I am going to dedicate a few posts to this weekend’s events because I feel like I spent such a long time anticipating it that it needs that kind of documentation 🙂
Friday, I got home from work with my packing list done and excited to get on the road to drive to Lancaster County. Dave had our daiya pizza all ready, which I figured would be the perfect carbo-loading meal to prepare me for the 13.1 miles. We ate quickly, packed up, and headed out around 7 p.m.
We had to stop at Dick’s, so I could buy a power bar for breakfast and four packs of Gu for before and during the race. The drive took about two and a half hours. I actually love driving long distances with Dave because it gives us a chance to just be together and talk for a long, uninterrupted time. It reminds me of our three-day road trip to Oregon we took in the summer of 2011, four months into our relationship. We both secretly looked at that trip as a test to see if we’d get sick of each other. We didn’t, so that made us feel good about being together long-term.
Dave drove the entire time and I started dozing off around 9 p.m. I was so exhausted and I felt bad because I knew he was too, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. The hotel we stayed at was less than 5 minutes from the race kick-off. Runners got a special rate, so we took advantage of that. When we got to our room, we pretty much changed into PJs, brushed our teeth, and passed out. I was so tired, there wasn’t much time to get the jitters about what lay before me.
My alarm went off at 6 a.m., but I was already awake from the adrenaline. All night, I had dreams about running. I put on my race gear: long yoga pants, a t-shirt, my volleyball training jacket, a headband, and my shoes. In my pockets, I put my iPhone and headphones on the right and the GU, chap stick, and some tissue on the left.
We headed down to breakfast at 6:30. We were the first ones there. I had some coffee, some water, the power bar, a banana, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and some Amazing Grass powder with water. Soon, other runners came down to have breakfast. It was a chill atmosphere, but I couldn’t help feel insecure about “not really” being a runner compared to them. I am slow (average about 11 minute miles) and my clothing wasn’t exactly professional gear. Many of them were wearing long racing spandex and tight long-sleeve running shirts. But I pushed the insecurity out of my head, glad that I was there and working on my running rather than spending my Saturday morning eating donuts or something.
Dave, early bird that he is, started urging me to go around 7:05 a.m. The race started at 8 a.m. After having been to the bathroom three times, I agreed to head out and we drove to Adamstown. I actually never bothered to look up directions to the staring place of the race, so we drove around a bit, while Dave was as incredulous as always about my lack of concern with travel details. Eventually, we stopped to ask a policeman, and he pointed us in the direction of the clock tower.
The weather was absolutely perfect – in the 40s and sunny. Highs for later in the day were predicted for about 63F. When we approached the clock tower, we realized that it was the center of a unique little community called Stoudtsburg Village. It was like nothing I have ever seen before in the U.S., replicating a cozy little German medieval town.
There were German inscriptions on many of the houses. We later found out that the founder of the village got inspired to build it after a trip to Germany and created it 12 years ago. His name is Stoudt, so he named it Stoudtburg. A bit narcissistic maybe, but fun to look at nonetheless. This picture was taken at a later time; at the point of our arrival, hundreds of runners were swarming around in the square. The air was full of excitement and anticipation. I was jumping up and down, excited about the weather, the cool location, and the community feel.
I got my bib from the table under the clock tower and then we got in line for the portable toilets. Go figure, I had to pee again. Nerves probably, but I did down considerable amounts of fluids during breakfast.
The whole race had an Amish/German theme. It is called the Rumspringa Half Marathon because it is located in Amish country. The Amish have four years once they turn 16 to check out the world outside of their community to see if they want to stay Amish or leave. This period is called Rumspringa, German: Rumspringer, which means “someone who jumps around.”
I didn’t pick the race for its theme when I looked around for one in January, but because the timing of mid-April was ideal for me and I liked that it emphasized a non-pretentious atmosphere and had a hilly course. I needed to be scared in order to really train! The German theme was fun to me, but I definitely didn’t sign up because I’m German. I tend to think American events trying to imitate German culture are obnoxious, but Pennsylvania seems to do a better job at it than Wisconsin.
About 10 minutes before the start, I had my first package of Gu. I stood with the other runners, warming up my muscles a bit, waiting for the official kick-off. I was so excited to start running and felt strong and optimistic. At this point, I was very grateful for my decision to dress in my training jacket because it was pretty windy, and many people around me were regretting their decision of dressing more lightly. I also like my training jacket because I trained with it, which makes me feel safe. Routine in running is so key to me. It also has pockets, which come in quite handy.
Finally, after a quick welcome speech, it was time to start. I kissed Dave goodbye and off we all were, out of the village and into the pastoral Amish landscape of South Eastern Pennsylvania.