’ve gone fast enough, slowing down doesn’t make the run or race any easier. It just prolongs the inevitable miles you have to run! There’s a point at which you realize that what’s not killing you will make you feel alive.***
You’ll cross the finish line eventually, the endorphins will reliably come rushing and you’ll instantly forget the 0.05 seconds where you thought one hill/mile or another might actually be the end of it all (we’re so dramatic, us runners). You’ll feel the rush of accomplishment, breaking a new self-perceived limit, and you’ll want to do it all over again. Maybe even a little bit faster, because you know you can.
I remind myself of all of the above, especially in that one last mile – when I’m chasing the girl in the light pink “Soccer Alumni” shirt, completely committed to finishing with (if not ahead of) her. I remind myself that I’ll look back on this weekend and think: a hat-trick? I would totes do that again!**
And with whatever little energy was left, I bust out a sprint to get across the last Finish line of the weekend & find the rest of the best-kind-of-crazy blogger team that did this together:
1:45:15 – 8:01 min/mile – 22 / 222 (AG: 25-29F)
Words don’t do justice to how inspirational it was to be surrounded by the RW team, on their turf and in their home, for an entire weekend. I know I’ll be back next year (already mentioned that, yes?).
A HUGE THANKS from my runner’s heart to theirs: thanks for challenging us beyond the race distances we know so well, and bringing our favorite magazine “to life”, and really for just putting that magazine out there so when we have those moments of experiencing X pain, Y race-day woes, or Z I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this moments, we know we’re certainly not alone.
*I did train for this, kind of. I ran both weekend days (one long, one short) for about 6 weeks. What I did not do was ramp up in distance or work on speed.
**Eyes on the next prize: Heartbreak Hill Half & Festival.
***Credit for the post title & mid-race motivation: One Republic, “Counting Stars”.