Disclaimer: I received entry into the Runner’s World Half and Festival Grand Slam to review 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!
I really don’t know where to start with this one, but I had a great time…so enjoy the novel!
The Runner’s World Half and Festival is a weekend of events in Bethlehem, PA. There was the 3.8 mile trail run on Friday afternoon, the 5k and 10k (five and dime) on Saturday morning, and then the half marathon on Sunday. Of course, I choose to do them all, that is called the Grand Slam. Also as luck would have it the November Project had a pop up workout on Friday morning…so why not?
If you may recall, I am not a person who likes to fly. This meant Josh – yay Josh is on this trip – and I took off Wednesday evening for the car ride east. ROAD TRIP!!!
We made it to Elkhart, IN for the night. It was an easy drive, and really the most “tricky” parts were around Chicago and when we got close to Bethlehem, PA. Otherwise it was a straight shot on I-80, which has toll roads. The best thing we ever did was purchase an I-Pass, it allowed us to pay for all the tolls electronically – the entire way. (IL, IN, OH & PA)
*True story I once took a road trip to Pittsburgh and we took the toll road out, and one booth gave us change, all in dimes.
Thursday was a driving day. We even made a stop in OH to meet up with twitter friend, Tiffany. All the memories made at a roadside Wendy’s. We continued east, the western part of PA was very pretty.The leaves were in peak color,so many red and oranges.
We arrived in Bethlehem, in the early evening. We were meeting AMY!!!!! Amy is one of my #brf’s – a best running friend. We met IRL for the first time at the 2015 Blue Ridge Marathon, then again at the 2016 One City Marathon. Since then we talk everyday, so it was nice to meet up again.
Ok, so Amy was off doing some Runner’s World Influencer stuff (she’s a big deal), so we grabbed our hotel key,and took a short stroll through Bethlehem for some food. Bethlehem is also a college town, so we ended up at an Irish Pub on campus. Of course, I made sure to get some perogies and Josh ordered the pulled pork special. We topped of the night with a stop at an ice cream shop, where the kid working the place, noticed our Iowa gear, and said he had family in Iowa.
Ahh, finally reunion time with Amy!!! It was getting late and we needed to get some rest. We were going to join the November Project workout in the morning. It would start at 6:29 am at the Steel Stacks. I did have some reservations about this. I didn’t want to wake up that early, and I am just not huge with group fitness with strangers.
Fast Forward – Friday morning, just after 5am….yep, I was going to the November Project workout. I realized I would regret missing out. The hotel had a free breakfast starting at 6 am, so we grabbed some coffee and made the 10 minute walk.
It was still dark, but there were about 40 -50 people gathered around. A guy was yelling for everyone to come together, then closer and closer yet. It was nice to feel the body heat, I think it was maybe 35-40 degrees. Then the guy….ok the guy’s name is Brogan, the founder of NP.
Brogan told us to jump up and down, then we had to repeat some words and chants and shout and more jumping. Then that was done. He also told us not to cross our arms, that was negative body language. (It was cold!) Then we had to hug the people next to us…so in addition to a hug from Josh, Amy, some strangers I recognized from social media – I got to hug Bart Yasso!!
Then it was time for some more “drills.” We made a few lines, and had to do some sprints, some basketball side shuffles, some getting up off the ground (which was wet and dirty.) Our heart rates were definitely elevated. However, everyone had a smile on their face, and it was never a competition.
That part was done, and we had to raise our hands and grab 2 other people, I was standing next to Amy, and we grabbed Mike – a cool new friend. Now was time for a circuit type workout with the group. We each had to decide who would do each station (pushups, box jumps, dips, run stairs) and then see how many we could do as a group, if you weren’t doing a station you had to do a plank or wall sit. Ok, so maybe now it was getting more competitive.
Mike was not participating in any of the actual running events, so after the first round, we decided he should do the running…well that plan didn’t last long and then we were all just doing whatever. I think we ended up with around 11 rounds or something, it was fun, but I was feeling it…and in the back of my mind I knew I had 4 races to go.
There was one last round to finish off the workout. It was a lap around the stairs, starting with 5 burpees, and this was an actual race. The first 2 females would win a beer! Ha, I knew I wouldn’t win, but I just didn’t want to be last. What a work out and fun time, maybe I am a convert?
If you’re still reading you might want to get up and take a stretch break.
Josh and I walked back to the hotel and made some waffles only to get ready to go back to the expo and packet pick up at 11 AM.
