Monday, May 4, 2015

Back to Back Half Marathons: Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap 2015

We arrived back in Pittsburgh right around 8 pm.  I was exhausted to say the least.  To top it off, my laundry room was torn up (husband installing new floors) and I couldn't wash my shirt to wear again. I had to wash it out in the sink and hope it was dry by morning.  I was in bed by 9:47, but could not get my mind to shut off and fall asleep.  I think I finally fell asleep by 10:30.  The 4:15 wake up call came way too soon.  

We decided to leave for the marathon by 5:00 am because our 5:30 am start time last year left us scrambling for time as the traffic was horrendous.  Of course this year we were in a parking spot by 5:30.  We all agreed we'd rather be there early than be rushed for time. 

We got over to the coral area and used the restroom and had plenty of time to spare.  Kim and I were lining up further back than the other ladies so we said our goodbyes and headed to our coral.

Kim, Tracey, Charlene, Me, Kelli 
Back to back girls minus Kate 
Kim and I were both anxious to just get this thing going.  Neither one of us felt particularly well.  We both felt off in the belly.  I didn't eat anything but peanut butter toast for dinner and woke up starving, but unable to eat anything.  The thought of food had me gagging.

Before we lost our throw aways 

Right before it was time for our coral to go, I decided to make a run for the porta potty.  I'm SOOOO glad I did that.  Business was taking care of and I could focus on the race and not my intestinal issues (sorry for the TMI).

About to hit the start line 

Kim didn't really have a goal for the half.  She just wanted to run and finish.  I was there to make sure she did that.  I SECRETLY had a plan to bring her in as close to her Indy time as possible.

We started off at a quicker pace and I kept reminding Kim to dial it back.  I wanted to settle into a nice consistent pace.  If there's one thing about my running, it's that I can be consistent.  I was hoping to maintain right around a 11:25 ish pace.

Kim wondered where we were though the Strip District and I filled her in and warned her of our first bridge that was coming.  It was right around that time that we settled into our pace.


Mile 1: 11:02
Mile 2: 11:20

Look who we found on the bridge!

Back to back halfer Kate and our friend Tiffany
I always think that running mile 3 to 6 are kind of hard.  There are some little hills, but the crowd support is usually good.  We were both feeling good.  I was talking to Kim about the course as things would come up and she was in good spirits.



Mile 4 (I think) 
5ish 
Mile 3: 11:19
Mile 4: 11:21
Mile 5:  11:40

In my opinion, the West End Bridge and West End Loop are the absolute worst parts of the half marathon.  The West End Bridge is a tough bridge to climb and it's long.  The West End loop is just crowded and irritating.  Having said that, they always have the best band, so there was that.

Mile 6:  11:36
Mile 7:  11:57

Right after mile 7, I could tell Kim was hurting.  She had started to slow down and I'd pick it up, but she wouldn't follow like usual.  I knew the 5:00 marathon pacer was coming behind us.  Our overall average pace at that point was 11:29.  I really wanted to get Kim to finish under her Indy time the day before.  I told Kim to not let that 5:00 pacer pass us.  Kim more or less told me to shut the hell up.  She said her goal was to finish and she didn't care about how long it took her to get there.  Right then I decided, it was Kim's race and not my own.  Her body would dictate what we did.

Mile 8 and 9 were really rough for Kim.  She was cramping and feeling terrible.  We started looking for a porta potty that Kim could use, but it seemed to never come.  We made the decision that once we found one we would stop.  That came right around mile 10.

Potty Break 

Mile 8:  11:41
Mile 9: 12:01
Mile 10: 12:07

After the bathroom break and no relief for Kim, she was in a bad place mentally.  I tried to encourage her every way I knew how, but nothing I was saying was working.  I tried to have a balance of running with her and giving her the space she needed.  I knew Kim was struggling, but I also knew she could do it.  NO DOUBT in MY mind.  I promised Kim that we just had to make it through mile 12 and she'd be golden from there.

Mile 11ish 

Miles 11 and 12 are a bridge and big climb.  Needless to say, that did NOT make Kim happy.  We walked the hill and it was definitely rough.  I was worried about Kim.  She seemed to be in a bad mental place, but she still had a sense of humor so I knew all wasn't lost.

Mile 11: 14:20
Mile 12:  13:35

After mile 12 and we started heading downhill, Kim became a whole knew person.  She found the last bit of strength she had to finish this race.   I felt relief that Kim had dug deep and found what she needed to make it through.

The last mile went by so quickly and before I knew it we were across the finish line!

Mile 13: 12:07

Garmin Total:  13.17 2:37:44 11:59 pace 
Official Total:  13.1 2:37:42 12:01 pace 


I am beyond proud of Kim!  This woman was so brave to even attempt two half marathons in 2 days.  She's been a runner for just over a year folks.  That's no small feat.  I hope Kim realizes what an amazing thing she accomplished and how many she inspired (including me) while doing it.


Once again, I can't say enough about all my friends and their accomplishments at the Pittsburgh Half. Kelli and Tracey went sub 2:00 AGAIN running 1:55.  How amazing is that folks?  Tiffany and Kate also had a great race.  Kate decided to change her game plan and went big in Indy and ran for fun in Pittsburgh (to the tune of 2:06).

Charlene didn't have the day she hoped for, but I'm proud of her nonetheless.  To you Charlene, I ask that you see all you accomplish in a week and ask yourself if a half marathon time defines you.  It does not.  You did it.  You ran 13.1 miles and for that you should be proud!


My back to back girls.  We'll always have this story of remember the year we ran Indy and Pittsburgh.  Who knows maybe it will become an annual event.  If so, I'm in!


I know some people thought we were crazy to run these back to back races.  I honestly feel like running back to back 1/2 marathons in 2 different states was FAR easier than running a full marathon.  My body feels great today and I don't feel like I need extra rest to get back out there.  I don't think I could have raced both these races so I'm happy with my approach.  Next time, I'll know better what my body is capable of and I might change my game plan.

Indy and Pittsburgh.  Back to back baby!  

Congrats to all the Pittsburgh Marathoners.  You are a Runner of Steel!

The official "Susan Pose" 
















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