Pittsburgh Marathon May 7, 2017

The night before

Let's back up just a tiny bit so I can tell about the amazing meatballs I had for lunch. If you are in Pittsburgh right now, go and hit up Emporio.  Like now. Why are you still here.

Following that we had hockey. Enter stressed state of not wanting to believe they wouldn't still score (I am eternally optimistic) then frantically rounding up tickets for Monday's game 6.  The damn wifi went out right at that point and to hell if I could remember anything I needed to log back in. I had my race stuff ready to go and we had grabbed a sandwich before the game so other than a later night than expected (and a loss) it wasn't too awful.  There were no ill effects from the meatballs.

Race morning

What a cute INKnBURN bunch

It's still raining a little but forecast to stop around 7 am, and it does.  Despite this being billed as 'Pittsbrrrgh' on the telly it really doesn't feel cold to me.  We walk over the couple of blocks to The Westin to catch up with all the peoples before getting into corrals.  I'm in D and I know I'll have at least 30 mins to wait so this year I hang out to hear the anthem and watch the elites start the race.


I'm happily squished into D before they play Renegade (one of my favourite parts of the morning) and we start our shuffle toward the start line. The sweater I brought to stay warm is literally lined with cat hair (thanks Pepper) which transfers itself over to my black tank.  Awesome.  Me and the cat cross the start at 7:47.

I drank a Coke before we started to give me energy over the first few miles and it actually works great.  Love that stuff when I'm running.  It's always amazing to me how many people come out to support this race, there are signs everywhere.  I'm already quite warm by mile 3 and we have the sunshine!  I was trying the virtual pacer option on my Garmin, and NOPE it refuses to keep recording anything then shuts down altogether.  Oh superb.

The new route around the North Shore is fantastic, I'm aware of every detail, PNC Park, Heinz Field, the green trees along the river.  The first 10 km goes pretty fast and soon we're onto the West End Bridge. I reset my SOB watch so now I know my current pace but that's about it.

Traditionally I struggle on the South Side stretch so this year I make sure to take everything in and enjoy all the crazy.  Is there usually beer this early?  This is the point where I'm tired and realize how much is still ahead of me. Suddenly I hear a little voice and there's Brandi - HEY!  What are the odds of seeing one of your people out there in 30,000 runners?

We split from the Half and get onto Birmingham, this is where my friend starts texting me motivational race posters. YES! Timing is everything.  I'm going to walk up Forbes to refuel and regroup (and text).

I decide at the halfway point I'll reset my watch so at least I know I have 21.1 left to go. I love this part of the course, past Pitt and CMU.  Mellon Park is a glorious oasis of lush green grass I want to sink into.  Just as well there's a big pointy fence around it.  It's a perfect sunny day out here.

Shortly after that I get really tired and the shame walking happens.  Crap.  Homewood is always so friendly though, there are firefighters and there are greyhounds - this puppy 100% gets me. I named him Phil.

I've mostly given up with running which is really alarming since I'm only at mile 18.  In fact, I feel like I can't run another step. Then a thing happens, the 5:30 pace group catch up which at least gives me a clue what my overall time is. Normally I'd be upset but they're on a 1 min walk interval and I hear all kinds of energy and enthusiasm coming from the pacer so I decide to hang out with them for a bit.

Photo credit to Terry's friend G - thank you!

The next part of the race is wonderful because I've found a tribe of people working as hard as they can to get to the finish line - a couple of strays like me who were struggling and runners on track for a PR.  Our pacer Marcela is a force of nature, she's yelling and excited and singing (singing) - and she's keeping this level of energy up for 5:30 hours.

We are doing 5 and 1's except we are able to time the 1's perfectly for ice pops, uphills and water stations.  Just before the course finally tilts down I spot my friend on his doorstep and manage to run over to say hello.  Hurrah!

The home stretch down Liberty is crazy windy, right in our faces.  I spot beer, SCRR people, already-finished runners and a couple of parties.  I love this race.

Most of the group run ahead but I'm sticking with the pacer, final time is not a big deal.  The finish chute is amazing as always, it's lined with yelling people, the sun is shining hard and I'm finishing my 8th marathon.  Life is just about perfect in that moment.

So that's the story of how even when you think you're totally done you can keep running for another 10 km+ and enjoy doing it.

Smiley finisher cookie!  By the time I was done some of the backdrops were actually blowing away in the wind.  I think this is why things were getting packed up a little early.  I had time to pick up my Steel Challenge medal, grab a pastry and photos in the SCRR tent then take a few pics at the festival.  We sat over at Point State Park fountain for quite a while afterwards and enjoyed the stillness.

*I may have used both miles and kilometres in this post, at random.  Sorry.


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