Sunday, May 6, 2012

Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

Wow, what a day it has been.  The Pittsbugh Half Marathon is BY FAR my favorite race ever!  It was great from start to finish.  

We woke up early (as per usual) at 4:30 am to leave the house by 5:30.  We had our parking all figured out and our plan went off without a hitch.  We got to the race and I was able to use the porta potty TWICE and NOT be in the lines when the race started.  Finally, success!  

There were a bunch of different people I knew running the race and half of them had been assigned to the E coral and half of us the D coral.  We got into the E coral (since the Es couldn't move up with us) as early as possible so we could be right up front in the E coral.

I lost another throw away sweatshirt today.  Say goodbye to my sweatshirt I bought on my honeymoon.  It was kind of sad to say goodbye.

My face is all kinds of janked up in this pic

As you can see, it didn't take very long for the coral to fill up!  Can you spot us?  

Even though we were there quite early it didn't seem like a long wait.  I was very nervous in the beginning.  Of course I wasn't nervous about finishing, I was worried if I'd make my time goal.  My goal was to get a personal record (PR) today and that meant anything less than 2:08:33.  My hope was a 2:07.

My sister rode down with us to the race and she planned to see us several times on the course.  We somehow convinced her that she needed to carry an obnoxious ballon.  I wanted her to have a banana balloon, but all we could find was a bumble bee.

Let me just tell you, this was the best idea ever.  I knew about where she would be and with the balloon, I was able to spot her instantly.  It was totally awesome.  Amy definitely gets points for being the best spectator ever!

Anyway it took us awhile, back in coral E, to make it to the start line, but we eventually made it.  As soon as I saw the start my nerves started to melt away.  I'd done all the preparation, now I just had to do the work.

I decided right then and there to no longer question if I was going to be able to make my goal.  I just told myself I had to do it.  

We spent a lot of the first mile weaving in and out of a gazillion SLOW people.  Now I realize we were in the E coral, but we were in the VERY beginning and there should NOT Have been walkers ahead of us.  Sure enough, less than 200 yards from the start line there were walkers.  Of course this made it hard to get in a groove, but we just hauled ass and did a quick first mile.

Mile 1:  9:23

By mile 2 or 3 we had settled in to a pretty good pace, but it was still a crowded race.  We spent a lot of time running the edges of the race and running on the sidewalk to pass as many people as we could.

Mile 2:  9:58
Mile 3:  9:44

I knew my sister was going to be at the end of the second bridge which came at about mile 4.  Sure enough, we saw her balloon and waved frantically until she saw us.

 Babs wasn't far behind us and was still REALLY happy at mile 4.

I really don't remember a whole lot about miles 4 through say 8.  I don't know why this always happens to me, but I guess I'm just in the zone.  I was really trying to focus on keeping my pace.  At this point my average pace was RIGHT ON where it needed to be to earn my PR.  I basically had no room to slow down.

Unfortunately, I took a Gu at mile 4ish and it really upset my belly and then I started to get a little cramp.  I worked on hydrating at all the water stops and it did improve, but wasn't completely gone.

Mile 4:  9:38
Mile 5:  9:18
Mile 6:  9:54 (what is this shiz?)
Mile 7:  9:44

By mile 8 we had tackled all but one of the bridges and I was starting to feel my groove, but my cramp decided to rear it's ugly head.  I remember looking down and seeing mile 8.03 and praying to God that my cramp would either go away or not get any worse.  Tracey really helped me throughout the whole race.  She kept checking on me, asking if I was ok and letting me know I was doing a good job.  I felt really lucky to have her there by my side, helping me get the job done.

Luckily the course got a little flatter at this point (after one little climb) and I started to feel a little better.  Around mile 9 we saw our bumble bee girl again and she cheered us on letting us know we were doing great.

Tracey in the blue and my arms behind the jerk in red that ruined my photo op

Mile 8:  9:42
Mile 9:  9:42

To be honest, I couldn't believe that 9 miles had gone by so quickly.  I was just waiting for that 10 mile mark so I could mentally wrap my head around the home stretch.  I knew up ahead was the last bridge (hill) and then it would be all down hill.

About this time is where the marathoners split from the half marathoners.  I was incredibly thankful to be doing the half marathon today.  It was starting to get "hot" and the sun was out without any cloud cover. I felt sorry for the full marathoners because I know what it's like to run a marathon in the heat.

Mile 10:  9:43
Mile 11: 9:42

At this point I kept thinking about my pace.  It was getting "late" in the race and things were getting a little tougher.  I had NO ROOM to back off my pace any really, but I also didn't know if I had it in me to speed up any.  Tracey told me once we got across the last bridge she was going to ask me to pick it up if I had anything left.