We were one of the first at the packet pick up which was on the second floor of the Arts Quest building. The actual expo with vendors was on the third floor. Running the grand slam entitled us to a long sleeve tech shirt, a pair of socks, and a stocking hat. We then followed the path through the vendors grabbing samples and learning about new products.
We grabbed a quick bite at a Subway and headed back to the hotel to get ready for the afternoon trail race. What else do you eat in a new place for a 2pm race?
We were back to the Steel Stacks to catch a shuttle bus to the trail race start. We arrived during Golden Harper’s (founder of Altra shoes) speech about trail running in general which was followed by Bart’s speech about this specific trail.
We met up with fellow Bibrave Pro Chadd (Oh hey he was at the NP workout too) and we found Amy again. Chadd was running his first trail race so we made sure to listen to the speakers.
We were back loaded into the woods and all of a sudden the race was on. I am no stranger to running trails but this race was tough. I left my specific details on my Bibrave review but let’s just say there were a lot of rocks with some hills. I was also passed by Dean Karnazas.
The finish was cool and the announcers shouted my name, I even got a high-five from Bart. After I got my medal, I met back up with my friends. Also finally met PGHCityGirl!!
We (Chadd, Amy, Josh and I) got back on the shuttle into town. We decided to hang out and have some drinks and appetizers at a local bar. Talk about a great time! This is what running is all about for me, meeting all the cool people that live in my phone, sharing stories, over a beer!
Ok, maybe we stayed a little too long, we were all running the 5k and 10k the next day. So we finally called it a night, but not before stopping at Lehigh Pizza for some giant slices.
Saturday- (whew, I am already exhausted)
Another early wake up call, Josh, Amy and I stopped in the hotel lobby for a quick bite to eat, then did the daily walk to the Steel Stacks area.
This day, Chadd set up a tent and had some snacks, water and Bibrave koozies for anyone that wanted to stop by. The Bibrave banner even made it’s RW debut! Chadd’s awesome fiance watched the tent while we ran, so we were able to leave our things behind.
The 5k started at 8 am, it was a cool 45 degree morning. Amy made the decision to run both the 5k and 10k with me, I was so happy!!! I just wanted to make it through the events all weekend, and Amy wanted to race the half marathon, so I kept her slow.
The 10k started at 9:30 am. So in between the races the gang all met up back at the tent, and while the sun was up, this cooling down period was tough. However, we were all ready to go again.
If you want the race specifics, make sure to check em out at Bibrave.com
As for my morning of running with Amy – BEST TIME EVER!!! We chatted, we danced, we told Bart he had nice legs, and we gave high fives…. I know I was feeling all the hills, but running with Amy took my mind off of that. Such a fun time, I can’t encourage running a race with a friend enough!! (Remember when I ran the NFECSWI with Laura or the BTN 10K with Heather and Kelly?) Run with a friend!
When we had grabbed all the post race food a second time – OMG Godiva bars! -ok getting sidetracked by chocolate…we all met back up at the tent, hoping to meet anyone from twitter. A few people stopped by to grab a koozie, even social media pal Dane! Also, I would like to mention Chadd’s sister, Tiffany, who was hanging at the tent with her family, she ran her first 10k! So great to see people accomplish their goals!
The day was getting away from us, and Chadd had to be on his way, so the tent came down. It was now time to switch gears…. Amy needed a nap, while Josh and I needed food and to watch the Hawkeye football game.
The Hawkeyes were playing Purdue and had a solid lead going into the second half. Josh and I walked back to the sports bar we found Thursday night to watch the game. I only mention this as I want to share with you that I ordered the perogie burger. OMG!!! Mashed potatoes on a pretzel bun, I was in carb heaven! We wrapped up at the bar, and came back to the hotel, and saw the Hawkeyes eventually win, then it was time for a nap of our own.
It was then time to make the decision of what to eat for supper – yep that is what we call it here in Iowa. The race was hosting a pasta dinner, but it was over $30 per person. There would be speakers, and in addition to pasta they were featuring recipes from “Eat Slow, Run Fast” Decisions – Decisions?!?!? Amy was going to the pasta party….but we decided to actually go check out Bethlehem a bit, since we were there and all.
We used the magic of google and found this fun Italian restaurant. The place was packed, but some how we only waited like 5-10 minutes for a seat. They brought complimentary garlic knots to us. Josh ordered a baked pasta dish, and I ordered what I thought was plain pasta noodles with fresh tomatoes and basil. However the tomato part was more like a sauce… I survived by just picking out the noodles. We were downing the water, but thought we needed to cap off the evening with dessert – mostly because Josh saw canoli on the menu. I opted for a fancy lemon sorbet.
