Monday, October 19, 2015

"You Better Run" to the Runners World Half Marathon

That's me in the Pat Benatar concert shirt with runner friends Larisa, Karla and Kristin, and crossing the finish line. Below, that's my #FlatBenatar from midnight the night before. Here is what happened at the legendary 2015 Runners World Half Marathon & Festival..

Let's go back in time, to August 1, 1981. "You Better Run" by Pat Benatar became the first music video by an American artist to be aired on a new cable thing called MTV. It was the second overall music video that day, after "Video Killed the Radio Star" by The Buggles.

I saw it. I was about to return for my last year at Indiana University. Pat Benatar and her husband, guitarist (and then producer) Neil Giraldo, were staying that day at a cheap motel with a scary bedspread, the place you stay at when you are just trying to make it in the music business. They watched on their motel TV as their lives -- and the world -- suddenly changed before their eyes.

"There we were, on TV, watching our song," Patricia (as Neil calls her) said this past Saturday night during a 35th-anniversary tour stop at the Sands Casino in Bethlehem, PA. "Then MTV just kept running it every hour on a cycle. By the end of that week, we couldn't even go to the grocery store." Here is what it looked like to all of us then:

They are inspiring. They are living proof that amazing things can happen if you are creative, work hard, go for it and allow yourself to be in the right place at the right time.

On Saturday, I woke up and decided to go run the Runners World Half Marathon (#RWHalf). It was just two hours away from my NYC-area home, inside the Pennsylvania state line. It seemed like everyone I know in the running community was there, since the RW mag had sponsored so many bloggers from around the country to come in and experience it. I had to go, even unsponsored. My awesome wife Lisa was like go for it, so I took her ride and it was game on.

After buying a race entry at the RW Half Festival expo and getting to see Coach Andrew and Deena Kastor there, I joined up with runner friends including David (@RunningBecause, our esteemed #RunChat leader pictured at right!), unstoppable Kristin (@BamaGirlRuns), funny as all get out Larisa (@LarisaDixonBlog) and part-time Cape Cod neighbor Nancy (@lilfancynancy) at Bart Yasso's #FlatBart yard party, where we listened to an Irish band and drank some good beer. Great to see Linzie aka @SharpEndurance, too!

Then we returned to the Festival area where I bought a ticket for a fantastic pasta dinner, and that's when this whole Pat Benatar thing started.

I finally got to meet Karla (@KBruning on Twitter, @RunKarlaRuns on IG), who I have known on social media a long time -- the host of New York Road Runners digital shows and a voice at the start of many of our Central Park races. A bunch of us, including Karla, were walking through the adjacent Sands Casino, deciding not to hit the machines because of all the smokers. So we kept walking through casino and its adjacent outlet-store mall, and I stopped to use a restroom. When I came out, my fellow runners were standing in a short line, motioning me to come over.

It turns out that Karla "spent 7 years singing Pat Benatar in an '80s cover band." And it turns out that Karla has "still got it" from her old club days. They noticed that Pat Benatar (!) was playing right then at there, in the big room right next to us. She somehow got us six comp tickets.

The show had already started, but there were seats toward the back and we went in and suddenly were watching a concert. "Patricia" and Neil were on the stage, doing an acoustic show. ALL THE HITS.

That's when she explained how it had all begun on that first day of MTV. And that's when I installed the Lighter app on my iPhone, to lift in the air. That's when Larisa and Kristin and Karla got up and tried to rush the stage, taking a selfie with the performers behind them before the security guy politely pointed them back to their seats. That's when we realized this was a legendary weekend, requiring a Lighter app download from the iTunes store.

Here was Karla's post that said it all:
What a great way to chill and psych up at the same time, the night before a big race. Watch:

and was one hit after another, beautifully narrated by two legends and lovers. Patricia told the story about the first day of MTV between one of the songs.

Since I wasn't as brave as the others and didn't rush the stage for a selfie, here are the best photographs I could muster for you with my iPhone from the back:

We watched the whole show. It was fabulous. They look terrific. They sound amazing. In this photo, Karla is down there on the end, and you can't see her face in this one because Larisa is going all concert-light on us. Next to her is David, then Nancy, then Kristin. Having fun much?

I never knew about Patricia's husband, but now I do. (He talks baseball, which this MLB guy especially likes!) On our way out, amid the bizarre spectacle of characters on stilts and women dangling from thick ropes attached to the sky, I told the group to hang on. I had to buy a Pat Banatar Vintage Photo T-shirt.

