PGH Marathon: Race Recap

Holy Crap. I ran almost 4 minutes slower this week at Pittsburgh compared to last week’s performance at Glass City, but I feel so much better.

Expo: This was a large Expo. Not many vendors that I was interested in, but definitely something for everyone.

5K (Saturday): I loved that the Steel City Road Runners offered Pacers for a 5K. I wished more 5Ks had this, especially for new runners (or someone wanting to set a PR). I used the 9:00/mile pacer and she was pretty accurate. Until I got sick of the crowds/congestion and broke loose. The course was narrow at points which wasn’t fun. There were a lot of walkers who started too far forward, and so many kids running without adults. Even with the adults, they lacked some common running manners. But you get that with many 5Ks because you have so many newbies who don’t know the proper etiquette. There was one point turn right before mile 2 and the water stop, never a fun maneuver when running. I really tried to hold it back but as I approached Mile 3, I let it go because I wanted to get out of the pack and I headed towards the finish line weaving in and out of runners. Yes I was that guy. The primary goal of this 5K was to be used as a shakeout run for Sunday’s Marathon.
Finished 32nd (AG), 155/1,744 (Gender), and 440/2,777 (Overall).

Wake-up: I had ants in my pants. I was a ball of nerves. I could not keep still. I had to force myself to just sit there and do nothing. I tried not to drink too much water, but I always feel so thirsty the morning of the race I can’t seem to help it.

Weather: The race started in the high 40s and warmed up to the low to mid 60s. Approximately 80% Humidity and a chance of rain throughout. With weather being a factor, I switched out my ProCompression socks for my SmartWools because they offer more cushion and protect my feet better in wet conditions.

Goals: Running two marathons in 7 days was a true test of my training. I didn’t want to go in with “goals” but still with a sense of how I wanted to finish. I set out with a pace goal for a 3:50 finish. I knew with the elevation changes, that this would hopefully put me in PR territory and maybe even break 4 hours. This was really dependent on how the weather played out and how my body responded. After that pace goal, I really just wanted to run a strong, fairly even/consistent race and finish.

Start Line: I arrived to the start line around 6:25am, and it wasn’t very crowded. I waiting around for the 3:50 pacer. Around 6:45am the corrals closed and we began to approach the start line. When the National Anthem played people were still moving forward, but I stopped, took off my hat. It’s probably one of my biggest pet peeves before a race, when people don’t stop (talking/moving/everything), take off their hats and honor the flag. After the National Anthem was over, I had to weave through the crowd to rejoin the 3:50 pacer. And then it started to sprinkle.

Mile 1-5: It started to rain right before the race started and as I crossed the Start Line I couldn’t help but smile and think of how grateful I am to be healthy enough to run. I was also grateful for the rain because I love running in the rain. The pacer started out slower than the intended marathon pace, and I knew when he picked it up, I wasn’t going to stay with the pack. We crossed 3 Bridges in the first few 5 Miles and revisited parts of the course I saw on the 5K Saturday. Despite the rain, the crowd support was alive and well.
Average Pace: 8’53”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Mile 6-10: Once the rain stopped, the humidity started. Thankfully there was a Misting station (and later on there were fire hydrants open to shower us!) Bridge #4 came and went. I felt good about my current pace, even though it wasn’t on target for 3:50. Mentally I was just grateful to be running and feeling good, so physically I was just out for a Sunday run. Overhydration got to me and I had a 2 minute potty stop at Mile 8.
Average Pace: 9’01”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Mile 11-15: The last bridge of the course, and I knew this was were the elevation got challenging. Then the races split, you turned right and saw the hill. I ran a little bit and decided that it was a smart decision to walk and save my legs. I didn’t want to burn out early. I crossed the half marathon point at 2 hours exactly and I had hopes that I could break 4 hours. But that would really depend on how my body responded to the coming miles. Around Mile 14, I saw Krista. This mile last week was where I felt my run fall apart, so seeing her here was the best. Around Mile 15 was another relay exchange point, which meant fresh legs. It also meant some rabbits to chase.
Average Pace: 9’27”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Mile 16-20: By Mile 16, I was walking the inclines. Krista gave me advice for a consistent effort not consistent pace. So I charged up those hills as fast as my legs would allow me walking. Which was a different mentality than last week. This week I walked to conserve and avoid burn out, and last week I walked not because I had to or chose to but because I mentally was quitting. Homewood really was the best neighborhood along the way and this is where I found two rabbits to fall in with.
Average Pace: 9’27”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Mile 21-23: The elevation didn’t quit. But my legs couldn’t have felt stronger. The humidity was getting to me at this point. I was drinking a lot at water stops and pouring just as much down my shirt. I had some gas left in the tank, but I knew it wasn’t enough for a PR. I ran this race conservatively, and I felt despite my pace that I gave a consistent (albeit comfortable) effort throughout and I was happy. The hills will change you as much as the miles do. During most of the race I had my iPod playing, and I was dancing along and singing; this didn’t stop–I was having fun today.
Average Pace: 9’49”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Mile 24-26.2: Some seriously loss in elevation. And during Mile 23’s climb I was worried I would feel like Flying Pig all over again once the decline to the finish came…but I didn’t. I felt great. I wasn’t able to pick it up quite like last week, but I still felt incredibly strong at this point in the race.
Average Pace: 8’52”
Elevation Gain:
Elevation Loss:

Finish: The longest finishing chute of my life (and I thought Columbus used to be long). I wasn’t lacking for anything but I really just wanted to sit down. I was so grateful to have run the way I did, and I was extremely proud of myself. It wasn’t the time that I wanted, but it was the race that I wanted.
Official Finish Time 4:04:27
Average Pace 9’19”

-Fast Mile: 24 (8’28”)
-Slowest Mile: 23 (10’18”)
-Number of Miles under 9 minutes: 11
-Number of Miles under 10 minutes: 13
-Number of Miles over 10 minutes: 2
I ran this race incredibly safe and comfortable. Mentally I was 100% and physically too. Personally I feel I ran an even effort race, regardless of my splits. This was not my fastest race, but it most definitely was my favorite performance.
Finished 57/311 (AG), 274/1,449 (Gender), and 1140/3,666 (Overall).

Randomness: During this race quite a few things happened. I developed a few blisters in places I never have before, I rubbed holes in my Trail Toes tape, and apparently I experienced chafing on my back from both my Sports Bra and my Shorts. Though the chafing bothered me every time I poured water on myself, I never even noticed the blisters on my feet during the race.


To find out more about my PGH/GCM Training look here. And you can find all of my Race Recaps here!

Question: Have you ever run Pittsburgh? If yes, what was your favorite memory of the race?



5 thoughts on “PGH Marathon: Race Recap”

  1. Back chafe is no fun.

    I wish I had registered to run on Sunday. Seemed like a fun course. I’m with you regarding the expo; I was surprised by the absence of your typical expo pricing on a lot of stuff. But did you try the GNC chocolate cupcake protein powder? Yum!


    1. I noticed the pricing and selection…but they had kitties!

      It was a fun but challenging course. I would run it again 🙂


  2. Thanks for sharing your experience to us. It’s that your race is so memorable. It takes lots of determination and patience to finish the race. Despite what you have been through, still it’s worth it.


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