Friday, April 29, 2016

Pittsburgh Half Marathon prerace thoughts

Greetings from Pittsburgh!
Source
I flew in last night and am very excited to be here. (BTW - I cut the time so close I was sprinting through the terminals and was literally the last passenger to board the flight. This is a story for another day!)

After three months of incline training, countless prior-year race recaps stalked, and two weeks of weather monitoring, the time has finally come to run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this Sunday.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the hills. However, I am happy with the training effort I put in over the past three months. Could I have done more? Of course - we can always do more. But at this stage of the game, I feel as prepared as I think I can be.

Truthfully, that isn't saying much, as I am realizing the full extent of the challenges that await me. Allow me to elaborate.

Last week, I showed Adam the course map and elevation chart. Here is the elevation chart. Note the giant incline starting after Mile 11:



For my contribution to today's episode of the Hill Running Horror Show, here is a nice, terrifying close-up:
Since Adam is a Pittsburgh native, I asked him about that hill.

His verbal response: "You'll be running through Duquesne University? Oh wow. Uh, yeah. [brief pause, momentarily averts eyes to the side] You're going to do great. Really, you are!"

His nonverbal response looked like this:
What do they say - 80% of communication is nonverbal, 20% is verbal? This is not good at all.

OK, OK, I kid. He didn't ACTUALLY look like that. Let's be clear, he wasn't really wearing a Blackhawks jersey when we had this conversation. But you get the idea.

As you might surmise, this was not exactly the reaction I was looking for. This is what my nonverbal response looked like:
I asked Adam if we could drive over to see that part of the course in advance. As bad as it might be, I do want to know what to expect. His response:

"Are you sure you want to do that? I think you'd be better off just going out there and running it on Sunday. Don't you want to be surprised? The element of surprise would be good!"

Sigh.

To make matters even worse, Adam talked to our friend Julie, who has run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon several times. He told me Julie also advised NOT going to see the hill in advance. Something about not being able to get a true sense for the hill from the car?

Please allow me to reiterate:
Allright, I get the idea. It is what it is, and there isn't anything I can do about it at this stage in the game. If I have to walk the entire debacle from start to finish, so be it. I think the course time limit is 3.5 hours, and all that matters is getting to the finish line. There's a reason why we all get the same medal, right???
Unfortunately, the weather is not looking great for Sunday. The current forecast lists temps in the upper 50s and low 60s with periods of rain. The precipitation would be a bummer because I am hoping to take a lot of pictures on the course. But again, it is what it is. All I can do is get my stylish garbage bag dress ready to go!
From the 2015 Rock N Roll DC Half Marathon
All of these things aside, I am genuinely looking forward to the experience this Sunday. Here are my five goals for the race:

1) Enjoy the course, entertainment, and the spectators
2) See Adam on the course a few times
3) Take full advantage of getting to tour so many of Pittsburgh's neighborhoods and bridges on foot
4) Stay confident when tackling any hills
5) Cross the finish line healthy with a smile on my face

I have heard so many great things about this race and I know it will not disappoint. I am going to have a good time even if (borrowing a great expression from my dear friend Xaarlin) I end up finishing DFL. =D

Here we go!

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Linking up with MarCynthia, and Courtney for the Friday Five.

30 comments:

  1. My mantra for a hilly course? You run up the hills so you can run down the other side! You'll do great. Don't over think it. Quinn will be cheering you on!

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    1. Ah yes, what goes up must come down, yes? Simplest rule of physics there is! Thank you to both you and Quinn for your confidence - I really appreciate it!!!

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    2. Yes! So don't sweat the uphill. Rather, look forward to the downhill that will follow!

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    3. It's like yin and yang, right? For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Amen to the downhills (and never mind that they are harsh on the joints, LOL). Thanks again Natalie and Quinn!!!

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  2. I happen to agree about not seeing the hill beforehand :-) I fully admit that in Carmel when I realized we were going up some of the same hills I ran in December it was a little demoralizing. I'd rather be surprised!

    Regardless, remember that you do this for fun! If you have to walk up a hill there is no shame in that!

    Looking forward to your race report. And your airport report :-)

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    1. Yikes! I had heard so much about Carmel's hills. But the more I hear about them the more respect I have for all of the strong performances everyone had there, including you!

      Yes, thank you for the reminder! It is SO EASY to forget this is supposed to be fun. I always love the spectator signs that remind us "You paid money for this!" or similar. =D

      Thank you for your positivity, Erin! Much appreciated, as always!!!

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  3. You are going to eat that hill for lunch! If not, you will at least have lunch to look forward to post-race! You can use that hill as a strategic advantage - save up a bunch of energy until mile 11 and then blow by everyone else as they struggle up the hill because they ran the front 11 too fast! You will absolutely OWN the last 2.1 miles!! Anyway, it is these type of "obstacles" that make for memorable races and will show how tough you really are. Good luck and fingers crossed that the weather is picture perfect for you! :)

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    1. Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!! I absolutely LOVE your thought process, Pete! As always, you are the master of race strategy!!! You are right, nobody would ever conceive of negative-splitting the killer hill at Mile 11, hehe. I especially agree with looking forward to lunch post-race! =D Thank you so much for the humor, good luck wishes, and your confidence in me! You are awesome!!!

