April 6, 2014
For any Fleet Feet runner the words "Tudi Run" invokes fear, hesitation and excitement. The Tudi Run is challenging, intense and long. While the course is challenging, it is a great way to prepare for the marathon; because nothing in the marathon is as daunting as what is encountered in this run! The 18 mile run began in McKees Rocks. Once departing McKees Rocks we took Island Avenue (not sure where the island was) to Chartiers Avenue. Chartiers Avenue is a long and winding hill (perhaps could be considered a mountain?) to the Sheradon neighborhood of Pittsburgh. I wanted to run up this hill as much as I could but once I realized my "running" was the same speed as others walking, I decided to save my energy and walk up a portion of the hill. After reaching the top, a long downhill was very enjoyable before reaching yet another long uphill. This time we climbed the hill into the neighborhood of Elliot.
Fortunately, yet another downhill gave me a chance to recover and catch my breath. We were already five miles into the run, and had climbed two massive hills. On all the long runs, I tell myself that I'm only running to the next water stop. I knew we were close to our water stop and then I saw a blue tent for our first stop. But this wasn't your ordinary training run water stop. This was a "race like" water stop sponsored by Brooks (yes, the running apparel company) and it was glorious! Our water saviors were dressed in grass hula skirts and beach apparel. Maybe Island Avenue took us to a Brooks Island?!? This water stop made me smile and completely forget about those last five miles and two hills.
After the much needed boost from the water stop we ran through the West End taking the steps down from the West End Bridge to East Carson Street. I was happy that it would be a while until we would see a hill again. The chilly morning was giving way to a beautiful Sunday. After an oppressive winter, the sun is finally shining, and signs of life are being seen around the city. We ran past a soccer game at Highmark Stadium and even ended up in the midst of a race on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail!
Our next water stop was in Uptown, directly across from the Birmingham Bridge. Nearly ten miles into the run and I was feeling pretty good!
We then headed downtown and through the Strip District. After crossing the 16th Street Bridge, we headed to the North Side. This nieghborhood is one of my favorite parts of the marathon course. Although parts of the North Side have been neglected over the years, I think it has some of the most picturesque streets in the city.
After our scenic run through the North Side, it was onto our final water stop at Mile 15. I really needed this one! The sun was coming down and it was getting warmer. I definitely needed to hydrate and fuel with a gel. After the water stop I was ready to tackle the last three miles of our run.
We started our final hill climb up California Avenue. Ouch. This hurt. Although this hill was not as steep as the hills we encountered in the beginning of the run, it was long and seemed never ending. A sliver of hope appeared as I could see the McKees Rocks Bridge in the not-so-far distance. I kept my eyes fixed on the bridge as I conquered the hill. I just had to get there and the down slope of the bridge would carry me to the end of this run. It seemed like it took forever, but I got to the top of the hill at Brighton Heights Avenue. From here it was all downhill. In a good way! We crossed at the traffic light and headed over the Ohio River via the bridge.
As we crossed the bridge, I stopped to take it all in (and a few pictures.) At this point I knew I had conquered this run and it was an exhilarating feeling.
Once we arrived back to our starting point I couldn't help but feel accomplished. Last year I really struggled with this run, but today it felt different. It felt like I had conquered the Tudi Run, instead of it conquering me.
The next day I was really tired and sore. I could tell that I had done a tough run the day before. As the mileage has been increasing on the long runs, I have been taking two rest days during the week instead of one. Training for my second marathon has been a lot different than training for my first. I listen to my body. I know when I need to rest and when to push. Hopefully this same knowledge will serve me well in the marathon.
Author: Sarah Warman
I like to run, take pictures and write. I've combined all three in this blog.