After a jam packed Friday and Saturday in Pittsburgh, it was finally time for race day! I kept waking up thinking I was going to be late for the race, so my sleep wasn’t exactly sound. I finally decided to get up a few minutes before my 5:30am alarm. I stumbled around the hotel room getting ready.
I made sure I had my watch, my Honey Stingers, my fuel belt, my Nuun, and of course, my pace tattoo!
We headed down to the lobby around 6 and met up with the rest of the #runfor crew. I ate half a blueberry bagel with butter and drank some Cherry Limeade Nuun. Corrals were closing at 6:45 and I had a bit further of a walk than some of the other runners because I was in a later corral so we set off around 6:20 or so.
Sidenote- I’m pretty sure staying at a hotel near the start line of the race is a must do for me from now on. I loved not having to worry about driving/traffic/parking on race morning! Especially with nearly 30,000 runners in this race, I can’t even imagine the madness.
A last minute stop at the portapotty and it was time to enter the corrals. Security was obviously heightened. Some people asked me if I was nervous to run a race after everything that happened at Boston. I can honestly say I wasn’t. Meeting with some of the PR people that work with Dick’s and the race I knew they had it under control. They took a lot of precautions like No spectators allowed near the corrals and they had these signs up:
They actually checked our bibs as we went into our corrals. I was in the last corral, which was crazy full. We heard the star spangled banner off in the distance and sat there for awhile before we started moving. We had to have walked nearly a mile just to get to the start. It took close to 25 minutes for us to even get up to the starting line… see it up there?
As we approached the start the energy was electric! The crowd was loud and strong – there were SO many people there cheering us on. I mean, by the time we had got to the start people had been crossing the line for over 20 minutes! And the crowd was still going strong!
And just like that… we were off! I saw the hubs just a little ways down from the start. He was such a great spectator! Barely a half mile into the race they already had a band set up and playing. There was a cheering banana just after mile 2. SO many people were out everywhere cheering us on. I thought surely the crowd would die down after a while – especially being one of the slower runners- but they didn’t! The first few miles went quick. I was holding a decent pace and on track to PR big time. Mile 3 brought the first of 5 bridges we would cross.
I can honestly tell you that eating carbs pre-race made a HUGE difference for me. During the GO half in April I was already gassed by mile 4. This time around I was feeling strong. We crossed another bridge around mile 4 reminding us we were earning the title “Runner of Steel”
Just after this bridge I saw the hubs again. He walked briskly next to me while I pounded my feet out trying to run faster… haha. We then turned around and crossed another bridge… yay for bridges! Oh yea- this is also where I spotted the guy who was juggling his way through the whole race. Seriously!
Miles 5 & 6 were good, nothing exciting to report. I remember crossing the 10k mark and heading for yet another bridge. It truly was gorgeous out. The perfect race conditions, cool with clear skys. And honestly, I was surprised at how beautiful the city was!
At this point we were heading outside of the downtown area and I was certain the course would be empty about this time. Man, was I wrong. There were SO many people out cheering us on! At this point I was still pretty close to being on target for my 3 hour finish. I felt energized by the crowd and tried to pick it up a bit. Mile 8 had another water station… which, this course was absolutely amazing with! I never felt myself wishing for another water station. They were perfectly spaced out and well manned. Even being one of the “slower” runners I found that they still had plenty left and ready to hand out when I got to each one. As we passed through the water station there was a huge crowd of what looked to be Military. Turns out it was a local JROTC program cheering us on! This, of course, made me pick up my pace. I remember being in JROTC in high school and not being able to pass the Physical Fitness Test (PFT) and how far I’d come since then. So I ran harder.
At this point my legs/hips were getting pretty tired. I was a few minutes behind my pace schedule but kept trying to catch back up. Miles 9 & 10 passed as we were nearing the split off from the Full Marathon. Mile 11 came as we crossed a bridge back into the downtown area. At this point I was pretty certain I could shave off those few minutes and still come in sub-3. Then I turned the corner near mile 12 and saw the hill. It wasn’t as bad as I’d imagined… but it really killed me. Then started the downhill… I was thankful for the extra momentum but it was not feeling good on my hips/legs that were already hurting. I just tried to keep a steady pace. I was going to go for it as soon as I saw the finish line. Right around mile 13 the full marathon rejoined our course. People were going crazy as the marathoners came in. I was imagining it was all for me. ha. I tried my best to sprint it out and then got a charlie horse in my right calf… and in my right hip (how does that even happen?)… and then in my left calf… so I did the ugliest sprint/waddle to finish.
It felt so good to cross that finish line and know I was done. I was hurting far more than I did on my last race because I know I pushed myself way harder. I was proud of myself. Even if I didn’t get my sub-3… I was close!
My previous PR was 3:23, so a nearly 20 minute PR! I’ll take it! I snagged my bag of goodies at the finish and my Runner of Steel Medal and hobbled toward the Dick’s Sporting Goods tent where I met up with the rest of the #runfor crew…. ate some snacks and got a massage. Man, VIP tents rock.
Overall I was seriously impressed with this race. The course is beautiful, the aid stations were well executed… but the thing that stuck out to me the most was how excited the people of Pittsburgh were to support the race. It is a BIG deal in this city. Some places can make you feel like the races they put are a hassle – but Pittsburgh honestly LOVED this race. And it showed. The crowd support on this course was unlike any I had experienced before. It was so motivating. I was brought to tears a few times as I struggled through my own pain/thought process and needed that encouragement to keep going. So, hats off to Pittsburgh. You rock.
The rest of the day was spent napping and relaxing with the hubs. Where I looked like this:
Post nap hair and compression sleeves. Oh yea.
and this happened too…
Apparently Primanti Bros is a Pittsburgh must-do… so we did.
What do you do after a big race? Nap? Eat?
What’s your latest PR?
I was compensated for this campaign with Dicks Sporting Goods. All thoughts and opinions are my own