Just like everyone does before a race, I stared at that forecast like I had any ability to change it. We had some pretty great weather during the week, but from Saturday to Sunday, the temps dropped significantly. I was ready for the temps (and actually love running in my compression tights!) but was worried about the snow and freezing rain they had predicted. Race day ended up being in the 30s with sun, which made it great once we got started!
My dad was still in the hospital, so my mom waited with him, while Matt, Niko, and Aaron came with me to cheer me on. We left around 7 after eating my usual Oatmeal for breakfast. The race didn’t begin until 9, but we were parking near the start (not near the finish) so we had to get there before 8 when the roads closed. We parked around 7:45, made a bathroom stop, and met up with one of my best friends running it, Kathryn. We waited in the car for a bit to stay warm, while the boys went off on a walk with Niko.
Around 8:25, we decided to make our way down to the start (and in search of more bathrooms) where Kathryn and I parted ways, and entered our corrals. I wanted to run with the 8:30 pace, but that was at the back of corral B, and I was in C. I made my way to the front of C, and decided to just run my pace, with hopes that pacer would be in my sight. The start line was pretty empty for a while, but the announcers got us up and moving by doing some dynamic warm ups. I have never been that close to the front before, so I am not sure if all races do that (?), but I did some of them to warm myself up! This is the first year this race happened, so it was smaller than other races I have been apart of.
Once the gun went off, I just ran. Funny, It took me a little to realize I was racing; I just felt like I was running and had a blast. I would look around, take in the sights, look towards the bridge, and climb the hills as they came. It was after the first hill that I even remembered I was racing, and had already caught up to the 8:30 pacer. I was so happy about this, but I still didn’t feel like I was really pushing myself. I kept with him for a little while, but just kept running at a pace I felt comfortable at. Around mile 3, I remember I passed him, and didn’t see him again until mile 8!
Obviously I wanted to give this race my all. I didn’t want to leave anything behind, and really wanted to push myself. I made sure I walked through the Gatorade stations (for the sole reason I am terrible at running and drinking from those cups!) and drank a few sips at each station. I forgot to start Map My Run, though, before my race, so I had absolutely no idea how far we had gone, which was nice except I hadn’t started taking fuel like I had planned. This kind of back fired on me because I had planned on eating Shot Bloks before the fluid station and using the Gatorade to chase them down. It ended up that I would go through the fluid station, and like a half mile-mile later need a Shot Blok. In the end, it worked out, just not the best thinking on my part.
We went over multiple bridges, and I just took each one like it came. I didn’t think about them too much, but knew each one would bring a hill, but then a downhill, too. Aaron and Matt were supposed to meet me at the end of one bridge around the 4 mile mark. However, it ended up being further away than we thought from the start, and I was going faster than any of us believed, so they missed me. Truth be told I was really only bummed because I wanted to give them my headband and gloves, oops!
The rest of the race was just for fun. I took in the spectators and their signs (not too many because this was the first year) and just kept running. Miles flew by, and I loved that starting at mile 4, they had the time listed for each mile so I knew what I was running. The last few were the longest, but I just kept pushing myself.
Around mile 8, the 8:30 pacer caught up with me, but I was determined to beat 1:25 (his pace time) so I kept going past him, and anytime I heard him, I went faster. I heard at one point he said they were about 20 seconds faster than they thought, so they would break 1:25, but since I was giving it my all, and it was close to the finis, I decided just to use everything in me. I didn’t leave anything out there. We finally turned the bend, and I saw the finish in sight! Actually, I underestimated how close it was as I started sprinting when it was still about 1/4 mile away.
My favorite part was seeing Aaron, Matt, and Niko right before the finish! It was all I needed and I pumped those arms even faster.
Right as I was coming up to the finish line, I heard the announcer say if we finished within the next 30 seconds, we’d beat the 8:30 mile mark, which was just what I wanted! I finished at 1:24:50 on the clock, but that was the unofficial time, making me even more ecstatic. My official time was 1:23:45 with an 8:23 minute/mile pace.
I can’t even explain to you how excited I was for this race time. I have never been a fast runner, and typically stuck between 9 and 10 minute miles. For me to train this long and hard, and see my time improve that much really made a difference. Like I mentioned, I didn’t want to hold anything back, so I did push myself. I wanted to see what I could do with all the training I did. Now, don’t get me wrong- I know there are so many of you that run further than this for just mid week runs, or as training runs, but this was a huge deal to me, and one I couldn’t be more proud of. In fact, we had like a mile walk back to the car, and I was already sore in my legs. That’s how I knew I gave it my all!
My thoughts on the race:
I think they did a great job making the entire course spectator friendly, and safe. There were many policemen all over making sure we were safe, and all the roads were closed. Some races have roads open, which makes me nervous, but this was great.
There were actually not many bathrooms for the beginning of the course. I felt like I needed to go at the beginning when we started, but I guess it was just nerves. By the time I saw them, there were no lines, but I just didn’t want to stop!
I loveeee the medal they gave us! I think I was the most excited to have someone put that on me!
There were plenty of people handing out water and Gatorade, as well as cleaning the cups up for our safety.
This race took us in so many different areas throughout Pittsburgh which was really enjoyable. I never got tired of looking at the sights. I just hated going through the Strip and not being able to stop and eat at all the places that smelled so good!
There were plenty of options after the finish to refuel. They had heat wraps, water, bananas, apples, chips, and, my favorite, Panera bagels (Cinnamon crunch, too!).
Because it was a smaller race, there was no problem finding Aaron and Matt after. We even met up with Kathryn! She finished in 1:22:15!
And, yes, I remained on cloud 9 all day My hips were sore all day Sunday and I was barely able to walk, but by Monday morning, they were much better. I felt much better on this run than I felt doing 10 miles a few weeks ago. My knees did start to bother me during the race, but nothing too major. I am eager to get out for a run, but making sure my body is rested enough, first. I took a walk yesterday, which felt great! Every time I think of my race, I get a huge smile on my face!