Way back in February of this year, when I received the email that would change my training trajectory for 2015, I never dreamed I would be running four races over three days in Bethlehem, PA as part of a blogger group, three weeks before running the NYC marathon.

HOW TO RUN4 RACESIN3 DAYS

I was all set to make 2015 the year of the triathlon and then got the news of “qualifying” and therefore gaining entry to the NYC Marathon – an opportunity I could not pass up. So, 2015 turned into the year of running…I just had no idea how much running that would be!

*I put qualifying in quotes since I ran exactly one half marathon in NYC in 1:29 which apparently was fast enough to give me an entry into the NYC marathon. I had no clue this was even a possibility when I ran the half in March of 2014.

My qualifying half marathon in NYC, March 2014. I absolutely loved this race!

Blissfully unaware I was running a qualifying half marathon in NYC, March 2014. I absolutely loved this race!

The Schedule

Because of the amazing influential power of this blog, I was invited by Runner’s World (along with about 18 others) to join them for their half marathon festival weekend. In exchange for entry and accommodations, we tweet, Instagram, Facebook and otherwise tout all the highlights of our weekend, of which there were oh so many! I love it when a sponsor makes my job easy.

Thursday: Arrival and dinner with editors/staff Bart Yasso, Deena Kastor, Amby Burfoot and others at Runner’s World HQ

Friday: 3.8 mile trail race which I reviewed last week and miraculously finished third female overall.

Saturday: 5K race at 8:00am, 10K race at 9:30am

Sunday: 13.1 half marathon at 8:00am

It was a challenging schedule but I figured I would either be doing a 23 miler by myself or I could run 26.2 over the course of 3 days with blogger friends and running legends. Seemed like an easy decision but time will tell if I made the right one.

Just happily running through the woods during the Altra Trail Race on Day 1.

Just happily running (walking?) through the woods during the Altra Trail Race on Day 1.

The Five and Dime aka 5k and 10k

I was already dragging after a late night on Thursday (with thoughts of meeting Olympians and famous-to-me RW editors dancing in my head) then a long day on Friday, with the Altra 3.8 mile trail race mid-day, and then running around to clean-up, get to the expo and have dinner Friday night. By the time I got back to my hotel room it was all I could do to lay out my clothes for the next morning and brush my teeth.

My alarm went off at 5:45am Saturday morning, and we gathering in the lobby, sleepy and cold, around 6:30am to head over to the race start.

Everything about the race was extremely well organized and was exactly as it should be:

– Bag check was right near the finish/start line.

– Indoor bathrooms and waiting area was very close to the start line.

– Corrals by pace time were large, visible and even adhered to by the other runners!

– Water/gel stations were plentiful and volunteers were enthusiastic.

– The courses were all very well marked and were beautifully laid out, although they could have been flatter!

Pre-5k start with Laura at Mommy. Run Fast! We did baby...we did.

Pre-5k start with Laura at Mommy. Run Fast! We did baby…we did.

I decided I was going to race the 5k and take it easy on the 10K. When the gun sounded at the start of the 5k I took off! I was cold and wanted to get warm and get this first race done!

Splits: 6:39 (hills!), 6:18, 6:18, 5:59

Finish: 20:12

Place: First in age group 40-44 and first in masters (over 40) division

I am a mouth breather.

I am a mouth breather. And, I was playing mix and match with my outfits all weekend so that’s my excuse for this hot mess.

Although I thought I had a faster 5k in me, I had to remember that this was all part of my marathon training, and I was not tapered by a long shot, for any of these races. The plan was for all of them to be hard and they were. I was so mad I didn’t make the 19 minute cut off but was super happy about placing and winning my division.

In between races there was time to go to the bathroom, a quick snack, a picture (of course!) and back we went to the start line!

Representing Lake Winni!

Representing Lake Winni!

If you recall, I forgot the charger to my Garmin vivoactive and no one else had my watch. I was desperately trying to conserve the battery for Sunday’s half marathon so I did not use it for the 10K.

