Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

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.

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I made sure I had my watch, my Honey Stingers, my fuel belt, my Nuun, and of course, my pace tattoo!

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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:

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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?

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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.

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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”

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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:

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Post nap hair and compression sleeves. Oh yea.

and this happened too…

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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

 

 

Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend – Part 2

Forgive me for not having this up yesterday! I came home to a whirlwind of “real life” demanding my attention and didn’t have the time to finish writing it up! The good news is right after landing in STL and picking up my daughter I went grocery shopping and prepped breakfast casserole and portioned out meat for our meals for the week – so no excuses for not eating right this week!

Our first full day in Pittsburgh was filled with all kinds fun… Press Releases, Ribbon Cutting, Getting all dressed up for a cocktail dinner… It was awesome! Saturday we were scheduled to drive out of downtown to Dick’s Sporting Goods Store Support Center. We eventually made it there and let me say, I was immediately impressed! They call it the “Castle on the Hill” because it is such a big building with one of those long winding hills leading up to it. dicksoffice

So basically, we learned that you could totally live at the offices and never have to leave. They have a cafeteria, a sit down restaurant, dry cleaners, post office, Starbucks, a gym (including full basketball court!)… We joked all you needed was a place to sleep… until we happened upon a bunch of tents set up. Of course, you can sleep in the tents! The Gym has showers. Seriously, you don’t ever need to leave!

I learned that Dick’s Sporting Goods was actually started because Dick was working at an Army/Navy store and the owner asked him to set up a fishing supply area and then told him it was horrible and he didn’t know how to run a store. He went and borrowed $300 from his grandmother and started his own store. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t!

We got to see some super secret Product Development areas that we weren’t allowed to take pictures of… one of which was the Reebok design room (apparently Dick’s owns some part of Reebok’s clothing line? Not sure how that all works) But I can tell you that there are some FUN things coming… in Spring of 2014! Ha. Those guys plan ahead! They also have a “lab store” which is an actual store layout where they can try new marketing set ups and product placements. So neat!

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Before we left we had to get a picture in front of the sign! (By the way- it was kinda chilly, so if we look weird thats why)

From here we headed back to downtown for lunch and another stop at the Expo. We had more time to walk around/shop around and had to exchange some of our gear. Mr Dreamer got in on the expo fun… Since this whole weekend was centered around the #runfor campaign he made a sign with the (only) reason he’d ever run…

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haha. I love that guy. We then got to head out to an actual Dick’s Sporting Goods store with a generous gift card in hand. I walked out with a new pair of Reebok Nanos for both me and the Mr and some Under Armour shorts and sports bra. I had plans to use the gift card on some of the Reebok CrossFit line they sell online at DicksSportingGoods.com… I’ll show you more when it arrives!

After shopping we headed back to the hotel to chill out for a bit before dinner. I wanted to get my race gear together so I didn’t forget anything… like when I forgot my Garmin when we left for my last Half and made Mr Dreamer turn around 10 minutes after leaving…. haha, oops.

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I also made sure I was hydrating for the race. I’m loving this new water bottle!

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We walked to dinner with the rest of the #runfor crew, including Steve Bell (check out his new blog!) who was featured in the first video of the #runfor Series. Of course there was carb loading…. in the form of this amazing pizza.

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I may or may not have ended up in Market Square with the hubs hanging out and indulging in some not so pre-race friendly beverages… we ended up back at the hotel and in bed by a semi-decent hour… and the pre-race jitters were kicking in!

Full race recap to come tomorrow!

What are your pre-race rituals?

 I was compensated for this campaign with Dick’s Sporting Goods. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend- Part 1

Holy Moly. What a weekend! Thursday afternoon Chris and I flew out of STL for Pittsburgh to spend the weekend hanging out with the Dicks Sporting Goods #RunFor Campaign Social Media Influencers. I was so incredibly blessed and humbled to be a part of this amazing group of people! The weekend was jam packed with so much that I’m going to break up my recap into a few parts.

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Me, Ryan, Danica, Calvy, Linzay

They flew us in on Thursday, we met up and had a nice dinner. Friday we got to go to the expo VIP style, an hour before it opened to the public.

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We were able to walk around to some of the vendors, and we found the huge Dick’s Sporting Good area at the expo. They had a photo shoot area set up, so of course I took advantage of that…

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They also had a huge wall set up with the names of all the runners, they were going to have it at the starting line also. I took about 10 minutes to find my name.

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I love that the mini store area that they had set up had the #RunFor posters up everywhere, and even had the videos playing as well.

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After looking around the expo for a bit we got to attend the press conference, where we learned that Dick’s had paid to fly out 37 Boston Runners who didn’t have the opportunity to finish the race in Boston. We also learned that Pittsburgh has a sister city in Mexico. Then it was time for the ribbon cutting and opening the expo to the public. The line for the expo was literally out around the building! It was craaaazy!

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From there we went down to Market Square. Dick’s had set up a mock finish line festival to get the city in the celebrating spirit. You could run down a “finish line” and get a medal. They had the drum line that plays at the steelers game and it was just a fun event.

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The kids were the cutest. They danced their little hearts out. Loved it!

We headed to Sonoma Grill for lunch, I ordered a Cuban. It had pulled pork instead of the usual roasted pork. It was really good. I’m usually not a huge fan of different takes on the Cuban sandwich since I grew up on the “real deal” but I was impressed.

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While we were sitting outside eating one of my twitter followers came up and introduced herself to me. I love meeting readers and followers! That was one of my favorite moments of the weekend for sure. After lunch we had some down time and I was able to get some work done, and start getting ready for our cocktail dinner!

I don’t get to dress up often, so I was kinda excited. I found a dress on clearance at Target for $8 months ago. I didn’t know when I’d ever wear it, but it had pockets so I couldn’t pass it up. My shoes were also a target find, $15!

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I loved getting to dress up and feel super girly… even though I was covered in bruises from CrossFit!

The VIP Cocktail Dinner was hosted by Fantasy Health & Fitness – an organization started by Coach Mike Tomlin from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coach Tomlin was one of the speakers for the evening.

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Along with Coach Tomlin, we got to hear from Ryan Clark, one of the players from the Pittsburgh Steelers. We also got to hear from Steve Bell, who was featured in the very first #RunFor video.

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It was a great time and the view from Le Mont was stunning. I’ll be totally honest, I did NOT expect Pittsburgh to be that “pretty” to look at. I mean, its the city of Steel… but the view did not disappoint!

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All that was just Friday! I’ll be back throughout the week with recaps of our tour of the Dick’s Sporting Goods Headquarters, dinner with Steve Bell, and of course the Race Recap (Spoiler: I set a nearly 20 minute PR!!!)

Have you ever been to Pittsburgh? Do you ever travel for races?

I was compensated for this campaign with Dick’s Sporting Goods. All thoughts and opinions are my own