Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Part 2

I woke up suppperrrr early on Sunday…I think around 3:45 in the morning. I wanted to make sure I left my house no later than 4:15 to get to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center parking garage before streets began to close. Last year, I ran into problems because roads closed much sooner than they were supposed to, so I couldn’t get to the garage I planned on parking in. This year, I made it with no issues at all, so I was very very grateful for that! I gathered my stuff and made the quick walk over to the Westin for the SCRR pre-race lounge – one of the best perks of being a SCRR member.

When I made my way to the lounge, I set my stuff down, grabbed a bagel with jelly and forced myself to eat.


Eating before a big race is difficult for me. My stomach is usually upset because of nerves, so I have to force myself to eat because it’s necessary. Once my friends started showing up, I perked up and was able to relax my brain. When it was time to leave the Westin and head to the start line, keeping track of my friends was a lot like trying to herd a bunch of cats. Every time I turned around, someone else disappeared. Normally it wouldn’t matter much, but we wanted to cross the start line together. Eventually, we all got together for a few group photos and made our entry into Coral D.

We were in the corals for maybe 30 minutes after the gun went off.

Just before crossing the initial timing mat, our group chanted “WHO RUNS? WE RUN?” It’s been a tradition over this training cycle, so it was a must! I went into this marathon with the mindset that it was a training run, so I had absolutely no time goal in mind. The first few miles are always a blur because they are filled with so much excitement! I do remember having terrible left knee pain that literally came out of nowhere, Abbie running over to her hubby in the North Shore and Carla screaming “BALLS” several times. If you know Carla, that will not come as a surprise.

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Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Part 1

I’ve been participating in Pittsburgh Marathon weekend events since 2012. It’s my favorite weekend of the year, and it never gets old – that hometown feel. Many of my running friends and I can agree that it feels like Christmas morning for runners in Pittsburgh. We spend months training for this special weekend; early mornings and a winter in Pittsburgh can truly test one’s limits.

Because I’m impatient, I took Friday off and headed to the expo when it became open to the public. Last year, as an official blogger, I got to head into the expo 2 hours early and watch the ribbon cutting ceremony. It was a cool experience that I hope to enjoy again in the future!

This year, I had to park about a 1/2 mile away from the convention center, but the walk wasn’t bad since it was basically a straight shot…good for me because I get easily lost! Once I entered my way into the convention center and headed into the designated area for the expo, I almost immediately bumped into my long time friends, Michael and Jennifer. They had their little boy of 2 years with them; he was signed up for the Toddler Trot (THE CUTEST RACE EVER!). After chatting with them for a bit, I went over to packet pickup to retrieve my bibs/shirts for the 5K and marathon. *One odd thing about Pittsburgh Marathon packet pickup is having to go clear across the venue to get our goodie bags. So, you have to juggle your items for a while.* This year, we got a pretty cool additional item with registration – a Pittsburgh themed pair of Goodr sunglasses!

I did a few laps around the expo to check out the merchandise and socialize, but I my best to not really spend any money. All I purchased was a meal and some fudge because carb loading.

I went home and took a nap; I tried to get in as much sleep as possible because I never sleep well the night before big races between the excitement and nerves.

The following morning, I woke up and got ready for the 5K (the first part of the Steel Challenge).

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Journey to Sub 5 – Marine Corps Marathon

Going into this race, I had really high hopes of finally reaching my goal of a sub 5. My training went great, and I didn’t have any major setbacks other than a bout with ankle pain at the very beginning of this cycle. My ankle issues resolved when I got myself into the correct inserts. Training for a fall marathon is tough because it’s hot and humid for most of the cycle, depending where you live. BUT! That means, faster marathon times as long as the weather is cooperative! Woo hoo!

Thennnnn, 15 weeks later, following my 20 mile training run, it was time to begin the taper. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy the taper, but I do get a little stir crazy with all of my extra down time. I’ve never had a taper quite like this.

I started off with a bang by getting stuck with a needle at work. I’m still dealing with this. Two days later, I fell down a couple of steps while going to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I had a bruised knee as a result. I ripped my shorts in the upcoming weekend while on a training run. I was too close to a building and somehow caught a large screw that was fixated on a meter of some sort. This was the 1st time I wore these shorts after having the zipper repaired, and they were $58. I shed a few tears. The thing that freaked me out the most was getting a head cold just 2 weeks out from race day. This is one of the downfalls of working in pediatrics. I’m constantly getting sick, especially with my compromised immune system. Fortunately, I managed to get better just in the nick of time! I figured at this time, it can only go up from here!

