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Sunday, May 7, 2017

Pittsburgh Marathon Recap

So this morning was a little out of schedule but I was looking at my next two weeks of ultra training and there was a big run looming next weekend. I decided to move some runs around and use Pittsburgh Marathon as a part of my Iceland Ultra training plan.

I had been up to 20 at this point so I knew I could handle the distance, I just had not done any long runs on the road so I was a little nervous about pounding pavement when most of my multiple hour runs have been on the dirt. My plan was to take the race slow and easy like it was any other long run. I carried my Nathan Hydration Pack,  just like I would ordinarily and like I plan to in the ultra. I thought today would be a good practice run for what's to come in July.

My wardrobe today was determined by a new thigh tattoo I got on Friday that needed to not be rubbed raw in tights all day. So, the shorts I wore were my new Lululemon shorts and my shirt was a long sleeve Under Armor cold gear shirt.  I wore calf compression socks, mainly to help keep the bottom of my legs warm. I wore my Brooks Ravenna because my feet doesn't do well in much else on the road.

So, the race was set to start at 7:00 AM, but by the time the elites got started, I believe I crossed the start line around 7:45 AM. The weather was scheduled to be rainy and in the 40s. Luckily, there was no rain just cold temps for waiting around in the corrals. I left my house at 5 am, which with an hour drive and eating my oatmeal on the way, I timed getting to the parking garage well. There was ample parking at the corrals were marked perfectly.

The corrals were very well organized and I think the number of people was somewhere over 40,000. The course was clearly marked and the first 11 miles was ran with the half marathon runners.

One of the iconic bridges
Miles 1-11: I managed to keep my pace slow and easy. I was somewhere between a 10 and 11 minute mile. I had my pack so there were no water stops, there was a porta potty break or two but there were porta johns spread out throughout the course so the wait was fairly quick. I got nutrition in at mile 4 and 8, which seemed to keep me going well.

Miles 12-17: This part of the race included quite a hills, with the biggest coming right after the split off from the half marathon crowd. I reapplied body glide at this point.

Miles 18-23: This is the section of the race where I usually hit the wall. I struggle with digestive issues usually and just can't stop taking walking breaks. This race was completely different. Whether it is a sign of my ultra training going well or the fact that I am more used to trail running, I felt great this entire section. I even started picking up the pace a bit around mile 21, which is really unlike me.

The best sight in any race

Mile 24-26.2: This race had the best downhill at the perfect time. At around mile 24 coasting down felt wonderful. The steepness wasn't enough so that my quads hurt but it was really appreciated. The finish line was packed with spectators cheering and waving signs which brought awesome energy into the finish. For some bizarre reason I got a little emotional once I saw the finish line in sight, but that passed as I kicked it up a notch to finish strong on very tired legs.

My thoughts:
I am completely happy with my results which were 5:08, this is faster than I thought I would be for a training run but I kept it easy and didn't push myself. I was coming off 22 miles earlier in the week so my legs were not going to handle finishing a 48 mile week with a marathon PR. This race was a great confidence booster for my 55k coming up in July. I have 72 days left of training and I know I will be ready.
I recommend this race for anyone who is looking for a destination race in the US with an opportunity to see a beautiful city. The crowd brought amazing energy, the race was so well organized and the medals were awesome! Now time to rest for a day and get back to training!

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