After running the full marathon for the past two years I decided I'd had enough of training in the frigid winter and wanted to focus on improving at the half marathon. When I signed up for this race in December I thought I would just run this race for fun and try to get a personal record (PR) in the March running of the DC Rock and Roll Half Marathon. However, a tropical-like-storm decided to invade DC on race day and my hopes for a PR were quickly dashed.
After the DC race, my focus for a PR shifted to Pittsburgh. Although Pittsburgh is a hilly city I have several advantages when I run this race. I sleep in my own bed. I eat my usual meals and I have already trained on the course for several weeks before the race. As I told my friend, Duke, who traveled from Harrisburg to run the race, "I've got home court advantage here".
I had three goals for this race.
1. The ultimate goal was to run a 2:10 half marathon.
2. My second goal was to PR the race (run under 2:13:46).
3. If I couldn't accomplish either of these goals I wanted to run the course faster than the last time I had ran it in 2012 (2:22).
Start Line: My friend Duke and I decide to meet up before the start of the race so we could go into the corral together. We were both in Corral C and wanted to hang out before the race. I'm not sure how other runners feel, but for me, hanging out in the Corral before a race is always the most nerve-wracking part. I'm glad that Duke and I were able to bounce some nervous energy off each other!
Mile 1: We start! It seems sort of surreal, but the race is actually starting. Duke and I are chatting as we run. This is a good sign. I want to keep things at an easy pace for the first two miles. (10:40 min/mile)
Mile 2: Duke and I are running on Liberty Avenue through the Strip District. All I can think about is that I'm so relieved that I don't have to run back this way. (The full marathon course comes back through the Strip District at Mile 24.) We hit our first water stop and amongst the shuffle Duke and I get separated.
Mile 3: I decide to pick up the pace. It's time to get serious! I hit Mile Marker 3 on the David McCullough Bridge. (9:49 min/mile)
Mile 4: This is one of my favorite parts of the race as it goes through the North Side. Unfortunately my left foot has fallen asleep; probably because of a tight calf I've been battling. I focus on my breathing. The feeling in that foot will come back. I hope.
Mile 5: This mile includes the Rachel Carson and Andy Warhol Bridges. I know I can pick up speed here. There's incline on the bridges but not enough to slow me down. As I near the marker for Mile 5. I look at my watch. What the heck? I've slowed down instead of speeding up. (10:12 min/mile)
After I leave the finish line area I meet up with my Mom. We easily found each other and since it was such a beautiful day we sat in the grass enjoying the sun. After I got rehydrated (three bottles of water) we walked to Market Square to meet up with my friend Susie. It was great to see Susie after the race. Unfortunately Susie was injured in March while running and was not able to run in this race as her leg is still healing. However, she still came in her walking boot to support fellow runners including myself and her sister, Christina, who was running the full! If anyone embodies the spirit of a runner, it's Susie!
After hanging out for a bit I took my Mom a few blocks up to Smithfield Street to watch the full marathoners finish their race. Knowing how hard it is to finish a marathon I wanted to go and support fellow runners just like others had done for me for the past two years. I have to say being a spectator of the marathon when other runners were so close to the finish line was an awesome experience. Watching the expressions on the faces of runners was something I won't soon forget. Some were smiling. Some were crying. All were realizing a dream that had finally become a reality.
Special Acknowledgement for SSW - I thought of you the entire race! Your courage and strength inspired me to keep going!
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.