The Mario Lemieux 6.6K Race was created with proceeds benefitting two worthwhile Pittsburgh charities, the cancer research and patient care initiatives of the Mario Lemieux Foundation and the youth hockey initiatives of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. It also paid homage to the great Mario Lemieux, a former Pittsburgh Penguin’s player, and current owner of the Penguins. Aaron and I are huge Penguin fans, so when we saw a race like this, we knew we had to do it.
There was only one problem; Aaron doesn’t run.. ever. He ran a few times on our honeymoon, but other than that, he doesn’t usually work out. He really wanted to do this run, though, so he had been going for some runs the past few weeks. For some reason, though he never runs, whenever he does he is able to pick up and run whatever distance I want him to! Lucky him..
We went down to pick up our packets on Saturday morning. We were able to get in, get our bib, and walk over to get our shirt in about 2 minutes! They had so many volunteers, and the entire thing was set up in a very organized fashion. It was great not to wait in lines to get your things!
Our morning began bright and early with alarms going off at 6:00. The race began at 8:30, but streets were closing at 7:30. I wanted to make sure we had time to get there and park, so we left at 6:30, with oatmeal in our hands. Coincidentally, it was my worst bowl of oatmeal, ever! I have no idea what happened, but it was bad. We arrived a little before 7, and headed out to check out the stands. There weren’t too many, just a Mario Lemieux Charity tent, and a True Runner tent.
They did have morning-of registration, as well as packet pick up. Again, they had so many tents with this that it didn’t seem to be any problem doing any of it the morning of. There were plenty of Porta Johns (after we figured out there were about 30 more on the street beyond the trees), and plenty of snacks to enjoy when finishing. I was pleasantly surprised how well things went considering the last 5K race I went to…
After a quick stop at the Porta Johns, we went back to the car to hang out a bit more. Around 8:00, we got out, walked up, ran into our friend, used the Porta Johns again, and entered our corral.
I had no intentions of running this as a race. I was actually supposed to do the 9 mile run on Saturday, though I did complete it Friday instead. I have been having a slight pain on the outside of my foot, and just wasn’t in the best mood to run. I lined up with Aaron at the Corral with the 10:00 minute pace because I had hopes of just staying back and running with him. However, things change. He mentioned something about me making him go too fast. I try to slow down and run with him, but he is right and it is really difficult to do so. In turn, I end up pushing him too much, and then he burns out. I did not want this to happen, so I decided it was for the best I ran on my own; again, not thinking I would race.
Before we started, Mario Lemieux did in fact show up and stood at the start line! We even had the man who sings the National Anthem at the games there to sing it that morning. Before we knew it, we were starting!
After passing over the start line, I decided to just start running at a comfortable pace. The only probably was that I was now in with 10 minute/mile pace and I didn’t run that, so I spent about the first mile weaving in and out of people trying to get around them. It was in this mile, though, that I decided I wanted to race this, and leave nothing back (I guess I got a little competitive with myself .) When I could, I took off at a speed that challenged me across the bridges, and up and down the hills.
I really enjoyed this race as it took me to different parts of our town that I don’t typically see. The miles were flying by, too, and before I knew it, we turned the corner to head to the finish. Of course the last bit of the run was uphill, so I nearly died, but I crossed the finish line without leaving anything behind. I can say that I pushed myself to my max (given my legs weren’t in the best shape) and felt great finishing.
This race was fantastic in the fuel after the run, and during it. We had two water breaks during the run, and upon finishing, they had Sports Drinks, water, apples, bananas, and even Eat ‘n’ Park Smiley Cookies to enjoy. I took a bit of everything, and headed over to wait for Aaron to finish. Oh, did I mention they even gave out medals!? Most small races (this is the first year, too) don’t give out medals, but this one was awesome and made it even better!
A few minutes later, he finished, and I’ve never been so proud of him! He ran up that last hill, and crossed the finish line with a smile on his face! He said he felt great throughout the whole run, and said it was his best run he has had. It made me feel better about taking off and leaving him behind because I know he wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much if I ran with him.
We didn’t hang around too much longer before heading to our car and going home. We both felt great after the race, and loved how organized it was.
I ended up finishing 26 in my age group, 431 overall (there were over 4500 people) with a time of 33:53, average pace 8:16. This was huge for me! I have never been fast, and even getting in the 8’s for a 5K is unheard of. To get it with a 4.1 (which was actually more than that by GPS…) made me ecstatic!
Aaron finished with a time of 40:46, average of 9:56. He was soo excited to beat 10 min/mile and I was so proud of him! He finished 91 in his age group, and 1331 overall. Not bad for never running, right? I’m hoping this makes him keep up his running 😉
What’s the best part of a race to you?