I should have known that Runner’s World would put on a good race. I mean, if they can’t, who could? Still, I was impressed by the Runner’s World Half Festival even though I only participated in part of it. Let me tell you about our weekend in Bethlehem and share my Runners World Half Race Recap!
Runner’s World Half Festival
The Steel Stacks of the old Bethlehem Steel site dominated the scenery at the race venue, and I thought there was something beautiful in the old structures.
We arrived around noon on Saturday, just as the kids fun runs were finishing. I picked up my bib and my shirt, and made it to the 1:00 pm seminar with tips and strategies for the half marathon course–led by Bart Yasso himself.
I love how the t-shirt design includes the stacks!
Bart’s most important advice:
Don’t try to tackle the hills. If you try to tackle the hills, the hills will always win. Just be one with the hills.
All of the speakers emphasized that you should run the course by effort and feel. While they warned us of some challenging hills, they also promised plenty of downhill stretches between the climbs when you could pick up your pace. They also cautioned against starting out to fast. Best way to ensure a negative split? Start off slow! 🙂
After the seminar I went back to the expo to the KT Tape booth for some “professional” taping.
Take that, PF!
By the time I was done with the expo, the dog races were finishing–it was so cute to see dogs with race bibs pinned to their collars! (People ran with their dogs.) There was still a lot going on–music, food, beer–but we wanted to find our hotel and get some real food.
We had somewhat randomly ended up at the Comfort Inn, which turned out to be a great location, about 1/2 mile or so from the race venue. After we checked in and unpacked, we headed across the bridge to the historic downtown area where we had an early dinner and did some window shopping.
I loved this old and new sign along the bridge
After we got back to our hotel I organized all my race gear,
tortured massaged my calves with a stick roller, and turned in early, with alarms set for 6:00 and 6:15 am, and a plan to leave the hotel @ 7:00 for the 8:00 race start.
Runners World Half Race Recap
The alarms were not necessary, since I woke up on my own at 4:40 (my usual weekday alarm time), 5:30, and 5:55–when I decided to get up. I got dressed and we headed down to the hotel breakfast, which was busy with other runners fueling up for the race. I had brought a PB + honey sandwich from home, and just ate that with some coffee and water.
pre-race photo–guess my favorite color!
After a final potty stop and gear check, we headed out to the race venue, and got there about 7:25. They had touted the availability of indoor bathrooms, but I wasn’t in the mood to wait in the long lines, even though we had plenty of time We headed outside to find the port-a-pottys, which were plentiful and still pretty clean.
Bart Yasso was acting as race announcer and posing for photos
–he is such a genuinely nice person!
Before long, it was time to line up. I started towards the back of the 8:00 min/mile group, between the 1:50 and 1:55 pacers. I was hoping to maintain an 8:45 min/mile pace for the first few relatively flat miles, go with the flow for the middle hilly miles, and do the best I could once we crossed the back over the bridge.
Bart had warned us of three “real” hills, including one with a few “false summits” where you think you’re at the top, but then the road turns and there’s another climb, and another. But I’m not sure any hills were that much harder–or easier!–than any others. And, while it was a hilly course, there really were some nice long downhill stretches.
You can see that my heart rate really did recover between hills
I felt good when I hit mile ten,–unlike when I finished the Army Ten Miler a few weeks ag0!–but then got a cramp (not quite a side stitch) which slowed me down. Luckily I was able to shake it off and push my pace again to the finish.
All in all, I’m pretty proud of my pacing!
Somewhere after mile 11 I was passed by the 1:55 pace group. I thought I might be able to catch them again after mile 12, but there was a gradual, cruel climb that my legs had nothing left to give for. Still, I felt great, knew I was going to crush my 2:00-ish goal, and definitely finished smiling!
Official Finish Time: 1:55:26
The festival atmosphere continued after the race, with lots of post-race snacks (fresh bagels, bananas, pretzels, Kefir, raisins, popcorn), a Dogfish Head beer garden, food trucks with other options, and a live band.
It would have been a great day to hang around, but I knew we had a long drive ahead of us. We walked back to the hotel where I showered and changed–and realized I need to eat! Google found a 4 1/2 star pizza place around the corner, so we walked over there before braving the Sunday interstate traffic.
mushroom and spinach is a healthy choice, right?
If you have the opportunity to participate in the Runner’s World Half Festival, I highly recommend it. There was a trail run on Friday, a 5K and a 10K on Saturday (see how Laura did in both of them), and the Half on Sunday–as well as the kids fun runs and dog race. The venue is great with lots to do right there–they had the expo, seminars, and food and drink for sale all weekend. The town of Bethlehem is a treasure, with historic sites, cute shops, and great restaurants for any budget or taste. Where we stayed on the “south side” was very close to Lehigh University, so there also was a bit of a “college town” vibe. All in all, my third destination race of the year was a huge success!
Have you been to Bethlehem?
What’s the farthest you’ve driven to a race?