2017 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

17 May

On May 7th I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.  If you’ve been around here for a while you know that I LOVE this race – this was my 6th year running it!  The energy of Pittsburgh is like nothing else I’ve experienced so I go back year after year. Despite loving the race it has traditionally been a tough race for me because the weather can be super hot and humid or cold and rainy, or any combination of them.  I’m happy to say that this year was totally different and by far the most fun I have ever had in this already great race.  But first lets back up…

My dad and I drove to Pittsburgh on Saturday morning, with a quick stop at Panera for lunch on the way. Side note, the Pittsburgh Marathon virtual goody bag had a coupon for BOGO You Pick Two Combos that we were able to use at the Panera in Murraysville, PA. Score!

After checking into the hotel (we have always stayed at one of the hotels by PNC park and find it super convenient) we walked over to the expo at the convention center.

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I was pretty excited to get into Corral C this year — it’s been a bit of a bucket list item for me since I really wanted to earn my way in there with my estimated pace. I ended up starting in D to start with some friends but was thrilled to have that C on my bib. 🙂

They had some great places to take photos this year. I loved this design of the course map:

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I picked up some salted caramel Gus at one of the vendors, and my dad and I stopped for some wine and beer samples (yay for the Pennsylvania liquor laws loosening up a bit, haha).  After that we grabbed one more photo before heading out.

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We got dinner at Emporio – vegtarian meatballs and pasta, heck yes! It was pretty rainy and cold, so I was just hoping it would stop raining by morning.

Race morning was chilly – in the mid 40s – and cloudy. There was also a chance of rain but we totally lucked out and it didn’t rain at all!!

My dad and I stopped by bag check to drop some clothes for post-race and went to corral D. I met up with two of my friends – Jen and Debbie. Jen was running the relay and half marathon (long story) and Debbie was running the full. Jen was hoping to PR and I was going to try to help her get it, and Debbie planned to run with us to keep her pace in check for the first half of her full. It worked out really well that the three of us could start and run most of the first half together.

I wore a hat, capris, a short sleeved shirt, a long sleeved shirt and throw-away sweat shirt.  I ended up tying my long sleeved shirt around my waist before we even started (but post-bag check unfortunately) and tossed the throw-away sweat shirt as our corral made it up to the start line.

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Corral D crossed the start around 7:45 – I think the race overall started about 10 minutes late (at 7:10). It takes a while to get to the start for the last few corrals.

It is really easy to run the first few miles of this race too fast becuase it’s a slight downhill and everyone is super pumped up and excited. We needed to maintain around a 12:25 average to get Jen her PR and account for walking the water stops and anything else that came up, so we felt like we were going REALLY slow for the first few miles as people were flying around us. But we stuck to our pace and just stayed slow and steady.

It was also really super crowded during the first 4 miles or so – more crowded than I’ve ever seen it during this race. There were a ton of people in Corral D that were lined up inproperly and were walking or run/walking. I am not juding anyone who chooses this method to complete a race (since I’ve been there and did it for years) but it was really frusterating to have huge groups of people who were blocking most of the road and walking.  I really think Pittsburgh needs to do something about this for the future.  We lined up honestly (between the 5:30 and 5:45 marathon pacers) and were running the whole time and ran into significant weaving and back-up issues.  There were times when we were forced to almost slow down to a walk.  It may be time to add another corral to make the corral sizes smaller, or something.

Miles 1-6: 12:25, 12:20, 12:23, 12:24, 11:57, 11:38

The first 6 miles flew by and we were feeling great as we crossed the bridge from downtown.  The course changed this year, due to construction, so instead of crossing back over the Allegheny River towards downtown, we stayed over by PNC Park and Heinz field.  It definitely made the course less hilly to remove two bridges, but I’m not going to lie, I missed the energy of crossing the river again – that area usually has a ton of spectators.  The area we ran through was super nice though, and it was cool to see the sports stadiums up close (especially as a Steelers fan).

During mile 7 we took our first Gu break at the water stop, and Debbie and Jen took off some of their layers. This mile was a little slower but nothing to be concerned about. 13:01

We headed into the West End, which is one of my favorite parts of the race and the first major hill. I’m not sure what it was this year, but that hill felt like no big deal and we all tackled it with no issues and enjoyed the downhill that followed. 11:55 for Mile 8.

Mile 9 was a bit of a doozy because we all had to use the port-a-potties and Jen had to run through the Relay exchange since she ran the first two legs of the race as a relay team member as well. We said bye to Debbie when Jen went into the Relay chute so that she could continue on her steady pace.  Jen had to unpin her relay bib, pull off her relay shoe tag and stash her medal, so this added a bit of time. 14:09

My watch was also measuring about .1 ahead of the course mileage markers, so I knew that we would have to make up some time if we were going to make Jens PR goal of under 2:46.

Miles 10, 11, and 12 were tough for Jen (and are a tough part of the course in general) because you cross over the Birmingham Bridge and are greeted with a pretty significant uphill.

Miles 10-12 – 12:59, 12:55, 13:15

Luckily, this year they rerouted it so that instead of going up the hill, turning left and being greeted with another uphill (that is really brutal), we continued straight which meant we got to head downhill for the last mile or so.

I told Jen it was time to get moving and we used that downhill to our advantage, clocking our fastest mile of the race in mile 13 – 10:46. The last .1 was ran in a 9:11 pace.

We finished in 2:45:35 – enough of a buffer to earn her a PR!  She really pushed herself for those last 15 minutes of the race, despite feeling fried, so I am really proud of her for bringing it!

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We met up with my dad in the family reunion area. Concidentally he finished about a minute or two before us  – I’m not sure how we didn’t see him! Debbie went on to finish the marathon (her second) and totally rocked it too! 2017Pittsburgh Half (6)

Of course we had to find the PR Bell to celebrate Jen’s PR! 2017Pittsburgh Half (7)

Overall, I had a blast and felt pretty strong. It was a great experience to help a friend hit a time goal. It is the strongest I have felt in Pittsburgh ever!  Next year is the 10th anniversary for the Pittsburgh Marathon races and you can bet that I’ll be back if I can help it. 🙂


4 Responses to “2017 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap”

  1. Ciara May 17, 2017 at 9:52 am #

    Awesome job! It’s nice you ran your friend in for a PR! I had a tough race – I was a lover of them taking out the huge Blvd of the Allies hill – but boy Birmingham Bridge + up 5th was a doozy!!

    • Becca May 23, 2017 at 1:22 pm #

      Agreed!!! I didn’t miss the Blvd of the Allies hill at all. 🙂

  2. Bear To Otter May 22, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    Glad you came into town and had such a good race! The Birmingham Bridge was tough, but I was glad I ran it in some training runs. Are you planning on coming back again next year?

    • Becca May 23, 2017 at 1:23 pm #

      Its awesome you can train on the course!! I will definitely be back next year!

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