At 7am we headed off to the expo for the final time. We parked and realized that bag check had been moved. This was the one snafu of the whole festival and it almost ruined my race. Katie and I speed walked around 3/4 of a mile to the start line and past it to the new baggage check. By the time we checked our bags and finished our final preparations I could hear the beginning of the announcements for the race happening on the road below us. We jogged back down to the start and made it to our corral just in time to line up. Then we were off on our final leg of an amazing journey!
Before the start
I started out at my goal pace of around 10:30 per mile. Katie and I were side by side for the first mile. We didn't say much, just focused on not doing anything to jeopardize our hat trick completion. At the end of the first mile the hills began. They wouldn't end until mile 9. I forged ahead while Katie, probably the smarter of the two of us, speed walked instead. I told myself I wanted to run the whole thing, even if it was slower than I wanted.
I don't remember much about the race. I was too focused on just keeping my legs moving and not giving in. After setting a new 5k PR just two weeks ago and a marathon PR last week and then running a 5k and 10k the day prior my legs were screaming on every incline. I told myself it just had to look like running even if I could probably walk faster. By the time mile 8 came I was really looking forward to seeing the end of the large hills.
I began trying to salvage my race and pick up the pace. As we came back into Bethlehem and I could see the SteelStacks I knew I was going to finish and I pulled the last of my reserves to try to break 2:20. As I sped to the finish line I saw Jo once again. We said hi but not much more as we tried to kick it in. My official time is listed as 2:20:07, just a few seconds slower than my goal.
I collected my medal, grabbed a Gatorade and a banana and then circled back to cheer in the remaining runners. I then headed for the gear check to collect my belongings, saying goodbyes along the way. It was hard to believe the festival was over and it was time to go. The last four days just flew by!
Katie and I after the half
There were two fire fighters that finished just ahead of me wearing their full gear. One of them was carrying an American flag and they were wearing 'In Memory Of' signs on their backs. I actually teared up because it brought back so many memories of my father and running for the IAFF Burn Fund. I had to catch them afterwards for a picture.
There was really nothing left to do except head for home. I just can't imagine how I'll ever top this weekend. Runner's World, Altra Zero Drop, Running Skirts, The Stick, Nissan, Swiftwick compression gear, and all of the sponsors, volunteers, and speakers really made this a weekend to remember!
Three For Three!