Last Updated on March 13, 2022 by Heather Hart, ACSM EP, CSCS
Previously, on Relentless Forward Commotion (said in my best soap opera narrator voice): I sort of unexpectedly raced a difficult 3.8 mile trail run, coming in just shy (by one place) of an overall podium spot.
Now that you’re up to date… (also I feel as though I have to warn you, nothing about these recaps is short. I don’t know how my Runner’s World influencer counterparts do it. See? I just added 27 words alone right there. So many of my freelance gigs limit my words, so this is my outlet. You’ve been warned.)
After the race we headed back to the Arts Quest building to check out the expo and pick up our race bibs for the rest of the weekend. Our first stop, however, had to be for a beer. Yes, as if the Runner’s World Half & Festival weekend could not get ANY better, they were serving beer AT the expo. I, feeling like I earned a treat for my near win (close enough) chose a Grand Hoppa Double IPA from Stegmaier Brewing Company right there in PA. At 8.9% ABV this of course went straight to my head, making the expo interesting, to say the least.
Anyway, we picked up our Hat Trick swag (a very nice gender specific Headsweats polar fleece hat, gender specific long sleeve tech tee, Balega socks, and of course, the race bib) and hit up the expo for race day necessities, such as Clif Shot Bloks and a sports bra. Yes, that’s right. I forgot to pack sports bras for a 4 day running vacation.
Dinner the night before the race was at a local pub that served AMAZING $5 Stromboli and calzones and $3 pints. I mentioned in my first post that Bethlehem was full of good food and beer, and I wasn’t kidding. I chose a vegetable calzone and a pint of Dogfish 90 minute IPA. Where on earth do you ever see that beer for $3 a pint? Too good to turn down.
RACE DAY MORNING we woke up bright and early. Jen wanted Dunkin Donuts coffee, so I accompanied her for the 1/10th of a mile walk to the DD & back. You can take a girl out of New England, but you can’t take away her Dunkins. I’m not a coffee drinker, but I certainly bellied up to the counter for my breakfast of champions: a chocolate frosted sprinkle covered donut.
If you are keeping track, you now know that I fuel on beer, cheese, carbs, and donuts. I am not ashamed. I am just rungry. Always, always rungry.
After polishing off our breakfast, a group of us ran down to the start line, which was about 0.6 miles from our hotel. With plenty of time to spare, we checked our bags and hung out in the warm building next to the Steel Stacks (which also had PLENTY of restrooms. Killer move, Runner’s World!)
The Five & Dime challenge included a 5K that started at 8:00 am, and a 10K that started at 9:39 am. My goal for either of the races was to simply run them. In fact, wanting to get in some distance, as I’ve got this crazy 24 hour race coming up, I decided I’d keep running between the two races, hoping to get in 12 or 13 miles total for the morning.
The 5K started, and though I tried to not get caught up in the crowd…I did. I started the race with Jen and Susan. Susan, though she claims to not currently be in great shape, is fast. Like, really, really faaaaaast. And I was feeling really, really good (it must have been the donut), so I ran by her side.
As we took a turn about a half mile in and headed up the bridge over the river, I suddenly remembered (from two years ago) “oh yeah, this is a hilly course…”. But, three miles is only three miles (oh, how far I’ve come…) so I sucked it up and held a decent pace…
…which somehow kept getting faster and faster.
Around mile 2.5 I lost Jen, and Susan really turned on burners. I made some sort of comment like “I guess there goes my plan of ‘not’ racing” to which she casually replied “ehh, we’re almost finished”. And that competitive little wench that lives inside of my head and cannot leave well enough alone turned on HER burners as well. Pretty sure the last mile was my fastest mile.
24:25 finish time. Certainly far from my PR, but also pretty far from “taking it easy” with a 7:51 average.
I grabbed my medal then turned around to wait for Jen to cross the finish line, just a few seconds behind me. We got some water, and then immediately hopped on the Men’s Health Urbanathlon mini course, because you never turn down an “over/under/through” when you see one. That’s like, rule #1 of obstacle course racing.
Shenanigans over, I bid farewell to my blogging counterparts and took off for a solo run. I took off my bib and pinned it to the inside of the shirt, I figured it was better to do that than to explain to volunteers and police officers that no, I was not lost, and yes, I had already finished the course. I ran a few out and backs, circles, and a few more out and backs, probably thoroughly confusing a few parking attendants, until I had racked up another 4 miles. There was nothing really exciting about this little run, other than the fact that my legs were already starting to feel fatigued from that accidental too fast 5K AND the trail race the night before.
With just enough time to hit up the rest room, I found my friends and lined back up for the 10K.
“THIS TIME”, I told Jen “I’m NOT RACING!” And I stuck to my word.
But mostly because he 10K was Hilly. Capital H Hilly. Jen and I trucked along pushing up all of the hills, and flying down the descents. At one point, maybe around 4 miles, we ran into Amy who told us that the worst was over, and it was “all downhill from here”. I would hear that phrase numerous times over the next 24 hours, and each time it would be a lie.
Bethlehem PA is almost all uphill, don’t believe what anyone tells you.
But, despite the inclines, the town itself was GORGEOUS. There was a ton of crowd support and so many beautiful buildings and brightly colored leaves to look at. Before we knew it, we were crossing back over the bridge to finish the 10K on the same last stretch that we finished the 5K.
Ignore the look on my face below, the finish line was unbelievable, for all three races. Bart and Walt were on the microphone, cheering in runners and high fiving anyone who would veer to the right side of the corral to visit them. There were HUNDREDS of spectators out cheering. It was an incredible atmosphere.
53:26 (8:35/mile). Not my fastest 10K , but considering my legs were currently actually finishing 13.44 miles, I was content with my pace on that hilly course. And between the 5K, my own 4 miles, and the 10K , I came in with a 1:50 total for my unofficial half marathon. I will take it.
We stuck around to cheer in some more friends, as well as watch the doggie dash.
I also ran into some very old friends from what feels like TWO lifetimes ago who had come out to race the Five & Dime. It’s always pretty trippy to run into people that I knew looooong before I was a runner. (It was good to see you Lea & Dan!)
Then of course, it was beer and pizza time. A slice from Lehigh Pizza and an IPA from local brewer Saucony Creek Brewing (not to be confused with the shoes). Carb loading at it’s finest, for we had a half marathon left to run…
(stay tuned for the half report tomorrow!)
Heather Hart is an ACSM certified Exercise Physiologist, NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), UESCA certified Ultrarunning Coach, RRCA certified Running Coach, co-founder of Hart Strength and Endurance Coaching, and creator of this site, Relentless Forward Commotion. She is a mom of two teen boys, and has been running and racing distances of 5K to 100+ miles for over a decade. Heather has been writing and encouraging others to find a love for fitness and movement since 2009.