This weekend, I tackled the Runner’s World Hat Trick: a 5K, 10K, and half marathon in the same weekend.
The good news? I survived!
The bad news? The half marathon was, by far, my most difficult race to date.
Hands down. No question about it.
And that’s including running with tendonitis flare-ups and the biggest blister ever during the Long Branch Half Marathon, in the pouring rain during the Superhero Half Marathon, and in 90+ degree temperatures at both the Princess Half Marathon and the Disneyland Half Marathon.
But…more on all of that in the next recap.
Todd and I arrived for the expo on Friday afternoon to pick up our shirts — and a hat, for anyone signed up for the Hat Trick — and check out the vendors. I knew it was going to be a bit on the smaller side, but this was, really, a pretty small expo.
The Runner’s World Half is only in its second year, though, so I’m sure it will continue to grow. They did have a few of my go-to vendors, like Bondiband (of course!), and some new favorites…I’m totally obsessed with Belvita breakfast biscuits now.
Afterwards, we grabbed dinner at a little Italian place in town (Sal’s Brick Oven Pizza) and then attended an informational session about the race courses and the weekend festivities before heading back to the motel — we stayed at the Red Roof Inn in Allentown. Which, for a motel, really wasn’t too shabby at all!
The information session — “Race Weekend FAQ: How to Run the RW Half” — had me feeling a little nervous because there was a whole lot of hill talk going on, but I wasn’t too worried about it. My goal in these races? To finish strong. I wanted to prove to myself that I could tackle the first of the three distances that will be included in January’s Dopey Challenge.
I wasn’t setting any time goals (although I WAS planning to run a fast 5K)…I really, really just wanted to show myself, without a shadow of a doubt, that I could conquer the three races in the same weekend. I figured that if I let myself believe that running a 5K, 10K, and half marathon back-to-back wasn’t any big thing (yeah, right) that I could focus all of my energy over the next several weeks on training for the full marathon.
On Saturday morning, I woke up feeling pretty good for the 5K. I planned to finish the 5K as fast as possible and then pull back a bit for the 10K so as not to wear myself out TOO much for the half marathon the next morning.
The 5K began at 8am, and when they sent us off, I basically tried to run like all hell. I really wanted a new PR; I haven’t been running all that many 5Ks lately, so I haven’t had many opportunities to crush my best time — 26:17 — which happened back in April.
Little did I know that the 5K course wasn’t even remotely flat. I still managed to maintain a pretty solid 8-minute/mile pace for the first half of the race — which is fast for me — but then in the second half, I could feel the hills starting to slow me down a little bit. When I neared the finish line and saw 26 minutes on the clock, I booked it, hoping that I could still PR.
My official chip time? Believe it or not…26:17. What are the odds?! UGH…oh well, better luck next time.
Then I had about an hour to prepare for the 10K, which started at 9:30am. It was FREEZING cold, so Todd and I huddled with a bunch of fellow runners in the Visitor’s Center near the starting line. I wasn’t exactly feeling pumped to run another race, but I wasn’t feeling especially fatigued, either. I downed a Luna bar and banana, guzzled some Powerade, and prepared myself to take on another 6.2 miles.
While the 10K course traversed some of the same sections at the 5K, we also ventured off to see a bit more of Bethlehem. And, much to my dismay, I was once again greeted by a whole lot of hills. And I don’t mean “rolling” hills. I mean the kind of hills where you can’t actually SEE the top. I mean the kind of hills that seem to stretch on forever. I mean, the kind of hills that make me want to say “screw this” and walk off the race course and grab a cup of coffee and watch all of the other crazies run by.
Mind you, I’m really, REALLY not consistent when it comes to training on hills, but I consider myself a strong runner (albeit not the fastest in the world)…so I knew that while the tricky course may force me to slow my pace down a bit, I’d be just fine.
I managed to hang on to around a 9:15-minute/mile pace for the majority of the race, and crossed the finish line in 59:47. I also bumped into Kim from Barking Mad About Running again…our SECOND non-Jersey race where we happened to spot each other! Oh, and we happened to be wearing the same red Sparkle Athletic skirt! Photos coming soon.
The best part? Not gonna lie…running under the flaming arch at the finish line.
Both races were pretty close to how I might normally expect to perform in a 5K and 10K — nothing special, but nothing disappointing either — so I was satisfied. Truth be told, I was thrilled that I just tackled what was essentially 9+ miles over the course of an hour and a half, and finished feeling pretty good, mentally and physically.
I collected my second medal of the day (which, mind you, was the same as the 5K medal), took some pictures, and freshened up a bit to prepare for the full day of running that we had planned! As part of the weekend festivities, you could register for a whole bunch of different seminars, movie screenings, and other events taking place throughout the day, and Todd and I signed up for practically all of them…so we had quite a busy schedule ahead of us!
The seminars we attended were:
Ask the Sports Doc: How to Stay Injury Free. This one freaked me out a little bit. The message behind it all was really making sure to listen to your body because it’s ridiculously easy for a small injury to turn into a serious injury… and I tend to be the type of person who will ignore a twinge or a pain and stick to my training plan, no matter what. I definitely learned a thing or two, and I’m doing my best not to ignore the aches that have developed as I’ve been increasing my weekly mileage for Dopey.
How to Get Faster and Go Longer. As it turns out, Amby Burfoot couldn’t attend due to illness so Jonathan Beverly, the editor of Running Times, led the discussion. They had lots of practical tips to offer when it came to improving as a runner — everything from holding your torso upright while running to putting blocks under the foot of your bed to incline your feet overnight and aid in recovery. Who knew?
My Life on the Run with Bart Yasso. Bart basically showed us a ton of photos (some were highly amusing, might I add) and talked all about some of his more memorable races and where running has brought him over the course of his career. It was cool to see photos of the different parts of the world he’s visited (including Antarctica…which has PENGUINS!) and hear stories about the people he has met — and all through a love of running. I haven’t run in Africa or completed any ultra-marathons, but I can say that the sport of running has changed my life in more ways than I ever thought possible, so I really appreciated the message behind it all.
We also caught the keynote speaker, Dave McGillivray, who is the race director of the Boston Marathon and basically talked all about his beginnings as the shortest guy who ever wanted to play basketball. Since then, he has raised a ton of money for charities through running (he pulled a Forrest Gump and ran across the country, for crying out loud), and runs the Boston Marathon every single year…in the dark…on his own…after the course has closed. I could definitely relate to the whole “getting picked last” concept in school, seeing as how NOBODY wanted “the fat girl” on their team, so I’m always inspired by personal transformation stories. If you had told me 10 years ago that someday I’d be a runner, or that I’d be training for a marathon, well…there’s not a chance in hell I would have believed it.
Our final stop of the day was the “Dinner with the Editors” pasta dinner, which, let me tell you, turned out to be pretty much the coolest thing ever. We had an opportunity to chat with the editor-in-chief of Runner’s World, David Willey, and he ended up picking my brain on everything from what I like about the magazine (um…everything?) to my personal use of running-specific social media sites like Daily Mile. And, of course, I had to throw in a small mention of how I happen to be a freelance magazine writer and have been trying to break into their magazine “like nobody’s business,” so…who knows?
He told me to keep on trying, and that is definitely what I plan to do…because runners never give up, right?
Half marathon recap coming soon!
Have you ever/would you ever run two races back-to-back?