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'
And now we have the fourth and final race... the fourth and final day... THE Runner's World Half Marathon!
Now Bart Yasso says: "The RW Half is flat like a pancake." Let me clarify that quote: "The RW Half is flat like a pancake, but I like blueberries in my pancakes!" AKA Holy Hills Batman!
The half starts about 1/2 a mile farther away from the 5k/10k start. We took the walk from the hotel as a nice brisk warm-up for the final race.
Before getting in the Start corrals, we took the opportunity to use the bathrooms inside of the casino. Since I did this race last year, I knew to bring my license with me. Larisa from Larisa Dixon Blog didn't and was escorted back-and-forth to the bathroom by a security guard! :P
The core group of 7 from the Five & Dime got separated during the trek to the Start Line so I started the half with Nancy (Living The Dream) and Doug (Rock Creek Runner). We knew that if the group was meant to reconnect the running gods would make it happen. :)
Once again the goal was simple: have fun and capture the memories! With 13.1 miles to go, I decided the group didn't have to stop for every single Mile Marker. They had been such sports over the previous races We would only stop for major Mile Markers.
The half had an amazing energy and by the first turn I was already dancing in the streets.
Oh and fueling with donuts. Is that not the proper half marathon refueling plan?
PS: Sorry to the volunteers! I didn't mean to take the last donut in your dozen. But you did say I could!
Mile 1: 9:31
Mile 2: 9:04
Mile 3: 9:45
Ohhh hheeyyy we found new folks for our crew! Big thanks to additional folks from the Altra Running group for joining us... :)
When the hills get tough... focus on the views!
Gorgeous right? Thanks for putting on quite a scenic display Bethlehem.
That moment when you decide the group needs guidance with Mile Mark selfies from here on out. :P
Mile 4: 9:01
For the entire weekend, I was chasing a selfie with #TeamVark's mascot!!
And then there was the Skirt Sports station! Of course I will take a chance to add an extra skirt to my collection... and watch my friends rock a skirt too! :)
Mile 5: 10:42
It was during Mile 6 that we lost Doug to a bathroom break and Nancy decided it was time to get rid of Doug and push as hard as she could up the biggest hill of the whole race! :P Not really, but Brian (from Altra) and I decided that was the case. :P
I was throwing a LOT of four-letter words being thrown out of my mouth during that hill climb, but we freakin' did it. There were a LOT of high-fives once we finally hit the top. It was one of those hills that fakes you out that it is over and then just keeps climbing! ;)
Mile 6: 9:01
We hit the top of the hill and immediately enjoyed a nice potty break and a water stop. When I stop for water or a snack, I make sure to walk through the stop. There is no need for me to throw water in my face and miss my mouth while trying to jog and drink. I am not coordinated enough for that. Plus I've heard it is good for your legs to take those short breaks throughout the run.
During next 2-ish mile stretch, we weaved our way through a cute little neighborhood. There were great spectators out, some offering water and some offering Twizzlers.
I remembered the Twizzler guy from last year and was hoping he would make an appearance this year. Yay for taking candy from strangers! :P
Mile 7: 9:58
Mile 8: 9:16
Guys I need you to go all Charlie's Angels for the Mile 8 marker shot, okay? So psyched I could spend my day running with such an awesome group of folks that really were open to having a blast!
I think we also entertained the folks running around us. We were inviting them to join the selfies with us, but many just wanted to thank us for the laugh they needed during a tough part of the race. You are welcome folks! Mission accomplished if I made someone smile! :)
It was about time for another potty stop and it worked out perfectly with a stop featuring gummy bears. So let's catch up - so far this run I ate a donut, a Twizzler and gummy bears. So I am totally winning at this fueling game! :P I don't normally have such a varied fueling plan, but sometimes you gotta live!
Mile 9: 9:09
Mile 10: 9:25
Okay everyone - do the "No Meat Athlete" face aka "look confused!" I think everyone nailed it. Except me? I am more of "what smells?" face. Oops! Guess I am better at giving directions than following them.
I did a quick check-in and the group was feeling great overall. It was just after this photo that Dave (aka Running Because) started dropping back. You know when you run with a group that we might not all make it together the entire time because people gotta run their own race. But we kept in touch with him via text to make sure everything was okay!
I really felt great. The hills were tough, but overall the pace was comfortable and even. Now I was starting to get sad. Only three more miles left of this amazing adventure.
Just when I thought I lost my crowd support - my homeboy showed up again!! If you can't read that it says "Holy Water Stop." Now THAT was a good sign! ;)
Oh and speaking of signs - this one also had me chuckling.
What didn't have me laughing was all of the people along the course telling me the hill I had just finished "was the last one." Each of you lied my friends. I appreciated the encouragement, but the hills never stopped.
During Mile 10/11, we caught back up with the previous 5k/10k courses so we were in familiar territory.
We were at the point where we realized we were close to a sub-2 half. Ohhh here was the tough choice, dig down and push to hit it or keep the same vibe going. We opted for the latter.
And to celebrate Nancy and I took the amazing pic.
Mile 11: 9:07
Mile 12: 8:33
One final Mile Marker photo and I cannot for the life of me tell you what we were going for here. I think everyone was going there own thang. I know I was sad our adventure was coming to and end. :(
We took the last mile to form a Finish Line photo pose - going for the leap or heal click. Runner's World offered free race photos, but not one photog caught our epic Finish Line moves and I am wicked sad about that. I know Runner's World PR Guru David Tratner congratulated us on a great shot, but the proof is only in our minds and hearts! :P
Mile 13: 8:42
Official Finish Time: 2:02:52 (9:23 min/mile pace)
What an amazing race. Gorgeous scenery, good crowd support, energetic volunteers and 13.1 miles of laughs!!!
The race actually had a post-race beer sponsor: Saucony Creek Brewing Company. We enjoyed our one free beer, while waiting for the rest of our crew to Finish.
After a walk back to the hotel and shower, we grabbed a "quick" lunch, where it wasn't quick at all and I ended up having to bring mine in the car to the airport. We took the 1.5 hour ride back to the Philly Airport, sharing our highlights of the weekend before bidding our good-byes. Which is the toughest part for me.
These amazing Influencers are from all over the country so we don't get to hang on the regular. But Runner's World knows how to put on a good time and I am thankful to them, the PR staff and all of the sponsors for this magical weekend.
If you have the opportunity to travel to Bethlehem, PA for the Runner's World Half Festival - JUMP ON IT!! The bling, the sessions, the people and the miles are fantastic whether you are trying to PR in time or fun - there is something for everyone!