Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pittsburgh Half Marathon (Race Recap)

Sunday, May 6
Pittsburgh, PA
Half Marathon #61
State #47
Weather - Blazingly hot and HUMID

We were originally trying to make the Pittsburgh half marathon our final state. Our friend B, who is also running all 50 states, had plans to run this as her first marathon. Unfortunately, she suffered an injury at RnR Phoenix and hasn't been able to run at all, much less a marathon. Regardless, this was going to be a perfect race for us since we have family in the area.

There is no such thing as a direct flight from Indy to Pittsburgh, so we had two super short flights with a 1.5 hour connection in Detroit. Both flights were uneventful. Our uncle picked us up in Pittsburgh, which meant we didn't have to deal with the crazy traffic or try to find our way around. He even took us around town a bit. This picture is the view from Mt. Washington, and actually one of the better pictures I think I've ever taken:

Don't you just love squinty, wild hair pictures??
By the time we were done driving around, it was time to head over to the Wyndham for late packet pick up. Along the way, we came across a Heinz triceratops. Funny, since my uncle (the one driving us around), worked for Heinz for many years:

There were some really cool statues all over the city:

We finally find the Wyndham and go in to get our stuff. Only. No one seems to have any clue about where the packet pick up is. The guy at the desk says that no room has been reserved. We ask a guy with volunteer stuff on his shirt, and even he seems to have no clue. Luckily after a few phone calls, we find out the lady is in the lobby. Where we just were. We didn't notice her since only about 2 dozen people had asked for late pickup, so she literally had one box of stuff with her. Phew. Time to eat! We parked the car at my uncle's house and then walked over to Squirrel Hill. We had some amazing Thai food at Bangkok Balcony:

Then we got some custard (oreo!) and a small coffee from Dunkin Donuts. Best night ever! By the time we got dropped off at the hotel, it was already just after 9:00. We were staying at a Double Tree, which ironically is the same hotel that we stayed at in 1998 when my cousin got married (only then it was a Mariott). Small world. Got a fresh cookie at check in and headed to our room. We were both in bed by 10:00, with an appointment to catch a shuttle from the hotel to the start line at 5:30. With all the emails we had received from the race about planning ahead so as to not get stuck in traffic, we had every intention of getting there (ridiculously) early.


Got up about 4:50. Got dressed in a hurry and we were downstairs by 5:20. I fueled for this race on diet coke and the cookie from last night. We'd find out later if that was smart or not. The bus left just a few minutes later. There was absolutely no traffic heading to the start, so we had about 1:45 to kill before the race started. It was a little chilly since the sun wasn't up yet, so we headed back over to the Wyndham to see if we would be able to hang out in the lobby. There was enough chaos that no one really noticed us, and even though it wasn't that much warmer in the lobby, it was better than being outside. We were able to use indoor plumbing and headed over to the start around 7:00. Lines were short so we used the port-o-potties one more time anyway.

The start was so unbelievably crowded. Even 20+ minutes early, we were barely able to get into our corral. We were in the very back, and we got jostled around a TON waiting for the race to start.

We were probably 15 minutes behind the start, and so far back, it was a while before we even saw the start line. Even with the corrals, everyone was sort of let go at the same time, so it was SUPER crowded.

Course started out running through some narrow streets of downtown. It was cute! And luckily, the buildings helped to block out some of that BLAZING HOT SUN.

Part of the advertising for this race is that it runs over three bridges. (Which is odd, because we actually ran over five), and that it is "deceptively flat and fast." Well, it was "sorta" flat, although more on that later. By now, the sun was really beating down. There were not the billion aid stations like in Indy, they were about every 2 miles apart.

Bridge 1
The building to the right of the yellow beam in the middle is Heinz, where my uncle worked
Bridge #2
The second bridge was about mile 4, and according to the elevation profile about the only hill on the course. If that was all there was, this course was going to be NO BIG DEAL.

Bridge 2 "Runner of Steel"
There were bands all along the course, and spectators were out in full force. At this point I probably have to comment on how much I loathe the "terrible towel," but that is simply because I am from Denver, and the Broncos and Steelers are sorta mortal enemies. With that said, I didn't realize what "Steelers" meant until this week. So I'm slow.

Bridge #3
Almost immediately we cross the third bridge and come up on mile 5. We turn into a nice neighborhood that is lined with trees. They unfortunately do not provide that much shade, and it is getting hotter and more humid by the minute.

I don't really remember much of the middle of the course, but here we are coming up on the fourth bridge, and in the bottom left corner is a girl I believe is Kim's doppelganger! We chased her for a good 8 miles and then lost her at an aid station. Never did figure out if we beat her or not!

The course never seemed to get less crowded. Look how many people are EVERYWHERE:

The marathon runners finally split off from the half marathoners around mile 10.5. Unfortunately, that did very little to ease the crowds on the course. Here we are heading for the final bridge, #5, heading in to the final two miles of the race.