Running though my head in the 10K

First mile: OMG am I seriously racing again? < – – this was a recurring thought

Second mile: This seems like a long way. I mean, four more miles?

Third mile: Why is this course so f**** hilly?

Fourth mile: Time to speed up legs are feeling good!

Fifth mile: Why do I feel like I have to speed up? Why can’t I just run easy like some of these people around me? They look so happy and content and I’m breathing like a maniac.

Sixth mile: Thank you sweet baby Jesus, I can see the finish line…again.

Immediately after crossing the finish: Well that wasn’t so bad…oh no wait…I have to run a half-marathon tomorrow?

Finish time: 46:37/ 7:30 per mile pace

Place: Won my age group and masters division

With my bling...after showering and changing!

With my bling…after showering and changing!

Half Marathon | 13.1

It was like Groundhog Day – wake-up early, pack a gear bag, change your mind about your running outfit no less then three times, eat, drink coffee and meet group in the lobby.

Miraculously my watch made it to the half! I have to say this, the Garmin vivoactive battery is insane! I last charged it the Tuesday prior to the weekend. Tuesday! I wasn’t sure if it would make it all the way though the race but I was hoping it would get me past the hilliest sections which we were told were miles 3, 5, and 7.

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 6.37.19 AM

Doesn't this look like fun for the 4th race? You know it.

Doesn’t this look like fun for the 4th race? You know it.

We were warned about the hills. We raced pretty hilly courses in the 5k and 10k. We were ready.

Ok, that’s a lie.

I was a little worried about my legs since they were definitely tired on Saturday morning but I reminded myself that this was the plan! I wanted to run on tired legs because HELLO last six miles of the NYC marathon!

I lined up where I never have before – – > at the 8:30 pace mark. It felt warm and fuzzy and oh-so-doable.

My first mile was 8:26 and I felt like a million ducks. Yes, ducks. So I picked up the pace and never looked back!

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Zooming right along! Did I mention we received all of these pictures for FREE courtesy of Altra? Just another thing to love about this event!

I cannot tell you what kind of amazing transformation happened in my legs or if all my long runs and hard marathon training finally paid off, but I felt great!

The entirety of the race was what I would describe as “comfortably hard.” I wasn’t pushing for a PR (and I was far from it) but I held a 7:30 pace well and without overexerting myself.

This was a massive confidence boost going into my last two weeks before the NYC Marathon. I so needed to feel as well as I did in the final miles of this hilly half:

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Not only did my Garmin battery survive the race, it made it all the way back to my home (a four hour drive!) and still was about 10% charged when I was able to slap it on the charger. I love this watch as if it was a lost triplet to my twins. #NotEvenKidding

We did it! BOOM!

We did it! BOOM!

Although this may be my slowest half-marathon to date, it was just the race I wanted to run.

Finish time: 1:39:00/ 7:33 pace

Place: 6th in my age group

[Tweet “How to run 4 races in 3 days with @runnersworldmag #RWHalf #ItOnlySoundsCrazy”]

Overall Thoughts and 2016

This was seriously one of the best weekends of running I have ever experienced! I do not say this lightly because it was definitely a lot of racing. But, meeting Deena and Bart and touring Runner’s World aside – these races were all so well organized, the location was beautiful and convenient and I really want to go back next year with some of my best running friends.

Cheers to downtown Bethlehem breweries and drinking in the afternoon!

Cheers to downtown Bethlehem breweries and drinking in the afternoon!

If you are looking for a weekend of running for all abilities, look no further. You can pick and choose the races you want or challenge yourself to run them all! < – – I highly recommend this one.

For me, I like to view this weekend in it’s entirety, combining all four races. I would like to go back next year and beat my overall time and win the hat trick. I’m not sure but I think I may have come in second for the three races – 5k, 10k and half marathon – in the masters division. Of course next year I should be rested and raring to go!

[Tweet “Wanna get away? Fit girls weekend done right! #RWHalf”]

Have you ever done back to back (to back to back) races? Would you?

What is the most well organized race you have run?

Do you want to go with me next year?