Oh Little Town of Bethlehem (PA) – Runner’s World Grand Slam Recap!

Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Runner’s World Half and Festival as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

Here I am. Back to work on a Monday after an action packed weekend. Tight legs and a less than normal stride. I feel kinda like I just ran 26.2, because I DID RUN 26.2! I just didn’t do it the old fashioned way. I spaced it out over 3 fun-filled days at the Runner’s World Half and Festival in Bethlehem, PA. (I started this on Monday, but this one took some time since I had so much to say!)

The weekend started on Thursday (I love when that happens) with a drive up to sweet, delicious Hershey, PA. I didn’t eat a whole lot of chocolate this time, but I completed my first objective for this trip by trying the AMAZING Hershey Chocolate Porter made by Yuengling.

My hosts on Thursday, Michael and Camden (plus Lacey and Parker!) took great care of me! We went out to eat at a barbecue (bar-bq?) place and I couldn’t decide what to get, so I got EVERYTHING.

img_7258

I said my goodbyes on Friday morning and headed to the little town of Bethlehem. I arrived for packet pickup and collected my long sleeved tech shirt AND my 1/4 zip! They had socks or hats for the other race combos and I kinda wanted those too. One guy thought they were all for us, but he was quickly corrected haha.

Parking was a piece of cake. The expo was small, short and sweet. I walked through several booths with info and products (I did try the beer) and there was some pretty cool merchandise available for purchase. Altra, the main sponsor of the festival, had shoes available and at a great price! They were extremely helpful and knowledgeable people too. I was fortunate enough to speak at length with Golden Harper, the founder of Altra! His story is incredible…more about that later.

Photo
It says “trail run” and I ran it. That makes me a trail runner. 🙂

Next, I took a short shuttle to the start of the 3.8 mile trail run and hung out there for a while. Golden gave a “Trail Running 101” discussion and it was quite helpful I thought. I kept some of it in mind as I was running. There was a great combination of speedies and more casual runners out on the course. I was somewhere near the middle of the front (makes total sense, right?). Afterward there was delicious pizza and they were practically begging me to eat more! Funny side note: After that grand feast from Thursday, I didn’t eat a single meal until the pizza at around 4:00. I went full snake mode! They do say that pre-race fueling and nutrition start days before the race. 🙂

After the race I stopped by my Air BnB (it was about 1.3 miles from the festival/5k/10k/half marathon start lines) to clean up and then had the privilege of being invited to a special Happy Hour with Runner’s World folks and several other runners. The host was Altra founder Golden Harper! He told us his background and how Altra came to be. It was all very interesting to hear and I was impressed with Golden’s genuine desire to keep runners running healthy and help us to maintain the strength and shape of our feet, which are so important. I tried on some Altra Escalante Racers and loved the way they felt. I should have some coming my way soon! I made sure to let him know that I’ve been running in Altras for a long time and showed off my classic “The Ones”. 🙂

img_4248
I raced the 5k in these classics. I’ll cry when they are retired.

I finished my Friday up with a beer or two and a French Dip. I heard that’s what Eliud Kipchoge had just before breaking the 2 hour marathon.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to run both a 5k AND a 10k (5k started at 8:00, 10k at 9:30). I told myself that I had lots of running to do and that I wouldn’t go too hard. Of course, I went too hard. Mile 1 was what I had in mind at a 7:13, but the rest was run at a 6:30 pace or faster. Oopsie donkey.

At the finish, I had the typical post-race snacks. I had some water, a banana, a Honey Stinger waffle and some sort of oat bar thing. I was STEAMING and I wish I had gotten a picture. Some lady thought I was vaping haha. I was a little tight and worn out, so it was hard to envision running a 10k in an hour from then, but that’s what I did.

I gave a solid effort for the 10k, but I definitely felt like I had already raced. I did a better job of keeping in mind that I had a half marathon to run the next morning and that I likely wasn’t going to win an AG medal (the best I did was 7th AG…there were plenty of speedies around). I walked around the Steel Stacks for a while and tried to loosen up my tight, dead legs. Bethlehem steel is a huge piece of American history!

img_7248

Saturday after cleaning up, I went to a couple of seminars. One of which was about shoes and gear (of course) and the other was a crash course in the half marathon course. It was cool to get the inside scoop on the course from runners that had already tackled it. There were plenty of other seminars too, it’s a FESTIVAL after all. While those were going on, there were kids’ runs and a DOG run outside. I missed the kids, but I did check out the doggies. They were awesome.

img_7260
On the right are Golden and Jeff, sharing some wisdom. On the left…DOGGIES.

