About a month after coming back from Massachusetts, we headed right back to the east coast to race in Pennsylvania at the Runner's World Half and Festival in Bethlehem, PA!
We headed into New Jersey one evening to have dinner with and meet a Rett family. I had met Tarah at both Disney races that I ran with Girl Power 2 Cure, and I had ran for her daughter Julia during Ragnar SoCal as part of Team Sparkle where we ran for GP2C and raised about $50,000 for Rett research! I couldn't pass up the chance to see her again and meet her daughters!
After dinner, Thayne and I went to a nearby movie theatre to catch a flick. We had spent the day seeing the sights in Philly, so it was nice to rest the legs for the evening before driving to Bethleman the next day.
Once we arrived in Bethlehem we headed to the expo, which was at an old steel mill. This was really neat! There were tours we could have taken, but we opted to stay off our feet. I knew this was a really challenging race in regards to hills (because we drove the course) so I wanted to stay off my feet as much as possible! The expo was fairly small, but was multiple stories in one of the buildings at the steel mill. I did try out some new Altra running shoes (which I had been running in on and off for about two years already) and ended up purchasing the newest version of the shoe.
Before the race I decided to keep the running for Rett Syndrome going. Most races since Florida I've worn a tank having to do with GP2C or Rett Syndrome. In Pennsylvania I decided to dedicate each mile to a girl with Rett. I had posted on Facebook and many families asked I run for their daughter immediately. I wrote their names on my legs so that I could read them and draw strength whenever I needed. Again, I knew going in that this would be a challenging course, so having the extra reason for running definitely helped keep me going.
Race morning showed up cold! The sun was shining and there wasn't much wind though, so I knew we'd warm up quickly once we started running. I lined up and shed my throw-away clothes and got ready to go! Deena Kastor was there and she actually started the race for us! I wish I could have met her and had the chance to pick her brain. She's a seriously amazing woman.
The race started and we took off! Because of the way the course was, Thayne wouldn't be seeing me until I was coming across the finish line. The course started with a slight downhill the first mile to a bridge to cross over the river. Quite a bit of the course was through residential area with few spectators.
We climbed a few big hills to get up to a beautiful park about half way through the race. Since this race was in October, the fall colors were absolutely beautiful! The park was completely wooded and helped to take my mind off of all the hills.
My legs were really feeling it by mid way through the race. I knew at this point that it would be about survival and finishing. I was struggling hard and had to draw on the strength of the girls' names written on my legs. It was fitting that the race was challenging because they go through so many challenges every day.
Once we hit mile 9 I knew we had quite a bit of downhill to get back to the Steel Mill. I was able to regroup and pick it up from there! I saw Thayne with about 3/4 mile to go and knew then we only had another few turns to get back to the middle of the steel mill where the finish line was located.
No matter how bad you're hurting, it's possible to find that next gear to get to the finish line just a little bit faster. Sometimes you're motivated just by getting the race completed.
Even though the race didn't go as planned, I had a great time on our trip. There's always something to be learned from every race, and I knew trying to push myself hard twice in about a month's time was going to be a challenge. Not every race can be perfect.
I ended this race in 1:44:32 (7:58 pace). The hills definitely slowed me down... there aren't many hills where I live! My time brought me to 14th in my age group and the 71st woman overall.
After the race we headed back to our hotel to get warm. We drove back to Philly and spent the rest of the day eating delicious Mexican food and doing a bit more sight-seeing.
Regardless, Pennsylvania was completed and I now have a few months to recover and prep for the next race. I can't wait to see what's to come!
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