Last weekend, I ran the Christmas Classic 5 Miler in Bethlehem, PA. I haven’t been to Bethlehem since the Runners World half in 2017, so it was nice to go back. I’ve run the Runners World 5k and half for a few years, so I know that Bethlehem is not flat. I wasn’t expecting a pancake course, and it did not disappoint.
The race started at 9:10 which was nice because my husband and I could sleep in. We left the house around 6:45 am and got to Bethelam around 8. Packet pickup was at the YMCA and there was plenty of parking. I don’t usually get excited about race t-shirts but a cotton long sleeve race t-shirt is the unicorn of running shirts.
Before leaving for the race, I hadn’t made much of an effort and threw a bunch of stuff in a bag. When I got to the race, I realized I didn’t have a long sleeve shirt or my puffer vest. It was 20 degrees and I had planned to run in both. I almost ran in the race shirt, but since I had capris, I figured the tank and arm warmers would be fine.
I warmed up and felt decent. Just as we got to the start, the 5k was off. The 5k started 10 minutes before the 5 miler. It was a crowded downhill start. I found myself as fifth women overall. My legs didn’t feel great and just felt like I’ve started training again. I didn’t have a big goal for the race, just to get a hard workout in.
I hit the first mile in 6:35 and felt okay about it. Lately, I’ve struggled not to compare myself to earlier in the year, but I know that fitness will come again. We caught up to many of the 5kers which was frustrating because we were going around many people walking 3-4 across. Finally, we turned off and went different directions.
During the second mile, I passed two women and found myself running side by side with a male. He would tuck in behind me as if I provided some sort of draft for him.
I liked the course because I could get an idea of where I was in relation to other racers. I saw my husband flying by and I was happy for him. He had a rough week as well as a long flight the day before, so he wasn’t thrilled to be running.
We passed the water stop around mile 2.5 and I needed water. I hadn’t hydrated enough and I found myself probably getting a side stitch. Unfortunately, due to crowding of the 5k and 5 miler, there was no way I could grab water. I didn’t stop and kept going.
I hit the third mile in 6:35 and felt decent. I knew the last 2 miles would be rough. We were at the lowest part of Bethlehem but the race itself had started at the highest peak. When we would go up? It was a question I kept wondering…
We didn’t run back up in the fourth mile. During the fourth mile, I found myself running alone and as the second woman, although I knew 3rd was coming up behind me.
Then around mile 4.5, we hit the hill. The 5kers were also climbing the hill and I weaved around people. I tried to run the tangent as best as possible but also not look like I was struggling, and just make it up. The entire hill wasn’t more than .25, but it was steep. At the last turn, I high fived the local running store mascot and powered to the finish.
During my last .1 finish, I was weaving around 5kers trying to hold the next woman off. Two 5kers went to raise their hands, and cross holding hands but unfortunately one smacked me directly in the face. I looked overly dramatic but I wasn’t all that mad. I crossed in 32:46 which was a decent time for where I’m at fitness wise as well as for the course.
I’m happy with my effort on the day. I’ve only run a few courses that have racers overlap at different distances and now I’ve done it twice in a row. 5
Questions for you:
Do you like themed races?
Have you ever run in the race t-shirt?
I thought it was borderline comical when I said I might end up doing that and the number of people that thought it was “the end of the world.”