Fall, in our part of PA is probably one of my favorite times of the year. Temperatures tend to become much more moderate, the humidity drops and the leaves put on a pretty spectacular show of colors changing from their summery greens to an awesome assortment of reds, oranges, and yellows. And while you can observe the change from the comfort of your living room there’s no better way than getting outside and experiencing the splendor up close and personal!
A few months ago I learned about a new arrival on the Lehigh Valley 1/2 mile scene – the Delaware and Lehigh Heritage Half and Full Marathon – that would give me even more reason to get out among the color and get another 1/2 under my belt. The course would follow the Historically significant D&L trail. Why Historically significant you may ask? Well among the many reasons, the fact that the Anthracite coal industry was born here and that coal powered the first American Industrial Revolution, seems to be a pretty important fact, at least in this bloggers opinion, but I digress, I happen to know quite a bit about our region due to my exhaustive research on it during my undergrad studies, but I’ll save the History lesson for a later post.
So knowing that there was going to be a great, inaugural event, essentially in my backyard, that had significant Historical and personal meaning, during a beautiful time of the year I felt pretty compelled to sign-up! I couldn’t recruit my usual partner-in-crime (my sister) to run, and my other running friends were either ramping into an event of their own or recovering from one. This 1/2 would be all me!
The race course would essentially meander North along the Lehigh River from Northampton to Slatington taking us through once grand, and economically important, canal towns like Cementon, Laury’s Station and Walnutport. Since the trail consists of reclaimed tow paths and rail beds, it has a very gentle grade making it ideal for running and the fall colors made it really beautiful. Knowing that running is as much mental as it is physical, being surrounded by natural beauty and tons of History provided plenty of mental distraction, which is never a bad thing. The event would end up being something of a trek back in time and one that I was pretty keen on taking. The only variable out of anyone’s control was the weather, and given the rather soggy past few months a distinct issue, but even it was idyllic this past Sunday.
All said, the race itself was uneventful, and in this context should be taken as a good thing! It was a first time event, with what I believe to be inexperienced race directors (though I could be wrong) so I didn’t set a very high bar. However, what I expected and what I experienced we’re really miles apart. Everything, from packet pick-up a few days before the event, to day-of logistics (parking, shuttles, course marshalls and volunteers) to the finish festival were thoughtfully organized and well executed. Sure there were some rough edges, but I have no doubt that they will be a distant memory by the time the event rolls around next year!
Personally, I did ok at the 1/2. I didn’t set any land-speed records but I finished well, besting my first attempt at a half 1 month prior (Via LVHN) by a little more than 5 minutes. I guess you could say that I PR’ed, but with only two under my belt I think I have a way to go before I start keeping records. I did however break the 2-hour mark, coming in at 1:59:21 after a sprint with another competitor (more on that in a future post). I’m honestly pretty satisfied with the effort, despite holding back a bit due to the pain from my IT Band Syndrome, so I know that once I’ve taken time to rehab my leg and train more consistently, I should be able to get time down considerably.
In my next post I’m going to share many of the lessons that I learned gearing up for my second 1/2. However, I needed to capture the moment, provide the context and more importantly recognize the fine folks at the Delaware and Lehigh National Heritage Corridor, all of the wonderful volunteers, and the event sponsors for putting together such a wonderful event! Thanks to all for creating such a memorable day.