It had been years since I've been back to the Pennsylvania in the Springtime. I'd forgotten how amazing it is when everything blooms at once. Winter is replaced by bright green leaves, fluffy pink cherry blossoms, white dogwood trees and azalea bushes that look like giant pom poms of hot pink, coral and purple. I love living in Southern California and I loved Texas, but it's hard to beat Pennsylvania in the spring.
After a few spectacular days which were warm and sunny, race day was cold, gray and rainy. Not fair, but that's how it goes. Right before I left for the race, my mom suggested that I swap out my tank top for a long sleeved shirt. Mom knows best. I was really happy that I wore the warmer shirt because it was cold on the race course.
More and more, I'm loving these smaller races. This one was only 4,000 people and it was wonderful. We started from my high school gym - oye, the Clearasil scented nostalgia. The race looped around the city parks and through a 150 year old covered bridge. The race finished on the track of the stadium where I'd done more wind sprints than I care to remember..
Mostly, I had a good race. Part of the course was on crushed gravel which was soft and cushy, but kept filling up my sneakers. I had to empty my shoes three times. What do other people do to keep their shoes from filling with rocks? I must learn this secret. My other little mishap happened at mile 6. I passed a Team in Training runner limping along with an aching IT band. I told her I'd run ahead and send back a coach to help her. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a coach which is odd since I normally see our coaches every few steps on the course. Eventually, I found a way to cut across the course and loop back around to were I remembered seeing a coach. Of course, this whole adventure added about a mile to the run. However, I did get to run twice through the covered bridge, so I guess we'll call that a bonus.
Since I'd run a little farther than I'd planned, I nearly missed seeing my parents on the course. My mom and dad were waiting for me at course mile 12 (or Christine mile 13). I was trotted along and finally heard my dad call me. I was already a bit past them, but got to stop and say hi after the course looped around for the final stretch. It's always awesome to see a friendly face on the course - especially on a cold, wet, longer-than-I-planned run.
Overall, this was one of the nicest races - lovely setting, great volunteers, yummy post race goodies, bands along course, a gorgeous finisher's medal and a polar fleece jacket instead of the usual race tee shirt.
Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, I'll definitely see you next Spring.