If you missed my recap of Pittsburgh Marathon weekend, well… mosey on over here. I’m stepping out of the box of race recaps by recapping both races in the Steel Challenge because Lil Mama likes to mix things up 😉 . As an official blogger for the Pittsburgh Marathon I was gifted with a comp entry into the half marathon but naturally all opinions and mad love for the city of Pittsburgh are alllll mine!
In order to receive the special Steel Challenge medal you needed to run the Pittsburgh 5K Saturday and either the Half Marathon or Marathon on Sunday. Signing up for the 5K was a last minute decision made on the final day available to register for the Steel Challenge. That and *peer pressure* since so many of the cool kids were doing it and I wasn’t going to make a special trip into the city at 7 am just for the meetup, so a run happened.
Following the Tweetup Meetup we all started heading towards the start line. There were no corrals but there were minute pacers lined up. I hopped in with the 9 minute pacer – not really expecting to follow them just ended that way. Once the gun went off we were off! Everything moved quickly and rather smooth. I wasn’t trying to go all out just wanted a nice comfortable pace and not strain anything for Sunday. We started on General Robinson Street at PNC Park. We ran up Allegheny Commons towards Allegheny Commons Park looping around the park and back towards the Commons. There was an aid station there that I skipped and kept going towards the 7th Street Bridge which we crossed to head into the city. We ran through the Cultural District on 7th Street then onto Wood Street and around the corner onto the Boulevard of the Allies for the big finish, crossing in 28:13/9:04 pace (Garmin had 3.14 miles, 8:59 pace).
*people complained about the pink finishers shirts for the ladies – guys got green – but it grew on me! Afterwards I met up with Kristy and others at the finish then we went for coffee and took the “T” back to Heinz Field which is where I parked. All in all an excellent morning for a meetup and a run and it left me feeling good about the half the following day.
UPMC Half Marathon
Leaving Saturday’s 5K I was ready to relax and stay off my feet. I went home, had some breakfast and watched TV all afternoon. Then I headed in to the city for hotel check in and church. Somewhere along the way I developed a slight headache, which is becoming problematic (see Blossom, Cherry). After picking up some pasta I settled in for the evening and continued my water/Gatorade hydrating. From the handful of options I brought along I decided on one and got Flat Mar all ready to go:
Crawling into the amazingly comfy hotel bed, I checked out some of the race logistics through the Pittsburgh Marathon, set the alarm and after a showing of Mean Girls, crashed pretty hard. When I woke up Sunday I was operating under a 7:30 am race start. Where I got this, I have NO idea. I even told my parents that in case they wanted to come downtown. Guess what, Mar? it starts at 7!!
I was up and hanging out at 6:30 but dawdling. When I saw a couple of Facebook posts of people in the Corrals I was like, man they’re on top of it! Then I checked the Corral close times and realized mine closed at 6:45. Oops. Luckily I was dressed and a 3 minute walk away but ended up in Corral C unable to work my way up to B. Ugh, Sign #1. As the announcers got us excited and moving along I couldn’t get a Garmin signal (I swear Courtney, I’m upgrading now!)
It remained at “getting location” mode through the start. By the time I got a signal I was more than a mile into the race. It was also pretty warm already. I stepped off course to remove my arm sleeves and tuck them away (cursing my last minute decision not to wear a Spibelt because my handheld was with me). I should have just started it at Mile 2 to view it cleanly even if it was behind but didn’t think of that. In any case the first 3 miles were all a blur because my Garmin was off, I had no clue what my pace was, I was constantly trying to adjust and it was hot. We ran down Liberty Avenue and back onto Penn Avenue through the Strip for those miles.
Heading to Mile 3 we hit our first bridge (ie hill), the 16th Street Bridge. I handled it well, just wish I knew my pace. We entered the North Side at this point and two more bridges fairly immediately, the 9th Street Bridge and the 7th Street Bridge towards familiar territory, Allegheny Commons – the site of the 5K course. This accounted for Miles 3-6. My 10K time was 1:06:05 a lot of which was simply stopping (mainly at the beginning).
Mile 6-7 had us going over the West End Bridge then onto Carson Street towards Station Square which is actually relatively flat (for Pittsburgh!) and quite scenic as you can see the skyline (sorry, no on course pics!) and Heinz Field. At this stage I was getting more and more tired as the sun was seriously unrelenting with virtually no cloud cover. I actually read that the medics were busy during the marathon, treating upwards of 100 people for various heat related things as it got a lot warmer sooner than expected.
Using my handheld I didn’t need to stop at any aid stations until I ran out around Mile 8 and needed water. My pace slowed remarkably but knew I only had 4 more miles to go (well, and the Birmingham Bridge!) You get to the bridge just before Mile 11 so I stopped for hydration and just ran, albeit slowly up the bridge, rounding the corner up the steep Forbes Avenue and then onto the Boulevard of the Allies (downhill, huzzah!) for the finish! I crossed in one of my slowest half marathon times ever at 2:26:39. Honestly? I didn’t care. I was just so happy to be running at home, handed my medal and Smiley Face Cookie:
Crossing the finish though I was freezing even knowing it was a sauna out there. Walking through the finishers chute I downed a cup of Gatorade, picked up a heat sheet, bottle of water, a Panera Cinnamon Crunch bagel (thank you for being a sponsor, the food is incredible here!!) and a banana. I was glad to be done and was SO hot and SO tired. I made my way to the Finish Line Festival to pick up my Steel Challenge medal and sit for a few minutes. I had no energy to seek anyone out or wait around. I got a couple congratulatory text messages from friends who were tracking me (sorry if I did not respond!) as my head was hurting and my legs were sore from working those hills in the heat.I walked back to the hotel for a shower and about an hour or so of rest before having to check out. Sadly, I didn’t even partake in the complimentary breakfast I was given at the Commoner, the hotel’s restaurant, as I was feeling sick. I headed back to my parents house, stopping for Advil and caffeine then took a 3 hour nap when I got home.
Heat and slow run aside, the race itself is amazing – 5 bridges and all. I have no complaints about the race or the organization. The crowd support – especially on the bridges – is second to none. I simply LOVE running in Pittsburgh and am so thankful for the opportunity to blog for the race again and represent my city. Meeting up with friends, family and fellow bloggers over the course of 4 days was simply priceless. I know others struggled due to the weather and things like that are just unpredictable but home is always home and that’s all that matters to me. Well, that and these kick ass medals 🙂
No doubt I will be back for this race… perhaps 26.2 someday, hmm… of course my favorite part of the day was the recover meal. When I was finally able to eat my mother had grilled BBQ chicken, baked sweet potatoes, corn on the cob and broccoli. Uh, yum?!
Do you have a favorite hometown race? Is Pittsburgh on your list (it better be!)