Tag Archives: Race Report

Pittsburgh Half Marathon (Race Recap)

9 May

On Sunday I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. This is my second time running this race.

I had pretty realistic expectations for this race. Secretly I would have loved to PR (I mean, who wouldn’t?) and with the weather reports and the course being relatively flat (except for the bridges) I thought it was possible to surprise myself. But honestly, I didn’t do any real training for it. I only had 2 weeks between the Hershey 10k and this race, so the most I managed to squeeze in was a 7 mile run followed by a 5k. I knew I was going to be hurting during and after the race, but I was confident I’d finish.

We got into Pittsburgh on Saturday and after checking into the hotel walked around a bit to find the finish line and head to the expo.2013PittsburghHalf1I think this is the first time I’ve ever been able to actually walk up to the finish line before a race. It was really cool. Thanks to the kind volunteer who took this photo of my dad and I. I refused to actually step on the finish line or timing mat though. I’m superstitious, what can I say. 🙂

We walked to the convention center where the expo was being held. I started getting really excited when we were there, I finally was feeling like I was going to be running a half marathon the next day! We also met up with some friends from North Carolina who happened to be in town for the race. It was completely unplanned but we all happened to be in the same place at the same time and met up. After the expo we grabbed dinner (I got my traditional pasta and Cesar salad) and my dad and I headed to bed for the next day.

Unfortunately there was a bachelorette party going on in the room next to us, and those girls were LOUD. I understand a little pre-gaming before hitting the bars but they were yelling, screaming, chanting, laughing, and it STARTED around 10pm. I hated to be a downer but I had to call hotel security on them. I could not sleep and I managed to get a headache – something that never happens to me. They were just so loud. I was glad when they left around midnight. Of course they came back around 2am and woke me up for about 30 minutes but I was able to fall back to sleep pretty easily. So all that being said, not the best night-before-race sleeping conditions.

When the alarm went off I was able to get out of bed pretty easily. I guess it was the adrenaline. After eating my breakfast (cereal + rice milk), I got dressed and my dad and I headed to the start.

Following what happened in Boston we had gotten a few emails from the Pittsburgh Marathon race director that security was going to be heightened. No backpacks were allowed in corrals, corral assignments were going to be strictly enforced, and there were specific runner-only areas (including the start corrals) that you had to show your bib to get into. I expected there to be a little bit of a back up as everyone showed their bib to get where they needed to go. But I have to hand it to the Pittsburgh Marathon team, they handled it all so well. We didn’t have an issue at all. The volunteers were so  knowledgeable. I was so impressed. Considering they had only decided to up the security a few weeks prior, they pulled it together and were completely organized on race day.

Around 7 they started the pre-race stuff with a moment of silence for Boston, followed by the national anthem. It was really powerful. There were 30,000 runners, but you could have heard a pin drop. From there they pumped us up with some music, Ryan Clark (a Steelers) blew the start whistle, and corral by corral we moved up to the start line. We were in corral E so we didn’t cross the start until around 7:30.

I immediately started off too fast, this seems to be a common problem lately. I said bye to my dad (he was feeling great and wanted to go faster). I stopped at the first aid station about a mile in and smeared vasoline between my legs – I had stupidly forgotten to body glide that morning.

In the second mile I took my first walk break. When I ran I was still too fast though, I kept thinking things like “stop going so fast!!!” but my legs just wouldn’t listen.  Unfortunately, that meant the walk breaks became more and more frequent. Around mile 4 I realized that this probably wasn’t a PR day, and made the deliberate decision to enjoy the course and the experience.

The Pittsburgh Half Marathon course is GORGEOUS. First of all, the weather was perfect. I wore a tank top and running skirt and was comfortable, if not a little cold most of the way. I’d much rather be cold than warm though. The course crosses four bridges (I think?), goes through various neighborhoods and under the incline. The on course entertainment is great – there are many organized groups, and  many locals come out to party along the course. My favorite group was an ROTC group that had their hands out for high fives going up on of the hills. Definite motivation to run the whole thing. 🙂

In the end, I completed the race in 3:17:10. Far from a PR, but faster than the Disney Half or the first half of the Disney Marathon in January. Considering the whole not training thing though, I will take it.2013PittsburghHalf3

I really enjoyed my time on the course and found it to be very cathartic as I ran with people with Boston bibs on their back, ran by signs about how tough runners are, and took in my surroundings. When it comes down to it, my finishing time really doesn’t matter because I had a great time out there.