Before I knew it, Saturday the 27th arrived, and it was time to head to Washington D.C. I haven’t been to D.C. since I was 12 for a school field trip, so I was pretty excited. I went with one of my good running friends, Abbie. She drove and helped immensely with our travel plans. We left early, knowing our trip would be roughly 5 hours with rest stops. The drive wasn’t too bad despite my tiny bladder and the consistent rainfall. We decided to head straight to the expo due to time restrictions. The expo was very well organized, and we both quickly got our necessary items (bib, etc.) before shopping for items we don’t need, but want. I didn’t do too much damage at the expo. My most expensive purchase was a $35 Brooks Running MCM shirt to offset the interesting participant shirt we were given.


Obligatory expo photo.

After we finished up at the expo, it was time to head to the hotel. We stayed in a less-than-ideal place, but it got the job done. I was mostly upset at the fact that there WAS NO ELEVATOR for us to use. Abbie and I struggled a little to carry all of our items to the 2nd floor. But, I’ll take that over the overpowering smell of cigarette smoke a friend of ours had to deal with in his room at the same hotel. I got my race attire/gear prepared for the morning, and then I relaxed until it was time to leave for dinner. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon for the Friends4Michael Foundation – a charity that supports families with children whom have brain tumors. The charity held a pasta party at Sine Irish Pub & Restaurant for charity runners and guests. Abbie and I took an Uber (my 1st ever) to dinner. I wasn’t really sure what to expect for dinner, in terms of paying our own way, etc. Much to our amazement, food and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) were free. It was a lovely night filled with extraordinary people and delicious carbs! After dinner, we made a couple of brief pit-stops and Ubered back to the hotel. Don, the friend stuck with the smoking room, came down to our room, and we all talked for a while until I couldn’t hang anymore.

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Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Part 3

Okay, finally – I’m writing my race recap for the Pittsburgh Marathon!


My annual Instagram countdown!

I painstakingly woke up at 4 AM after getting mayyyybeeee 2 hours of sleep. But it was time to make the donuts! I got ready and then headed to pick up Ashley so we could make our way downtown. The Steel City Road Runners have a WONDERFUL perk for being a member. We have the luxury of meeting inside the Westin Convention Center, where we have food and drinks, real bathrooms and a place to sit. I left my house around the same time as I usually do, so I figured everything would go smoothly in terms of parking.


We made it downtown rather quickly (5:15 AM), and we had just 2 more turns before we arrived at the garage. The road we needed to take was already blocked. Last year, I didn’t have any problems. We tried to ask a cop for help, but she was very condescending and basically said “I don’t know what to tell you.” At this point, I was shaking between being nervous about the race and also not knowing where to park. I was on the verge of tears when we came across another police officer in the midst of our 2nd U-turn, and he told us the roads closed earlier than anticipated. He advised us that the only way to get to the convention center was to get back on the parkway. There was absolutely NO WAY I was going to leave the city. I thanked him for his help and then frantically drove around in circles until we found a sketchy garage in an alleyway. The garage was steamy, dusty and there were several bicycles in the corner that clearly hadn’t been touched in years. We couldn’t even figure out the correct way to exit as pedestrians, so we left via the non-pedestrian ramp; we came across another runner who had the same problem!

After fussing with our dollar store ponchos, we walked to the Westin, and I found my group of friends whom I’ve been training with for months. I grabbed a plain bagel with jelly and tried to eat it without dry heaving. My nerves were definitely getting the best of me. After using the bathroom, everyone went outside to take our annual group photo, where we almost got plowed down by a driver who was either blind or a total psychopath. He literally tried to drive through us. Perhaps he couldn’t see the GIANT chain link fence behind us either.


Annual SCRR group photo!

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Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Part 2

I woke up around 6:30 AM to get ready for the 5K. I love running the 5K because it’s fun and a great opportunity to do a shakeout run for the next day. This race was my 1st official 5K, following the 3.5 mile uphill challenge in April 2011 (Mt. Summit Challenge). I’ve also run the 5K in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and now 2018. I’m so glad P3R decided to create a challenge (Steel Challenge) for those who want to participate in both races and/or love extra bling!

The 5K starts in the heart of the North Shore, near Heinz Field. This 5K is memorable because you get a small taste of the half/full marathon route and finish line. It also brings people of ALL ages together to get outside and be active as a family! It’s wonderful!

The Steel City Road Runners are the official pacers for the race, so it’s cool to personally know the team. Lining up with a pacer keeps me from getting excited and running too fast, which is easy for me to do. I normally run with pacer Sanchez, and this year was no different! He’s good at entertaining the crowd; that’s for sure.


He was the 11:00 minute per mile pacer, which is a far cry from my usual 5K “all-out” race pace. It worked out good! I finished with a 10:59 average (34:03) for this race! Thank you Sanchez for the laughs and perfect pacing!

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