I Got (Steel) Stacked in Bethlehem and it Was Awesome

Housekeeping 1: Congratulations to Annette, winner of the amazing glow-in-the-dark New Balance jacket! Thanks to all who entered. Housekeeping 2: I just HAPPILY completed a $50 donation to The One Fund for Boston. $30 for your comments on this post and $20 because every penny counts. ###

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Normally, this is where I’d give you my standard disclosure. That Runner’s World invited me on an all expenses-paid, swagtastic, race entry comp’d blogging extravaganza and that all opinions are my own. That’s all true (and you can read my full disclosure policy right here) but it’s just not enough. Here’s how I really feel.

What I do — write, take pictures, share details of my life — is work but it’s the type of job I wake up every single day excited to do. The benefits are pretty fantastic. I get to know so many incredible people, I have access and invitations to the world’s best events and opportunities and I’m given STUFF. Lots of it. I get to do and see things that just aren’t available to everyone, and I don’t forget for a single second how lucky that makes me. It’s my privilege to take advantage of these opportunities — and I hope, to pay it forward. I honestly want to bring YOU along with me, if not in person, then through photos and words and experiences. And in each one of those…every picture, every tweet, every post…I hope you sense my extreme gratitude for not only the sponsors and organizations that for some reason see me as a valuable member of the team, but for YOU, my beloved readers. I live a charmed existence, for sure, and it never fails to make me emotional when I think of how blessed I feel. This weekend, in particular, shocked my system in the best way. From the Runner’s World staff and editors to the volunteers to the passionate sponsors who seemed truly excited to meet and work with us, this weekend affected me deeply. Thank you is not enough, but I hope that by saying it over and over, you know how thankful and gracious I feel to be able to do this work.

OK, on to the weekend that replenished my heart and soul in a way I didn’t know I needed so desperately.

running bloggers group shot

I met some incredible people, discovered some really amazing products, hung out with some of the most inspirational people I’ve ever met and figured since I got a couple of awards (finisher medals for the 5K and the 10K), I should give some virtual awards out myself.

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So, for…

  • …HILLIEST RACE COURSE IN MY HISTORY: Bethlehem, PA

I thought Clearwater had hills? Or Clermont? DUDES. You warned me, and you were right. Even the 5K course challenged me on the up and downhill sections. Beautiful, beyond words. From the leaves that had just started to change color to the incredible finish along the steel stacks, Bethlehem exceeded my expectations. But boy, did my lower back and hamstrings hurt on Saturday morning. Also, it was cold.

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I didn’t stick around for the half marathon on Sunday, but from what I understand, that one was hilly too.

  • …BEST PACER EVER: Jamie

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My friend Jamie is fast. Like, BQ fast. But she is also one of the kindest and sweetest people I know. At my very first 5K ever, she finished way before me, but then came back for the last quarter mile to cheer me on. I have never forgotten that. So when she asked to run with me for both races on Saturday, I couldn’t believe it. She was not racing, just needed the mileage, and it was such a treat to talk to her (and while I didn’t push nearly as hard as I could have, she definitely kept my spirits up for the entire course). Plus, we made pretty cute cover girls.

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  • …FUNNIEST TRAVEL EXPERIENCE: “Candy” at the coffee shop

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I traveled through Charlotte on my way to Allentown, and I was shocked to hear thick, southern accents at the airport. I honestly couldn’t understand the barista (he was very nice, though!) and apparently the feeling was mutual. In North Carolina, just call me “Candy.”

  • …AWESOME ROOMMATE WHO IGNORES THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Theodora

Nothing like the roar of a breast pump to make conversation a little awkward, huh? Theodora, one of my favorite people in the world, was kind enough to let me whip my boobs out and pump when I needed to, and didn’t even blush (much).

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I also could have and maybe should have given her the award for best hotel sommelier.

A little hotel room wine with @theodorable... #bestroomieever ??#?1?

  • …MOST ECLECTIC GROUP OF BLOGGERS: Us

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Mushy time! The bloggers on this trip were a fascinatingly mixed crowd. Some blog full-time, some are hobby bloggers. Some run FAST and some less so. But we all had a blast and I think — hope — appreciated how amazing this opportunity was.

