Once I had my car packed, I drove to the ArtsQuest Center, got a great parking place very close to the finish, laid around in my car for a little while, then headed toward the warm, indoor toilets. On the way, I snapped a couple photos of the steelstacks. They were an inspiring sight both mornings.
|Bethlehem has turned these behemoths into something beautiful to behold.|
Fortunately, as I was getting ready to head to the starting line, a fellow runner struck up a conversation with me that continued until we got to the starting line and went our separate ways. We bonded over a shared admiration for Andy Potts.
|I love watching people at start lines. Listening to them is even more entertaining.|
|Can't help myself with the photos of giant groups of runners.|
A mile on my own along mostly flat roads and I made a new friend. Her name was Jennifer. We stuck together until we got to the steepest hill on the course. The carrot drawing me on was the promise of a free running skirt at the top. Alas, they ran out before I arrived. (Goal for next year: Run fast enough to get a skirt.)
Just past the skirts, we reached the halfway point and that's when I knew I was going to finish. Though I hadn't been dwelling on the idea of not finishing, it seemed like a possibility until I hit the midpoint with plenty of time to spare. Interestingly, my 10k split during the half was 2 minutes faster than my 10k race time.
There weren't many runners around me and spectators were thin on the ground, so I took in the sights around me, thanked the course marshals and police officers keeping traffic at bay, and semi-jogged through the beautiful city of Bethlehem.
Beginning around mile 8, every course marshal told me "It's all downhill from here." Knowing there was a hill in the last mile and able to look over their shoulders to visible, upcoming hills, I smiled, thanked them, and said, "That's what everyone keeps telling me."
|I was looking at this hill as the first person that day told me, "It's all downhill from here."|
I walked most of the last 5 miles of the course. At mile 11, the walking ladies from the 10k passed me again. At mile 11.5, I congratulated a little boy who rode his bike up a giant hill that I had the pleasure of running down. From mile 12 on, I dodged all of the people who'd already finished and weren't sticking around for the awards. There were a lot of encouraging words from those walking toward me but it was still a bit of a bummer to have to watch them head out.
When the finishing arch finally came into sight, I started the fastest jog I could manage and finished on the run with 12 minutes to spare - official time: 3:17:39. As soon as I got my medal a photographer stopped me for a photo op. I got out my 5k and 10k medals and hung them around my neck, too.
Before long, I was at my car with a bag full of treats that the Larabars rep was trying to get rid of, compression socks on my tired legs, a half full pizza box in the passenger seat, and my GPS set to Lancaster and then home, and the right to wear the hat that says I finished the 2013 Hat Trick.
|As usual, Mogli had to get in on the picture-taking action. Those are his medals, right?|