The 2016 Pittsburgh Half Marathon was my 27th half marathon completed!
Ready for a ton of pictures???
The entire week leading up to the race included rain in the forecast. Therefore, part of my night-before prep included concocting my second edition of the world-reknown garbage bag dress. Accept no imitations!
Going to the race with Julie, Laurel, and Natalie made life SO much easier. Thanks to Laurel's husband, we had keycard access to one of the downtown parking lots. The ladies also knew of a hotel right by the starting corrals. We were able to use indoor restrooms and do all of our final pre-race prep inside. The whole process was a godsend for which I am extremely grateful. The locals always know best!
Here's a pre-race photo:
|From L to R: Natalie, me, Julie, and Laurel|
The course wound through downtown, followed by the Strip District. I was looking all around, observing the scenery and soaking in the atmosphere as best I could. At the same time, I was trying to be careful not to bump into others or trip on anything.
I saw Adam for the first time around the 2.8 mile mark. Our spectator plan included a total of four points, and we had noted he would be on the left side for every single one. I joked with Adam that it reminded me of this Patrick Kane commercial:
Since it was raining, I didn't have my phone out. However, when we approached the first of five bridge crossings, I had to take a picture:
|The 16th Street Bridge|
In the past, I had been bothered by the inclines on the bridges, but today I didn't notice. YAY! I hoped this would continue on all of the other bridges, too.
The course ran briefly through the North Side before looping right back on the 9th Street Bridge. I saw Adam again around the 4.2 mile point. We then ran briefly along Fort Duquesne Blvd, which was especially mobbed with spectators. It was very energizing!
I grinned at some of the signs I saw. One sign I saw frequently had this local expression on it:
|I understand this to be Pittsburghese for "You run like idiots"|
Then we turned around again and crossed the Sandusky Bridge back to the North Side. I still had no issue with the bridge inclines, but there was a long, gradual hill around the Mile 5 marker that made me take notice.
The next stretch of the course took me to some areas of Pittsburgh I had never seen before. We passed by the National Aviary, which was in a beautiful park:
Then it was on to the West End Bridge, which was the fourth bridge crossing. The rain had stopped so I decided it was time to whip out my phone and take some pictures. This was the view:
|The city as seen from West End Bridge|
Next, the course wound through the West End. This seemed like a more residential area and there were again a lot of spectators. One guy had a giant cooler and was busily handing out full cans of beer! I giggled at some of the spectator signs. One said, "I thought this was the pierogi race!" and it reminded me how the Pirates have pierogi races during their home games.
|Pierogi down! Pierogi down!|
We crossed the Birmingham Bridge, which was the fifth and final bridge. The Mile 11 marker was on the bridge. Spectators shouted all kinds of encouragement to us about the final stretch. Several runners around me made comments about how the moment of truth was coming. I took some deep breaths and braced myself.
After the bridge, we turned onto the Blvd of Allies. I expected to see a venerable mountain ahead of me, something like this:
Here are more of the stunning views from the hills near Duquesne University:
I couldn't believe it when I hit the Mile 12 marker. REALLY? Was I truly that close to the finish? I looked down at my Garmin to be certain, and sure enough my Garmin agreed. WOW! I had held myself back so much in fear of that final stretch, but in retrospect I could have pushed much harder.
Jessie had mentioned there would be a Duquesne University sign to mark the end of the final hill. When it came into view, I almost pulled off to the side to do a dance of joy. Since Adam and I had talked at length about this point being the final challenge on the course, I took this picture and texted it to him:
|Obligatory race photo body spasm|
My final time was 2:20:34 - and it could have been much better had I run more aggressively!
|Posing with the classic post-race trinity: medal, space blanket, and an Eat N Park smiley-face cookie! =D|
I am THRILLED at how much the hill-training ended up paying off for me! I actually had a tougher time with the hills at Rock N Roll DC six weeks earlier than I did in Pittsburgh. Just goes to demonstrate how training efforts manifest themselves more and more over time, yes?
All in all - I loved this race!!! The course was a stunning tour of the city, the event was very well-organized, and the spectators and volunteers were phenomenal. It meant so much to me to be able to run a hilly course with relative comfort. It also meant so much for me to get to know more about Adam's hometown the way only a runner can during a race.
|The finish line|
Thank you to everyone for all of your support, and thank you to Pittsburgh for such an amazing experience! I will most definitely be back. =)
My next race: the Cinco de Miler on May 7