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In our group: http://carrotsncake.com/ http://www.hungryrunnergirl.com/ http://skinnyrunner.com/ http://www.eatingbirdfood.com http://www.runeatrepeat.com http://losingweightinthecity.com http://katywidrick.com http://www.sweetlifeericka.com/ http://relentlessforwardcommotion.com http://www.irunnerblog.com/ http://racepacejess.com http://enthusiasticrunner.com/ http://www.runningbun.com/ http://dietitianontherun.com/ http://www.susanruns.com http://www.runningbecauseican.com/ http://www.fairytalesandfitness.com http://JanetOber.com http://runninglovingliving.com http://www.running4two.com plus the very welcome event-crasher http://stuftmama.com/

  • …MOST INSPIRATIONAL COMMUTE-TO-WORK PROGRAM: Runner’s World

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Bart Yasso took us on a tour of Runner’s World HQ, which had all sorts of interesting nooks and crannies. But the one that had me gasping most was the room full of bikes — because so many of their employees ride to work. (Dear Santa…)

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Honestly, what a cool company. I didn’t meet one employee who didn’t smile, talk passionately about his/her job or truly care about telling good stories. And they were awestruck by us? Crazy. I absolutely believe they work hard and have stressful jobs, but darn if they don’t make Rodale a pretty inspirational place.

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  • …BEST CONFERENCE FOOD: Runner’s World

Hello, lovelies... #rwhalf

Local. Organic. Vegetarian-friendly. I was not kidding when I assigned the Mushroom Tacos al Pastor a place in the Top 5 Meals Ever list. Even carnivores at my table were blown away.

I. Love. Cheese. We had mushroom tacos for lunch at #rwhalf and honestly...top 5 meals ever.

Farro. Black bean cupcakes. Kale-almond pesto. YUM. YUM. YUM. Most of the meals we were served were out of the Runner’s World Cookbook (not an affiliate link) — and I liked it so much I bought Jamie a copy (we all got one free but I was not about to give mine up!).

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  • …COOLEST NAME BACKED UP BY THE COOLEST STORY: Golden Harper

Golden is…well, a character. A speedy runner (2:44 marathon at age 12) who now does ultra distances, Golden is also kind of Dr. Running Technique. He started pulling his running shoes apart as a kid, even putting them in the toaster to better manipulate things and that eventually led him to start his own company — Altra. Believe me this: I have tried a lot of shoes and met a lot of great brand ambassadors, but Altra has stolen my heart. I really believe in what he taught us about the power of zero drop design. (I’m still running in different brands — Altra for triathlon, Saucony for middle and long distances and New Balance for long distance and cross-training. It depends a lot on what I’m hoping to achieve.)

  • …BEST LEGS IN A RUNNING SKIRT: Bart Yasso

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I mean…does it get better than running beside Bart Yasso while we all wear running skirts? Take a look at the video that Running Skirts put together:

By the way, his legs looked pretty good in jeans, too.

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  • …FUNNIEST SCAVENGER HUNT PARTNER: Heather

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Heather from Relentless Forward Commotion was one of the only bloggers who had arrived when I got to the hotel, so we hung out … and talked about EVERYTHING. Motherhood. Running. New England. Then, we tackled the absolutely amazing 30-item scavenger hunt that Runner’s World had set up for us.

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She and I may have been among the most competitive in the group, but having her beside me as we tried to find some crazy things was pretty awesome.

  • …CRAZIEST/COOLEST SWAG: see below

We got the hookup, and I’m still trying to pick my jaw off the ground.

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Sponsors who gave us their items or special support included: Altra (shoes!) Running Skirts (skirts! or in my case, sleeves!) Ortholite (shoe inserts!) Icon Fitness (yoga mat! yoga bag! yoga block! a resistance band! a foam roller!) Bondi Band (headband!) Injinji (toe socks! a hat!) PRO Compression (compression socks!) SPIBelt (a belt!) The Stick (a stick!) Wild Planet (tuna!) Belvita (breakfast treats!) Deer Park Water (Nestle) (water!) Run Donna (an iPhone cover!) Bermuda Marathon (information and a coupon!) The yoga tote, by the way, is pretty awesome. It has a built-in spot for a yoga mat and is so big that I actually put my original carry-on bag INSIDE it for the plane (too cheap to check a bag unless I have to). It’s only $20 at Wal-Mart (http://www.walmart.com/ip/Lotus-Deluxe-Yoga-Tote/27396058).

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  • …CELEBRITY WHO PRETENDED IT WASN’T WEIRD WHEN I FAN-GIRL GUSHED ALL OVER HER/HIM: tie for Summer Sanders and Dave McGillivray

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I’m sorry but I’m not sorry at how crazy I went when I met Summer Sanders. I had her poster on my wall when I was a young swimmer. I loved the most recent article about her in Runner’s World. And when she walked in, she amazed me even more with her genuine EXCITEMENT to meet us!

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The PR team had to basically force me to move away after Summer gave me an autograph. WORTH IT.

Aaaaaand, day made.

But truly, the man who inspired me most this weekend was Dave McGillivray. Among many, many other things, he’s the Race Director for the Boston Marathon.

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I bought a copy of his book right after his presentation and read it cover to cover on the plane.

