It’s absolutely beautiful outside today…at least in Central PA! As I admire the blue skies outside my window, I thought it would be a great day to recap my Pittsburgh Half Marathon experience.
Steve and I traveled to Pittsburgh the Friday before the race (May 4). We left after work, so we got to our friends’ house in Pittsburgh pretty late. We did get to spend a few hours catching up with our friends, which was great! We went to high school and college with a lot of our friends there, so it’s always great to catch up and share old memories.
We woke up pretty early on Saturday to get to the expo when it opened. I was really looking forward to this expo because in previous years, it’s always been full of awesome vendors and free samples.
We ubered down to the Convention Center and got in line at 8:45 (the expo opened at 9). Luckily, they let us in a few minutes early, and we raced over to the packet pick-up area to grab my bib. Three of our friends were also running the half, and we were able to go to the expo with one of them.
After picking up our packets, we headed toward the main expo area to check out the official merchandise and other vendor booths. Overall, I was sort of disappointed in the expo this year. I did buy two items (a “Runner of Steel” tank and a metal rack extender for my current metal rack), but it just seemed like the entire expo was taken down quite a few notches from the last two times I visited it. Not terrible, but not as great as I remember….and definitely not as many free samples.
After we finished up at the expo, we headed to Smallman Galley where we ate a delicious brunch! I went to the Banhmilicious booth and got the egg and avocado rice bowl. IT WAS SO GOOD! I also got a raspberry herbal tea to help calm my nerves from the impending race.
We then took a leisurely walk through the Strip District, which I had never done before! We got so many free samples, and I was sure to purchase a bottle of wine and a homemade cannoli – YUM!
Then, we headed back to our friends’ house to drop off our stuff and hang out for a few hours before dinner. I took this opportunity to take a nice nap and keep my feet up. I knew I needed it!
After my nap, we headed down to Benny Fierro’s to get my pre-race tradition of pizza. I had never been to Benny’s before, and boy was I in for a treat! I wish I had taken a photo of my pizza slice – it was GINORMOUS!
I also made sure to get a milkshake from The Milkshake Factory…because…..when in Pittsburgh, you get a milkshake from The Milkshake Factory…always!
We made our way back to our friends’ house and I got ready for bed. I knew that I wanted to go to sleep fairly early since we had to leave the house early the next morning due to traffic.
We woke up around 4 the next morning, got ready, and ate our breakfasts. Then, we called an Uber and headed down to the race area. We got there about an hour early and chatted as we warmed up and stretched.
When it was about 30 minutes to race time, we all split ways and headed to our respective corrals. I was B, so I knew I wanted to get a good position so that I could run pretty quickly after starting. I knew going into this race that I wanted to PR. I had worked hard for it, and I was ready.
Before I knew it, we were off! My goal was to NOT do my typical run/walk interval and instead run the entire race, minus the water stations. How people run and drink at the same time completely blows my mind….that’s talent!
I honestly didn’t take any photos during the race because I was trying so hard.
The miles flew by as we ran through the different neighborhoods (Strip District, North Side, etc.). I honestly didn’t even look at my watch until we headed across the river around mile 6.5. I was feeling great and knew that this was going to be a great day for a PR.
It was definitely humid, so I focused on my breathing…slow and steady, especially while running up the notorious Pittsburgh hills.
I kept my spirits high and my feet moving as I ran through the Southside and up the Birmingham Bridge. YIKES! I definitely forgot about how long the hill is from the beginning of the bridge to the other side of the river (it’s almost a mile long!)! But, I got through it, and I knew that it was all downhill from there.
In the meantime, Steve texted me when I was at mile 11 and said that he was at mile 12. I kept my eyes open as I was flying through the streets. I passed the mile 12 marker, but I did not see him. I didn’t text him back because I knew that I would be finishing soon and could get him after. He would have never made it to the finish line in time any way.
As I quickly approached the downtown area, I knew that I was so close to the finish line. I tried to avoid looking at my watch during this stretch, and instead, I focused on running as fast as I could. So, I had know idea how far ahead I was…I knew I was making good time though. I passed the mile 13 sign and really kicked it into gear – I mean FULL OUT SPRINTING!
This part of the race is always so fun – the crowd is so loud and you truly get chills as you cross the finish line. As soon as I crossed, I stopped my watch, and to my surprise, I had PRed by 4 minutes! My official time was 1:48:29! I couldn’t believe it!
I immediately texted Steve and made my way to the finish line festival area where he was waiting. We celebrated with a few photos of course.
We then met up with our friends and headed to brunch/lunch on Mount Washington. I got a pierogi bowl, a typical Pittsburgh dish, and I was given a free beer from my waitress for participating in the race. How sweet?!
Then, we headed back to our friends’ house so that I could shower. Because Steve worked the next day, we knew that we had to get back fairly quickly.
I, however, took the day off on Monday. I spent time with my pup , relaxed, and celebrated my PR.
Overall, my experience at the 2018 Pittsburgh Half Marathon was FANTASTIC! I always love this race and the crowds that it draws. It’s definitely an experience like no other.
But, that’s it for now. Next up: my recap of the York Half Marathon, which I completed last weekend!
Have you ever run the Pittsburgh Half Marathon? Tell me about your experience!