I’ve always enjoyed the Runners World Festival in Bethlehem, PA, put on by Runners World Magazine. During the Runners World Festival Weekend, there are several multi distance challenges including a trail run, 5k, 10k, kids run, dog run, and half marathon. For me running the 5k and Runners World half marathon works the best (to stay healthy). The Festival is Beautiful Bethlehem, Pennsylvania just miles away from the Runners World Headquarters (ETA: Now moved to NYC).
The races themselves are scenic and feature Bethlehem’s historic neighborhoods including the Bethlehem steel complex.
After running the Runners World 5k twice (in 2015 and 2016), I knew what to expect with the course. I knew the first mile was hilly, the second mile had a nice downhill, and the third mile had a couple of hills but nothing like the first mile.
I didn’t sleep well the night before. I’m not sure why, but my body decided that 5 am was a good time to be wide awake. So with that, I was up at 5. I ate breakfast and just kind of waited around in my hotel room.
Around 7 am, I went for a warmup. My legs didn’t feel good, but they felt decent. Due to Runners World Influencer events and a busy day before, I felt more exhausted than normal but I knew I would. We did a HIIT class, and you can ask any of the bloggers there I was definitely the caboose in fitness there.
I don’t run Runners World Festival to PR, I run because I like the atmosphere, Runners World, and it’s fun. Not that I’m in PRing shape anyway.
I also knew it wouldn’t be my fastest time because of the hills but also because I’m not in the same fitness as last year. Never the less, I was excited to run and my husband and I went for a 3 mile warm up.
By the time I realized it, it was 8 minutes until the race and I wasn’t at the start. I hustled over and on the way, the policeman told me I was the last person. Ha..I arrived at the start at 7:58 for the 8:00 am start. I quickly threw my things in the bushes, and one minute later we were off. Despite being awake early, I seem to cut every race close.
The first mile got out fast. There were several women in front of me, and I figured if I could place in my age group again I would be happy. Slowly, I began catching women, and by the time we went over the bridge I found myself as third female overall.
As I began focusing on my race, I noticed a familiar face. Not because we were friends but because I recognized her from photos. Ryan Hall’s oldest daughter, passed me as if I was standing still. I looked several feet ahead and noticed Ryan, himself, was jogging in sweats in front of her. I hit the first mile in 6:18 which with the hills, I was happy with.
The second mile begins the nitty gritty of the race. Of the three miles, it’s the easiest with a few downhills to charge and make up time for the first mile. I passed two women and hit the second mile in 5:54 which is my fastest mile since returning to the sport.
My legs were tired during the third mile, but I wanted desperately to hold on. My good friend Rosie was catching me (Spoiler: we ran the entire half marathon together until she floored it for the win).
During the last half mile, I told myself I’ve been working on my kick. I need to take it to a gear I haven’t been in a while. I have one of the worst kicks of any runner and chances are, if you are near me in the final strides you can outkick me. I lost a lot of races in the spring due to being outkicked by a few seconds.
Last Saturday, I kicked as hard as I could and finished at a 5:49 pace, barely holding onto second. If it was a 3.2-mile race, I can guarantee Rosie would have passed me. I finished in 18:46 which is only 5 seconds slower than last year and last week (last week was a much easier course).
After the race, Hanna, Rosie, and I accepted our awards and the Hall’s were kind enough to even take a photo with me and chat for a few minutes.
To be honest, it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I’m standing there accepting an award with two of the greatest distance runners and just babbling about who knows what. Not my first time making a fool of myself as I made Kate Grace choke on a hotdog a few years ago. Despite being a challenging course, I enjoy the Runners World Races through Beautiful Bethleham, Pennsylvania.
Questions for you:
Do you have a good kick?
Have you ever met a famous runner?