Pittsburgh Half Marathon Recap

I headed home to this place this weekend…

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…to wear an outfit like this…

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…and eat food like this.

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It was marathon weekend in Pittsburgh and I couldn’t wait to go back and cheer on my friends. I knew SO many people who were running and after spectating last year (when I was hurt), I knew it would be fun to go back and watch again! I don’t know why I didn’t sign up…but at the last minute, I found a bib and I was officially running another half marathon! The first time I ran a half marathon in 2013, I was SO nervous and I put SO much pressure on myself to finish in a certain amount of time. Yesterday, I knew my morning routine…I knew what to do when I got to the race…and I knew that even though I was prepared to run 13.1 miles, I didn’t REALLY train for 13.1 miles this spring. I trained for the 10-miler that I ran with my friends three weeks ago. So I have done a lot of running…but I wasn’t ever working towards 13.1. So going into yesterday’s race, I tried to take the pressure off of myself and just run for fun.

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I started the day with my favorite pre-race breakfast of peanut butter banana toast…

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…and got to the starting corrals right at 6:50. The gun went off at 7 AM. Oops! I didn’t mind arriving then because I don’t like standing around to wait. Pre-race nerves kick in and I end up in the world’s longest line with other people who also think they have to pee at the last minute;) So the only bad thing about my (sort of) late arrival was the corrals were PACKED. And since you enter from the back and work your way forward, it was kind of a struggle to get to Corral C, which is where my friend’s bib was registered. Luckily there was a girl in front of me who took charge and led the way!

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I didn’t take many pictures while I was running…but Pittsburgh is known for its bridges, and this is the first one we crossed at 16th Street in The Strip District. Here is what I remember from the race:

Mile 1: So many people. Lots of bobbing and weaving to find my stride. I don’t like when groups of people spread out across the street because then you can’t get past them!

Miles 2-4: Enjoying the crowd support and nice weather. I threw my sweatshirt right at the start line because I didn’t need it! I also started messing with my belt here because I wanted to turn my music on and put my phone in the pocket. Sadly, because I just got a new belt, I couldn’t figure out how to make it tighter and my phone made the belt so heavy…which means it bounced up and down while I was running. No thank you! I ended up holding my phone the whole race, but that was okay because when I run on a normal day I am usually holding my phone (I don’t like arm bands).

Mile 5: First Gu. Unfortunately it was chocolate because I couldn’t find a second salted caramel flavor at the store this weekend. Chocolate Gu is a little too sweet for me, I think. I was excited for the next water station!

Miles 6-9: If you saw me towards the end of these miles, I would have told you I wanted to quit. I thought I was going to see my mom in this stretch and I didn’t see her at the spot I thought she would be at! I also started picturing everything that was coming instead of the mile I was in and I just got cranky. Ha!

Mile 10: Free gummy worms. Usual part of a half marathon…

Miles 11-12: All. the. hills. The Birmingham Bridge is the last bridge you cross and it feels SO hard. This is also the spot where the half marathon and marathon split, so as we turned left to go to the finish line, we were relieved…and stuck with another hill. The end of this race is a slow incline until you are basically at the finish line and then it’s flat! I saw some of the chefs from Duquesne standing on the edge of campus and shouted “Let’s Go Dukes!” and they all started cheering. 🙂

Miles 12-13.1: I definitely played the same song on repeat because it’s loud and mean and helped me go fast!

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If you would like someone to pace you anywhere from 8:32-9:54, call me. Consistency is obviously my middle name. 😉 It’s funny because you can tell I was messing with my belt in mile 4…and then in mile 5 when I gave up and refocused on what I was doing, I ran so much faster!

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My number one fans were at the finish line. 🙂 I finished in 2:05 which is definitely not my fastest half marathon, but I’ll take it knowing I wasn’t as prepared as I could have been! I have a completely different perspective about races now than I did when I started racing…it’s just about celebrating what you can do on that day, in that moment. It’s not about “winning” or stressing yourself out…it’s about the atmosphere of a race. The atmosphere is AMAZING. Runners are excited, spectators are excited, everyone is happy and working hard…it’s very, very inspiring and it’s such an accomplishment no matter how many times you have crossed a finish line.