As we started over the last bridge, we could see that it wasn't ALL downhill after the bridge.  We still had one significant hill to climb until we were home free.  The bridge was bad enough, but once we rounded the corner and saw the hill in front of us, I wanted to cry.

As usual, Tracey said we had to tackle the hill and I told her I didn't know if I could.  She assured me I could and I pushed as hard as I could up the hill.  Even still, that hilly mile was a slow one.

Mile 12:  10:16

Once we reached the top of the hill, I was spent.  My breathing was out of control and we had just over a mile to go.  I looked down at my watch and we were really cutting it close.  If I was going to make my goal I HAD to speed up.  There were no ifs and or buts about it.  I asked myself how I'd feel if I didn't finish in 2:07 something and suddenly I knew not meeting my goal wasn't an option.

I just started running faster, and faster and faster and I wasn't looking at my Garmin.  I was digging as deep as I could to make sure my goal didn't slip through my fingertips.  Tracey let me know at one point we were running a 7:30 pace.  I had to do what I had to do.

Before I knew it we were .2 miles from the finish and I was afraid I had kicked it in too soon.  I seriously wanted to just collapse.  My breathing was out of control and every ounce of my being just wanted to stop or slow down.

I told myself I could do it and I sprinted even harder to the finish, crossing in 2:07:22.

Mile 13:  8:23 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Last .27 miles:  8:04 pace

Even though Candace and I had both ran our own races we wound up just seconds away from one another at finish.  It was so nice having both she and Tracey there with me at the finish. I'm so proud of Candace for finishing her VERY FIRST half marathon.  Thanks for showing me up and finishing as well as I did at my 9th showing!

Again, I have to say thank you to Tracey.  Tracey and I trained for two races together but have NEVER been able to run side by side.  When I first thought about coming to Pittsburgh to run this race, I knew I wanted her there WITH me.  I didn't want to do this one alone and it meant so much to me that she chose to hang back and run with me.  Thank you Tracey, you're an amazing person and friend!  Love you!

We didn't wait long for Miss Abigail to cross the finish line.  I can't tell you how proud I am of my 17 year old niece who ran this race pretty much all by herself.  At 17 years old, I wouldn't even have dreamed that I could accomplish something like that.  Hell I didn't think about it at 27 either.  I'm so proud of her and the accomplishment she made today.

I think her "friend" Frank was a little bit proud of her too.  

And of course her mama was extremely proud!

Since all the spectating was over we decided to say a final farewell to our little friend the bumble bee.  He served us well, but he had knocked into too many heads in the wind and Amy was happy to see him go.  

So long!  


We hung around the finisher party for bit and snapped some pictures, but there really wasn't a whole lot to do so we cut out in order to get some food in our bellies.

I'm sad to say goodbye to the awesome city that is Pittsburgh.  I do LOVE this city and it will always feel like home.  The race was incredible from start to finish.  The crowd support is there throughout the ENITRE race and the scenery is amazing.

If you're looking for a race in the PA area, this race should be on your radar.  I will also say, this race had the BEST post race food I have ever encountered.  It was in abundance and there was plenty to choose from.  Way to go Pittsbrugh and congratulation to all you other "Runners of Steel" especially my friends Amanda, Justine, Maria, Emily, Tirsh, Cooper, Tim, Ron and Krista.  You did it!


Steelerfan said...

I saw the balloon during the race! It was sooo hot after going through west end village. I was in C this time instead of D and not a lot of weaving and not a lot of walkers. I finished right around you!!

Letty :)

Kortni said...

Great recap! Way to run strong!!

amanda @Diary of a Mad Fat Woman said...

Thanks for the congrats! Sorry I didn't get to bump into you guys before the race, it was way more crazy down there than I thought it would be. I actually saw your sister with the balloon but didnt realize it was her until later. Did you see the 2 people dressed as bananas in the west end?!

Congrats! I knew you would PR!

tracey smith said...

So, so happy I got to run with you and see you get a PR! By the way, what was our pace for the last mile? Just curious.

Miss you already- hope to see you again in July. I hope you are very proud of yourself!

ron o said...

Such a wonderful event...and SOOOO happy you PR'd!! You were SO due for that!! After running in the relay this year, I am ready to do the half again next year...and shoot for an awesome time!! Hope you had a safe flight back to the family in TX!

Unknown said...

Awesome job on the race and great recap. I always love reading your blog. this was my first half but definitely not my last. I can't wait for half number two. Congrats again on the pr!!

Christina said...

Congrats on your PR! You ran a pretty smart race.

Mile twelve was so, so horrible. I've never really bonked in a race before, but that hill really did me in.

Tfg111 said...

I was there. I was jealous of the half marathonors at the split because I still had long haul. I have one photo at the end, all I wanted to do is get to the hotel and cool down.

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