We still had some time to check out the local running store across the street. Actually we both wanted to know what Team Vark was all about, as we had seen them on the race course. It was actually members of the Aardvark Sports Store. They have an aardvark as a mascot. When we arrived it was close to closing time, but they didn’t rush us out the door. Instead they encouraged us to grab a bottle of water, granola bar and banana they had set up for the runners. What a fun store!! We browsed around, but didn’t want to keep them. That reminds me, I need to order a shirt.
We called it a night, even though we caught a nap, the weekend was catching up with us, we needed more sleep! It would be another early wake up call.
SUNDAY – Wakey Wakey, time to racey! Actually we set 3 phone alarms, LOL.
It was time to cap off the grand slam with the half marathon. After our hotel breakfast, Amy led us to the start, even though it was near the Steel Stacks, it was in a little different area. I don’t know why we listened to her, I think we walked a mile or so…guess we were warmed up.
We arrived in time to give Bibrave co-founder and Runner’s World managing director, Jessica, a hug, she was going to sing the National Anthem, and then run the race.
Amy, Josh and I all split to line up in the respective pace corral. Even said hi to Dane again!
If you want all the race specifics check out my bibrave.com review .
Ahh, what a race, all the hills! and I was tired in all sense of the word. I wasn’t sure how I would do, but I made a choice early on to stick with the 2:20 pace group. I did stick with them until mile 10. It was a strange pace group as I heard rumblings that the pace was off from other runners. She was trying to stick with 10:30 mins, but I rarely look at my watch I wasn’t keeping track. At mile 10 after running all the hills, I felt good enough to push it a little more, so I ditched the group. At mile 11 ish, Eminem’s “Til I Collapse” came on my playlist and I turned on the jets. I finished with a time around 2:16.I did look at my overall stats (on Strava) and the mile splits were all over the place, never a constant 10:30. It would go 10,10:40, 10:20, then 10 again, however my last 2 miles were 9:32 and 9:07, so BAM! on tired legs too!! I was happy! and a week after a marathon!
*I am also noting the aid stations had Ultima electrolyte drink, it’s all I had during the race for additional calories, I ran this race without actually eating anything*
The post race for this event was the place to be!! In addition to the food and craft beer, the cover band was rockin!!! I went immediately to the beer area (duh), where I thought I would find Amy…but no? I did see Dane again and another twitter person…then finally Amy appeared, and we danced and had a fun time. Josh showed up later, he was cheering in the finisher’s with Jessica.
It was time to leave, and we saw Chadd again, so we snapped one last group photo, and it really meant the weekend of fun was coming to an end.
The packing up of all the things was not fun. However, between Amy and Chadd, we were packing up some PA beers to bring home, while we brought them some IA brews.
It was time to say “see you later” to Amy. It was sad, we had sooooo much fun! However, I can’t wait to see her later in Florida at the Key West Half…not sure if we can stay out of trouble.
Josh and I were on our way back home, shortly after 12:30…oh wait 1pm… the entire time we were staying in a hotel less than one block from a Dunkin Donuts…of course we had to grab a donut and some coffee.
This section of the ride home was uneventful, more looking at leaves and just driving and stopping to stretch. We eventually called it a night in Elkhart, IN again.Which was a good thing, we met fellow Bibrave Pro, Mark. We had worked out a banner hand off, as he was running the Urban Bourbon race for Bibrave the following weekend.We really only hung out for 5 minutes, but so nice to say hi!
The next day – Monday already…we woke up early, snagged some food at the hotel, but didn’t grab any coffee, as we knew there was an oasis on the tollway in a few miles with a Starbucks. We stopped and they were closed! Instead of waiting another 20 minutes, we got back on the road…it’s wasn’t for along time before we actually found some coffee. We also picked up a rock chip in the windshield.
Luckily, those were the only events of the road trip. We made it back to the Iowa City area around 10:30 am. Enough time for me to squeeze in a recovery run (ouch) but it’s what the training plan called for, and then get to work.
These kind of weekends are what I live for. As someone who runs a ton of races, the events where I get to hang out with friends are the best. It’s not about racing your best time, it’s about sharing your passion with others. Thanks to Bibrave for this opportunity, I hope to get back to this event, I really felt I belong in the running community.