Whew, where to even begin! First, thank you all for your comments yesterday! I read every single one of them! I have plenty to share about things before the race (along with my weekend that was quite a fun one!) so they’ll be more to talk about this week, for sure! Today, though, I want to talk about my race in general! Grab a cup of coffee, this is a long one!
Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2015 Recap:
I spent Saturday trying to lay low, in hopes my feet and legs were ready to tackle Sunday’s race. I drank lots of SMARTwater, some Gatorade, and made sure to eat plenty of food (#carbsforlife). I finally decided what to wear, laid out all my clothes, and relaxed for the night. I chose a tank top and capris, only because my shorts aren’t comfortable to run in these days. I never did wear the arm warmers. I had a throw away hoodie that I tossed right before the start.
Before I went to bed, Aaron surprised me with this gorgeous necklace. I had found it months ago on Etsy and mentioned how cute it was, never thinking about it again. I LOVED that he got it for me for some good luck. It meant so much, and gave me some more confidence in the race. I was a pile of nerves all day!
I woke up at 4:40 to make sure I went to the bathroom, got dressed, made a bagel, and had everything I needed before we left. We ended up leaving the house at 5:10 to drive to the T station. The T is a lightrail system that takes you from many places in the south hills down town. We chose to do that instead of driving because so many roads are closed and we’ve been stuck in years past. My mom met us at the T station, but we ended up waiting from 5:15 to about 5:45 for a trolley to come. We finally boarded one, and with each stop it became very crowded. I started to feel a bit sick, and had to go to the bathroom again.
We finally around around 6:15, hit up the Porta Johns, met up with my friend Kathryn (we’ve been friends for so many years, and she’s amazing! Sweetest soul and SO fast!) and chatted before we loaded into our corral around 6:35. We knew they were closing at 6:45 so we made our way in and then up towards the front since there weren’t so many people.
The wheelchairs were off at 6:55, followed by corral A with the elites at 7:00 and then corral B (where I was) at 7:05. Honestly, I had thought about dropping corrals since mine was decided with my 8 minute goal time. But, this corral was from 8:00-9:29 so I felt fine staying in it and just taking it slow.
At 7:05 we were off. I was looking for Aaron and my mom, and they saw me, but I missed them. It’s crazy how you just get into the run and totally forget you’re even running! I was surrounded by so many people cheering for us, and it’s just a surreal experience. We ran down through the Strip to 30th street before turning down another street and running back to the bridge at 16th street.
The thing about Pittsburgh that makes it both amazing, and hurtful during races, is that there are many bridges. We ran five of them for the half marathon, but bridges are NOT flat! They have quite a bit of an incline to them. However, the bridges are the best places for inspiration. There are always tons of people there cheering you on. You run from the 16th bridge down through the North Shore before turning and running the 8th street bridge and immediately the 7th street bridge. These two bridges. Wow! The cheering and supporters are incredible. You can’t even make it through as a spectator! People are all over the bridges, around the bend, and taking you back over to the North Shore.
The first five miles or so of this race were pretty good. I spent a lot of time trying to stay at the 9 minute pace, and was definitely worried I was going too fast. I felt great, though, and kept powering through. The hills I conquered I Just slowed down and tried my best. With each bridge, I knew there was a downhill coming. After running through the North Shore, I knew we would have a pretty good downhill before tackling the uphill on the West End bridge. The 10 mile race goes the opposite way and I had remembered climbing this hill in November.
The West End was great, too, full of lots of support. I think I walked at one point for like 5 seconds to take a drink at this point. I can’t be too sure. I just knew that after the West End, we’d be making our way to Station Square. I forgot about a few hills between the West End and Station Square, but that’s ok. It was about this time I was starting to lose my motivation. My feet were hurting, my back was starting to hurt, and I was not loving it. I came up to mile 9, and really imagined crossing the finish line, thought about Baby Brown, and knew I could do it. I knew I had some great areas ahead of me to run through, and I honestly envisioned the park I’ve run way too many times since it’s two miles down and two miles back. I had four miles left and tried to use this method to get me to the end.
The next area to go through was the South Side. I keep saying the other places were the best, but this honestly is. In this area, I passed TONS of hilarious signs (of course I can’t remember them), saw two young boys (not even 5) sitting in chairs and handing out small water bottles to runners, people with buckets of orange slices to give out, gummy worms passed out, not to mention the fluid stations.