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And then there are the little things. I may or may not run for the free food.

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The finish line is right by Point State Park and there are a ton of vendors around selling food and other running goodies to us exhausted runners! I wanted to find my friends and see others finish the full marathon, so I took my time…got my medal engraved, drank a shake, and went to this wonderful place with foam rollers.

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Lindsey also ran the half marathon…her fifth half! Pittsburgh is her favorite course ever.

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Then I walked around some more and finally made my way over to mile 25 to find this girl. This was her second full marathon (because she’s nuts…I think I’m a one and done kind of girl) and she was SO. FAST. When I saw her at mile 25, I ran next to her for a little for encouragement…she set a 47 minute PR yesterday. She finished 47 minutes FASTER than she did last year! I am such a proud running friend. 🙂

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My brother got me a bear and now my first Pittsburgh half marathon bear has a friend;)

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And then I had to drive back to Maryland. Sigh. That was a long drive. It was so hard to sit for four hours! Luckily, my friend Kristen was in the car with me. She lives near me and is also from Pittsburgh so she was going home for the weekend to run too! The trip was so much more fun with someone to talk to the whole time! Especially yesterday when it was full of stories about running and racing. Something only a runner could appreciate!

Today, it’s back to reality and three more weeks of school. I think I can, I think I can…

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Unrelated picture of my brother’s dog and his new blanket with a hood. Cutest thing ever. Hahaha

Happy Monday to YOU! What did you do this weekend?

Setting A Personal Record

Yesterday, I did something crazy.  Actually, it’s not all that crazy for a girl who is signed up to run the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon in, oh, 13 days.  But it felt pretty crazy because I never did it before.  I ran 11 miles.  The farthest I have ever gone is roughly ten, so to say I was nervous to run yesterday was an understatement!

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I might’ve taken a quick nap in my car first. It was 7:30 a.m. after all…

Recently, me and one of my favorite friends joined the Steel City Road Runners.  The group meets every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for track/hill work, easy/tempo runs, and long runs.  We thought it would be fun to meet other running obsessed people and get pumped for race day!  This was my second Saturday long run with the group and I was looking forward to exploring some of the roads I will actually be running during the half marathon.  The 11 mile run was rightfully dedicated to the victims and families of the tragedy in Boston.  We all dressed in blue and yellow and ran our hearts out!

Copyright Steel City Road Runners via Facebook.

Copyright Steel City Road Runners via Facebook.

I do have to admit that this winter, I was not the most…ahem…dedicated runner.  Me and the treadmill are not the best of friends and while I do enjoy bundling up in all of my running gear to hit the streets when it’s snowing, I have to say I did not run as much as I would have liked to.  Most runs this spring have felt great, but some have really showed me that I need to regain the speed and strength that I had in the fall.

Exhibit A: The end of a 7 mile run in March.

Exhibit A: The end of a 7 mile run in March.

Yesterday I took off with the 9 minute mile group and I really fell into a groove!  I loved running across the bridges, past the Children’s Museum, through South Side, and back around through Downtown.  It kept my brain entertained while my legs said please stop, Kylie, we’re tired.  I stayed within the 8 minute range throughout the entire run!  I was very thankful for Gatorade along the way and I finally got to try GU!!!  I had chocolate and it was delicious.  I ate a little bit at the end of every mile.  Runners of the world…I know that’s not how you’re supposed to eat it.  But I had to SAVOR the chocolate-y goodness!

My lovely running friends :)

My lovely running friends 🙂

Look at these girls!  They are my biggest supporters 🙂 They did amazing as well!  I am proud of all of us for CRUSHING those 11 miles.  I finished in 1 hour and 35 minutes with an average of 8:37 per mile.  In 13 days I will race and in 13 days I will finish 13 miles in less than two hours.  That goal is MINE!

Questions:

-What’s the craziest thing you did this weekend?

-Treadmill run or outside run?

-Favorite flavor of GU?

-Any long distance runners out there?!