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  4. Good luck! It sounds like the hill at the end of the MCM. Everyone's tired, and everyone gets up that hill. You'll do great!

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    1. Thank you so much, Lesley! I have heard some stories about the killer hills at MCM. Having the Marine Corps at the finish to congratulate you would be such an enormous motivator there, right??? Much appreciate your good luck wishes and your confidence in me!!!

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  5. I was hoping to come out and spectate this weekend but plans got changed! Maybe next year! Good luck! You'll eat those hills and spit them out, right?

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    1. Oh gosh, that would have been awesome to see you out on the course! Bummer that your plans changed but yes, next year! Thank you so much for your well wishes and confidence - I am totally LOL at the idea of spitting out those hills!!! =D

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  6. Good luck!! I have no doubt you will do great! :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Kayla!!! Really appreciate your confidence in me!!!

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  7. Okay. Pittsburgh half veteran here. And former Duquesne student, so very familiar with that course section...part of the "problem" with seeing the hill in advance is it's on what is typically on a one way that goes the other way, so you would have to be driving DOWN most of it.

    I think the elevation chart is honestly a bit dramatic. It's long. It's a pain. Just when you think you're done, you're not. Basically, just remember, you're not done until you physically pass Duquesne. And you should see a sign when you do.

    Welcome to Pittsburgh! I'll be racing the half on Sunday too.

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    1. Wow, Jessie - this is super helpful information! Thank you so much for sharing! How cool that you went to Duquesne so you know the course so well. The tip about the one-way going the wrong direction helps to clarify a LOT. And I really appreciate the tip on being done after passing Duquesne and seeing the sign - I will definitely keep that in mind!

      Much appreciate the welcome - do you still live in Pittsburgh yourself? I wish you a fantastic race on Sunday! If you ever race in Chicago, please let me know and I'd love to help you out, too!

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    2. I do still live in Pittsburgh. Pretty near one of the half course sections too. :)

      Glad a little bit of this was helpful. Can't wait to read your recap and see what you think!

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    3. Ahhh, you have the luxury of being able to train on the actual course! That is awesome! It must be so meaningful for you to run the race and see so many of your stomping grounds. =D Can't wait to read your recap, too - you are a rockstar and you are going to tear it up!!!!!

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  8. You got this. And I should know, after just conquering the hills of Big Sur. My coach trained me to do hills by making me pull that sled. So put your head down and drive forward.

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    1. Thank you so much, Wendy! I am over the moon thrilled to hear you conquered Big Sur's hills - I am really dying to read your fill recap! All of your pictures were so stunning. Amen to all of your sled pulling hard work paying off big time! Great advice on putting the head down and driving forward, too. Here is hoping I can follow in your hillrunning footsteps!!!

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  9. Have a great race. You're going to have some hills, but you can do it. Just remember to run your race and do it your way.

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    1. Thank you so much, John! Yes, it can be so tough to fight against the crowd pressure to start out super fast at the start, etc. Great advice to run my own race - it's a reminder I can never hear too many times! Appreciate your confidence in me!

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  10. So excited for you! I actually look at that elevation profile and focus on all the little spots you get a breather on the way up :) That downhill finish should RULE! I hope you have a great run!

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    1. Thank you so much, Bobbi! I love your perspective to focus on the little breather spots during the massive incline! Great way to look at it. Yes, the downhill finish will be nice because I could let gravity take over and just literally roll down to the finish line, LOL. Much appreciate your positivity!!!

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  11. Seriously who puts a hill like that at mile 11 of a half?? Personally I love to drive the course and get my head around what I'm in for.
    You've totally trained for this, Em. Remember that when/if the going gets tough.

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    1. My thoughts, exactly! Whoever designed the course has a cruel and unusual streak, LOL. Yes, I still prefer to get a sense in advance - don't they always say to avoid race day surprises? Thank you so much for your confidence and your support, Marcia!!! Can't wait to see you at Cinco de Miler next weekend!

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  12. Bugs and Scooby Doo in the same post! You have my heart. I just ran the hilliest course EVER on a whim. We could have an intense conversation about hills. It is pretty cruel to throw them in at the end. I know you finished this race with a smile on your race! I saw your IG photo. Congrats!

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    1. Ahhhh, HoHo!!! You and I are women of the same heart - I LOVE Bugs and Scooby Doo!!! OMG, I applaud you for tackling such a crazy hilly course on a whim. Power to you, my friend! I know you went out and ate those hills for lunch, though. =) Way to push through! Thank you so much and I am off to read your race recap right now!!!

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  13. I know the race is over now, and looking forward to your recap, but here is my retroactive good luck: GOOD LUCK! That is a monster hill, I hope you crushed it!

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    1. Thank you so much, Kelly!!! I am working on my race recap right now but in short, my three months of hill training really paid off. I had a blast!!! Much appreciate your positive thoughts, as always!!!

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