Monday, November 18, 2013

Running with the Amish - My Version!

     Have you ever had one of those magical experiences you know you'll never forget? Well, I certainly had one on October 18th, 2013!
      It was my second year attending the Runner's World Half in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I already felt that this was a wonderful, magical place. For this runner, being among the Runner's World staff, writers & editors was truly a dream come true! Talking to Bart Yasso & David Wiley like they were old friends and laughing at stories being told LIVE by Mark Remy are moments I will never forget! I felt very blessed to be there the inaugural year and here I was again, working the Run Donna booth at the expo.
The #SocialMediaButterfly manning the #RunDonna booth
     While perusing my twitter feed Friday afternoon, I came across a tweet from Bart Yasso announcing a Full Moon Run with the Amish for that evening! I immediately responded that I would definitely be there! I could not believe it!
The Tweet
     I would be able to live Bart's story, Running with the Amish. The article in Runner's World is what made me fall in love with this amazing community! I had briefly "met" the Amish runners Bart had brought to an event at the first year's festivities and was excited to spend more time with them this year!
Runner's World Half 2012 picture with Bart Yasso, Matt Long & the Amish!
     We met in the lobby of the ArtsQuest building around 8:15pm. I arrived a little early as did one of the Amish guys I had met earlier in the day, Jake. We chatted for a while about running and the upcoming races for the weekend. We talked about pace for the half on Sunday. I knew these guys were fast from reading Bart's article and when Jake mentioned he hoped to finish in 1:30, I laughed as I told him I could only hope to one day break 2:00 hours!
     Eventually a small group formed. Bart handed out head lamps to a few people and we headed outside.
Our little group ready to run
  It was a bit brisk! I was so happy that I had worn shoes and clothes I could run in to the expo that day! I added a quick long sleeve layer and I was ready to run! Not in my normal running attire but this was no ordinary run!
Classic bathroom selfie #classy but ready to run!
     As we first headed out, the lights from the town were lighting our way. I was near the back of the pack of 13 runners. All ages, male & female, were running in this little group. I felt very special! Bart wanted a small group and that is what he got. I was also alone, no friends to run with, so this made it easy to talk to everyone and meet new friends!
The start line for the 5k & 10k at the start of our Full Moon Run
     The Amish guys stayed way ahead of us for a while even though Bart was trying to rein them in! I remembered some of the path we ran from last year's race. Then suddenly we were headed down some steep steps that led under one of the bridges. This had NOT been part of the race! I found out that we were headed to the "tow path" that ran along the canal. The lights of town started to fade away as we headed deeper onto the path.The full moon was now very evident above us. I couldn't believe this was happening.
Entering the Tow Path under the full moon
      As we headed down the dark path, Bart explained the history of how the path came to be. He told stories of how it was used to transport coal many, many years ago. It was wonderful to have a right there history lesson! I wished he could run with me throughout the race and tell me all the little ins and outs of his town of Bethlehem! At this point the Amish guys had also spread out among the group & I was fortunate enough to get to talk more with them as we ran. It was truly a wonderful shared experience!
     As I ran in the dark with nothing to light my way but the light of the full moon and my new friend Tina's dim head lamp, I worried that I would step in or on something and get hurt. It was quite a feat for me to focus on my footing, strain to see the path ahead AND hold a conversation! I was feeling slightly stressed with the Marine Corps Marathon only a week away and the Runner's World Half in two days! I did not want to get hurt! But I survived. Didn't even so much as twist anything! And I would not trade the experience for anything!
Post run photo under the full moon
     Although I was able to experience my own "Full Moon Run" right there in Bethlehem, I still would love to actually run one in Lancaster County with the rest of the Amish running community! It would be really fabulous to meet some of the women and to truly experience their culture and way of life.
They run every full moon so I'm going to have to plan a trip! The community also has a half marathon that they put on every year called the Bird in Hand Half Marathon. I am already planning to participate in this very unique event! You should see the incredible hand-made horseshoe medals! So very cool!!!
The Medal!!!
     So if you ever get the chance to run in Pennsylvania, check out Amish country! They are a wonderful group of people who really know how to run!
Me & my new Amish friends! Can't wait to see them again!