But that PR…I’m coming for it. 🙂



Race to Remember: Staten Island Half Marathon (Guest Post)

17 Mar

I got so many great guest posts that I’m going too continue posting them this week. This one is by Kasandra who blogs at Urban In Suburbia.


Hi my name is Kasandra and I blog over at Urban In Suburbia where I blog about my running escapades all while juggling work and school.  Just this past January, I made my one year “runniversary.”  One year of running and I have run over thirty races, six of them half-marathons! Apparently I like to go big or go home.

My favorite race to date is the Staten Island Half Marathon which occurred last October. I used to live on Staten Island and my mom still lives there so not only did I get to run through my old neighborhood, I got to see my family afterwards!
The weather that day was cold and overcast, with clouds threatening to rain.  I had worn multiple layers but I was still cold.  Despite having run hundreds of miles, mile one always sucks. Seriously – every time I think “why am I doing this?” But that feeling goes away as it comes. Staten Island is pretty flat which made for a nice, non-complicated run. Mile 2 I had to stop to use a port-a-potty… and I did, but the line was so long that it ate 15 minutes of my time. But I did not care. Miles 3-5 flew and at the 10K mark, I felt great. Miles 8-9 seemed to kind of drag, but I was in single-digit territory, and that is all that mattered. At mile 10 the clouds opened up and it began to pour. I did not let that stop me – I kept on going even though I was pretty sure I was slowly turning into a popsicle.
By mile 12, I was running along a bus route that I have taken countless times going to/from work.  So as I got closer and closer, I ticked off buildings to the finish line. At mile 13, I was thrilled to see the finish line. My niece jumped in jumped in and began running with me. Wegrabbed each other’s hands and raised our hands in victory as we crossed. And she even got a medal too!
si half mile 13
What really made this race so memorable was that this was my first half where I did not stop to take a walk break; it was on my old turf; and my niece ran with me at the last 100 meters or so. Bonus: According to MapMyRun, I got a PR of 2:15!
si half medal
I cannot wait to run this race again this year!! But in the meantime I got two more halfs and a marathon to train for! Check out my blog to find out where I am running next!
Ways to connect:
Twitter – @urbaninsuburbia
Instagram – @urbaninsuburbia
Pinterest – @urbaninsuburbia

Fit Fab and Lean in 2013 Virtual 5k…sorta

26 Feb

Yesterday I completed some speedwork and also crossed off race #4 of my 13 in 2013 goal!

The plan was to do a few 1/2 mile intervals. My splits were:

Mile 1 – 14:39 (warm up)
Mile 1-1.5 – 5:46
Mile 1.5-2 – 7:00 (recover)
Mile 2-2.5 – 5:55
Mile 2.5-3 – 7:10 (recover)
Mile 3-4 – 13:37 (cool down)

Total time for the four miles was 54:10.

I felt really really great during this run. The speedwork felt tough but easier than it felt last week when I did some. Hopefully that means my body is adjusting 🙂

I felt so good that I decided to use this race as my Fit, Fab and Lean in 2013 Virtual 5k.

fitfablean2013virutal5kI was originally going to use this mornings slow, easy 3 miler, but since I felt so great during my run yesterday, I wanted to use that instead. That is something that is so great about virtual races – a lot of added flexibility! My 5k split was 40:32, which isn’t a great 5k time overall, but I’m pretty happy with how my speedy intervals went.

If you’re interested in signing up for a the Fit, Fab and Lean in 2013 virtual races (there is a 5k and a Half), you can sign up here. Registration is going to be open until March 1st and you have until March 10th to log your run. There’s even some super cute bling (not gonna lie, this totally pulled me in).

Tackle The Miles Virtual 5k

4 Feb

As part of my 13 in 2013 goal which is part of the larger 13 in 2013 group, I ran my third race of the year today. It was a virtual one, done in the basement, at 6am, on the good ol’ treadmill.

tackle the miles virtual 5k

It was pretty anti-climatic as far as races go, but I did push myself pretty hard which felt great! I’ve gotta say, this whole  virtual race phenomenon is a great way to get yourself to push yourself a little bit harder.

I meant to grab a picture of the treadmill stats at the end and completely forgot. Buuut, here are my splits.

3 minute walking warm up
Mile 1 – 14:16 (easy)
Mile 2 – 11:58 (5k pace)
Mile 3 – 13:35 (easy)

Overall: 3 miles in 39:51.

Walt Disney World Marathon (Goofy Challenge Part 2)

22 Jan

When we last left off, we had grabbed dinner at Portobello’s in Downtown Disney the evening after the Half Marathon and headed straight to bed. The bottoms of my feet were tired but I knew that after I put my feet up for the night I would probably feel much better.

