The Heartbreak Hill Festival was just one month ago. What's amazing is that I have thought fondly of the festival, races, experiences, drinks and laughs every day since then!
How could I not relive one amazing weekend when I had the pleasure of spending it with these fine - ummm serious - folks?
In case you don't know, the bloggers I had the honor of spending the weekend with were:
- Katie of Runs For Cookies
- Sarah of Sarah Fit
- Jason of Strength Running
- Matt of No Meat Athlete
- Anne of Fannetastic Food
- Amanda of Run To The Finish
- Katy of Katy Widrick
- Caitlin of Healthy Tipping Point
- Charlene of Fab Running
- Theodora of Preppy Runner
- Presley of Run Pretty
- Karla of Run Karla Run
- Heather of Relentless Forward Commotion
- Marnie of Run Street
- Sarah of Picky Runner
- Larisa of Larisa Dixon
- Jessica of Keeping Mommy Sane
- Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers
If you have free time, please check out their blogs as all are amazing, motivating and inspiring people.
Plus, there are even a few of them that will allow me to lead them on a seemingly endless walk - at night - in Boston - to find the closest liquor store just so we can sit around a dorm room common area and talk running and blogging.
Never in a million years would this sound like an amazingly fun night/adventure ... but it was!
During the four days, we had the honor of meeting my BFF Shalane Flanagan (PS she might not be in the loop on the whole BFF thing) and the outstanding Sarah Reinertsen.
While we had the good fortune to have a private meet and greet with both (Thanks Runner's World), the ladies could be found all weekend at various Festival events. Every time I saw them they were happily chatting with participants and posing for selfies left and right. These two women are gracious and down-to-earth ... just as I thought they would be.
I am still not sure how I got on Runner's World's radar to be invited to the event as a blogger, but I am wicked thankful I was.
They offered a Scavenger Hunt for the bloggers to
fight to the death over have fun with during the weekend. Can we guess that I took it rather seriously? Did I know what the prize was? Not at all, but I wanted to win. :o)
It gave me the opportunity to take obnoxious photos for a purpose. ;)
And trying to thank the sponsors all in one photo.
The Scavenger Hunt took my love of an Expo to the next level as some of the sponsors were kind enough to hook bloggers up.
Like The Stick!
That's Patrick, the brains behind The Stick, working out my knots with the Trigger Wheel. I already own a Stick, which I use on a daily basis, so I was interested in hearing about the other products he has.
The Trigger Wheel is easier to use on smaller muscle groups, close to the bone areas or on your head, as demonstrated.
Working the smaller muscle groups it does! I've had trouble with my neck since a college rugby injury and the wheel got deeper into the knots than I can on my own. I would HIGHLY recommend the Trigger Wheel if you need help in the neck and shoulder region. But, I was even using it on my legs since I had forgotten my Stick at home.
If you are looking for some pre and post race stretching, I highly recommend checking out The Stick. Plus they offer free shipping!
Beyond the physical accomplishments, there were a couple of emotional lessons learned.
1) I am still working on inner confidence. During a portion of the weekend, I felt extremely self-conscious and hid from an activity in the bathroom. Umm yeah not normal. But I just had to remove myself as I could feel the anxiety building up inside. However, hiding in the bathroom with some tears, is not the answer. I need to learn to remain in a tough situation and find the positive. Instead of immediately telling myself I was not worthy to be there I needed to think of all the reasons why I most certainly did.
2) "Never take a finish line for granted." Courtesy Sarah Reinertsen. There are times I can get caught up in the training, the poor Finish times and the races where I felt like I failed myself. But, I need to take it back, to the days before I even considered toeing up to the Start Line. Recharge. Plus, you never know what can happen in life in both fitness journeys and life in general. This phrase crosses many phases of life.
Finally, the life of the back-of-the-pack runner. In my first marathon, I finished third to last. I remember the race director driving up to me and letting me know the course would be closing in a couple minutes so I had to finish within 6 hours or the course would be done. I crossed the line in 5:59:27 with zero fan fair, no food, massage chairs deserted and a pretty lonely Finish Area.
But as my journey has progressed, I've slowly but surely moved to the front-ish middle-ish part of the pack. I normally don;t have problems with water stops or a lack of crowd support.
So I was drawn to a post by fellow blogger Heather about her experience in the back-of-the-pack at Heartbreak Hill Half. I'm proud of Heather for sharing her thoughts and the discussions that happened among runners and race directors as a result.
Everyone deserves the same race experience and I applaud Runner's World for addressing the issues brought up in the blog posts.
I hope this only enhances the next Heartbreak Hill Festival. If you are interested in participating in this event next year (you know I will), be sure to sign up for email notifications.
So once again I thank Runner's World and my fellow bloggers for a weekend that I will never forget... the laughs and medals will live on.
Just watch out for the RA when drinking in a dorm - even if you are over 21! ;)