I DID IT!!!
13.1 miles in two hours, 20 minutes! Not too shabby for a first timer, and someone who has never ran that far before. My goal was about two and a half hours and to finish without walking so I made it. WOOT! What an experience. To sum up, I’ve decided to write 13.1 things I learned from it:
1. Pittsburgh climate is Pittsburgh climate: race or no race
For the first two or three miles, it was humid and overcast. Then all of a sudden: downpour. After that, steady rain for the remainder of the course. Oh, Pittsburgh and your fickle weather. It wasn’t that bad, though because the rain cooled down the humidity. Plus, I have played a lot of lacrosse games in the rain in my day (and snow and wind and 100-degree weather), so I was almost used to it. Living in Pittsburgh you have to anticipate rain, snow, sleet, hail, cold or hotness even the first Sunday in May.
2. Funny things may happen…
…like when I saw a guy in a shark costume run by me or the second I saw Heinz Field, the 1970s Steelers polka came on my iPod at that exact moment. Yes, I have polka on my iPod mix. I also enjoyed when I ran by the 96.1 tent and they were blasting Apache (aka “Kemosabi, jump on it, jump on it, jump on it…”)
3. You need safety pins and a know-how of where to put that thing on your shoelaces
I wasn’t aware you have to attach you bib with safety pins or how to put my sensor thing on. Good thing my friends are marathon pros! I don’t even know what the “sensor thing” is called I am so un-pro.
4. Take time to enjoy the festivities all weekend
Packet pick up was until 7 p.m. Friday night and we got there about 6:58 just in the knick of time. Traffic played a factor for that but next year, I’d like to go Saturday afternoon and partake in the fitness expo. Plus I could have probably scored a bunch more free samples and who doesn’t like free samples?
5. No need for Vaseline
Sorry, I will pass on your Vaseline on a stick. What’s with all the chaffing talk? I’ve not once chaffed or blistered while running. I think it’s called get a different pair of shorts/bra/shoes? Or maybe after 13.1 things go downhill for some people. Either way, I was a-ok.
6. Water and carbs are your bffs
I had the perfect amount of food and fluid in my system when I started the half. All day Saturday I drank water and Gatorade like it was my job. I also ate a sandwich for lunch and huge plate of pasta and garlic bread for dinner. I love carbs regardless so this was fun. Sunday morning I had about a cup of coffee, which was perfect, yogurt with granola, half a bagel with almond butter, a few bites of a Cliff bar and about 16 oz. of water. This was all at least two hours prior (minus the couple bites of Cliff). Throughout the race I had three cups of Gatorade which made me a little pukey-feeling, but all in all I had no cramps, no chills from being dehydrated, and wasn’t hungry. Plus I didn’t stop at any porta potties during. SCORE! (P.S. Mad props to the dude peeing on the tree “secretly” in the North Side. We all knew what you were doing buddy and trust me, if I could have I would have.)
7. Make a better playlist
Near mile 11.5ish, I wanted to hear Black Eyed Peas, so I had to scramble to find it on my iPod, which was attached to my arm. Then once that was over somewhere in the 12 mile-mark, I needed a good pump-up song to end. So I fiddled some more. My iPod was also being goofy from being wet. All in all, I could have ran faster at that point but was too busy messing with my music. Instead of making 24 hours worth of a playlist JUST IN CASE, next time I will be more strategic because I need music to run even though it’s “discouraged.” I’ll make sure Fergie and Will.i.am are right around the two-hour mark.
8. Twitter and Facebook are my friend
OK, so they’ve been my friend before the half, but really, they made the process so much better! I had so many tweets and posts wishing me luck, not to mention Tweet My Time updated my networks with my progress about 8 miles in. So cool – I didn’t even have my phone with me.
9. Having your family or friends watch you makes it that much better
I saw my parents around mile 6.5 or 7 and was so happy! Seeing a familiar face in the crowd gets you going even more. They snapped a picture, gave me high fives, and I was on my way again. I also ran into my friend Jason who ran the full around mile 5ish. Then, around 12.8 miles I saw my boyfriend Dave and my parents again. Seeing them rooting me on made me sprint the rest of the way to the finish. I would have been bummed if I didn’t see anyone given the fact that my friends and I lost each other within one mile of starting the race. Next year, though, I may have my fam stand at a certain mile mark so I know when to expect them. And I want a giant sign. 🙂
10. Never underestimate lip synching and clapping while running with strangers
Like I’ve said many a time, music gets me PUMPED. Without it, running is hard. And in a half marathon, running with it is hard. So, I improvise. A good song would come on and I was feeling a little sluggish so I’d start to clap. If you are reading this and saw a short chick randomly clapping: yeah, that was me. I was feeling the grooves. I often lip synch to songs while running (marathon or no marathon) so if you saw some short chick mouthing things, yeah, that was me too. Creepy? Yes. Effective? YOU BETCHA.
11. The fans, volunteers and bands make it more fun
Besides my parents, boyfriend and friends, the thousands of other spectators, volunteers, bands, cheerleaders, etc. etc. made it more fun. Turning on to the 16th street bridge and seeing people lined up on both sides cheering is just sooo cool. I wish I had people cheering me on in daily life such as driving to work or going to the dentist. That paired with some Peter Griffin-esque theme music would be amazing.
12. Clock time does not equal your actual finish time
This is kind of like me not knowing I needed safety pins. It’s kind of a “duh” moment but when I saw 2:27 I thought that was it. Then I realized I REALLY started 7 minutes after the clock started given all the people in front of me. This little tid bit made me happy. I’m also seriously considering buying a Garmin so I know what my time is at that moment. Plus it would make training so much better.
13. It would be nice to have a running buddy
I know lots of people that ran on Sunday, however finding someone to train and run with is tough. Not everyone runs at the same spot, we work, are in different areas, and the biggest challenge: We all run at different speeds. I love running alone and did about 12.8 miles of the race on my own, but to have someone there next to you might be nice. For a half, it’s cool, but if I do a full I may need a support system who loves to run 10.5-minute miles. 10.5 is the new 7.5 didn’t you hear?
13.1 I’m a badass
The real thing I learned is that after all my years of running for sports and exercise, that had NOTHING on this race. The real challenge was between me, myself and I. Mile 8 I got a little discouraged because my legs were so tired and mile 10 I had never ran beyond, but I just kept repeating the mantra “FINISH.” It was a mental battle and physical in that my legs were hurting but I kept on going and finished with a nice sprint to the end. I am thinking about doing another race this fall, maybe a half or less. All I know is I am so glad I did this, I want to do more (MAYBE a full one day) and my legs (which are STILL super sore now) are super hard now. I can crack eggs with them. 😉