I have to say, the Runner’s World Half Marathon weekend was the perfect way to wrap up my fall half marathons. Runner’s World really delivered and you could tell this race was put on BY runners, FOR runners. But lets start a the beginning….
My dad and I drove to Bethlehem on Saturday morning, getting there in the mid afternoon or so. The expo and finish line for the half was located right by the Bethlehem Steel Stacks.
This is a photo from last year from the Runner’s World Half facebook page that gives you an idea.
When we got there, the finish line (sans timing mat) was open from the 5k and 10k earlier in the day. So of course I had to snap a photo.
Picking up our bibs was a breeze – maybe because we showed up on Saturday morning since we were only doing the Half? We also got a nice tech tee that I can see myself wearing to work out in. I love when I get ones that I can actually wear.
My dad and I walked around the expo. It was small but had a nice selection of vendors – I saw Sweaty Bands to Belvita breakfast biscuits to various races. I picked up a shot glass (it was a steal at $5!).
The building the expo was in was 3 floors, the first floor had shoes for sale, the second was the main expo and the third was where some of the seminars were located and they also had a place to get you running gait checked out to find proper shoes. They also had a place where you stood in front of a green screen and then they put you on the Runner’s World cover. I had to do it – when would I ever get a chance to be on the cover again?! haha.We also went to two seminars (which you had to pre-register for but were free). The first was a panel with information about the race course. It was Bart Yasso, the pace team leader and a woman who worked for the company that was organizing the race (side note: I had no idea there were people you could hire to organize the logistics of a race – very cool). I found this panel really really helpful to get myself pumped up and also get an idea of what the course would be like (hilly!!). I also ended up in the right place at the right time before the panel and had a nice chat with Bart Yasso and asked him to sign my bib. This had to mean good luck during the race, right?
The second seminar we went to was Bart Yasso’s My Life on the Run talk. It was pretty similar to the talk we had heard two weeks ago at Wineglass, but it was still entertaining because he shared a few different antidotes. After this seminar we found a local italian place (which was absolutely delicious) and carbed up before heading to the hotel. Bethlehem was really easy to drive around, find parking and all that.
The next morning my dad and I woke up and drove to one of the public parking lots that was about mid way between the start and finish (the Half Course is not a loop – the start and finish are a few blocks away from each other). We had no issues finding parking and the signage to help us find it was awesome.
We walked to the ArtsQuest building, where the finish line was. It was so nice to be able to hang out in a warm building, and use warm, clean, working bathrooms before the race. Clearly there are some runners involved in organizing this. 🙂 About 30 minutes before the start of the half we walked to the start line – it took us maybe 15 minutes. We could have done it faster but we were taking our time since we knew we didn’t have to rush. They had pace signs set up so folks were able to line up according to their expected pace.
And…before I knew it we were off!
This course has hills right from the beginning, but on that first hill I came up with a strategy. I wasn’t going to force myself to run the entirety of each hill. Rather, I would run until I could feel my heart rate rising and my breathing became significantly difficult. Then I would walk it, and speed down the other side, while trying to not exert much energy on the down hill.
This worked great for me and I felt really awesome through the first couple of hills. On the downhills I kept repeating in my head “use the gravity, not your energy.” and on the uphills I told myself it was completely okay to walk,
I had opted not to wear my Garmin for this race – sometimes seeing the paces stress me out – and honestly, I’m kicking myself a little bit. I would have loved to see my mile splits over this course.
When we reached the 10k mark I still felt SO good. Despite powering through (what felt like) numerous hills. Every mile I sort of did the math to see what my pace was and I was shocked at how well I was doing given the hilly course.
My 6.5 mile split was 1:24:29. WHAT?! Much better than I expected, and I was so happy. I started doing the math and realized I could maybe pull out a sub-3 or close to it in this. I even maintained thoughts of a PR but knew the chances of running a negative or even split were slim. As each mile went by I continued to feel great about the pace I was keeping.
Around mile 8 or 9 I knew I could beat my wineglass time (3:11:59) – I just wasn’t sure by how much.
In the end, I came in at 3:04:32 – 8 minutes faster than Wineglass, eleven minutes faster that RnR Philly just 5 weeks ago, and 23 minutes faster than Disney (though, I was not trying to finish for a time i that one, the goal was just to survive, with the marathon the next day), and my second best time ever.
I lost that sub 3 in the last two miles honestly. The last mile was really hard for me mentally – the course loops around to where you start, and you see everyone who has finished with their medals walking around, and the course was a little hard to follow due to people crossing the roads and stuff.
I could feel bad that I let it go in the last two miles, but given this course I am absolutely thrilled that I managed to pull out my best half marathon time of 2013, and come closer to my PR. I honestly went into this race expecting to pull a personal worst for the year. I had zero expectations, and ended up surprising myself.
I am so glad to close out my 2013 halfs on a high note. I gained so much confidence during this race and I know I can beat hills whenever I need to now. 🙂