Well. It’s been 2 weeks since race weekend…I should probably do a recap before my thoughts leave my brain. Lol.
Pittsburgh Marathon weekend. It’s something that I have participated in since 2011, whether it be spectating or running.
Here’s a brief rundown of my history with the Pittsburgh Marathon:
2011: Ran the 5k. Spectated the marathon. Made my decision to run the full.
2012: Ran the 5k and the full marathon (1st full).
2013: Dropped down and ran the 2nd leg of the relay (sick from Lyme). Then I coached my 1st time half marathoners. I was a certified running coach for the Steel City Road Runners at one point.
2014: Ran the 5k. First comeback race after initial treatment for Lyme.
2015: Ran the 5k and the full marathon (3rd full).
2016: Ran the 5k and the full marathon (4th full).
2017: Ran the 5k and the full marathon (6th full).
This weekend is my absolute favorite, and I truly look forward to it every single year. As long as my body allows it, I will participate in one way or another. It’s comparable to a holiday to me.
Months before, I requested Friday off from work so I would be able to enjoy the day in it’s entirety (as well as attempting to get some extra rest). I would’ve had major FOMO if I was working all day while knowing that the expo was going on. Haha! I was antsy all week long to begin with, and I’m sure that I was driving my coworkers nuts with all of my marathon talk.
I really wanted my mom to go with me, so she took the day off as well. She came to the expo with me for my 1st marathon and hasn’t been back since. I was excited to share my passion with my biggest supporter. Then…well…things didn’t quite go as planned.
So, the game plan was to leave my house just shortly after 10 o’clock in the morning because I had to run a quick errand. The expo opened to the public at 11, so I figured by the time all was said and done on my end, we’d arrive just in time. And, we did. BUT, there was absolutely nowhere to park. If anyone knows me personally, you can be certain that I get super anxious when I can’t find a parking space in Pittsburgh.
I thought for sure that the garage connected to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center would have had spaces because I never had trouble in previous years. WRONG. I frantically drove past 2 additional garages within a 3/4 mile radius, and they both displayed a sign that read ‘FULL.’ (Oh, the irony.) It became problematic since my mother is a diabetic. She can’t walk very far, so I didn’t want to put her through that, especially since we’d already be walking around the expo for a while. And besides, it wasn’t a good idea for me to walk all over the place because I’d be running the marathon in just 2 days.
I ultimately made the decision to go grab lunch together, take my mother home, then go to the expo alone. I figured if I had to park further away, it wouldn’t be too much of an issue. I chose to eat lunch at Fridays at the Waterfront, where I never had a bad experience…until now. I was already super cranky for multiple reasons. One being that my bladder was having a party. I ran into the restaurant and immediately used the bathroom. We were seated within 5 minutes, then things went downhill from there. Our waitress was very inattentive from the get-go. It took one hour to receive our food, and both my mother and I couldn’t eat our food until we got new silverware. The silverware we had was covered with dried up food. YUCK. My chicken had a rubber-like consistency, which made me more cranky. It was just a bad experience overall. I couldn’t wait to leave!
I rushed home, dropped my mother off, then started to head back to downtown Pittsburgh for the expo. Two of the garages were still full, so I started to get anxious again. Then the final garage that I passed during the 1st trip was open! Praise the Lord! I MADE IT. The walk was a little less than a mile…so not too bad.
EXPO TIME! I was so eager to get my bibs for both the marathon and 5k! And I was even more eager to explore the vendors on site. It’s like a runner’s paradise. Plus, there is so much excitement in the air given the upcoming events over the weekend. I wasn’t too bummed about heading to the expo alone since I know so many people through the Steel City Road Runners. I knew I’d bump into someone here and there.
I picked up my bibs, shirts, and goodie bags, and I started to make my way through the vendors. Out of all the expos I have been to, Pittsburgh is my favorite. It’s easy to spend a lot of time roaming around, which can be a bad thing for both the legs and the wallet. Haha. I wanted to get all of my browsing done on Friday, so that I could rest as much as possible on Saturday. I usually go both days, but I decided to play it safe due to my optimism for Sunday’s race. I didn’t want to risk anything.
