Tuesday, May 3, 2016

2016 Pittsburgh Half Marathon Race Recap

Sometimes races just don't go like they should. In the past I've let that really get to me. I'm not sure why yesterday was different. I didn't hit my goals, any of them, but I wasn't upset. I accepted it & was not mad at myself for a single second. I'm a little mad at myself today, wondering if I could have pushed harder, but I know in the heat of the moment I did what I needed to. There's always other races. Here's how it went down.

I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. This is my 3rd PGH half, my 5th time racing a PGH marathon event. 

| Expo |
Things I do not enjoy. Large hoards of people paying no attention to their surroundings. So, I pretty much hate expos. I'm usually interested if there are booths set up for other nearby races, but I saw very few of those this year. So, like usual, in & out in under an hour.

| Rant |
There was a huge issue last year with the race shirts. This race always gives out a long sleeve shirt. Last year they switched vendors. Previously supplied by Asics they switched to Leslie Jordan. There was no size chart available when picking a size, so like any sensible person would do, they pick based off of last years shirts. BIG MISTAKE. Literally. The shirt was enormous. After lots of grumbling, I was able to switch sizes a week or two after the race.

Flash forward to this year. I order based off of a size chart provided. I pick up my shirt, the sizing looks great, the design is great. I'm PUMPED to wear it after my race on Sunday. But the arms are too small & don't fit. Apparently, I've grown hulk arms. Hulk shoulders, Hulk biceps & Hulk forearms. So, can't wait to begin the shirt exchange process, AGAIN. Oh how I wish races would let you order whatever size // gender shirt you wanted. I exchange everything for a mens small anyways. Their sizing is more consistent & fits how I like to wear my athletic gear. End rant.


Miles 1, 2, 3
[9:58, 9:27, 9:13]
I started out one corral below my assignment so I could start with the 2:05 pacer. It took us about 15 minutes to cross the start line & the first mile was beyond crowded. It was frustrating how many people were walking, or moving much slower than I. Time does not start until you cross the start line, so I do not know why people never seem to want to start in a proper corral, even if that means being further back.

It started raining just before we crossed the start line.

Miles 4, 5, 6
[8:57, 9:21, 9:11]
I started to lose the pacer a little bit here, I was feeling good. Bridges are hills around here, but they didn't seem to phase me. The crowd support was strong.

Miles 7, 8, 9
[9:26, 9:17, 9:36]
Heading through the West End was tough. The crowds are great, but I had lost my pacer & was starting to get breathless on the hills. The rain had stopped & it was getting very humid & warm.  Right around mile 8 there was a young woman on a stretcher being driven off the course for medical attention. I'll spare you the details, but it was a humbling reminder to run smart. 

My friend Maria happened to be in town for the race & I knew she would be waiting for me at mile 9. I cannot say enough how wonderful it is to have someone cheering specifically for you. They know your name & they came out to see YOU run. It was such a boost.

Miles 10, 11, 12
[10:13, 10:29, 11:57]
And then it was downhill from there. I started to feel blisters on my feet, presumably from my wet socks. I lost my pace group. My perceived effort was way up, as was my pace.

When we started up the Birmingham Bridge hill (yes...all bridges are hills) I felt my heart rate spike. I don't wear a monitor, so I don't have solid numbers, but my heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest. I was having a hard time getting deep, solid breaths, and so I did something I've literally never done during a half marathon before...I started to walk. I walked up the rest of the hill, got my breathing under control and started running again. The bottom of the bridge is followed by another long, slow, hill. I made it to the top of the hill and the next aid station. But my heart rate wasn't catching up, it was still sky high from the hill. I walked through the water stop, and picked it up right at mile 12 to finish strong.

Miles 13 & .26
[10:26, 1:37]
Once you hit mile 12 it's literally all downhill, or at least flat. I really picked it up. Heard my friend Maria cheering for me again. Saw the 2:10 pacer pass me, said a mental OH HELL NO & busted my tail to finish in 2:09.56. My worst half marathon time ever. Worse than my first ever half marathon 6 years ago. I finished with 13.26 miles on my Garmin.

The finish line held some special perks for me this year. By registering with my running group I had special access to a post-race spread that included Panera sandwiches, mac & cheese & most importantly, ICE CREAM.

I would say this picture pretty much sums it up.
I didn't get a PR, but I had fun, got my medal & got some free ice cream.
And apparently can't put my bib on straight.


Are you an expo fan?
Do you run the same races over or always seek out new ones?
How do you react when you have a race that doesn't go your way?

Linking up with Marcia x Patty x Erika for Tuesdays on the run to share.

