Steel Challenge: Pittsburgh 5K & Half Marathon Recap

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 πŸ˜‰ . 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!2015_GOP_Blogger_Banner

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. 

Pittsburgh 5K

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. PGH5k start marontherun.comOnce 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).  PGH5k finish marontherun.com

*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: Flat Mar marontherun.com

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!) GameonPGH start

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: EatnPark cookie marontherun.com

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.PGH half marontherun.comI 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 πŸ™‚ Steel Challenge medals marontherun.com

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?! IMG_20150503_172726

Do you have a favorite hometown race? Is Pittsburgh on your list (it better be!)

More about Mar on the Run!

55 Comments

    1. Congrats on your race weekend. Those medals are really well done with the cityscapes in the background. A Panera cinnamon bagel would be an awesome treat at the end of a half marathon! I bet you will be back to run those races again the future. By the way, I love my Garmin 220. It gives tons of data and the satellite connection is always very quick!
      Pam recently posted…Planning a Wedding is Like Training for a MarathonMy Profile

      1. I’m thisclose to purchasing one!! so crazy. Thanks, Pam!! I’m behind on my reading and still need to read your Boston recap!

    1. Ooof, hills and heat. That makes me tired just thinking about it. Good work! And that smiley face cookie is so awesome…that should be standard at every finish line.
      Kelli recently posted…Triathlon Running is DifferentMy Profile

    1. Girl, you conquered it! PGH is a tough race for EVERYONE. You totally earned that Cinnamon Crunch bagel (magical, aren’t they??). SO happy for you–I know you were a little unsure about the whole thing going into it, but I’m just so happy that you got to run and visit your city πŸ˜€
      Susie @ SuzLyfe recently posted…Being the Support System: Living with Crohn’s DiseaseMy Profile

      1. it is tough, but I enjoy the course for sure. It’s not as bad on the hills as one would think but the heat brought the heat πŸ˜‰ was a great weekend at home!! Thanks so much my friend πŸ™‚

      1. aren’t they great??!?! and they are a nice weight too! I saw a couple of people down on the course, I was so cold at the end so I’m lucky I was done running when I was.

    1. Those medals are really cool! I heard from a couple people that the heat was hard that day but way to fight through. That’s scary that so many people had to be treated by the medics. And that post-race food from your mom looks amazing! That is a definite perk of doing a home town race πŸ™‚
      Chaitali recently posted…Weekly reviewMy Profile

      1. big perk! especially since she missed my race πŸ™‚ yeah, you can never predict these things but the heat was brutal!

    1. I was surprised how warm it was in Columbus on Saturday. When I wasn’t freezing in the corral I knew it’d be a hot run. My Garmin is also slow to connect and makes races starts a bit tense. I keep thinking about the 220, but I want to tough it out a bit longer with the 10!

      Great race and recap! πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’m going to do Cap City again in Columbus next May… so maybe I need to check out Pitt. I love the medals and it sounds like a good course!
      Elizabeth recently posted…Race Recap: Cap City Half Marathon 2015My Profile

      1. I left the hotel with arm sleeves on and knew immediately I didn’t need them! Couldn’t believe it.

    1. That smiley cookie makes me happy. πŸ™‚ You still had a great time in that half! And you had a GREAT time doing it! Awesome recaps, my friend! Maybe I need to join you for this one next year. πŸ™‚
      Salt recently posted…New Jersey Marathon Recap Part 2: The Race!My Profile

      1. πŸ™‚ love Eat n’ Park smiley face cookies πŸ™‚ they are suuuuuuper sweet but so Pittsburgh! YES, join me next year πŸ™‚

      1. thank you my friend! it really did catch us off guard but of all my decisions bringing hydration was a good one!

    1. I have seen the pink finisher shirt on social media and I really liked it. You wouldn’t get any complaining from me! I don’t know if i’d be up for the Steel challenge, but I must do the 5K at some point because I must have a shirt that says “Runner of Steel”. You did awesome! Sorry to hear about the headache.