Later on, I was fortunate enough to attend the pasta dinner that was offered as an option for both runners and their friends/loved ones. It was a nice setting where regular runner types (like me) were co-mingled with various people tied to Runner’s World. I was fortunate enough to sit with some very awesome people, including Runner In Chief, Jeff Dengate. He was such a cool guy. We talked running, life, kids, getting old, and all kinds of stuff. I enjoyed hearing his story and taking in what he had to tell me about running.

Saturday evening I did the ol’ beers and baseball thing, but went to bed at a pretty reasonable time of 10:15. I just about got a full 8 hours of sleep, but all night I was bothered by a bit of a tight hamstring. I’ll admit that I was worried.

Sunday morning came and mentally I was pretty excited for another run. Physically, I felt a little sore, but I figured I’d get through it. My plan was to warm up for the first mile or two and just run by feel. I had no time goals in mind and just wanted to enjoy myself. One little side note: For the first time, I ran a distance race with no music. I didn’t bring any. That was a leap of faith of sorts, but I’m REALLY glad I chose to just listen to the sounds of the race for a change. I recommend it. 🙂

So much for just warming up…Mile 1: 7:05, Mile 2: 7:03. That was faster than I’d planned. Doubt crept in a bit. I knew there were climbs starting around mile 3 so I slowed it down. My miles through mile 9 ranged from 7:27 to 7:47. I didn’t want to blow up. Once I passed mile 9, I knew the worst of the climbing was over and I felt better (thanks, caffeine) so I kicked it in gear a little. The crowd helped too. I finished with miles of 6:56, 7:08, 6:55 and 7:08. The last tenth mile was at a 6:00 pace, cause you’ve gotta give the crowd a little somethin’.

img_7249
I was happier than I look. Fatigue was real.

I did it! I was a Grand Slammer! 26.2 miles over fun filled days. No regrets. 🙂

RW Results

All in all I was pretty happy with my overall effort. The festival was a GREAT time. The event(s) were well organized, lots of fun and so great for the running nerds in all of us. I highly recommend giving it a shot, whether you’re interested in one race, or the whole sh-bang!

Sorry for such a long review, but it WAS four runs hehe. For those of you that just scan to the bottom, here’s the quick review:

Packet Pickup/Parking: Easy.

SWAG: Awesome.

Course(s): Mostly through town, rolling hills, a few moderate climbs in the half marathon. Fairly entertaining and scenic. Awesome flat finish.

Extra-Curriculars: Plenty!

Post-Race Food: Pizza for the trail run. Typical stuff for the other races. Beer unlimited (Sam A. and Dogfish Head)

Overall: I recommend and would love to make it back. I’ll drag my friends with me next time.

img_7278
Co-workers will notice my 1/4 zip and ask me about it. Muah ha ha.

What’s next you might ask? I’m going to run for the sake of running for a while and then it’s on to the next one. I’ll post more about that soon. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 Replies to “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem (PA) – Runner’s World Grand Slam Recap!”

  1. Impressive that your paces got faster as the races got longer! I especially like that there’s a dog race, and unlimited Sam Adams + Dogfish Head ain’t too shabby either.
    A local pub here had one keg of that Yuengling Hershey beer but it kicked within a couple days. I never got to try it. Jealous!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. the whole deal looks like a lot of fun. You did really well considering you did four races back-to-back! Also, I ran my first marathon last month without music, and like you discovered that is can be alright. If the crowds are good and there are enough other runners, it’s actually better than running with music. If it’s a really small, long-distance race, I think I’ll still stick to the music 🙂 Can only listen to my own thoughts for so long.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree you’re definitely describing it as an event worth checking out! I’m going to be so torn next fall… Hershey half is a bucket list race for me, but now that I found the End of the Road half and that just sounds so intriguing I’m considering that and now this event too! And they all fall around the same time!

    Great finishing times! Sounds like your legs held up super well! I didn’t realize you typically ran with music… I must be an oddball as I rarely do and I’ve never raced with music.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: