Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Helloooooooo....and the Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend

So, after a brief three and a half month hiatus, here comes an entry.

The reason for the gap was a combination of wanting to wait to write a "perfect" blog, being busy with training & coaching, and/or being lazy but mostly the last one.

Many things have transpired since the beginning of February. The baseball season is underway and the Pirates are staying on the positive side of .500. Our church did an amazing Wednesday night series investigating how evolution and creation are taught in school, bringing in some heavy-hitting experts to get deep into the science (my head hurt a lot at the end of sessions). Track season somehow went by in a blur (after having the first three meets SNOWED OUT!!) and our district championships is on Thursday.

Since the Feb 1 entry, Beth and I did a bunch of races. We did a race on Valentine's weekend where I did the 5k and then we did the 10k together (how romantic!). We did the annual Spring Thaw. I raced the 10 mile and then did a 5-mile cool down and Beth did the 10 mile also. We both did the Athletic Trainer 5k where I went sub-17 for the first time (16:58!) and Beth went well under 19 after also racing a 5k on Saturday.

Then, Beth got busy with her tri's and did Oceanside, New Orleans, and St. George half ironmans over a 5 week span. I was able to go with her to Oceanside, but was a terrible spectathlete (perhaps just rusty) but only took a photo at the start and didn't do any updates for the run. I did get in two beautiful long runs in the warm San Diego weather after getting beat down all of February and March in the coldness of the 'burgh.

Also, there was the terrible tragedy of the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April. How sad and senseless. I am so glad they were able to find and apprehend the bombers.

The weekend Beth was in New Orleans, I did a Sunday double. I wanted to see how my legs would respond to a 10k and then a 5k that evening. At Burgh's Pizza & Wings 10k, I held a solid sub-6:00 pace and ended up with a 36:50 (5:56 pace). Then, I went home, cut the grass and then put my feet up until late afternoon. Then, I went to the Set, Spike, and Sprint 5k at South Park High School. It was a smaller race (33 finishers), but it was a fundraiser for a fellow Elizabethtown College alum's volleyball team so a few of us alums came out for it. It was fun because you had the usual teenagers sprinting the first quarter mile before tuckering out. I ended up leading it the rest of the way and was very pleased to bounce back from the morning 10k to run a 17:38 (5:41 pace) after already racing that morning. Hopefully this meant my legs were ready for the "A" race.....the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

While Beth was out racing in Utah, my race that I've been working towards since January had arrived. My goal was to try to hang on to 6:00 pace for the entire 13.1 mile course.

The morning started cool & crisp as I met fellow teacher & runner Ben in a parking garage across the river from PNC Park.
Perfect weather for (half) marathon morning!

We warmed up and saw Beth's college teammate MB just before the start. With shooting for the fairly fast pace, I said good luck to Ben and then worked my way up to near the start of the group underneath the start banner. I see triathlete extraordinaire Jeremy Cornman and thought maybe I could pace off of him until he said he was shooting for 1:15 (and ran 1:13+!!!!). So, I tucked in behind some guys wearing Penn State Club Cross Country jerseys and paced off of them and let them break the wind.

Miles 1-3 in the strip went predictable - 5:55, 5:48, 5:50. I knew I would go out fast. But, I reigned it in and did a 5:57 as I crossed the 9th street bridge to downtown to go back over the 7th street bridge to the North Side. More settling in for miles 5 (6:05) & 6 (5:57) and I'm just about halfway with about 30 seconds in the bank on 6:00 pace. We head over the West End bridge, run through the West End for miles 7 (5:56) and 8 (6:00). We're then on Carson Street on the South Side and I felt a little tug in my hammy and I think it caused me to lose focus and be cautious, causing mile 9 to be 6:08 and miles 10 and 11 to be 6:20 and 6:22. 

Mile 11 was on the Birmingham Bridge and my overall time bumped over 6:00 pace. After I felt sorry for myself, I figured to just toughen up and see what kind of finish I could have and to not lose the two guys in front of me. I split my watch for mile 12 to be 5:36 but I wasn't moving THAT fast (especially since part was up hill). I did notice about 20-30 seconds up from the mile 12 banner was a painted "12" on the road and I was thinking that seemed a little more like it. 

Regardless, I ran down the hill from the bluff and tried to race the last mile with a guy I was right beside. I passed him as we got down to Grant Street. He passed me back around Smithfield St. I tried to put in one last surge but couldn't reel him in. My mile 13 (from the 12 banner) was 6:12 but no way coming off the downhill and racing with the guy beside me was it slower than mile 12. So, I figure you can almost flip those two splits. With a final 0.1 split of 39 seconds I finished in 1:18:45, or 6:01 pace...right around my goal. Good enough for 44th overall out of 14,000 runners and somehow 1st in the 35-39 age group (good thing Jeremy's still 34).

Couldn't quite reel him in! Thanks to Jocelyn Cornman for the action shot and the cheering out there!
After going through the finish area, I stopped by the Running for Laptops tent and then went to the car, talked to Beth, changed into some dry clothes and went out to cheer in the marathoners in the strip. That was fun and a much less stressful time for me in the Strip District than my last two years of death marches to finish the marathon. I picked out a spot around mile 24.5 and just cheered all who came by and especially all the friends I had running (back into spectathlete mode!) I had missed the top males but did see the top few females. 

Then, some familiar faces - Tim Wu (2:40), Doug Basinski and Brian Caskey (2:55), Tammy Slusser (still sub 3:10 at 48), Jo Rupp (3:12 after just running up at Boston), Lauren Henzler (3:13), MB Acker (I think she can roll out of bed and run 3:14), Ben Erdeljac (3:14 for his first ever open marathon....and a negative split half to boot!), Kati (Hughes) Alteri (3:20 - I blanked on her married name so called her 'Hughes'), Mike Yazvac (3:22 after running a 3:50 last year!!), Tara Fagan (Etowner who's 3:28 is her first under 3:30), (Mr.) Tim Hewitt (of running the Iditarod fame did a 3:29)....and then I figured I should head back to the Running for Laptops tent so I didn't miss our Elizabethtown College alumni festivities.

After the race, the Etown crew cleaned up and we went across the river for the Pirates game in the All You Can Eat Seats. The Pirates lost (of course), but I got my money's worth after working up a big appetite with the race: 4 hamburgers, 2 hot dogs, 1 nacho, 1 popcorn, 2 ice cream sandwiches, and 4 x 12 oz of pop. Yum!

Round 1 of 5....the Pirates lost money on me today!

Taking a break from eating to pose for a picture

Congrats again to all who ran, including the Etown crew:
Happy to be done, ready to eat cake, and then feast at PNC Park!

The Mt. Lebanon crew:
That's a lot of speedy teachers!  Lots of PR's
PS - Ben's not wearing his shirt because he wore it Saturday at our track meet because he was cold and didn't have anything else to wear. Major runner no-no to wear the race shirt before the race!

....and a whole bunch of others who did the full, half, and relay. It was fun to see so many people get involved and I was happy to help be a part of some "consulting" with a handful of the people pictured above.

Speaking of Boston, my 3:00:46 from Columbus in October meets the standard for my age group and is within the window for submitting times (September 2012). Perhaps that may be in my future. Stay tuned....