The weekend had finally come. Sunday May 4th, 2014: The 2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Downtown Pittsburgh was buzzing with the Buccos and Penguins both in town over the weekend and all of the festivities that came with the Pittsburgh Marathon. We were all excited to head down to the Marathon expo on Saturday to pick up our race packets.
The expo had a lot of vendors with new running gear as well as interactive features such as a wall to write what you #Runfor. We all wrote our reasons for running the race on the sharpie board as well as added our reason to a video board that they would announce each runners #Runfor reason during the last 2 miles of the race.
We picked up our bibs and half marathon shirts and headed home to prepare for the challenge of 13.1 miles the following morning. We loaded up on chicken and pasta thanks to my parents and relaxed for most of the day. I was anxious and nervous about the race the following day and had trouble sleeping as I was ready to get the run underway. We had running shirts picked out and bibs in place for the early morning preparation.
We all woke up well before the sun was close to rising and prepped our gear for the race. We made it downtown to our corral by 6:15 to make sure we had enough time to stretch and prepare for the start of the race at 7:00.
The minutes leading up to the starting gun were nerve racking. I had so many thoughts going through my head: Did I train enough? Were my legs going to hold up for 13.1 miles? Could I make it up the largest hill of the course between miles 12 and 13?
I wanted to get the race underway and before I knew it, I was off and running the 2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon with my sister, Heather, with me every step of the way. We planned on running the entire race together and I couldn’t have asked for a better running buddy on this day. There was such an adrenaline rush being among the thousands of runners all working towards the same goal: run 13.1 miles and cross the half marathon finish line.
The entire race was electric. Bands playing on the side of the road, people with hilarious signs, and dogs dressed up in running gear. All of these things were great entertainment that kept us going. It was great to be able to run through the different parts of Pittsburgh: Downtown, North Side, West End, and the South Side. We crossed all 3 rivers and and ran across 5 bridges to the finish line.
Around mile 10, my legs started to tighten up and I was worried that I was hitting a wall. I stayed focused and Heather pushed me the last 3.1 miles to make sure we stayed together, got up the last few hills and made one last sprint to the finish line.
As we came down the Boulevard of the Allies with only a mile left in the race, I took my headphones off and really started to think about where I was and what I was doing. I was running in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, with Friends and Family, and I was only a mile from the finish.
I thought back to everything that had happened in the last 4.5 months and was overwhelmed with everything that ran through my head. It all started about 4.5 months ago with Surgery #1. I could barely walk 20 feet in the hospital after surgery. Then, I was finally able to go home and start walking on the treadmill: Recovery Walk.
I then moved onto the next hurdle, running: First Run, which at the time seemed like a hurdle I would not be able to make it over. I thought back to that first run on the treadmill: 2 miles in 20:00 on February 2nd. I remember thinking there was no way I would be able to get back into shape, let alone run 13.1 miles.
I thought back to all the Little Victories that I had over the first month after surgery and it started to sink in that if it wasn’t for that surgery, I would not be out here, on the streets of Pittsburgh, running in the 2014 Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Although I suffered through pain and setbacks along the way, it was all worth it because I was able to work hard and do something I never thought I would be able to do: run a half marathon.
As Heather and I neared the last few hundred feet of the race, I saw my best friend and fiance Emily, who I am going to marry in less than 2 weeks. I saw her parents, Emily’s sister Meagan, my parents and my sister Courtney, all of whom who have helped me during my recovery. Everyone helped me when there were setbacks along the way and pushed me to get out of bed on Saturday mornings when it was still dark and cold out to get our long run in for the week.
I couldn’t have imagined 4.5 months ago, I was going to be running in this race, with Heather pacing me, telling me to pump my arms up the hills, and me looking to her, with that last little stretch of the course, putting a grin on my facing and telling her: “Let’s Go!” so we could sprint to the finish line, arms up, ecstatic, that we finished the race!
I wouldn’t change anything about that day. I wouldn’t change anything about the last 4.5 months. Everything built up to the perfect day. The perfect race. The perfect memory.
Heather and I ran 13.23 miles in 2:00:26 for an overall pace of 9:07 per mile. It was my first ever Half Marathon and I was glad to beat my initial goal of 2:15.
It was great to meet up with everyone after and talk about all of the funny signs we saw along the way, how we felt on different parts of the course, and the overall joy that we all completed the race!
I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for me and I hope to be able to join my friends and family again in early May, running the streets of Pittsburgh in the 2015 Pittsburgh Half Marathon, going for a sub 2 hour half marathon!