Oh yes folks, it is gonna be that kinda party – Happy Cinco de Mayo to me! One of my 2013 goals was to PR in a half and with a host of opportunities this year I was sure I’d get there. Well I have to thank my hometown of Pittsburgh, because that time was now in the Pittsburgh Half. My PR of 2:10:21 which I hit at the Baltimore Half last October, was not only beaten but annihilated by 7 whole minutes. Official time in the UPMC Pittsburgh Half: 2:03:35. Can I get a woo woo?? Thanks, now let’s recap!!
Headed to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center mid Saturday morning. With my confirmation card in hand I went right up to get my race bib and then walked a mere 2 feet for my shirt. From there you were sort of shepherded right to the Dick’s Sporting Goods store – not that I minded they are the major sponsor, but do you really think I made it out of that area unscathed? Nope, didn’t think so. Luckily I did not look the shoes directly in the eye but did get a new Sweaty Band, Spibelt (forgot mine at home) and this:Total aside, this is a Men’s T-shirt and the smallest size they had was a Medium. Why do they make all the women’s stuff frilly and pink?? (not that there is anything wrong with pink…) Back to regular programming. I basically cruised the rest of the area without buying anything else 🙂 then made my way to the bag pickup area. And the contents? Muy bueno:
Pittsburgh really knows how to do swag…
Sunday, Race Day:This is the first race I have done since the Boston Marathon bombings. I knew there would be heightened security and extra vigilance but it completely warmed my heart to see the THOUSANDS of spectators that came out to support the runners. Completely amazing. Some of the areas near the start/finish line were gated and pushed back but that didn’t deter folks from coming out.
I have to say this is one of the most organized, professional, courteous, energetic, timely (so on and so on) races I have ever been a part of. The announcer was great and gave a nice tribute to the Boston victims and led a moment of silence. He even had us turn to the runner to our left and say “Good Morning”. 🙂 The weather was perfect hovering in the 50’s and the sun peaking just as things started up. The National Anthem was sung and it gave me chills. Then it was time for Renegade (Pittsburgh anthem and de facto Steelers theme song) and BOOM I was totally pumped. After which a whistle and a shout from Ryan Clark and we were off!! (Google that fine fella if you’re saying to yourself, Ryan who?!) The course was mainly flat with rolling hills, that I totally partied down on!
Miles 1-4: I will start off by saying my only real race gripe had to with Nike Fitness. The one embedded on the new iPod Nano to be exact. It has always seemed “off” in some of my training runs but I blew it off. I turned it on at 7 am (though my corral (C) started about 7 minutes later) and began my run slow and steady then settled into a pretty solid pace for my 5K. By mile 3 we were going over the first (of many) bridges and I saw the “3” mile marker and checked the app only for it to say 2.55 miles completed, huh?! When I hit 4 miles, the app said 3 and I knew at that point it was going to be completely unreliable. This one mile behind routine continued throughout. Bummer.
Miles 5-9: At this point, I had completely forgotten I was running a half marathon (seriously). The miles just fell into one another and I cruised. My 10K time was 58:17. Around this same point I reached into my Spibelt and had a few gummy bears (which proved beneficial at the RNR USA so thought I’d try them again). I have to say when we got to Mile 8-ish I was still feeling really good. I never broke stride, and pretty much ran this entire race. I only stopped to walk 3 times and they were brief stops for Gatorade (I can run and drink water b/c who cares but Gatorade is a different story). Because I ran this race last year, my body seemed to know it was a familiar course and I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. At Mile 9 I checked my time and was at less than 90 minutes – for real?!
Miles 10 – 13.1: Around Mile 11 I knew there were a big downgrade, then upgrade, then downgrade to the finish. I stopped for Gatorade, more gummy bears and went to the side, stretched out my legs a bit – then I looked at the clock. It was 8:49 am. This is when it struck me that a PR was within reach. I knew I started several minutes after 7 am (and with my screwy Nike app, really couldn’t put the numbers together) so said to myself, “self, being conservative you can run 10 minute miles and finish in 20 minutes – leggo!!” Of course, the reality was I ran 8:30 minute miles the final 2 and finished 17 minutes after that break. I crossed the finish with arms raised at 2:11 on the clock. Wasn’t sure of the net at that moment, but a big smile crossed my face (and there may have been a fist pump!) knowing I had PR. So as I get the medal draped around my neck, my friend who was getting race text alerts sent me a text “2:03:35 – you effing ROCK”. OMG!!!!! If I wasn’t so ecstatic, I probably would’ve started crying. One of the volunteers saw the elation in my eyes, reached over and gave me a high five and a “you did it, girl”. Understatement.
I stopped to get an official picture then proceeded to the refreshments. In a rare sight, we were given plastic bags BEFORE going down the line to get our treats. Much appreciated. They gave us finisher cups (plastic), there was an abundance of carb laden treats from Panera Bread, bananas, fruit cups, water and the best treat of all: Eat n’ Park smiley face cookies (a Pittsburgh staple). The finishers festival was hopping and music lively. PR aside, this was simply a great race and a truly awesome day. Thank you, Pittsburgh!!
Now where’s that foam roller… 🙂