Helicopters watching all of the race!
I finally saw the Birmingham bridge come up, and knew this was almost the end. I had to cross this, go up a huge hill, and then run down to the finish. I knew I could do it. I remember at my last half, I struggled through South Side and this bridge due to the heat. Let me tell you, Sunday was not ideal race conditions. It was 54 when we started, and immediately became too hot. The sun came out and stayed out the whole way. We had a slight breeze but you didn’t even notice because of how hot it was.
I kept pushing through the bridge, made it to the end, and started climbing the last hill. However, I knew I was putting too much effort into it at this point. I knew my heart rate was getting too high, so I backed off and walked just a bit, drank some more Gatorade, texted Aaron and said I was close, and then started running again. I absolutely would have pushed it if I wasn’t pregnant, but I had a little person to worry about too! They also were handing out cups of beer at this point, if that’s your thing during a race
Once I reached the top of the hill, (right by Duquesne University) we were downhill. I thought we were closer than we were, so I started to really push through and decided to give it all I had. I kept going, and eventually saw the flags for the finish. Well, they had flags for the 13 mile mark, which is what I was eyeing and pushed for, and then realized I had 0.1 to go! haha That kind of sucked, but I kept pushing and made it through to the finish, as happy as could be. I was kind of shocked it all happened, but so excited to have finished.
I actually met up with my friend Nikki in the finishers loop where we chatted, got our snacks, took a picture, and then I made my way to my mom, Aaron, and Bridget. I was so happy to see them! Though I didn’t see them on the course at all (wish I did!) I knew they were there cheering for me and that’s all I needed to think about to keep me going.
All that mattered was that I finished! I didn’t stay around for the big finisher’s festival. We had a packed day and I just wanted to relax. We finally made it home around 10:45. I had dreams of this huge post race meal, but honestly, I was not hungry all day at all. It was hard to eat food! Even yesterday I wasn’t extremely hungry after I ate breakfast.
A few other notes about this race:
- I had carried a Gatorade with me the entire time. My last half was hot, and I needed fluid in between water and Gatorade stations. I also knew I needed to stay hydrated with the babe so I chose to bring it along. No it wasn’t convenient holding it the entire time, but sometimes you just deal with it.
- I didn’t have as many Shot Bloks as I ever have while training. I meant to have more, but just couldn’t stomach them. I had one half at mile 3, another half at mile 7 I think, and then another half around mile 9 when I was waiting at a Porta John.
- I made three bathroom stops. One was at mile 4ish, one mile 9ish and another in between that I can’t remember at the moment. I know for the first I didn’t wait long, the second I did and wasn’t happy, and the third was a bit of wait but nothing crazy. There were lots of Porta Johns. Honestly, I didn’t even go in the last two. I thought I had to so badly but that’s pregnancy for ya! Tricking you all the time.
- There were a lot of Gatorade and water stations. Gatorade was first, with lots of volunteers handing it out. Then, you’d get to the water station. There were a lot of both water and Gatorade tables, so even if you didn’t think you wanted it when they started, you could still grab one a little bit after the fact.
- I had an orange slice which was delicious in the South Side.
- This race was a lot more mental struggles than anything. I enjoyed it, I loved conquering it with my babe, I got so engrossed with the bands playing, crowds cheering. However, I was thinking and questioning myself almost the entire time. I wondered if I was drinking enough, if I was going too fast, did I go fast enough, was I being safe to the baby, was my heart rate ok? Some points I forgot I was pregnant and kept pushing (uhm, the bridges) and then I had to remind myself, no, you need to slow down and you’ll make it. It was a huge mental struggle because in races you always push yourself more than in training! Except this time, I couldn’t. I absolutely am fine with this! It was just trying to remember it during the whole race
- I only drank water twice at the fluid stations. I drank my Gatorade the other times, but when I did get the water, I walked through the station (until I was done drinking) and then moved on. I never did finish my Gatorade. I had a bit left but tossed it near the finish line.
- They discourage use of headphones, though I used mine in one ear anyway. There are a lot of bands that play along the course 🙂 Some spectators had their own boomboxes playing loudly too!
Whew, sorry it’s so long! I will be sharing the Pros and Cons of this race (organization, etc) later this week, along with the Expo! There are way more pros than cons, but a few things that can be improved on, but this it too long!