What a weekend!!! I had a blast making the trip out to Pittsburgh with my local running group to hang out, celebrate my birthday and run the Pittsburgh Half. 🙂 With all the ups and downs of the last couple months with my hip injury, I’m super glad I made the decision to still go on the trip.
One of my running friends, Jeff, is originally from Pittsburgh and is quite the Pittsburgh fan! 🙂 He worked tirelessly for months helping to set up and arrange for the group of us to make the trek out to Pittsburgh for the race. He worked with a group of people to set up hotel reservations, reserve an ENTIRE restaurant just for us, set up car pools and so much more. It made the trip so much easier having the difficult parts already set out way in advanced.
I made the drive out Saturday morning with the two girls I was rooming with. The weather wasn’t the best, gloomy with off and on rain, but it was nice to have company. It didn’t hurt that it was my birthday and I was going to be able to spend the next two days hanging out with friends. 🙂 We made it to the city with plenty of time to check out the expo and meet up with our group for our big group photo. Jeff ended up getting together a crew of 120 runners from out here in Harrisburg to make the trip to Pittsburgh for the race!! Incredible! Because we brought such a large group out, we got some little bonuses on race day, which included breakfast, indoor bathrooms and gear check prior to the race. Post race, we had a special tent with a catered lunch, our gear pick up, massages and a special Pittsburgh Road Runners Club gift. The massages….ohhhh emmmm geeee!! The best!
Saturday night for our pre-race pasta meal, a local Italian restaurant shut it’s doors just for us! That was something else, to be sitting in a restaurant and looking around knowing practically everyone there! The food was delicious and the company was great. I was also surprised with a birthday cake from the group. I was not expecting it and was quite pleasantly surprised and very appreciative. There may have been a tear or two. lol 🙂
The plan for race day was to have fun and take it easy. There was no need for me to go out there and make things with my hip worse. I made plans to run with a group of fun ladies who were doing it as a Tourist Run. What is a Tourist Run you ask? Well, it’s when you run a race, not to race, but to have fun, make memories, drink beer and do all kinds of crazy and silly things along the way to the finish line. I figured that would be a great way of adding on to my birthday celebrations and not feeling crummy about not being able to really run the way I wanted.
The morning started off fairly chilly but it was nice to be able to stay inside the hotel until the last possible minute! Linda brought some early morning refreshments and we toasted to a good race! 🙂
We started out having fun, cheering and goofing off with all the spectators along the course as well as the local bands providing entertainment along the way. Around the time we got to mile 2 there was a water stop. In the confusion of the water stop and crowds of people….I lost my Tourist group! Whoops! I could have tried to go back and look for them among all the runners but I figured it would be too chaotic and probably annoying for the other runners. So, I just kept on going. As I ran on, I had to continually remind myself to just run and have fun, and not push it. That was real hard especially being amongst all these people pushing themselves and listening to the cheering crowds. Speaking of crowd support, holy smokes! It was fantastic! I don’t recall a single section of the course that did not have someone cheering. That was awesome! The volunteers and spectators definitely added a whole other level of excitement and fun to the race. I’m not super familiar with the city of Pittsburgh and didn’t recognize much of what we ran past, but there were some areas that offered up incredible views of the city. I really enjoyed crossing over all the bridges, seeing the incline from the other side of the river and running past the ball field. By the time I got to mile 5 or 6, the sun finally came out behind the clouds and the sky turned a gorgeous blue. You couldn’t have asked for better weather. The majority of the course, for the half, was reasonable and not too difficult. For me, the most difficult section was crossing the last bridge just past the mile marker for mile 11. As I am running across the bridge I’m thinking, it’s got to even out here soon, it’s got to even out, and……NO! It did not even out! At one point, I cursed the bridge under my breath as a man ran past me. He looked over and asked, “Is this your first time running this?” I responded, “Ugh, yes. What the heck?!” He then proceeded to tell me that the incline doesn’t let up for at least another quarter mile or so. Sure enough, that nasty incline did not stop for some time.
Right about the point I was reaching mile marker 12, I began really feeling achy and sore in my right leg. The odd thing about it, was the pain was not coming from the area of my injury but on the outside of my hip and my knee. I assumed it was a result of my stride being slightly ‘off’ due to the injury or just tired muscles and joints from not running for so long. This was the point when I began to worry that perhaps this was a bad idea and I shouldn’t have run. Despite those worries and fears, I kept pushing on and even noticed later (when looking at my Garmin stats) that I began to run faster. Mile 13 was my fastest mile and probably the fastest I’ve run in months…..an 8:30!! The course went a little long, 13.31 according to my watch, but I finished in 2:11. Hey, I’ll take it!! Considering I hadn’t run in weeks, am still technically injured and wasn’t really sure what to expect for race day….I am super happy with how I did. The post race massage was super helpful for my sore leg/hip and I felt ten times better afterwards.
The success of this race has given me a boost in this recovery journey and added excitement knowing that if I continue to stay patient, I will be back where I want to be in no time! 🙂