Pittsburgh Marathon Relay
When I started running in August, my only goal was to lose 10 pounds. I had no idea if I would like running or if I would stick with it. I just knew that I needed to lose some weight and live a healthier lifestyle. I finished the C25k program and ran my first race. I was officially hooked.
Once it became apparent that I was gonna stick with this running thing, I was recruited by my husband and some friends to join their marathon relay team. I gladly agreed. I was excited to have a new goal and all winter and spring I ran knowing that I would be running in the Pittsburgh Marathon Relay in May.
The race was almost two weeks ago and I’m just now getting around to telling you about it. You guys? It was awesome. My husband will tell you that I was a ball of nerves the week leading up to the race. I don’t know why I was nervous. I had trained for this. I was prepared, but the nerves will still there.
On Sunday morning, I woke at the ungodly hour of 4:45. Hoped in the shower and just like that I was ready. Friends arrived and we were off. We arrived downtown and hung out a bit and then my husband, who was running the first leg went to the starting line (ok, that’s totally wrong. They corral everyone like cattle. There are 25,000 people in the race, so I guess that’s the best way to do it). The rest of our team hung out in Market Square for a while and then we headed to our respective relay exchange points.
Once I arrived at the relay exchange point, I got kinda nervous. It was getting HOT. I don’t mean like 90 degrees hot, but still hotter than you would expect for 10 am on an early May morning in Pittsburgh. I was early to my exchange point (of course I was, I’m early to everything) so I just hung out with the other racers and sat in the shade trying to stay cool.
My relay exchange was around mile 15. Full marathoners ran past and we all cheered them on. Relay runners were finishing and starting their legs. As soon as I heard my number, I jumped up and went to wait for my teammate. We did our official exchange and off I went.
At first it was weird to be running with people who had already run 15 miles. I wanted to apologize for being fresh while so many of them looked tired. I soon got over that and just kept to my pace. I had two goals for the race. The first was to run my entire leg and the second was to finish with a pace of 10 minutes a mile. As soon as it warmed up, I knew that pace wasn’t going to happen. I slowed my pace down just slightly. I took water every chance I got. I only remember one time being thirsty and I never once felt like I needed to walk.
You guys, let me tell you about this city that I live in. It is awesome. I think it’s fair to say that I was NOT running any where close to the elite runners. I was not expecting much in the way of spectators along the way. I was wrong. The streets were lined in most places. People were handing out water, oranges, (one guy was handing out chocolate?) and others had dragged their hoses out and were spraying runners down. And the cheering. There was so much cheering. People who had clearly been lining the streets for hours were cheering non-stop. My favorites were the Greyhound Rescue League (such beautiful dogs), lady in a wheelchair who was cheering and apologizing for not clapping because her arms were tired (she was adorable) and I will never forget the lady at the 18 mile marker. She was yelling “Only 8 more miles!” I’m sure that she thought that she was being encouraging, but I heard more than one full marathon runner groan and then there was the guy that mumbled a string of expletives that I won’t repeat here. It gave me a good chuckle.
Eventually I spotted the sign that said my relay exchange was 1/4 mile away. It was around a turn, so I couldn’t see it. I swear that was the longest 1/4 mile of the race. Finally I saw my finish line. I crossed and then had to run to the end of the exchange to meet my teammate. Once he was off, I just stood there. I did it! I ran the whole freaking thing. I ran 6.35 miles in 1:04:21. That’s a pace of 10:08/mile. Just shy of my goal but with the heat (it was 78 degrees when I finished) I’m pretty happy with it.
I hopped a shuttle bus and went to meet my team for some celebratory drinks and pizza. Our team did great. We finished the whole race in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I’m told that’s 20+ minutes better than last year. And to top if all off, we raised almost$1400 for the Mario Lemieux Foundation. I honestly can’t say thank you enough to those who donated money to our team, the thousands of volunteers and spectators and this awesome city.
The day after the race, I went for a quick two mile run. As I was running, I realized that I had run a 10k. I never in a million years had thought that I could run a 10k. Then it hit me. I like running. I’m having fun running races. This makes me a runner! How did that happen?
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