Runners World Half Race Recap

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! 

The festival is held in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I didn’t realize that Bart Yasso was born and raised there, or that Rodale, Inc. (the publisher of Runner’s World, Bicycling, Prevention, and other magazines) was founded nearby. 

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


Post-Race Festivities

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?

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33 Responses to Runners World Half Race Recap

  1. carla says:

    ok this nonrunner (but pennsylvanian) knew Bart was from there!!!
    do I get extra points??


  2. Kimberly G says:

    So glad that you enjoyed the race! To this day, that whole weekend is one of my favorite race experiences (I did the 5K, 10K and half). I remember it being pretty hilly, lol, but it was still a lot of fun and so organized!

    Totally agree with you about the dog races – super cute!!
    Kimberly G recently posted…Weekly Wrap: The Past 2 WeeksMy Profile

  3. I did the RW race a few years back and I agree that it truly is a festival in the sense that there was so much more offered than just a race! They really kept us entertained!

    Great job on pacing yourself and getting through those hills and crushing your goal!

    The furthest i’ve driven for a race was to Florida!

  4. This race weekend has been on my radar for a few years now but the timing never seems to work out. I’d love to do it next year!

  5. You did awesome in what I know is a hilly race — I did the only RW Heartbreak Hill race, which would have been totally awesome if it hadn’t been for the sudden heatwave. They do a good job (although the expo for that one was underwhelming).

    That pizza looks delish!

    I think the furthest I’ve ever driven to a race was Gettysburg.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…Maybe it’s good to be a turtle . . .My Profile

  6. That looks like so much fun. I’ll have to get there some year! I’ve driven from NYC to Vermont (twice) for the marathon in Burlington. And to Indy from Chicago several times. Oh and to Michigan Upper Peninsula!

  7. Ana says:

    Congratulations on a strong race! It looks super hilly, but you crushed it!!

    I have wanted to do this race, only because I want to see the Steel structures and how amazing they look. Maybe next year.
    Ana recently posted…Baltimore Marathon Relay – RecapMy Profile

  8. Karen Bayne says:

    Yay!! You were super speedy “) You did do a great job pacing! Congratulations
    I have driven about 6 hours and it was rough going home because I got stiff lol
    You should feel very proud, those are some real hills !

  9. You really did well, especially with all those hills! I’ve never been to Bethlehem…but our daughter is now in Pennsylvania (not sure how close-or far- she is from there, though). It looks like a very scenic place to visit.
    Kimberly Hatting recently posted…Sweat Equity CircuitMy Profile

  10. Lesley says:

    The festival weekend sounds so much fun. I’m not sure I could classify driving distance for the races I have traveled for. The longest drive from the airport was two hours to get to Eugene.

  11. Rachel says:

    Ok so this makes so much sense of why it’s held there. I really had no idea and always wondered!

    Sounds like a great race, Coco! Hills shmills. 😉
    Rachel recently posted…MCM Weekend Getaway: 2017 EditionMy Profile

  12. What a fun race weekend! Congrats on your race! Bart is a great guy. I have met him at many expos. I bet that pizza hit the spot after your race. Looks delicious!

  13. Never been to Bethlehem, but it sounds like a great weekend!

  14. Sounds so fun! I’d love to do this just because it’s all about the runners.

    And yes, Bart is an awesomely nice guy!
    Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…Never Underestimate the Power of New ShoesMy Profile

  15. That race festival always looks like a ton of fun! I would love to go some year and how cool to meet Bart Yasso! YOu did an awesome job in the Half. Great time!
    Sandra D Laflamme recently posted…Run It–What a Runner Eats Before, During and After a Long Run.My Profile

  16. Congratulations, fantastic job!! I have wanted to do this half marathon for years and for whatever reason it always gets away from me. One year I was signed up for the 10K and had to DNS due to PF..waah! Maybe I can finally make it happen in 2018?

    Love the blue outfit btw, it’s my favorite color too! 🙂

  17. Awesome job – your pacing was great! I’ve always heard such great things about this festival weekend. Glad you enjoyed it!

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