Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Runner's World Half Festival 2015: A PR in Fun!

After I completed the Hat Trick at the Runner's World Half Festival last year, I knew I would love to come back to this race weekend again. Not only was it a great opportunity to participate in a race weekend close to home, but I also met up with some friends and last year even achieved a PR (personal record time) in the Half Marathon.

     As this year's race weekend was approaching (Oct.16-18), I knew that my training would not produce any PR's.  After the New Jersey Marathon in April of this year when I was able to achieve a big PR and Boston Qualifying time, I took a step back in my training, running for fitness and stress relief, but with no big goals in mind.  The hot, humid summer made it difficult to run with any quantity or quality.  Still, I did a few double digit long runs and knew that I would at least be able to finish the distance of a half marathon on October.  The one PR I think I set this year was a PR in Fun!
      So, this will be a quick summary of the race weekend, with some photos to tell the story.  The photos were offered for FREE after the race, which was an added bonus.
     I registered for the Hat Trick again ( 5k and 10k on Saturday, 1/2 marathon on Sunday).  There was also a trail run added on Friday afternoon, at a distance of 3.8 miles, which would bring the total mileage for the weekend at 26.2.  This was just irresistible to me, so I added that to my itinerary.
     The trail run was at South Mountain Park. It was a ton of fun, and a very challenging course. Rocky and hilly terrain with a single track for most of it caused me to slow it down. I finished in 45 minutes. There was pizza at the end, and a swag bag with an REI Kleen Kanteen. It was definitely worth the effort to get there on Friday for the trail race. I even ran into two Oiselle teammates- Lisa and Shannon.
    Friday night I had planned an Oiselle Team meetup with a few of the ladies from the local area.  We met at Bethlehem Brew Works for a nice dinner and yummy beer, of course.
After dinner at Bethlehem Brew Works: Katie, Shannon, me and Tiff 
    I checked in to the Sands Casino Hotel for the weekend, and was happy to reunite with my Another Mother Runner Ragnar Relay friend Nikki. Nikki is from Pittsburgh, and had been on Dimity's team. It was great sharing a room with her and getting to know her better. We also met up with Joan who had also been on Dimity's team. She had traveled from Virginia with her family.  I love AMR reunions!!
Fun times with NIkki and Joan
    Saturday morning was the 5k and 10k races.  Staying at the Sands was so great, because we were within walking distance of the race start.  We also were able to stay warm in the Arts Quest building before the race started.  Both these races went well for me. Again, no PR's, but I was able to put in some solid effort given the hilly courses and pushing the pace at the end, finishing strong.
Finishing strong 
     After getting a quick shower in, and grabbing lunch, we headed over to the Arts Quest building for some great free seminars.  This is one of my favorite parts of this race weekend.  I love attending the seminars, gaining new information and interacting with other runners.  I attended Jordan Metzl's "Getting the Most from you Machine: Secrets to Strong, Injury-Free Running", "The Female Running Body Through the Years", Liz Applegate's "Performance Nutrition", and the best of all, "A Conversation with Deena Kastor", hosted by David Willey.  I absolutely loved hearing Deena's perspective on her running career, balancing racing and family life, and some of her mental strategies in life and in her running career. Her positive attitude is so infectious.  It is no surprise to me that she has had such a successful career.  What a pleasure it was for me to have a chance to meet her in person.  We had a nice chat about Oiselle and masters running, and she was nice enough to pose for a photo with me.
This was a highlight of the weekend. Deena is fantastic!!

     The fun on Saturday continued with Happy Hour with the Editors of Runner's World, followed by dinner.  I also met Gene Gurkoff from CharityMiles.  I have been logging miles for Charity Miles for the last 2 years, and I really love this organization.
Meeting David Willey at the Happy Hour
     The last event of the weekend was the 1/2 Marathon on Sunday.  It was a chilly morning, 32 degrees- brrrrrrr.   Again, staying at the Sands was fantastic. Nikki and I were able to walk out to the race start 10 minutes before and jump into the starting corral.  My plan was to start out nice and slow and pick up the pace as much as I could in the second half.  The first 8 miles of this race are challenging, with some decent hills.  I was able to average a 9 min pace during the race, which I am happy about. This included a "skirt" stop between mile 4 and 5.  Aardvark Sports Shop had a water stop, and were handing out Running Skirts. They had done the same thing last year, but since I was gunning for a PR in that race, I didn't stop.  This year I knew that I wanted to stop.  I was able to snag a really cute skirt, although in the photos it was riding up a bit and didn't look quite as flattering over my Roga shorts.  I will definitely wear my Stride shorts under the skirt the next time!
Photo credit goes to Joan - thanks!
     I finished the 1/2 marathon in just under 2 hours, 1:59.  I met up with Nikki who finished a few minutes before me, and we enjoyed a beer before heading back to the hotel for a nice warm shower.
     It was a fun-filled weekend, with some happy miles thrown in. I've already registered for next year- The Hat Trick plus the Trail Run, which is now dubbed the "Grand Slam".  If you want to join me, register here.

Thank you Runner's World for a Great Weekend!!