Thursday night involved dinner at Runner’s World headquarters. The magazine shuttled us over from our hotel and when we stepped off the bus, we were warmly greeted by all of the magazine’s familiar names and faces: Bart Yasso, David Willey, Tish Hamilton, and Jen Van Allen among them. During dinner? Amby Burfoot himself pulled up a chair next to me. Like I said–surreal. The staff couldn’t have been nicer and Bart even gave us a tour through the RW offices, which included a sneak peak of the upcoming cover shot.
Friday started early but we had lots of amazing things to cram into our morning. We began with a three-mile shake-out run led by Bart through downtown Bethlehem. From there it was breakfast, followed by presentations from Altra Zero Drop shoes and its parent company, Icon Health & Fitness, which also owns brands such as NordicTrack , Pro-Form , and FreeMotion . Altra Zero Drop outfitted everyone in new shoes and shared its tips for better/more natural running. The talk was led by one of the company’s founders, Golden Harper , who just happens to have set a record at the age of 12 for running a 2:45 marathon (yes, you read that right). The back story on Altra is fascinating and one worth reading–as someone who already bought the natural running KoolAid, I loved what they had to say.
After our time with Altra and Icon, it was on to our own personal FitFluential bloggers’ session with Shalane Flanagan. We spent 30 minutes with her, picking her brain on everything from nutrition to training to the psychology of digging deep. She was incredibly “human” and open to all of our questions, photos and autograph seeking.
We finished up the morning with a bit of social media and Runner’s World Challenge chat with the editors, then it was on to lunch, again provided by the magazine. Friday afternoon we were free to hit the expo, where sponsors like Running Skirts , the Stick , and Nissan all had fantastic swag waiting for us. We spent Saturday taking in great sessions from Runner’s World and hitting up the #RunChat tweet-up. Lots of the FitFluential ambassadors also did the 5k and 10k (several of whom took home hardware) as part of the hat trick of races going on over the weekend.
I was pretty toasted by Saturday night from all the activity, and I hadn’t even gotten to my half marathon yet. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything–I’m still not quite sure it was all real (although I think Mr. Zippy, who held down the fort for three days, will tell you it was). I am incredibly grateful to FitFluential, Runner’s World, and Icon Health & Fitness for the amazing time. Ask me to come back again next year and the answer will be YES!
And now, what I don’t want to say but will–part two tomorrow, the race itself.
Many, many thanks to FitFluential and Runner’s World for this amazing opportunity–David Tratner, especially, for all of his hard work and dedication.