This post sure is a long way coming! I completed the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on May 15, 2011… so at this point just about three months ago. I’m glad that I didn’t write about it immediately after, because I was certainly on a runner’s high for a few days, even a few weeks, and my prospective has changed a bit.
It all started in August ’10 after I had been reading other healthy living blogs for a bit. I saw that they were all training for and running half marathons (or marathons!) and since I had already done some 5k races and had been running up to 8 miles by myself, the half seemed like the logical next distance for me to attempt. I really wanted a training buddy and I asked one of my best friends, Cari, if she was interested. I knew Cari would follow through with the plan and also that she would be a great motivator. Since she lives in Pittsburgh, we signed up for the Pittsburgh Half. Their great, low-humidity weather was a bonus in my book!
“Training” with Cari didn’t exactly work out, since we live 200 miles apart. Because of this, we only did one run together when she came to visit. To be honest, I didn’t follow a training plan at all. The basic idea was just to do a “long” run on the weekend, and do two 3-4 mile runs during the week. Two months before the half, I had my wisdom teeth out and while I had been running pretty frequently before that, the surgery had me out for a week and then I had an allergic reaction to my antibiotics and painkillers which took me away from training for another week. Then, two weeks before the half, I went on vacation to Mexico. I had every intention of doing a few short runs there, but never did.
I wasn’t very strict about training because my only two goals for this half were one, to finish, and two, to not injure myself. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the whole 13.1 miles or do it in any less than 2.5 hours, but I was ok with that.
Unfortunately, I missed the convention the day before due to some issues with the Bolt Bus, but Cari is a great friend and picked up my packet for me (an issue that I had nightmares about prior to the race… ). We got to the race bright and early – normally a good thing, but it was pouring rain that day and we were soaked by the time the race began. I’m curious to see how this affected my racing, but I think it actually helped. At no point during the three hours of running did I feel overheated.
One of the things that I was cautious about was hydrating. I drank a LOT of water, and thus had to pee a lot, too. One of my mistakes was hitting up all the early porta pottys on the course. At the earlier ones, the pack had not spaced out yet and there were lines. I waited in line for 5 minutes at times! Obviously this is something I’d do differently next time.
I was fine until mile 10, then I began walking a bit more. My longest run before the half was only 8 miles, and I think adding 5 miles onto that is a bit unrealistic. I should have done at least a 10 or 11 miler before the race. At mile 10, I hit my mental roadblock. I was tired, wet, and over the race. I just wanted to be done. I walked at least half the last 3.1 miles, which i’d guess added 15-20 minutes onto my time.
Cari and I didn’t race together the whole time – it’s really hard to race for that long of a distance with another person, but we stuck within 5 minutes of each other the whole time. She’d pass me, I’d pass her, etc. It was good motivation for me when I wanted to walk!
I finished after 3+ hours of running. I was exhausted and while I wasn’t happy with my time at all, I was so ecstatic that I had finished the race! Whether you can do it in 1.5 hours or walk the whole thing, 13.1 miles is a lot and you should be proud of completing that sort of mileage at all!
Aaaand, it’s fitting that this post comes out now, since the registration for the 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon just opened this past Tuesday, and I’ve registered for it already! The race was organized so well and I really can’t wait to do it again. I learned quite a few things that I will work on next time, such as having a better training plan, getting better rest the night before, and not using porta pottys until the crowd is thinned out!