I woke up Sunday morning with really sore quads. I did a test jog down the hotel hallway and was really feeling it. I had pushed in 3 races already and now had 13.1 miles to go! I briefly considered pulling out of the race, but as we walked down to breakfast and then the 1 mile walk to the start, my legs got warmed up and felt better.
It was cold! I had a throw away sweatshirt that I kept on until the start of the race. I also ran in throw away gloves that I picked up at the expo. Gear check was convenient all weekend so I left my extra pants and a warm sweatshirt for afterwards in the gear bag.
Susan and I decided to take it nice and easy. We lined up with the 8:30 pacers and our first mile was right around 9:00 minute pace. It felt so good to ease in and have no goals for this race.
The half was another beautiful Bethlehem course. According to the course description, there were 3 significant hills- mile 3, mile 5 and mile 7. Beyond that point, it was considered relatively flat so we decided to keep it conservative until the half way mark and then pick up the pace if we felt good.
Of course, the energy of the race and the crowds pulled us along and we were soon running an 8:00-8:15 pace. Except for the hills, of course. Those hills were no joke! And remember my tired legs? I even walked one portion of the last hill at mile 7- my legs were so done.
But as soon as the course leveled out I felt great and we sped up a little more for the second half, running most of it around a 7:30 pace.
The sun came out and I began shedding layers, tying my jacket around my waist and holding my hat in my hands. Runner’s World gifted us with an awesome fleece hat that I did not want to toss!
The last 1-2 miles of each race was the same. It was somehow comforting to head across the bridge and see the smoke stacks in the distance and know exactly what to expect.
And the weird thing was that I felt good! I thought I would be completely spent by the end of these 4 races but the pace was just right- I was pushing enough for it to feel challenging, but not so much that I was miserable. I really enjoyed the course, the volunteers, the high fives and the pretty fall scenery.
My final time: 1:46 (8:04 pace)
And I just learned this week that Altra sponsored the photography so we got free race pics!! Another reason to run this race next year if you’re considering it!
While we’re at it, here are some of the decent pics from the 5k and 10k…
Golden (Altra founder) coached us around keeping our arms back and up, but clearly my form still needs a lot of work!!
Throughout the entire weekend, I was amazed at what my body was capable of and how good it felt. The Grand Slam is tough!! But in race after race my body kept showing up, ready to run. It was a blast.
I came away motivated to chase another running goal and ready to take running a little more seriously again after this break since the Boston marathon. The running community and RW experience was so good for my running spirit!
So what’s next?
I’m considering one more fall half marathon. After running just seconds off my pr at the Maine half, I know I have a better time in me! I’m looking at the Philly half in November, but I’ll take suggestions for anything else in the northeast. Ideas?
For the spring, I’m also excited to keep chipping away at the half and get closer to 1:32 and, someday, 1:30. I’m not ready to dive into a marathon training cycle- the 5k and half are really fun projects for me right now.
A huge thank you again to everyone at Runner’s World for the opportunity to be up close to all the action this weekend and for this amazing experience! I am proud to be part of the running community. And I fell in love with running all over again.
Have you had running experiences that made you fall in love with running all over again?
What other fall half marathons should I consider?