Note: I was given complimentary entry to the Runner's World Half Festival as an Influencer, but all thoughts are my own. Ain't nobody got time for lyin'!
When we last left our dear adventure in Bethlehem, PA, we settled into bed after an evening exploring the Runner's World Headquarters.
Now Thursday night ended with visions of trail running dancing through our head.
We woke up bright and early on Friday to spend the day with the amazing folks at Altra Running. The day began with a preview jaunt (use this term loosely) along the afternoon's inaugural 3.8-mile trail race.
For friends that don't know me, I don't trail run. I participate in a smaller train race (like 2.4 miles) once a year and that about sums up my trail experience. So I was pumped to pick the brains of the guys that not only created Altra shoes, but also run 100-milers through the woods for fun. Crazy men I tell ya.
Once I was properly in awe of the accomplishments these men have racked up (oh hey 2 100-milers in a span of 2 weeks), it was time to follow Bart through the woods. I think a horror story or two started that way, but off we went.
Thanks to Altra I was testing out the Lone Peak 2.5 trail shoe.
The "quick preview" felt like we were running the entire trail run. I hadn't set my GPS so in my head I was thinking we had run/walked/tried not to fall over rocks and branches for hours. It was probably only 7 minutes before we took a break. But friends it was touch and go there for awhile.
We took a rest to get the inside scoop on some of the new gear that Altra will be releasing in 2016. This nifty jacket below doesn't cover your back so you can quickly pull it over your head and store it in a sweet little front fanny pack without having to stop or remove your backpack. Wicked cool and I have already placed my order for one... or three.
After I was done forking over my credit card number to Altra, we finished up the preview overlooking the Finish Line view.
How absolutely gorgeous is that? It made up for the complaining I did under my breath as Bart navigated us through the woods. :P
With the preview done, it was time to head to Arts Quest (where the Expo is held).
But first there was a sweet sweet sweet pit-stop.
No it wasn't the Starbucks run where Bart bought us all coffee. And yes I am drinking Starbucks, but that is because Bart bought it for me.
The amazing one-of-a-kind stop would be at Bart Yasso's freakin' house. That is right my friends. We went inside his house, sat at his table, looked through his mail, left him gifts, etc. Okay maybe not all of that is true, but it is close.
When we were all finished geeking out, it was time to get back in the vans and head to Arts Quest to hear more from Altra.
The morning and early afternoon consisted of learning the story behind Altra Running from Golden, who is the current marathon record holder for a 12-year-old with 2:45. Yeah you read that right. While enjoying strawberries and yogurt, Budd Coates spoke to us about his book Running On Air. He was talking about the proper way to breathe while running. He did some exercises with us where I learned I cannot follow directions. Ha. Still drooling from the sneak peek at what Altra is coming out with in 2016, it was time to hear more from iFit. Then the awesome "learn to run" session with Golden. Thankfully I snuck a peak at my notes from last year before attending so I could look like I knew what I was doing... but it didn't work!
Once properly fueled from breakfast, it was time to head to lunch. ;) We would be enjoying delicious food from the new cookbook "Meals On The Run" and were treated to a motivating and tear-jerking talk with Deena Kastor.
Deena is hands down one of the most inspiring, positive and real people I have ever met. I can fill an entire post (and probably with) with the lessons she taught me in 15-20 minutes. Also I want to be her BFF, but I am not sure she is 100% on board.
After a quick walk back to the hotel and a change, we were off to the 3.8-mile trail run. Yes in case you forgot I was there to run a bunch of miles and not just schmooze with Olympians and take selfies with my blends.
Just after 2pm, we piled back into the vans to make our way to the trail run. I just need to give big shout outs to David Tratner and Lacy Davis for courting around and keeping track of 18 bloggers, who many times are like children - wandering off to take selfies or stopping to charge their phone for the 100th time. Thank you both for being amazing hosts and friends! :)
Once David convinced the police to let us park closer, we were off to packet pick-up.
The trail run was 3.8-miles of smiles, cursing, laughter, swearing, running, cursing, walking, swearing, selfies, four-letter words and a great time with my girl Nancy from Living the Dream. Get ready for A LOT of Nancy in these four races. :)
I knew my main objective was to get through the race in one piece. I would stop and walk if I had to and I would even sit and cry if that is what I needed. But luckily I made it through the race in tact and without crying. Maybe some whimpering.
Bart Yasso was NOT messing around when he created that trail run. As we know I am a novice trail runner, but I am a determined one. I was going to give it my all. There were lots of loose rocks, branches, leaves and tree limbs. I basically followed Nancy and let her feel out harms way before I went through it. Oh is that now how you are supposed to trail run? ;) It worked out in my benefit until I ended up in front of her. I still don't know how I managed that one. The trail had two out-and-back portions so we were able to cheer on our fellow blends.
Overall it was one of the most nerve-wracking races of my life because I worried the entire time about getting hurt. But it was also one of the most rewarding because I tried something outside of my comfort zone and proved to myself I could do it.
But it wouldn't have happened without my amazing friends pushing me through, cheering me as I leaped over the Finish and turning around and letting me cheer them on. Seriously these people are special and I am lucky to call them friends.
With everyone finishing the run and enjoying their free post-race pizza, it was time to head back to Arts Quest and pick up our bibs for the rest of the weekend.
You know I love a good Expo. So I took full advantage of the fake Runner's World covers.
For those that don't know, the first two are recreations from last June's Heartbreak Hill Weekend.
With the official duties done for the day, it was time to kick back and catch up with my friends from around the country with some tried and true karaoke. We did this last year as well at the Comfort Suites breakfast area/bar and it changed my life.
Don't worry that happened again as amazing renditions of hits by Whitney Houston and Green Day were ROCKED by my beloved friends.
Videos are archived on my phone for posterity and to save as blackmail if I need it. But I can tell you that once again karaoke did not disappoint and it was another highlight of my weekend in Bethlehem, PA. An extra special thank you goes out to the folks that ROCKED it with me that night: No Meat Athlete, Rock Creek Runner, Sharp Endurance, Bama Girl Runs, Larisa Dixon Blog and THE creator of #runchat Running Because.
And yes I just named dropped the CRAP outta that. ;) ;) And I will add Running Because (aka David) and I did a beautiful duet together that will go down in the history books...
Now many think we were out late into the night. It was about 12:30am and we shut that Comfort Suites breakfast area/bar DOWN. That karaoke emcee loved us and we said good night and ROLL TIDE sir, we have a big morning of racing ahead of us.
After a tequila shot (Sharp Endurance's idea), it was time to bid adieu until the Five & Dime my friends...