My alarm went off at 3am (for the second morning in a row..ugh). I didn’t wake up as easily as I did the morning before but I got myself out of bed ate my cereal + almond milk breakfast and got dressed. I felt nervous from the minute I woke up. We caught the busses a little later this morning, but still had no issue with lines or anything like that. We got dropped off by the buses and made our way to the corrals. Things were much less congested this morning. I guess because there were few runners doing the Marathon.

As our corral was making our way to the start line, we heard the announcer say “and Goofy folks – you’re 1/3rd of the way through!!” This made me feel a lot better. I have no idea why, but it seemed less daunting than thinking that I had 26.2 miles to go.

We crossed the start around 6:15am.


My husband was feeling sore from the previous day, so his strategy was to briskly walk the whole thing. He can walk pretty quickly thanks to his super long legs. My dad and I planned to do 2/1 run/walk intervals as long as possible, and bank as much time as we could before the sun came up. Then we would run/walk/crawl/do whatever we had to do to get across the finish. A lot of the Goofy runners around us had the same strategy which gave me some comfort.

I felt really good for the first 4 miles. Better than I had during the Half the previous day. Running down Main Street gave me a surge and I was feeling good. I was actually surprised at how good I felt.WDWFull02

We were able to run through the castle this time which was great. The previous day it had been too crowded and we had to walk through.

After Magic Kingdom, we looped through the Richard Petty Driving Experience Race Course around mile 8 which was pretty cool and a nice way to break up the monotony and sunniness of the highways. Around this time I made it my goal to stay in from of the 6:30 pace group as long as possible. I figured if I could make it half way through the race without them passing me, I was in a pretty good place.

Around mile 13 I had to switch up the run/walk intervals to 2 mins walk, 1 min run. My legs were starting to feel it. This is also when the 6:30 pace group caught up to us, and when we were passing through Animal Kingdom.

We actually stuck with the 6:30 pace group for a good while, because they were doing run/walk intervals as well. I figured I’d hang on as long as I could. The bottoms of my feet were on fire though. They were sore.

The stretch from Animal Kingdom to ESPN Wide World of Sports was rough. I finally had to let the pace group go. The sun was too bright, the temperature was too high and my feet were hurting so much that I had to walk in the grass at some points. It was also a tough point in the course since we were on pretty boring highway.

Eventually, mile 19 came and we were in ESPN Wide World of Sports.

It was pretty cool to run through the baseball field and through other areas of the complex there, but I was just really focused on keeping one foot in front of the other. It felt like we had a long way to go but I kept reminding myself that we had 30+ miles done.

We left WWoS and Mile 20 came and I was so happy to see the mile marker. Unfortunately more highway awaited us.

My husband really helped me here. He held my hand which really helped me to keep moving. I also didn’t stop for any photos or anything because I knew I had to keep on moving. I was looking forward to seeing the Hollywood Studios sign because I knew that meant we had about a 5k left. I could do anything for 5k. During this stretch I also got a few blisters which then popped. Yikes it stung. But I stuck to the grass when I could and kept on moving.

Finally, we entered Hollywood Studios. The hubby convinced me to stop for one photo – and I’m glad he did.

From there we made our way through the Boardwalk area and finally into Epcot.


The last 2 miles were so hard. so so hard. Like the hardest miles of my life. But I knew the finish line was right outside of Epcot. Around mile 25.5 the tears started. I knew I was going to finish this thing and I just couldn’t believe it.


I remembered how my first 5k in July 2009 had felt like the hardest thing ever. And here I was not only completing a Marathon but also the Goofy challenge. I also may have been the endorphins making me emotional. 😉

We turned the corner after the Epcot Ball, heard the Gospel Choir (cue more tears!) and managed to muster up enough energy to run across the finish.


Official Time: 7:07:23.


After we crossed the finish, we made a quick stop at the Med tent for ice for my husband and dad, grabbed our food and then got our GOOFY MEDALS! Oh man, that clank clank of the two medals was just amazing.


We made our way to the busses and sat down. I was still crying on and off. I was just in awe I guess. Lots of emotions.

We did have dinner reservations at Downtown Disney that night for a celebration dinner, but honestly, it was tough to walk to the bathroom, so we cancelled them. My husband picked up veggie burgers and fries from the food court, and wow, food had never tasted so good. I received a barrage of tweets and texts from my friends back home which made me feel so loved.