Pittsburgh Marathon May 4, 2014

After zipping back from a birthday party the night before via the Eat n Park for a sandwich, we are wide awake at 4am (somehow).  I make a last minute decision to run in the long sleeve race top as I don't think its warm enough for a tank top.  Isn't that one of the things they say not to do on race day?

It seems we are the only ones leaving the hotel in the dark morning hours.  The receptionist gives us quite a stare (running perverts!!)  We walk through town toward the start corral area and soon have plenty company.  I am not as nervous or outright terrified as I was for my first marathon, I feel quite calm.  We joined the Steel City Road Runners prior to coming down as they have a private indoor area to wait in for the race start.  I have no way of thanking them enough for this.  It is magnificent.

We hang out in possibly the most pleasant place in Pittsburgh until 6:30 when we head toward our corrals.  Kev is in B and I am in D.  I make it into D just as they are announcing the corral closure at 6:45.  I can see the 5 hour pacer just ahead of me.  It is daylight now and cloudy.  The anthem is sung and gradually the runners take off.  Kev has a 6 min wait from gun time, I have a 36 min wait.  During this time it rains and I get very cold.  I borrow a discarded shirt from the barrier as we inch forward.  Whoever abandoned it smelled very nice indeed - thank you checked shirt stranger!

Everything went to Goodwill after the race

At last we pass the start line and get going.  I am very stiff and cold, it takes a good half hour to warm up.  There are so many people on the course supporting the race, it is amazing.  I am trying to read as many signs as I can.  We run through the Strip District then over the first 3 bridges.  People are hanging off them, it is awesome.  Ah, there are the early hills.  After standing in the cold for so long I also have to find a bathroom which is irritating as hell plus I took my Energy Bits way too early.  The line ups are too long until the first relay exchange at 5.5 miles.  I try not to drop my Ipod in the toilet.

I am running at a reasonably steady 7:15km pace (11:50 mile) for the first 10k but after we pass over the West End bridge I start feeling pretty crappy.  I keep thinking about the 32k still to go and end up walking parts.  I even stop to pet a greyhound.  (I may also be despair texting).  The second quarter of the race through the South Side is the flattest part followed by a simply appalling hill.

No you speedy bastards!!

 As we run over the Birmingham Bridge we lose the halfers and I seriously doubt my ability to finish the thing.  At the far end of the bridge we hit that bloody hill into Oakland and I walk it.  My pace over the second quarter is 8:06km (13:03 mile).  Yikes.

On the Birmingham Bridge

At the top I have my second lot of Energy Bits and plod along past Pitt and the Cathedral of Learning.  It is beautiful up here.  I hit the halfway point at 2:42.  My Garmin is over by about .3 of a km.  There are so many people out supporting the race it is awesome.  I start feeling better and stop looking at time.

The next part is unclear, I remember pretzels from students and a couple more relay exchanges.  A church in Shadyside has fresh orange slices, they are SO GOOD.  At 27k I finally feel really good and it is frankly about time I did.  My third quarter pace is 7:27km (12:00 mile).

The support through Homewood is brilliant.  All the kids are out handing us water and there's a lot of dancing.  I am enjoying the loud music a lot.  There are several hills but none of them feel bad and I keep running.  Maybe my legs are numb.  I have my last Energy Bits at 32k.

I know somewhere after Bloomfield there will be a downhill section and I work on making it through each km without walking as I know we'll hit it soon.  SOON.  This part is basically fun.  Out of nowhere I become aware of someone running beside me.  It's my friend who I haven't seen in years and bless his heart if he isn't running along with me!  I don't think he'll ever realize just how absolutely amazing this is.  There's no way I'm going to stop now, I've got this thing.

The downhill unfortunately becomes the flat with the added joy of crazy strong headwinds.  There is only 5km left to go and I'm doing it!  My pace over the final quarter of the race is 7:02km (11:20 mile).

Just keep running just keep running

We are heading into downtown and I become very aware my Garmin is over distance as it thinks I am already done the bastard.  The support on the race route is amazing, running toward the finish is kind of incredible.  And right there, there's that fecking hill from the 5k yesterday right before the finish.  I'm running it if it kills me.  Then, just like that, I'm over the finish line and someone hands me a medal.

Off I go directly to the smiley cookies.  I may have ended up with about 5 of the things.  It is a very short walk to the Fedex tent where I find Kev waiting for me and wondering if I expired out on the course.  The GPS tracking didn't work and he didn't realize we were so slow in starting.

Final times: Kev 3:56, an incredible 52 min PR and sub-4 hour, me (and Iceburgh) 5:15, a delighted 41 min PR.

It's still quite windy.

Apart from the spectacular indoor pre-race location, access to post-race tent, ice cream, cooked food, smiley cookies and great company, the Steel City Road Runners also had a photo booth after the race.


  1. FUN photos. I dread race pics. mine all look so dreadful.
    a great race to be sure. nice view and you had a heck of a pace!! good for you!!!

    1. Thank you, this was such a good race to do. It's been on my list for a while, can't believe it's done already!

  2. Great job Sue and Kev! I love the amenities that magically became available for you along the way: checked shirt, waiting area, old friend for support...

  3. Awesome job Susan! (Kev too!) Way to go with those new PRs! Looks like it was a great course. I always try not to drop my iPod in the toilet too. Ha ha Would you do this race again?

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