February 16th: Week 5 - Teamwork
Teamwork. That is what is getting me through marathon training this year. Since running is an individual sport that may sound strange, but it's been absolutely true. I don't think I could have accomplished long runs in these winter conditions without the help of my group. Whether it's been running in a single file line down a cleared path on the sidewalk, calling out the ice hazards on the run or simply telling each other "good job" as we trot uphill in the snow, we are definitely working as a team to get to our goal of completing the marathon.
The Week 5 run started from Coffee Tree Roasters in Bakery Square. From there we headed along Penn Avenue to South Braddock Avenue. I've ran this portion of South Braddock Avenue before and enjoyed it because it passes a few private schools that have interesting architecture. After passing the schools we made a right onto Forbes Avenue into Frick Park. In the past I've enjoyed running through the park because it's a quiet and scenic part of Pittsburgh. However, this time was a different story. There was snow along the entire length of the sidewalk. When I ran I couldn't push off properly and when I did get my feet to move they hit chunks of ice that had been plowed from the road. It hurt my feet. I resorted to walking. We weren't even two miles into the run and I had serious thoughts of turning around. I even verbalized this thought to my running companion, Laura. I was cold. My legs felt like they were in quick sand and I didn't want to be here.
I looked at my running group in a single file line, trudging up the hill like a small army outfitted in high visibility neon clothing. They were a determined bunch, and I figured I could run with them to the next intersection. Once we made our turn onto Beechwood Boulevard, a plowed bicycle lane appeared. It was a welcomed site. One of the neighbors spotted us and started banging pots and pans in her kitchen; cheering for us and encouraging us onward. I forgot about turning around.
Speaking of encouragement, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the support of Pittsburghers. It's well known that Pittsburgers like to cheer for thier professional sports teams, but they also like to cheer for runners. Seriously, they do! And it's not just in races either. Today was a great show of support from our hometown. The support included a man on Forbes Avenue telling us "great job", to another resident saying with a smile, "Everybody is running today." Pittsburghers will look out for you too; such as the woman on Penn Avenue who told us to be careful because there was ice ahead. "Thank you," we replied. The support really means a lot when you are trying to do something so difficult.
By Mile 10 we hit our last water stop and I was feeling optimistic. Oh yeah, did I mention the Fleet Feet running group has water stops on all our training runs? We do! Thanks to volunteers who wake up early on Sundays and deliver water coolers, cups and garbage bags to various locations on the course. Not only are the water stops important for hydration, but they serve as a good destination point for me mentally. A lot of times I tell myself that I'm just running to the next water stop. It makes the long distances easier to knock down. And once again, it's be made possible because of teamwork.
After the water stop we had less than three miles to complete. Positive thoughts and words of encouragement were passed along to each other as we finished the run. Those thoughts carried us back to Bakery Square. We all arrived safely thanks to our group effort and our group leader. Even though this run was one of the toughest I've ever been on, I think we all felt a sense of accomplishment.
By the end of thirteen miles I was exhausted. My legs were so tired from pushing off in the snow. Speaking of snow, we had just finished our run before it started again. I couldn't wait to get home and out of the cold. I rewarded myself with a latte from Coffee Tree Roasters. Thirteen miles were done and I couldn't think of anything better than a latte, my couch and the Winter Olympics to watch highlights of more teamwork from another great team, the USA.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.