On Sunday May 1st I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. This was my fifth time running this wonderful race (previous recaps: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012) and I go back every year because it never disappoints! This year felt tough mentally but my results show that I have gotten better at running this race every year.
My dad and I drove into Pittsburgh on Saturday afternoon, checked into our hotel (near Pirates stadium) and walked to the expo. The expo was really good this year – lots of freebies including FREE Chobani! so delicious. We easily grabbed our bibs and shirts and then went back to the hotel to relax. We eventually grabbed dinner in a restaurant in our hotel which worked out fine. There was a Pirates game going on that evening so things were pretty busy and it had started to rain, so we decided not to tire ourselves out trying to find dinner elsewhere.
On Sunday morning I woke up around 5 to eat my breakfast and get ready. We left to walk to the corrals around 5:45. I met up with a group of people from the gym at 6:15 right near a gear check and we hung out, grabbed some photos and wished everyone good luck.
From there we had time to use the port-a-potties again before heading to corral D.
Now, I have no idea why I was placed in the last corral this year. I have been there every other year but my estimated time has been sufficiently slower. I fully expected to be in C this year because I was hoping for under 2:30 and didn’t want to get held back due to course crowding. I guess I should have asked about it at the expo but I didn’t think about it. Forshadowing….
When we got into the corral I happened to run into one of my friends from the gym again. How we managed to be in the same place amongst 30,000 runners just blows my mind. It was her first half marathon so we hung out in the corral together waiting to start. It also started to rain a little at this time so we danced around to stay warm. I was kicking myself for gear checking my sweatshirt but when I had dropped stuff off it hadn’t been raining. What can ya do.
It takes a long time (about 30 minutes) for us folks in corral D to cross the start line so we hung out, talked and danced to the music. Eventually my dad ducked out to run to the restroom again so we didn’t see each other again until after the race.
I noticed the 2:30/5:00 pacers were close by so I thought maybe I could stick with them during the race and see how it felt. However by the time the time it was our turn to run I had somehow lost track of the pace groups and they were WAY ahead of me. I said bye to my friend as we crossed the start and just told her to take it all in during her first half marathon experience!
The first mile is a slight downhill and eveyone is amped up and jockeying for position. It is hard to hold back your pace but every year I try to not go nuts on the first mile. I ran it in 10:52 which was faster than I wanted but I backed off the pace a bit from there. My plan was to run the first 4 or 5 miles straight and then settle into my run/walk intervals when the crowds spread out a bit. I did see the pace groups a little bit ahead of me so I thought that maaaybe I could catch up to them in a few miles. So I tried a little bit over those first 4 miles to catch up but they seemed to be only getting further and further away from me. I also had a few instances where I had to run around large groups of walkers and would get stuck behind them, or we’d be going around corners and everyone would slow down to a walk. Super frustrating. I have never had an issue with this in Pittsburgh so I can only assume it’s because I was placed in the wrong corral this time around.
I ran my first 6 miles at 10:52, 11:01, 10:41, 11:22, 12:04 and 11:38. I settled into my run walk intervals around mile 5 as planned. Right around mile 7 I started to feel sick though. My gus were making me feel sick to my stomach, I was super thirsty and my energy was shot. My body temperature was all over the place since it had stopped raining so I was cold but warm and sweaty and damp. I knew I wouldn’t be able to maintain anything close to where I was for the duration of the race.
So, I shifted my mind set to enjoying myself and the beautiful views of Pittsburgh. I took twizzlers from a spectator (though it took my forever to chew it because my mouth felt so dry) and started getting two cups of water at every water stop.
I felt pretty crappy for the second half of the race but if I have to feel crappy I was glad it was in Pittsburgh. Despite the rainy, humid, cloudy, weather the spectators and the scenery can’t be beat for a city race.
I finished in 2:39:01 – far from a PR. I would love to PR this race some day, but this year was just not the year. However, given that my previous times on this course are 2:58, 3:11, 3:15 & 3:17 I really can’t complain. I am becoming stronger every year!