"I have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." --Thich Nhat Hanh

Monday, October 21, 2013

Runner's World Half and Festival - A Tale of Decent 5K, PR 10K and DNS Half

Runner's World magazine held their second annual Runner's World Half and Festival from October 18-20, 2013. Marathon mom and I had so much fun doing this last year that we signed up as soon as the registration was open. Last year we did the hattrick which is 5K and 10K on Saturday and a half marathon on Sunday. Of course we did that again. This would be our last real long run tune up as we start the taper for the NYC Marathon in few weeks. We were super excited to get back to Bethlehem, PA for some racing, seminars and great company. Again this year the main sponsor was Altra Zero Drop shoe company, and they surely put on a great show.

Why, yes, this expo is swell.

Bethlehem is a short car drive from where we live, so we made our way there on Friday afternoon in order to get our bibs and spend some time at the expo. This year the Expo was held inside the ArtQuest Center at the SteelStacks, which was a lot better venue than last year's parking lot tent. Vendors were decent and it was fun checking out some new products. I made my way over to the Altra booth last as I was eyeing some new shoes, especially since they had some great expo only deals! I ended up with a shiny new pair of  The One, their lightest racing shoe. All along I planned to run all three races in Altras, Instincts that I already own, but I broke the cardinal rule of racing, and decided to go with a brand new shoe, The One. PS. Great choice and an amazing shoe. Amy ended up with a nice pair of shorts as well that she used for her races.
Saturday morning we made our way to the start line around 6:30 in order to get ready for the racing ahead. Earlier that week, Thursday, while finishing my 5 mile run, I felt a sharp pain on top of my right foot. I could feel a tingle of sort there Tuesday and Wednesday as well, but I didn't think much of it. However, after my run on Thursday I was really in pain. I iced and rested on Friday, and by the time Saturday rolled around my foot was feeling better so I decided to race. Before the race we ran into our Twitter/Ultrachat friend Rebecca who was up for the weekend of racing as well. It was great to finally meet her officially in person, even though we kind of met her in February while running a very cold fatass.
Ultrachat peeps meeting
Excited for the 10K
After some pretty cool rendition of the national anthem played on a violin, we were off to start the 5K. The first mile was super slow as we dodged the crowds and tried to make our way up the field. This was solely our mistake as we started at the back of the field for some reason. 2nd and 3rd miles were much faster and we finished at a decent time for our 5K. We were not really trying to race this one that fast anyway. Call it a warm up. My foot was a bit painful after this race, but it was still doing ok and I was excited for the 10K. We had about an hour in between the races, so we hydrated, fueled and went to the bathroom one more time. This time we made a smart decision and moved up much closer to the start line. We wanted to run this race a little faster so we just took off. I was definitely feeling pretty good, and I just kept pushing the pace. Around mile 4 we met, Gary who is a US based rep for IceBug, a Swedish based shoe company. We ran with him for about a mile which chatting about IceBug, Roanoke Blue Ridge Marathon and running in general. (Amy and I were both wearing out Blue Ridge shirts for the 5K and 10K races). Gary even gave us some IceBug Buffs which should be useful with winter coming. We are definitely going to connect with him again to learn more about IceBug. It sounded very interesting. We also met his son Kai who is 13 and super fast! 6 min/mile pace kid! We left Gary around mile 5 and pushed on for the final stretch.
IceBug Crew: Gary and Kai
Happy after day 1
At some point in mile 5 I left Amy behind to finish the 10K in 50:37 which is my 10K PR! Amy arrived less than a minute later with her PR as well! We were both super excited and happy with our times.
And now back to my foot. The entire way, I was feeling this annoying pain/tingle in my foot, but it was not unbearable so I just kept going. As I started cooling down I realized that my foot was definitely hurting a lot more now - more than Thursday. Of course negative thoughts went through my head since we still had another race the next day. I decided that I would ice it through the day and hope that it would feel good by the morning time.
In the afternoon we went back to the expo for some seminars and movies. All the sessions I attended were very interesting, especially the one with Golden Harper, founder of Altra Zero Drop. Such a great guy with an interesting story. Unfortunately, his session got cut short since another session was coming and and he was having some technical difficulties to get started, but it was still worth it. I would definitely love to pick his brain at some point in time about ultrarunning in general. To end our day, we watched "In the High Country", a movie made by Joel Wolpert about Anton Krupicka. The movie itself was great, but Q&A session with Joel after the film was even better. It is a shame he didn't have DVDs ready for sale before this festival as there was a decent number of people in attendance.
Before we knew it, Sunday was upon us and the half marathon. I did not sleep well as I kept thinking about my stupid foot. I woke up and started getting ready. It was feeling ok during that point. We decided to park near the finish line, so that way we could just leave after the race. For some reason there were no shuttles this year to take people from the finish line to the start (why Runner's World, why?) so we just walked up. It was about a mile walk, perfect warm up before the race. As we were walking, my foot kept hurting more and more, just from that. I told Amy, that I was not going to race. Considering that we still have few races coming up, I decided that it would be in my best interested to rest and not cause even more damage to whatever the hell this is. Annoying! My decision was further solidified after I tried some light jogging, only to feel sharp pain. Thus, to the spectator realm I was banished. My first DNS (did not start)!
DNS for me:(
Amy was bummed as well, as we were supposed to run together. Regardless, I watched her take off, and I slowly made my way back to the car, cold, sad and annoyed. Hanging around the finish line was not too bad and next thing I knew male winner raced by and shortly after him the first femala (2nd overall). The were both from Talahasse, FL and apparently train together. Good for them. I saw our #ultrachat friend Rebecca finish strong for her PR, and shortly thereafter Amy ran by. Of course I thought she would be a minute longer, so I didn't have my camera ready. Amy finished in 1:49:16 for her half marathon PR. I was very happy and proud of her! 
She did it! Half-marathon PR!
Runner's World Half and Festival was once again fun filled weekend, regardless of my stupid foot. We had a great time hanging out with friends and meeting new people and vendors. I have already made it my mission to come back next year stronger and ready to race all three races. Thank you Runner's World (PS. Fix the shuttle issue) and Altra for great time.

Today is Monday and I am back at work. My foot is feeling ok, but not well enough to run on it. I am taking it easy this week. I am not even thinking about running and I am focusing all my positive thoughts on the healing process. There are 2 weeks before the NYC marathon and I am in good enough shape to run this bad boy even if I have to take 2 weeks off. I am hoping for quick healing and recovery.
There will be no gear used section this time as there is nothing special to report. One positive note are my new Altra shoes! Right now I will use them for NYC, but of course that is pending my recovery.

Stay tuned for more excitement as we go into the NYC marathon!

Few more pictures from the race:
Sexy is what sexy does. :-P

Representing the Blue Ridge Marathon!
Male winner - half-marathon

Female winner - half-marathon


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