22 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your finish. Sounds like a tough course w many hills. I like expos, even though I spend way too much money there. How cool you got some vip treatment after the race. I bet that food was delicious after your run.

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    1. It really hit the spot. And definitely softened the blow of a not so fantastic race.

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  2. Congratulations on finishing your 3rd Pittsburgh Half! Way to push through! I am sorry you didn't have as good of a day as you hoped. You WILL get it back next time! In the meantime, you put forth an amazingly strong effort on an extremely challenging course with unideal weather conditions. It was HUMID out there!!! I relate to the blisters from the wet socks - it's the worst feeling. Awesome that Maria was out there to spectate at Mile 9. It really does make such a difference to see a friendly face on the course! And YAY for the ice cream post-race - that would have been heavenly!!!

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    1. Thank you! It seems to be humid every year and hit me hard each year. Probably because all through winter the humidity is kept at bay.

      I was glad to hear you had such a fun race, even in the rain!

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  3. My race bib is ALWAYS crooked or bunched up my shirt.
    Why are race shirts SO HARD to get the right size? It happens every time!
    I have never had someone come out to cheer me on for a race so that just has to be the best source of energy!!!
    Congrats! You look so happy! having fun is what its all about!

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    1. I tried so hard to use their size guide. NEVER have I had a tech tee whose arms were too small. The body was the right size so I didn't even think to try it on. Big mistake!

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  4. Congrats on the finish and toughing it through! It sounds like a hard race with the hills and the rain. For the most part, I enjoy expos as long as they aren't too crowded. I try to find less popular times to go. That post-race spread sounds amazing!

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    1. Thanks Chaitali!
      Maybe I just need to pick better expo times. I seem to always get there with a hoard of people and then have to weave around them all.

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  5. i agree about the shirts. even when they give a size chart, you can never tell until you are there. i am a women's medium, but it depends on the style of shirt. i exchanged my most recent one for a men's small because it was longer. rage. i hate expos. too many people trying to sell me stuff. i just want to run, i already paid my money!
    i have a special hatred for people who wait in incorrect corrals, like walkers who begin up the front. why? WHY.
    damn, your worst time ever is better than 99% of my times haha. but really congrats on your race regardless of time, it's always an accomplishment. i'm really cranky that i didn't get free ice cream. i did get chocolate milk and a blueberry bagel, so that was nice.

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    1. OMG yes. Walkers. Wait your turn in the back. Why do all shirt makers think women have these teeny tiny short arms? I must have monkey arms. And quit selling me shit. Especially those it-works wraps. At a marathon expo? Really?

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  6. Hills are my weakness, so good job with a race that sounds like it has lots of them! And yummm... all that food afterwards sounds delicious! I used to let bad races really get me down but like you said, it's important to realize it's just one race. I really don't try and put pressure on myself anymore because I feel like it takes the fun out of it for me.

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    1. I tend to be really hard on myself with things like that. I'm hoping this is sort of a permanent shift in my mindset. I guess we shall see.

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  7. Congratulations on your 3rd Pittsburg Half Marathon! I've heard so much about it, that I feel I have to run this next year!!

    I hope the ice cream fixed any post race blues!

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    1. Thanks Ana! I do think the course runs through some of the highlights of Pittsburgh. Definitely a fun way to see a new city.

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  8. Way to push through a tough course in the rain no less. I'd loathe all those hills so your time sounds good to me. I'm kind of a mix: there are some races I've run 5-6 times. Lately I've been trying to put new races in the mix.

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    1. Thanks Marcia.

      I've been looking around to find some new races to mix things up.

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  9. Way to go on the race, girl! Three times running is an awesome achievement!

    Ice cream is definitely my kinda way to end a race too! Hopefully that cheered you up! xo

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    1. Thanks Kristy! This was the first race I've ever ended with ice cream and I'm hooked! Haha

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  10. congrats on finishing and remembering to listen to your body. good thing you did not end up on the stretcher too! sorry it was a bad time...your worst time is still better than my fastest time if that makes you feel any better :) awesome you got free ice cream that makes anything better!!!

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    1. Haha thanks Rachael!
      I figured I wouldn't get my free ice cream and banana if I ended up in the hospital. Good thinking, right?

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  11. Congrats on your finish. I was chuckling at your "oh hell no" moment right at the finish. Glad you kept that 2:10 pacer behind you!

    It's fun to set goals and challenge ourselves during a race. But I'm glad you're not beating yourself up too much over this one. At the end of the day we don't run because it's our job. We run because we love it, and at the heart of it all it should be fun.

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    1. Thanks Meagan. I love running, but I think my thoughts might change if it was truly my job. I would hate humidity or some rain to affect my "performance reviews".

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