Plane reading. #rwhalf

  • …BEST BREAKFAST FOR UNDER $10: William’s Family Diner

But what will the other #rwhalf runners eat? #allforme

On Saturday, with 15K behind us, a group of us went in search of pancakes. And we found it. Running Bun has a baby bun on board, so she ordered extra cheese fries and I ordered plate of corn fritters…in addition to everything else. And yet with tip, it still only ended up being about $13 per person.

  • …MOST PATIENT AT-HOME SUPPORT STAFF: Lucas and Audrey

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Gotta get mushy again. I could not have left my 1-year-old for nearly four days if I did not have their love and support. Lucas, by the way, already asked when I can leave again so they can have another daddy-daughter adventure. They even sent me photos and Facetimes through the weekend letting me know that they were proud of me. Seeing her smile when I got home was amazing. There’s more to say. I want to share more of what I learned from Dave and Bart and Golden and Summer and Melanie and more, and I want to tell you about how it felt falling in love with running once more. But that’s for the future. For now, and for always: thanks for reading. Your support makes all of this possible. If I ever stop remembering how lucky I am, smack me.

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Comments

  1. Jamie says

    xoxo beyond thrilled to have caught up this weekend. Miss you already. It was my pleasure to run with you on Saturday. It’s right up there with my favorite runs of all time. And thanks again for paying it forward with my new cookbook. I’m excited to test out the recipes (you know me…I’m sure one of the desserts will be first!)

  2. Jody says

    Katy, you are the real deal. Classy as always. Loved following along on IG and reading this recap. So happy for you and thanks for bringing us along. :)

  3. says

    I <3 you. And this recap. A lot. I miss you already. And breast pump? Please. I live in New York, and I run 26.2 miles for fun. Things like machines pulling milk out of your boobs don't faze me.

  4. says

    Love your recap of the weekend Katy and so happy to hear that Lucas and Audrey survived without mommy for those few days. It was great to see you again, as always.

    And I must say, I’m kind of sad I missed William’s Family Diner — those pancakes look pretty darn awesome.

  5. says

    Great post. Sums up my thoughts well. In fact, I used some of your words in my post. :)

    It was great to meet you and I can’t wait to chat more. I’ll be in touch soon!

  6. tracy says

    I not only love your writing style, but the way you clearly articulate you were comped everything, and then go above and beyond thanking the sponsors for what looks to be a great opportunity. Your fellow hobby & full-time bloggers should take a minute to learn from you.

  7. says

    SO MUCH AWESOME packed into one post – what a great experience, I’m glad you had such a welcome back into the world of crazy racing!!

  8. says

    Well none of us could put this any better – this is perfect! I specially love: the use of the words “fascinatingly mixed” (spot on!), Golden’s award, Bart’s skirt-legs & oh-my-gawd the FOOD. A pre-race pasta dinner will NEVER match up (until we hit up RW-Festival next year, of course)!

    So great to spend the weekend with all of you gals, and the Rodale crew. I think (hope) we’d all do it again in a heartbeat!

  9. says

    Hands down the BEST blog event experience I have EVER EVER had was at #RWHalf last year. It seems like they did it up even BIGGER this year. I felt 100% how you did. It was a rejuvenating, exciting weekend full o f so much love and fun and passion. I definitely think I need to make it back next year! Thanks for bringing us along via your blog this year.

  10. says

    Congratulations on the two races! I have adored reading all of the recaps from all the bloggers, and the weekend looked like SO much fun. I LOVE your sense of appreciation for all of this – because yes, even though blogging for the “big guns” like you comes with a TON of responsibility, hassle, spammers, haters, and goodness-knows-what-else, it does have some pretty cool perks, too!

  11. says

    What a great recap
    I’ll totally pretend I’m not crying! I’m a mush when it comes to families and friendships (oh and the Boston marathon)

  12. says

    Great recap of the weekend. The Runner’s World event looks awesome. I’m hoping they add a full marathon to the mix. It would be hard to justify flying across the country for a half.

  13. says

    SO great hanging out and running with you this weekend Katy!!!!!! It was amazing and you could not have said it better. I am so appreciative of everyone who made this weekend amazing!!!!

  14. says

    I loved seeing all the fun posts and photos from the bloggers all weekend as you all made your way through the races! It’s great to know how much fun everyone had. I thought RW one-upped themselves with this year’s event, and am so glad that they bring so many people from all over the country to the Lehigh Valley. I was able to meet Jocelyn after doing the 10k and would have loved to meet you as well but there were so many people scattered everywhere it just didn’t happen. You’ll have to visit the area again sometime!

  15. says

    Katy- BEST write up ever of the event. Seriously, I love you. Wish we had more time to spend together. Hopefully at HHHalf. He he. Gotta figure out my crashing plan for that one. Hope you’re getting lots of love and hugs at home. Come visit us in CA anytime!!!

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