Because I had to run in that shirt the next morning.

We walked back to my car (aka event shuttle) and in doing so we were covering the last half-mile of the next day's race. It was a memorable walk. The Bethlehem Steel Stacks were alit in purple at night. If you don't know the history of Bethlehem Steel, please stop what you are doing and look at the Wikipedia page. It is a really interesting account of how America was built right here. (It's also a cautionary tale of corporate greed, and why we need industry back in this country.)

So that's the story of the #Flatme aka #FlatBenatar at the start of this post.

I stayed the night at a Fairfield Suites by Marriott about 15 minutes from the start, got up at 5:30 and drove to the P7 lot near the Start line. It was about 31 degrees at that point. Fortunately it would warm up, a little bit. I put my fleece in a Gear Check bag, which was very convenient. I had to give mad props overall to the Runners World magazine team, on running a terrific event. My sponsored running blogger friends (did I mention I wasn't sponsored/chosen) did the "Hat Trick," also running the 5K and 10K on Saturday, and not only that they ran a new 3-mile REI trail run on that Friday. (RunDisney-esque.)

My eyes were barely open at the start, like any good post-concert pic. OK it was sunrise.

The Allentown (PA) Morning Call newspaper included me (slide 53) in this photo gallery, taken at the start. Just crossed the start line, remembered I forgot to start my Garmin on time. They must be Pat Benatar fans, because who isn't?

Here was a photo I took at the expo of the course map:

Deena had told me when we chatted on Saturday: "Run for the tangents." That is elite-speak for "Don't stray from the path the elites take." Indeed, there are some wide roads, and if you don't "run for the tangents," you can find yourself adding a lot of extra mileage to your half. Whenever Deena speaks, I listen. Please make sure you follow her and Coach K!

"Hills for breakfast" were the encouraging words at the start line from RW editor David Willey (I think), and I looked forward to just getting through the first eight miles, as the final five were pretty much downhill. This is not a Half for the meek of heart, I have to say. Miles 3 and 8 are major uphill hikes, even tougher than the Harlem Hill on top of Central Park that I battle so often.

I had been hit with a stinging pain in my lower right calf area 2 weeks earlier in the Grete's Great Gallop Half at Central Park, felt it again in a 3-miler on a treadmill last week, and then sure enough it hit me in Mile 4 of this race as we were running straight downhill and my legs were trying to resist gravity.

So the rest of the race, I was dealing with significant pain in my lower right leg, and that combined with the tough hills meant I was walking more than I usually would. My finish time was 2:49.

Have to give a major shout out to @BamaGirlRuns for finishing all four events, while still not cleared for running duty following her unfortunate leg break this year. It was a lot of #beastmode to get through those hills, walk or run. Hope she bounces back fast! And same to Karla, Larisa and my friend @RacePaceJess, hope all of you guys bounce back from dreaded runner injuries.

It is a beautiful course, and the field of runners are abnormally running-savvy (think Boston Marathon as a half) while the event is also extremely accommodating and helpful to ALL runners. I found out about their Sub Thirty Club (under a :30 5K is the premise). You learn a lot at this event. It's a cool expo, and the seminars and pasta party are among the highlights.

So my advice after this running weekend was just remember what Pat Benatar told all of us during her show. You never know when one of your songs is suddenly going to appear in a whole new paradigm shift from audio to something called MTV. You never know when opportunity will happen. So just get out there and make things happen. And remember this:


- Mark


trailgurl said...

Thanks for another fantastic blog, MonsterCat! I love Pat Benatar!! Great story and race recap all rolled into one. #we are strong!

Karla Bruning said...

LOVE this! And love that I got my new favorite hashtag out of it. So great to finally meet you and hang out. Rock on! #WeAreStrong

David H. said...

It was great to meet you this weekend! Thanks for the ride to the Flat Bart event. I wish we had more time to catch up, but those couple of hours were some of the best parts of the weekend! See you at #RunChat. ;)

Scotticus said...

Epic recap! I live in South Jersey and did this event last year (don't worry - I was a non-sponsored blogger as well) and absolutely loved it. I wanted to come back this year but opted to run the Baltimore Marathon instead. Hopefully I'll be back next year and maybe even one year as part of the blogger crew...

Mark Newman said...

Karla, that was a blast. Thanks for adding the key element to this blog! Hahaha. See you at the races my friend!

Mark Newman said...

Great to meet you after all of those Sunday nights, David! Wishing you all the best on your own personal resurgence at the races -- let's keep it going! (And sorry about the back-backseat!)