Now I'm not sure how I missed it on the elevation profile, but there was a freaking CRAZY huge long hill from mile 11 to 12. I don't know how I managed to get up that damn thing without walking, but I did. And then, I was rewarded with pretty much a complete downhill from mile 12 until mile 13.

That building in the middle is the prison. FANCY!
I had COASTED through the last mile, and like last race, L kicked it into high gear racing toward the chute. In my head I kept treating it like I was running a Ragnar. I lost count after like 30 kills. It is SO awesome to pass people at the end. But I bet they don't like it that much.

Bib #23558
Official time - 2:15:47
Official pace - 10:22
Official 10K - 1:05:03
Official 11.3 Mile - 1:57:31
Overall Place - 5945/12135
Gender Place - 2913/7439
Division Place - 526/1298
Garmin Time - 2:15:46
Garmin Distance - 13.20 miles
Garmin Pace - 10:17
Mile 1 - 9:47
Mile 2 - 9:59
Mile 3 - 10:41
Mile 4 - 10:36
Mile 5 - 10:25
Mile 6 - 10:08
Mile 7 - 10:37
Mile 8 - 10:25
Mile 9 - 9:50
Mile 10 - 10:32
Mile 11 - 10:30
Mile 12 - 11:09
Mile 13 - 9:06 (WHEEEE!)
Mile 13.1ish - 7:53 (Final kick at 6:07!!)

Even though the weather wasn't great, I really did enjoy the course. It was a bit more crowded than I normally like, but the scenery was nice and I did like all the crowd support and bands on the course. I'd maybe do this one again!

After the race, we caught the shuttle back to the hotel (we only had to wait about 15 minutes). After showering, our cousin picked us up and treated us to some Mexican food for lunch. I ate the biggest enchilada EVER. It was so good, it had spinach and (???) zucchini in it? Who knew that would be the best enchilada EVER. Anyway, we drove around town, walked around the mall for a bit, then it was time to head to the airport. Whirlwind trip like usual, but a lot of fun and I was glad to have the chance to see some of my extended family.

Security at the Pittsburgh airport was crazy busy (which is apparently unusual). Flight was delayed a bit, but we weren't supposed to land late. I include this picture because I was trying to check the local weather, and it put my location as "moon" - that's interesting.


  1. Holy cow, that does look like Kim.

    It's really a shame you can't track kills in a normal race. Why can't everything be Ragnar??

  2. Awesome race! My friend participated in this race, as well. Gorgeous medal. Good job!

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  4. Awesome!! I hope to do Pittsburgh next year!! I love the 50 in 50 states!! Id love to be able to do that!!
    PS (The airport is in Moon Township rather than Pittsburgh)

  5. I travel often for work and find that when there have been recent threats or they discover a plot (i.e. plot spoilage from Yemen) and the 2 SW flights yesterday I believe - airport security is TOUGH to get through.

    I should look into Pittsburgh sometime - I can't wait for the Philly half in November!


  6. Nice race. I remember from Pittsburgh last year the course being very crowded until the split. Talk about a different vibe when the half went to the left and marathoners to the right!

  7. I ran the full at Pittsburgh on Sunday, and that heat killed me! I am used to my lovely SF bay breezes, not that heat and humidity.

    Also, of all the really random things - I think I am in one of your pictures of the bridge. Light blue tech-t, black shorts, blond ponytail, significant heel strike!

  8. A few things -
    I was in your corral and it was packed. I actually thought about asking if you wanted to meet before to say hello, but was too full of anxiety about the race to add the pressure of meeting someone to it.

    Thanks for taking so many pictures! I've been planning this race for almost a year and went on and on about how beautiful my hometown is and I took NONE.

    My sister ran the half and was surprised by that hill, too.

    When I saw the half marathoners split off, I noticed just how few marathoners there were. The second half was so less crowded.

    It was way too hot. I thought I was just being a weather wimp, since I live where there is zero humidity and the temp is never hot, but people were puking and passing out from mile 16 on.

    Your time was awesome.

    Thanks for posting such nice things about the race. Since I'm from Pgh, I am a bit biased (and love the terrible towel), but it is great to hear others say positive things.

  9. busy weekend! i can’t believe the crowds never thinned out. congrats again!

  10. Wow! That's crowded! But hey, good job - that's another HM in the pocket.

  11. Hey Lady! Visiting from Hannah's blog... I ran this too! and I agree... I really think EVERYONE walked up that huge hill from mile 11-13... seriously!

    and the elevation profile on the website was wrong! LOL

    take care!

  12. So I'm super late to the party, but I had to read your race recap of the Pittsburgh half since it's my "hometown" race (closest major race). I've done the half twice and the marathon once and I love all the bridges and the views of the city. I just wanted to mention that your location was listed as "Moon" because the airport is located in Moon township, PA. Your race recaps have been fun to read - so many to learn from!


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