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The Mt. Carmel 5k in Crabtree, PA

I traveled back to my hometown of Crabtree, PA for The 20th annual Mt. Caramel festival 5k. Not being much of a short distance runner, this is more of a family fun weekend spent with my sisters and nephews keeping with the tradition of our our small town church festival. It is a celebration of the Lady of Mt. Caramel of the Catholic Church in our small parish of St. Bartholomew in its 102 year.

This was the 20th annual 5k that is always on a friday evening at 7:00pm. If I remember correctly, when I was younger it used to start at 5:00pm but apparently someone figured out it is a bit cooler 2 hours later!

The race was a bit disappointing for me. I was shooting for another PR after PR’ing in a 5K in Austin, TX in November. That was a landmark race for me as I’m not much of a 5k runner and am not fast. Leading up to the November 5k, my fastest 5k was 20:30 at in 1995. Since then, I really never put much effort into 5k’s and stuck to longer distance races. I ran the Austin 5k at 20:19 with for a PR and the remarkable thing about that run was that I didn’t do ANY speed work leading up to it. I had just ran a half marathon in Akron, OH in September and I took 6 weeks off to just do base training. The majority of my miles were at a 9:30 pace. Nice and easy focusing on my aerobic heart rate of 147 BPM. I had done speed work in preparation for the half marathon, but it was in the form of tempo runs not totaling more then 5 miles. The key to that half training for me was long slow miles. I ran two 18 milers leading up to it at a pace of around 9:45. My half race pace ending up being 7:41 (19 seconds under my goal pace!) For me, the tempo runs definitely helped, but I really think the key was long slow runs that built my cardiovascular system. I was able to run an 8:00 mile pace leading up to this, but I didn’t have the endurance to carry it for 13.1 miles. So I didn’t need speed, I needed endurance. A key point that many long distance runners fail to sometimes get. They have the speed, but they lack the endurance.

Ok back to the Mt. Carmel 5k. So, I went into this race hoping to break 20 minutes for the first time. I failed. Failed miserably. I ended up running 21:30, almost a minute and 10 seconds slower then my PR in November!! Why? No excuses! It was hot, I started out fast, and it was at 7pm not in the morning! But I’m not laying blame there! I just didn’t have it! Usually my legs fail on me for these short races as a result of going so fast, but it was both this time!! Breathing was labored and legs were cooked! I will say that I did not speed work leading up to this as I’m still base training for the Akron Marathon, but I figured I’d still be able to pull out some faster miles! 

The rest of the weekend was great though! It’s an amazing time for family and local friends who travel in from all over the country to be part of this amazing weekend. The fireworks display is incomparable to any that I have ever seen, not to mention it’s from a town of about 150 people!




Sunday there is a procession which ends with a 10 minute salute of bombs shot into the sky and firecrackers that are suspended from a crane. A local Pittsburgh news reporter commented, “I have never seen anything like this in my life!” as she rested her camera against her chest to just watch in awe.

Before leaving we had a gourmet dinner at the local resteraunt Rizzo’s Malabar Inn who opens the doors to friends and family for a complementary dinner. It’s comparable to a wedding. Actually, it’s bigger then the majority of weddings most of us attend!! There were probably over 250 people for the gathering!!! Outstanding food!!

Enjoy the pictures and videos!




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