Unsurprisingly, I ran into a few friends rather quickly. We chatted as we gawked at the fancy running things.
One of my favorite things at the Pittsburgh Marathon expo is the wall of names. It’s a huge collage of the weekend’s participants, no matter the distance. And when you step away, it looks like a picture! It’s pretty cool! It’s fun to see everyone get excited when they find their name! Thank goodness that the names are in alphabetical order. I’d probably still be there searching within the 30,000 or so names. Haha!
There were a ton of photo ops this year! The people of Dick’s Sporting Goods made a huge sign so that people could be the ‘I’ in Dick’s. Of course, many of us took this as an opportunity to be funny and crop the ‘S’ out of the picture.
Let’s get to the fun stuff! I already had in mind most of the items that I wanted to check out and/or purchase to make things a little easier.
Top left: AfterShokz Headphones – They were $30 off. Momma bear gave me money for them. They are bone conduction headphones – a newer technology to my knowledge. As you can see in the photo, they don’t go inside of or cover your ears, which is a nice safety feature when running alone because you can still hear your surroundings. The booth at the expo had a few pairs to try on for fit (regular or mini). I have a smaller head, so I bought the ‘mini’ size. It also allowed you to test the sound. CRYSTAL CLEAR. The only thing to get used to is the vibration that the music may set off when the volume is higher. However, when the volume is set a little lower, I hardly feel it. And honestly, I don’t even notice it when I’m running, which is why I bought them in the first place. I ended up wearing them during the marathon. I know. I know. Nothing new on race day, but I had an awesome feeling about these! And I was right! I normally don’t listen to music during the Pittsburgh Marathon because I like being able to hear the cheering, bands, etc. But since I’d still be able to hear everything around me, I decided to use them for the not so exciting parts of the marathon. More so to drown out my internal screaming! Lol! They ended up being perfect! They didn’t bounce at all, and they lasted the entire marathon (6 hour battery life – woo!). These are totally worth the investment! I promise! Whew, that turned into a little review, didn’t it?
Top right: One Up Bands Headbands – If you know me at all, you know that I love wearing headbands, whether it be to work or to workout. My problem with regular headbands is that they slide off of my head. These ones have a velvet underlay that keeps the bands from moving. I own similar ones from brands like Bic Bands, Chica Bands, and Sweaty Bands. All are great! The Pittsburgh Marathon logo drew me to this particular brand.
Bottom left: Runner of STEEL Medal Holder – I saw this medal rack a while ago, and have wanted it ever since. I love the personal touch of my favorite city, especially the skyline with the bridges! When I saw the deal at the expo, I had to jump on it. I have a couple of different medal racks, but will be using this one for Pittsburgh Marathon events ONLY. The only medal not pictured is from my first marathon in 2012. That one has a special ‘MY FIRST 26.2‘ hook, of course!
Bottom right: Scott James Sport Jewelry – Last but not least, running charms! This year, I became an ambassador for this company. I was and still am very excited about this opportunity that was given to me. Naturally, I had to visit their booth and check out this year’s Pittsburgh Marathon charms. They were the official jeweler for the marathon, and I believe they have been for a couple of years now. For those whom aren’t Pittsburgh natives, 412 is the area code, hence 4RUN2. Charms of all kinds are available for purchase, and if you use code (AMB-ecb8952f), you can save 15% off of your total.
After I was done shopping, I headed over the SCRR booth to talk to people. I stayed at the expo longer than anticipated, but once I was finished looking at everything, it was rush hour. And given the events earlier in the day, the last thing I wanted to do was sit in traffic forever. I ended up having a pretty good day, after all things considered. My only complaint about the actual expo was the lack of air flow. I was sweating bullets the entire time! Maybe it was just me. Regardless, I was trying hard to stay on top of my hydration. Hopefully I can stay on top of my race recaps from the weekend. LOL.