Race Recap: Marathon #19, Pittsburgh, PA: Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon
That’s the last time a marathon state will start with a “1” ever again.
So, anyways, who the hell knew Pittsburgh was so pretty?! Or that the best way to get shots of a skyline is by way of an incline? And that there are two of them? Or what the hell a “Yinzer” was?!
Friday afternoon I arrived in Pittsburgh and relaxed a little bit before Nicole M. and her sister picked me up to scoot over to the expo. Fully intending to hang out for a few minutes, we ended up walking around for a couple of hours, finding our names on the wall and taking pictures of the reasons why people run…but not before I made clear of my own. ;)
Heading out for another hilarious “you had to be there” Friday night Italian dinner on a marathon weekend (Jeff, I know you understand what I’m talking about and we will never forget that Italian dinner in Duluth), we headed out to the Duquesne Incline, snapped some pictures, and ventured out to a restaurant at the top of it all to eat some normal food before (slightly intoxicatedly) convincing our hotel shuttle to come get us and hang out in the hotel bar where we (slightly intoxicatedly) flirted our way into an abundance of hotel cookies from our bartender.
What? We needed to carb load.
Saturday I had some time to kill before Nicole M. met me downtown, and found another incline to venture up, which I did, snapped some pictures, and ducked into a local bar to charge my phone and order some water and totally healthy pre-run food (just kidding. I had a beer and french fries with ranch).
I managed to sneak in a “Ducks” tour on my own before Nicole M. met me for dinner (cheesiest tourist, ever) and we rode back up the incline, after, to watch the sunset before back to the hotel to lay out our stuff and start freaking out (just me. Just I freak out. Every single time. Like an idiot. Honestly, it’s ridiculous.).
Sunday morning starting with alarms going off at 3:30 a.m. The nerves set in immediately since the race had a cutoff time I wasn’t sure I could make and some major hills. We got ready and grabbed the shuttle to the bus stop that got us downtown, and found a hotel lobby to hang out in until the start, like we always do.
We squeezed into a crowded coral, hanging out in perfect running weather. And almost a half an hour after the gun went off, we were crossing the starting line. My muscles were tight, I was chilly, nervous, and had no idea what the hell to expect.
And then began one of my favorite marathons to date.
About four miles in, after some light stretching, I loosened up and relaxed. This course has so much to take in. You run over several picturesque bridges, through the downtown, and out into the various neighborhoods, before looping back into downtown. The crowd support was amazing, as were the volunteers. There were evening “runner angels” to run next to you for support up the insane hill after mile 12. Each aid station was proudly representing their neighborhood, out in full force, cheering like crazy, and all smiles. If this is standard Pittsburgh hospitality, it’s one hell of a town.
Worried I would be picked up by a sweeper vehicle, I kept my ass in gear. And it worked. I used all my standard mental tricks and just concentrated on moving forward, limited walking breaks as much as possible.
When things got tough on the second half, I started silently mouthing the words to songs on my iPod for distraction. And then the best and my most favorite marathon treat appeared around mile 22 – Oreos!
(Honestly, it’s amazing I didn’t pick up a boyfriend on this course, because nothing says “sexy” like mouthing the words to Frozen’s “Let it Go” while simultaneously shoving Oreos into your mouth.)
What goes up, must come down, and the part of the course I traditionally suffer the most at was, instead, a welcome downhill. Letting gravity do most of the work, I headed back into downtown. Nicole M. circled back with a coke (best friend, ever) (seriously, regular coke and seeing a friend are the best things ever during a marathon) and ran with me for a bit before making plans to meet up at the end.
Confession: I got teary eyed at the end of this one. It was a tough (yet beautiful) course, I had been worried I wouldn’t finish, and I realized I was finishing my last state that started with the number “1.” Basting Elle Goulding’s “Goodness Gracious” the last 20 minutes, I crossed the finish line clocking a chip time of 6:11 and some change, which I am thrilled with.
After showering and changing, we headed out for margaritas and guacamole, before heading back to the hotel bar for some local beers before bed.
Taking off the next day, I found I was the least sore I’ve ever been post marathon, touched down in Chicago, and met my friend Amanda out for dinner, drinks, and celebratory cupcakes.
Next up, South Dakota!
p.s. click here for the video they put together – one of the best I’ve seen.