Did you miss the start of my Pittsburgh Marathon adventures? Check it out here before moving on to my full race recap…
The morning of my marathon, I ended up waking up right after 5 a.m., got dressed, and ate my pre-race breakfast of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and flaxseed. I only managed to eat half before we left, but I wrapped up the other half and ended up eating on the way to the starting line, which I was thankful for a few miles in!
After breakfast, it was about a ten minute walk down to the start line from Kate’s apartment, and the four of us snapped a quick photo before taking off to our different corrals.
Ali and Kels were in Corral B, Kate and her boyfriend were in Corral D, and I was the only one in Corral C. Luckily, the weather was nice but it was still chilly in the morning, so I was pretty thankful for my throwaway shirt!
Since I was in Corral C, I figured I wouldn’t cross the start line until 7:15 or so, but they were incredibly efficient. Even though I was in the third wave, I crossed the start line by 7:05…and I was off!
Now, I’ve read all the blogs and Runner’s World articles about the importance of not coming out too fast, but I studied the typography and knew the second half of the course was really hilly, so I wanted to come out fast knowing I’d need that time later. So come out fast I did!
The first six miles of the race were just awesome! We started in downtown Pittsburgh and headed across three of the bridges within the first five miles which were absolutely packed with spectators. I felt great, my legs felt fresh, and I loved the crowd support! Some of my favorite signs included “You’ve been training longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage,” “Most people won’t even drive 26.2 miles today,” and “You Go, Glen Coco!” Yay for Glen Coco and Means Girls.
Miles 1-5 –> 8:04, 8:01, 8:18, 8:14, 8:21
It started feeling a little bottlenecked around mile 7, since we were still with the half marathoners and the roads were pretty narrow. I ended up doing a lot of swerving, but I was still feeling good, even with the rolling hills.
At Mile 10, I broke out a gel and actually stopped at a water stop to take my gel and drink some water which was a good choice! It gave me a quick break and let me refuel before taking on the next part of the course.
Miles 6-10 –> 8:28, 8:28, 8:24, 8:31, 9:02
At Mile 11, the half marathoners broke off from the marathoners, and I won’t lie…I briefly considered following the half marathoners. At that point, I was feeling really good and would have LOVED to finish up strong (2 more miles versus 15 more miles? The choice seemed easy at that point…) buttttt I kept on going and hit the second half of the race.
I studied the course map and knew there was a killer hill at mile 12…guess what?! The course map didn’t lie. The hill was long (over a mile long), but I just pulled back my pace and kept going up. Around here, I started a new fuel strategy: Stop and walk through every fuel station. It was beautiful. There was a fuel station every 1.5 to 2 miles, so I simply grabbed a water and walked through each station from mile 12 through the end of the race. I had a chance to stop, focus on hydration, and just keep going. So glad I took the 15 seconds to stop rather than trying to drink and run at the same time.
After mile 12, the hills didn’t really stop. There were long, rolling hills for the rest of the race, which got quite tough after awhile. The middle part of the race was pretty much a blur, but I knew I kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other.
Miles 11 – 15 –> 8:39, 9:13, 9:19, 9:36, 9:08
To the woman who gave me an orange slice at mile 19 – I love you.
Miles 16-20 –> 9:27, 9:35, 9:11, 9:04, 10:06
Around mile 20-21, I saw the pacer for the 3:50 group and I glanced down at my watch – just over 3 hours, which meant my goal of finishing in 4 hours was in reach. That kept me moving…until I hit another gigantic hill at mile 23.
Miles 21 – 24 –> 9:06, 9:26, 9:40, 8:53 (finally downhill!)
To the spectator who told me this was the last hill of the race and that once I got up it, it was all downhill from there – I love you.
(P.S. He lied. There were two more hills, but hey, at least he got me up that hill!)
I can’t explain how painful miles 24-26 were. I considered stopping multiple times and seriously contemplated walking to the finish…everyone around me seemed to be walking or pulling over to stretch, and I was pretty jealous.
However, I knew four hours was in reach and no matter how much I wanted to quit, I knew I needed to finish as strong as I could. In those last two miles, I wasn’t running for me. I was running for every single person who loved and supported me these past four months. I looked at my arm a lot at that mile…
Technically, I got myself to mile 24, but it was God, family, and friends who got me to 26.2! (Or more accurately, 26.5…apparently I did a lot of weaving!) Mile 25 was my first split over 10:06 (at mile 20), but I dug deep and pulled out a 8:44 for my final mile.
Miles 25 – 26.5 –> 10:20, 8:44, 4:16
Right before miles 26, I saw my family and friends for the FIRST time…at that point, I knew I was going to finish strong (and under four hours!), but it gave me the final push I needed!
At 3:57:31, I crossed the finish line. I got my finisher metal. I had done it!
It wasn’t until I pulled out my phone that I started crying. A ton of my friends had signed up for live updates and texted me along the way! It was so amazing to see all the times they texted me throughout the race encouraging me…and shortly later, I met up with my family!
Normally, I can’t eat after a long run butttt I happened to get the most phenomenal post-race snack — shaved ice! I think it was almost as sweet as finishing the race — I was in heaven.
“Amazing” is the only way to describe this experience. Thank you to each of you for reading along these past few months and sending your support as well! I promise I’ll try to get you some more fun workouts that don’t revolve around running and good recipes that aren’t all focused on the correct ratio of carbs:protein, haha… Thanks for being on this journey with me!
And one last thank you…to my husband who’s put up with early morning runs and lots of complaining these past few months! When I got home from work yesterday, he had framed my race number and got me a little race shoe for my Pandora bracelet. Perfect!