      1. you should do the 5K! it’s a great little race and SO fun. It starts at PNC Park so very Pittsburgh πŸ™‚

    1. Congrats on your hometown race finish! I’ve also been having issues with my Garmin connecting lately and it’s only a year old. There are a few races I’d love to run back East as I never took advantage when I lived there. I hope that home-cooked meal took care of that headache!
      Jenny @ TurtleStride recently posted…Ultimate Coffee Date – MayMy Profile

    1. How are your legs currently??? I’ve been tempted to do a race weekend but I’m terrified my legs will be shot by the time the second race comes around!
      Carmy recently posted…May GoalsMy Profile

      1. legs are fine – went to personal training this morning πŸ™‚ I really just need the day to recover anymore.

    1. Great job on both the 5K & half! Nit seeing your pace in the half may have been a good thing so that ou could go by effort and not touch yourself too much in the heat. Congrats, and it was fun hanging out with you over the weekend!
      Jennifer recently posted…Race Recap: 2015 Pittsburgh Half MarathonMy Profile

      1. so great hanging out with you too!!! yeah, who knew after being so chilly Saturday morning it’d get so warm on Sunday. Oh well, a GREAT weekend nonetheless!

    1. Good job on both your races! I think it sounds like everyone had a rough time on Sunday; I know it wasn’t the race I had hoped to run and I was thankful I was not doing the full! Regardless, Pittsburgh is one of my favorite races ever and I will definitely do it again!

    1. Congrats on a great race weekend, despite not feeling the greatest. Adjusting to the heat is never easy. At least you walked away with some great bling, and got to run in a place that you love.
      Kathryn @ Dancing to Running recently posted…May 2015 Monthly GoalsMy Profile

    1. I’ve heard so many great things about this race, that I’d love to run it! But my favorite hometown race is the Chicago marathon. Hands down. I’m looking forward to #3 this fall!
      Wendy@Taking the Long Way Home recently posted…DreamsMy Profile

    1. Awesome medals.
      So sorry about the Garmin. I was having the same issue and Courtney convinced me to upgrade. My new 220 and I went for our first run yesterday and it found the signal in less than 5 seconds. I lost my crap and fell in LOVE!
      Abby @ BackAtSquareZero recently posted…Challenge Update: 9 days InMy Profile

    1. i cannot recommend the garmin 220 enough. I have never had it take more than 30 seconds to connect to a signal-it is awesome!

      and great recaps-even though the half did not go as planned, you did the challenge and got to race at home! I have never raced in my home town, let alone my home state (Houston, texas) but I love to some day

    1. Wow awesome job! I Can’t imagine doing two races in one weekend. I’m running the chicago marathon this year and nervous about the garmin issues you had. I have read that beacuse of tunnels you lose signal and it gets all discombobulated…no clue how to fix that issue so I can know my pace while running – that will be annoying I’m sure!
      Patty @ Reach Your Peak recently posted…5 Ways Spinning Can Help Your RunningMy Profile

    1. Sounds like you had a great race despite the heat. I ran in my hometown on Sunday too and the SUN! It waits until race day to make an appearance. Pittsburgh definitely sounds like a fun race, you have this Baltimore girl intrigued.
      Sara recently posted…Frederick Running Festival RecapMy Profile

    1. It’s always special to run in your hometown!! That is so awesome.
      I’m glad the heat didn’t effect you too much and the meal your Mom made looks awesome! Moms are the best!!
      Love your medals! You are a rockstar for doing both races!!
      Natalie recently posted…Marathons, Ultras, Ironmans…She rocks it all!My Profile

    1. Great recap and congrats on your medals! I did a 5K and half marathon back to back for RnR Philly and I told myself I wouldn’t do that again! This heat and humidity we’re having is absolutely brutal…so great job getting it done! I’d love to run over all those bridges! Pittsburgh definitely needs to go on my list!
      Janelle @ Run With No Regrets recently posted…1/2 Sauer 1/2 Kraut Half Marathon Training Week 3My Profile

    1. Ah, the heat. My least favorite part of racing. That’s why I only make sure to participate in marathon during colder days. Or when it’s off-season for NBA. Because there’s no way I’ll miss that! Also, that recover meal. Yum! I’ll take two plates of that please!

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