Lehigh Valley Half Marathon Report

>> Monday, April 26, 2010

Saturday's trek down to the Lehigh Valley was beautiful. No clouds. Warm temps. Even more leaves on trees and flowers out than in our area. (Which all equals horrible allergies, but I digress!) But we knew the rain was coming. So, we savored the day -- picked up our race packets for the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon and made a short stop in our new favorite town, Bethlehem, PA. Then we headed to Stephen's parents house in nearby NJ to enjoy some grilled veggie paninis and good company.

But our trip down wasn't necessarily for pleasure. Stephen and I were both on a mission to stomp our half marathon PRs. To prove that all our hard training days, sore muscles, and nights going to bed at 9PM were indeed worth it. The good news is that they indeed were so totally worth it.

Here we are at the expo . . .

This particular half marathon is extremely well organized. Tons of devoted volunteers. Lots of smiles. The only critique I have of this year's setup is that the area where we activated our chip timing was much more crowded than last year (when it was in an entirely different room). So, when we walked into the packet pickup area, it was somewhat confusing because there were a zillion lines pointing in every direction. But the confusion was short-lived. We got our stuff -- including a nice fleece vest -- and were on our way in less than 20 minutes.

Unfortunately, conditions on race day were far from ideal (but that's all relative). Those of you who live in the Northeast know all about the rain we got this weekend. And, really, I guess most of us in the US have experienced some of the wet stuff in the past week. We woke up Sunday morning at 5AM sharp to the sound of pounding rain outside. After gathering our things and packing them up (into several huge duffel bags that Stephen's parents generously offered to lug around for us), we were off and on the road at 6AM and got to the race by 7.

We parked and got ready with little trouble. But our warm-up mile was run in the cold rain. Yuck. Luckily, the heavy rain stopped before the race, giving way to a mist. We waited in the gym for a while and I got to meet my running blogger buddy Elizabeth who writes Elizathon. I found Elizabeth when I was training for the Philadelphia Marathon. I was searching for blogs about the race, and when I found hers -- I quickly discovered that she and I were following the exact same plan! Very cool. We've kept in touch since, and it was fantastic to finally meet her!!!

I personally didn't feel so great. I get super car sick, so settling my stomach before the race was difficult. I noshed on a few oatmeal dark chocolate cookies from Kashi. Stephen stretched and performed his usual pre-race rituals, and we split up when I started my own. Where I stand in line for the porta-potty, use it, get back in line, and repeat until the start of the race. That way, I ensure I'm good to go :) I'm weird, yes. But comfortable at every race!

Back to those PRs! Stephen finished in 1:18:33 (5:59 pace -- 11th place overall, 2nd in his age group) . . . and I finished in 1:46:53 (8:09 pace -- 631st place overall -- out of like 3,100 people). We both were far less sore and disoriented this year than we were last year. The course is relatively flat. It's fast. It's through some of the most gorgeous scenery in the Lehigh Valley. And the support of spectators is unmatched by most of the races we've attended. And we still love those finishing metals. We even wore them out to eat when we caught brunch with Stephen's parents and some other family after the race (get this! Stephen's uncle placed 1st in his age group at the 5K -- fast family, right?).

As you can imagine, we didn't get much cooking or baking done over the weekend. But that doesn't mean we have a drought of posts to share this week. Did anyone else race this weekend? If so, how'd you do? We'd love to hear! Or have any of you signed up for any great races lately? Again, let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at neverhomemaker@gmail.com.

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