I had never heard of this race until a few of my friends said they were doing it & since I usually jump on the bandwagon, I decided to join! It was only $20 to register & it was for a great cause.
Alex Loose was 15 years old when she was hit by a car & killed while she & a friend were walking home from high school soccer practice. She was born only a few months before me, & her short life came to an end in August 2004. The fact we were the same age is crazy to me.. I have so far lived 12 more years than she has. 12 years of experiences that I have taken for granted & experiences that she will never get to have. What an eye opener this race was!
To read more about Alex’s back story, her foundation, & the amazing athlete she was, please click here. Her story alone is incredibly inspiring.
So, onto race day. A handful of us from Pro Bike + Run’s training group was going to this race so I ended up car pooling with Rachel & Bernadette. Bentleyville, PA is located in Washington county which is about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh. It was a nice drive through the country which is a nice change from the city streets I drive on here at home. My hometown is full of back country roads, so I kind of felt like I was going home. The race didn’t start until 9am, but they have a chinese auction before the race & you definitely want to get there early to scope out all of the awesome prizes!! The prizes were awesome – I got extra tickets & put my number in for Southwest round trip airline tickets, an autographed picture of Antonio Brown (hello, obviously), a few wine baskets (again, obviously), & put about 10 tickets in for this Penguins basket. There was sooo much to choose from! Also, in the fire hall where the baskets were there were a ton of tri folds filled with pictures of Alex & her 15 years of life. Everything was so great to look at. You felt like you actually knew her by seeing everyone’s pictures & projects they put together. Tons of sports accomplishments, pictures with her family & friends, & news clippings about her sports life & also her accident.
I looked around, took some pictures, & hung out with Jenn, Bernadette, Rachel, Sara, Lyndsey & her friend Krysta. Temps were feeling okay, there was a cool breeze, but I knew it was going to be a muggy run. Lyndsey asked each of us if we had any goals for the race, & I was really the only one who spoke up except for Jenn.. but I wanted to run it in less than an hour. So, Lyndsay offered to pace me. When she said that, I internally wanted to cry. If you know Lyndsay, you know she’s a badass. She just is. She is the mentor & pace leader of the 10:30 group & she came back this past fall from a pretty big injury. She’s also one of the most inspiring & motivating people I’ve ever met! She speaks on a spirtual & deep reflective way & I definitely connect with that. So, I decided to give it a shot. I don’t really have a ‘race pace’ – every race except for 1 5k I’ve always just taken easy. I’ve never ran uncomfortable before to get the time I’ve wanted. Well, there’s a first time for everything..
Finally it was 9am & the race was starting. I completely underestimated how hard this course was. I was told there was a hill that you only see in your nightmares, but I figured the rest of the course was okay. Boy, I WAS WRONG. Most of it was on some back roads, & right before mile 1 I caught up to Lyndsay ahead of me. We had already gone up a big hill before I even caught up to her. and it was already so hot.
Mile 1: 10:32
Mile 2: 11:02
Mile 3: 13:08
Mile 3 was where the “hill from your nightmares” came in.. and my friends weren’t joking. I kept saying to Lyndsay how I was going to walk this hill & she basically told me I wasn’t going to be doing that. I asked the men around me “is this the hill? is this it?” & the one guy said “yep, this is it…” as we’re both basically huffing & puffing trying to get up this hill. I got maybe a quarter of the way up & I had to walk. I started power walking & then after a little bit of that, I literally had to pull myself up. I even had to stop walking for a minute to catch my breath. It was so steep & it was so humid. One of the guys next to me said “and just when you think it’s over, it isn’t.” Great. Just what I wanted to hear haha. Once we got up the hill(s), we stopped at a water stop & I was able to get a little bit of my energy back. The course winded down past this farm & past a school & on the left we passed the location where Alex’s accident was. The fence was covered in pictures of her. It was definitely emotional, but I took it as motivation.
Mile 4: 10:28
Mile 5: 10:10
Lyndsay had asked me, without looking at my watch, how much farther I thought we had to go. I knew it was a little bit less than 2 miles. Then, she asked me if I’d ever done fartleks before. I said no. At this point, I was thinking this girl was crazy, she was actually going to have me do fartleks in the middle of a race! But I know she wanted to try & make up some time. So, she had me sprint between telephone poles. I believe we did about 3 of them. The guys around us were getting a kick out of it. I may have hated it then, but looking back I’m so glad Lyndsay had me do all these different things. It was the most unique race experience I’ve ever had. She asked me if I wanted to do more, but I told her that I knew we didn’t have much longer left & I liked the pace we were going & I was comfortable (sort of) at that pace. So, she said if I promised not to look at my watch the rest of the race, she would keep this pace. We agreed & kept trucking along. Down we went this huge hill & as you see by mile 5’s pace, we picked up some speed. We rounded the corner & I could see the long stretch to the finish. It was amazing. There was so many people lining the streets cheering for us. There wasn’t that many people around us, I actually think it was just me & Lyndsay & maybe one guy close behind. Lyndsay then basically told me to sprint to the finish & we did… once we started sprinting, the crowd seemed to get louder & louder with cheers. I love finish lines. I love finishing. It truly is a one of a kind feeling knowing you accomplished something most people don’t ever do. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Finish time: 55:42
I did it!! Sub 1 hour, & did even better than I could have even imagined. Lyndsay really got me through this race. If it wasn’t for her, I would have gassed out way early. She had the most uplifting things to say. And I also learned a lot from her in those 55 minutes. What a truly incredible person you are, Lyndsay! Thank you again.
As soon as we were done, Turba came across the finish line in 56:00 exactly. We then waited for the rest of our friends to finish. Once everyone finished, we all immediately went over to the ice cream truck & was handed ice cream sandwiches. I’m pretty sure that was the best post race snack I’ve ever had. I think that needs to happen at the end of every race now haha. It was so funny.. we all just stood in a circle not saying a word & just scarfing down those ice cream sandwiches. It was the best. They had so much food to eat too. We all loaded up our plates, checked to see if we won anything from the auction (no winners in my group), sat at the picnic table & talked about our races.
This was truly an exceptional day for me. I will most definitely be making this race an annual one. 🙂