Finally, a quiet evening has fallen on my home. The kids are snuggled in their beds and except for an occasional cough from Allison’s room, silence fills the second floor. I parked myself on my favorite couch with a fleece blanket and a cup of hot chocolate (I know it warm). The glow of the TV and laptop softly lights the room as I focus on this post. Although I’ve seen Halloween more times than I can count, I needed to change the channel; I’m home alone. No thank you. I’ve been trying to figure out what to talk about even though I have a short list of hopeful posts. I just came off of a unique and fantastic weekend; I think it’s best to share.
This past weekend was the Runner’s World Half Marathon and Festival in Bethlehem, PA. Earlier this year, once registration opened, I hopped on the website and signed up for the Hat Trick – three races (5K, 10K and half marathon) in two days. Yup, sounds crazy enough for me. I’m in. The weekend festivities would give me plenty of opportunities to socialize with Runner’s World staff. It’s no secret that I’d love to work for the publication in any capacity, so this could be my foot in the door.
Starting the second week in July, I started a marathon training program to prepare myself for Philly in November. The up-coming Hat Trick would only serve as another training run in my marathon schedule. As the weeks rolled on I increased mileage and became quite diligent in following a plan. Thankfully, I kept the plan a little flexible. Some minor wrenches required modifications – foot pain, nagging cold, childcare and getting a good night sleep – such as shifting some days around or skipping a low mileage workout all together.
I knew that the October Hat Trick would screw up a regularly scheduled long run, but I was okay with totaling two days worth of miles and calling it a win. And sticking with my need to put a cherry on something already amazing, I decided that our near annual trip to Dorney Park’s Haunt would be the Friday before the races. The weekend would be go-go-go – that’s how I roll. I spent Friday night eating shit (as in buckets full of crab fries dripped in fake cheese sauce), screaming my face off and walking around the amusement park. These activities should be avoided the night before lots ‘o races. The cherry on that night was strolling home at midnight, only to fall asleep at 1:30 am. Excellent.
Regardless of the prior evening’s events, I sprung out of bed at 5:15 am with the nervous energy of a soon-to-be Mom in labor, um, minus the protruding belly. I felt sick to my stomach, but needed to eat something – it would be a while before I could eat again. I showered and dressed, grabbed my bag and walked out with a smile on my puffy face. I mentally prepared for the day during the fifteen mile drive to Bethlehem. After navigating the city from parking lot to parking lot, I finally squeezed into a lot, grabbed my crap and started to walk to the Festival. I met up with a friend (who thankfully had parked closer) and put my gear in her car. I carefully pinned my bib and we made way to the start.
With so much activities during the day, I could see myself spending the entire weekend at the Festival attending seminars and meeting some of the editors. I quickly realized, during the break between the 5K and 10K, that I painfully missed my family. The day didn’t feel right being without them. I left early enough that everyone was snoozing. I missed their faces…even the dog’s. I think I almost cried during the 10K, but that was probably some dust that got kicked up into my eye around of the turns. Yeah, that’s right. Dust. I finished the 10K, chatted a little, took a few pictures and then went to my car. And then went to my car. That wasn’t a typo. I forgot where I parked. I wandered back and forth among a few designated parking lots looking for the car while I talked with a friend. Hey, we needed to catch up; this was the perfect opportunity! Once I got home, I spent the rest of the afternoon/early evening relaxing the the family. It truly was a joy to see them.
I drove back to Bethlehem to see Matt Long speak. If you don’t know who he is GOOGLE (yes, that’s a verb, oh and a command). I met another friend and we climbed the stairs to the top floor. The open room, framed out with tall windows, overlooked the steel stacks. Matt pulled the crowd in with his dynamic speech, peppered with humor. I wished that more of my friends had been there to hear his story. Most of the audience waited in line to get Matt’s autograph; I was absolutely one of them. Too bad he couldn’t sign my iPad copy (#VictimOfTechnology). Before leaving Bethlehem, I purchased a hot chocolate spiked with Malibu Rum. I strolled in early enough to chat it up with the hubbs before turning in for the night. I used the extra time to repack my bag and lay out my outfit for the following morning. Running a half marathon the next day would be considered a piece of cake compared to the sixteen miles I ran the previous weekend.
I prepared for the half by running the course a few weeks prior. It was sadistically amusing to hear the field’s moan and groans each time we approached a hill. I’m almost always prepared for hills and I used the opportunity to pass a lot of people. Staying true to myself, I yelled a few times during the race, most notably on the hills. And by yelling, I mean I mustered up a bellowing cry from the base of my soul which could cause any runner in a quarter mile radius to turn and look towards the origin of the sound. I almost literally bumped into a man named David Patrick who is from the Bethlehem area. He firmly believes that he could run with a martini. Nice man, David Patrick. In conversation, he invited me to a post-race party that The Baker’s were having in his honor. David’s wife made sticky buns. I rounded the corner away from the steel stacks and back onto Daly Avenue. Again. The 5K, 10K and half courses all had the same finish. I was sick and overjoyed as I climbed the road’s incline. The chute, leading to the finish line, was packed with cheering spectators. I hugged the right side of the course, scanning the nameless faces. The sight of my family brought tears to my eyes. Or maybe it was course dust lodged under my contact. Yeah, that’s right. Course dust.