Pittsburgh Half Recap
This weekend was the Pittsburgh Marathon and Half Marathon. It was my comeback race- my first race since having Riley less than 5 months ago and my first distance race since the Heartbreak Hill Half in June 2014. During training I didn’t have a goal pace for this race, but after last week’s 16-miler where I finished the first 13 miles in 2:17, I told Dave that I figured I would finish my race in the same amount of time. Then, of course, race day weekend comes and suddenly I’m hoping and dreaming of (unrealistically) a PR or (more realistically) a 10 minute pace.
So how did it go? I have mixed feelings.
First off, Saturday was the expo. I like expos, but honestly, they are usually underwhelming. This one was no exception. Maybe it’s just because I’m kind of cheap or because my husband doesn’t go crazy over running stuff like I do, but we just kind of wondered around not really looking hard at anything or being amazed by anything. I mean don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy walking around and getting into the race atmosphere! Plus, free Chobani and samples are always great.
Race morning I woke up a little before 4 because Riley was up and hungry. After nursing her and putting her back to sleep, I had an Eggo waffle for breakfast and pumped milk so Dave could feed Riley while I was out.
Like last year, I was supposed to run as part of Dick’s Sporting Good’s Corporate Team, but since having Riley I left Dick’s Corporate so could no longer run as part of their team. Boo. Instead I wore last year’s corporate team shirt! (I ended up not running last year either because I was pregnant and my doctor gave me a thumbs down…)
I took a train into the city and arrived at the starting area at 6:15. It was waaaay easier than trying to drive in and I will definitely use it in the future. Even better, the station shot out right at the porta johns. Woo!
It was damp and a little chilly waiting for the race to begin, but no rain and my throw away shirt kept me warm enough. I’ve never been at a race start by myself before and I’m not an incredibly outgoing person, so I felt a little awkward just standing around, but whatever.
Corrals closed at 6:45 and I missed getting in mine (along with a bunch of other people), so we ran back to an open corral and all squeezed in. Right as the race started it began to rain…super, right? I had a baseball cap on, which kept the rain off my face so I really didn’t mind.
At about 7:20 my corral was up and before I knew it, we were off! It was exciting, but weird. I didn’t feel like I was racing- maybe because it’s been a while or because I’d had terrible sleep the last two nights, but I felt off. The adrenaline rush wasn’t there and I couldn’t fall into a rhythmic pace. At mile 2, I got a side stitch which last a few miles.
As the miles went on, I started to feel better, more confident. Despite the side stitch, my stomach was staying in check and my pace was surprisingly good. Maybe I could get a faster time than I thought!
Mile 1- 10:21
Mile 2- 9:43
Mile 3- 9:47
Mile 4- 10:13
Mile 5- 9:35
Mile 6- 10:27
I started feeling tired around mile seven, my confidence slipping a bit on whether I could run the entire race, but I reminded myself that it was supposed to be hard. I saw a spectator pointing to her head while cheering on a friend and it gave me a boost- yes, it was mind over matter. Keep pushing.
Mile 7- 10:26
Mile 8- 9:54
Mile 9- 10:25
The rain had stopped by mile eight, but it was MUGGY. Somewhere around here, I pulled off to the side because I thought I had a stone in my shoe. As it turned out, my socks were wet from the rain and rubbing the bottom of my feet. (I discovered a major blister on the bottom of one foot after getting home).
Around mile 9, I stopped and walked a minute, mentally yelling at myself for doing so. I didn’t want to walk; I wanted to run. I started comparing myself to other runners. Runners who’ve been consistently racing for years, who I shouldn’t be comparing myself to. So I thought of Dave, Riley and our friend Mike who would be in the crowd around mile 10.5. I sped up and pushed on.
Approaching the bridge, I spot Mike waving in the crowd and seeing my baby girl was the boost I needed. Dave held her up and I gave her a big kiss as I passed.
Mile 10- 10:25
Mile 11- 10:35
This is where my motivation died. At mile 11, I stopped and walked. My legs stiffened up. My right quad, which has been giving me trouble for weeks, was sore and my calves were tight. After a few minutes, I picked my speed back up.
Mile 12- 12:48
The big hill. I tried to run the whole thing, I was determined, but I walked some of the middle. And when I got to the top, I walked some more. At this point I was half cursing myself and had half given up. But the view of the city from the top of the hill was spectacular.
Maybe one day I’ll take photos during a race.
Finally, the glorious decent to the finish line came. It was crazy because I saw more people walking here than anywhere else. It seemed that everyone’s calves were cramping. Fortunately, mine didn’t and I was able to keep my run going. I was determined to not slow down again until I finished. And I’ll be damned, I didn’t.
It was a bummer that no one I knew was cheering me on at the finish and made me wonder for a brief second what was the point of speeding up and finishing fast. Except I love to finish fast. Because I love to run fast. So I dug deep.
As I approached the finish line, the announcer came on giving a shout out to all the female runners- how amazing we are for raising families and holding jobs, wearing high heels and running homes… and still managing to get out and run. It was so encouraging and just what I needed to finish strong (since my pride was pretty well torn.) I finished strong, hands in the air, victorious. Then quickly put them down and paused my Garmin.
Mile 13- 10:48
Final Finish Time- 2:17:27
I finish almost exactly at the time I’d predicted, but still slower than I wanted. I reminded myself of everything that Dave, my mom, my sister, and hell, even people at the expo told me- finishing a half marathon only 4 1/2 months post partum is a HUGE feat! Be Proud! And I am. It wasn’t my best race ever and maybe I didn’t achieve the lofty goal that popped up in my head, but I finished…and I ran it well. And now I can claim the title I’ve been wanting for 3 years- RUNNER OF STEEL.