Pittsburgh Marathon May 5, 2019

I always look forward to this marathon more than anything, but this year as we drive over to the start 26.2 miles seems like an incredibly long way.  I haven't felt this bad since right before Kaua'i, my very first marathon.  Parking is easy and we take the T over to the Westin for the Steel City RR VIP area.  I know being in Corral D we don't get started until about 7:30 so I find a lovely soft seat, visit the quiet bathrooms several times and enjoy watching all the to-ing and fro-ing of other runners.

Sunburn.....from the deck yesterday

I go out into the rain to watch the start of the race before heading down (and down and down) to my corral.  Let's get these miles started.  This is how we do 26.2, one mile at a time.  I remember moving toward the start line the last 3 times I ran this race and how much energy and motivation I had.  I search for a little bit of that drive inside myself.

The first few miles are pleasant, although it's lightly raining it's actually quite warm.  I'm glad I didn't overdress.  There are still so many people out supporting the race, it always makes me smile.  I'm choosing to ignore the pain behind my right knee and through my IT band that started only 5k in. NOT TODAY.  As we run through the Strip District then the North Side I mentally check off each neighbourhood and feel a little sense of victory.  What's next?!

Hills.  Hills are next.  The West End Bridge kicks my ass as usual.  Pittsburgh is right over there in the distant clouds.  As we drop onto the South Side Omen comes on my iPod and I remember I'm out here doing this when others can't.  I added a few Prodigy tracks for today in memory of Keith Flint.  He ran a 5k PR at his local parkrun before we lost him the next day, it still gets me.

This exact time last year I was going through the nightmare of losing my father, he would have given anything to be out running this race.

At that moment I decide I'm finishing this.  Then there's a cupcake.  A CUPCAKE.  It's a black and yellow miracle.  I'm not throwing away any of this, I walk until it's finished completely forgetting about time.

It's soon time to break off right and head over Birmingham.  This is where the rain starts up more heavily and the 6 hour pacer passes me.  That's just great.  South Side = done though, another small victory.  It's all Forbes now.  Usually I love the view at the top of this immense soul destroying mountain but it's raining really hard and I can't see anything.

I hit halfway a hair before 3 hours.  My leg is loudly complaining at all the uphills so my brain lets me know I technically have another 4 hours to finish, I can walk and I will be ALRIGHT.  Let's have a Tylenol.  My brain is my friend today, we've got this.  The rain is dripping enthusiastically off my hat.  In Scotland we call this weather 'dreich'.  You want a cool word for rain, I'm your person.

HALFWAY I think to myself, we've made it past halfway AND FORBES.  Another little celebration.  More rain.  But wait, mile 16 has beer, I love beer during a tough race.  Then there's the Point Breeze church group with fresh orange slices.  Pittsburgh is taking such good care of us today.

Next up is Homewood where these wonderful beasties are waiting for us, after all this time and in all this rain.  I LOVE YOU PUPPERS.  I'm sorry you're all soggy.

Then there's Tony!  I have so much happy right now.  Tony did a crazy amount of miles along the race route supporting people.  I love his big wet beardy face.

The rain has let up a bit, it's wonderful.  There's more beer, more people and hello Bloomfield.  I intercept a lovely gentleman exiting a bar with a tray of fresh beer, how are you doing sir.  And then, my friend is there on his front steps and my day is made.  Captain Coconut obviously thinks we are all crazy.  Correct.

Time to hit a couple of downhills and focus on finishing.  I've been out here a long time.  I remember every single detail of the last stretch into downtown, every shop, every sign, every sight.  There are very few runners out on the course around me, it feels apocalyptic.

The very moment I turn the corner into the final stretch Black and Yellow comes on my iPod and I run like I hadn't just shuffled the last 26 miles.  Iceburgh and I are bringing this one home.

My friend Chelsea is still there watching (she stayed until the very last runners finished).  She took this amazing pic of the Pittsburgh Police Chief giving me a high 5.  What a way to finish my 4th Pittsburgh Marathon.  THIS CITY.  My heart.

I finished that race in an entirely different space than I started it - dark to light.  Marathons are actual magic.  Even ones that take 6 hours 22 minutes.

They had heat sheets but I wasn't cold at all despite being soaked - probably due to sunburn.  I was quite taken aback by how much support was still there for us back of the packers throughout the course and at the finish.  I can tell you the Pittsburgh Marathon 100% genuinely loves its runners.  Alas the Smiley Cookies were finished but my wonderful husband had saved me one in the SCRR tent.  I braved the mud pit the park had turned into to find him.

The photo booth wasn't around this year so we improvised.  It's tradition.

The next morning I got up at sunrise to find Pittsburgh looking all gorgeous n'at in the fog.  The medal is quite different this year, I love it.


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