The Akron Marathon Relay was not the only race this past weekend I signed myself up for. Since everyone as in town, it just made logical sense to drive back home to Pittsburgh and everyone run The Great Race 10K Sunday morning.
I have run The Great Race for the past 2 years. In 2012 I ran the 10K (Still my 10K PR actually) and in 2013 I ran the 5K (first time meeting Jeff and my first sub 30 5K). I have said year after year that I won’t run this race the next year, but it seems I never listen to myself. Don’t get me wrong, I love running local races, but this race is just terrible when it comes to the logistics.
The Great Race has over 16,000 runners. There are about 5,000 5K runners and over 10,000 10K runners. I actually read somewhere it was one of the biggest 10Ks in the nation. You’d like with that honor, they’d put some thought into the race. Nope. Never. They just sell off registration at $20 a pop and do the same thing year after year it seems. My biggest gripe about this is that it’s run by the city <first shaking at the city for this>. We also don’t get a medal for this race. Steff’s face when I told her this was priceless!
This year though at least I was running the race with amazing people. The night before since we all drove back home from Akron, we went to Steff’s house for some pasta, brownies and lots of laughing. It was fun just hanging out with everyone and getting to know these wonderful people even better!
While at Steff’s everyone was making plans on what time they wanted to get downtown and grab the shuttle to the start line. People kept throwing out numbers like 7am. WHAT?! The race didn’t start until 9:30am. You should know, I am the type of person to get EVERY LAST DROP of sleep before a race and then roll out of bed to make my way to the start line.
I was thinking more along the lines of waking up at 8am and making my way to town to catch a shuttle around 8:45 or so. Well, Mike had offered to pick me up on his way into town so I figured I’d take him up on that. I laughed hard when he mentioned picking me up before 8am. Now Mike knows me. He knows I don’t wake up and he knows I will keep sleeping until woken up. Around 7:25 (my alarm had just gone off and was immediately turned off), my phone rang and it was Mike telling me he’d be down the hill in about 20 minutes and to get my butt out of bed and get ready.
So. Fine. I rolled out of bed and got ready. Since I had gotten my race outfit together the night before (this aids in getting EVERY LAST DROP OF SLEEP!), I basically brushed my teeth, threw my hair in a pony tail, made oatmeal & threw it down the gullet and got my racing gear on.
Mike and I headed into town and got a spot in the 6th & Ft. Duquesne Garage with relative ease. Everyone in front of us was paying with cash but since neither of us had cash, Mike pulled past the attendant and just took a ticket. We got yelled out but didn’t under why (we later figured it out when we got out the garage without paying for parking! Whooo!). We made out way over to where the shuttles were and this was the first part of showing just how crappy this race is organized.
In all of the emails (not like there were a lot) it said to ride the shuttle you just needed to show your bib. Great. Easy. Well, when we got there the line was all sorts of wound around itself. I thought I was going toward to the back, but Mike quickly guided me to the true end of the line. All of a sudden this woman came over and gave us a bus pass to get on the shuttle. I was all sorts of confused now. Half the people were getting them, half weren’t. There were people hoping into line where I thought the end was and then others just walking around in circles.
While waiting in the first area of chaos, I got to run into my friend Carly and then also saw Kelsey and her husband Charles getting n line as well. All in all, we probably waited about 25m to get to the shuttle and it was about another 15m to the start line. We got to the start line around 9pm and immediately went over the bathroom lines. Here we ran into Jill and Megan from our crossfit box.
The plan for me was to meet up with Lauren and we were going to run the race together. Jeff & Matthew were running together, Nathan was taking off like the wind and Steff was speeding her way through the course and Gloria and Lauren said they were going to try and run together.
Once in the bathroom line I tried to get a hold of everyone to see where they were. However, THERE WAS NO SERVICE. Literally. No texts, tweets or calls were going out. What was this, 2008?
The bathroom line was inching slower than molasses. I told Mike good luck and left the bathroom line (thank goodness I didn’t regret that decision around mile 4). I didn’t find the girls right away, but eventually met up with them.
One of my biggest issues with this race is that the 10K has over 10,000 runners and no starting corrals. It is CRAZY up there. I think if they at least had starting corrals, my hatred for the race would go down a smidge.
We waited for about 8 minutes and we heard the start gun go off. Just as in years past, they played ‘Shout’ as you crossed the start line. Lauren and I took off up the first hill and we’re doing fine together. At mile run she shouted the pace and I told her I wanted to slow down just a smidge so I had energy for the entire race. She said OK. Well, around 1.25 miles in, I saw Lauren and then never saw her again until the finish. She just kept going.. so there I was, by myself.
My goal was to break 1:10. I knew I wouldn’t PR, but if I could beat that and run the entire thing I would be happy.
My other big gripe about this race is how crowded the course is! I have run half marathon’s that thin out better than this race. I always feel like there is something weaving in and out the entire race. The first 5k it wasn’t as bad as the roads we run on are a bit wider. However, going into the second 5k, is horrid. Specifically mile 4. This is when we get onto Boulevard of the Allies and we go from about 4 lanes of running to 2 and this is also about where a lot of people start walking. Don’t get me wrong…. walking is OKAY!!! However, don’t just STOP in the middle of the road! Work your way to the side and definitely don’t walk 3-4 across. First the first time ever, somewhere climbing up Blvd of the Allies I actually snapped at people who kept doing this. I basically had to trip my way through this group and wasn’t too thrilled.
By the time I got to mile 4.5, I was still feeling pretty good. In fact, I was shocked I was still running and holding a pace around 10:20 to 10:30. By the time I passed Duquesne University, I knew it was all downhill from there, so I just let the legs go. Again, still shocked I felt good and had energy left at this point.
Mile 5 is probably my favorite of this race and again proved to be one of my fastest! As I came to mile 6 to finish out the last .2 of the race, I was once again reminded of yet another issue i have with this race. To finish this race, they take all runners and turn them into a pretty narrow walk way in Point State Park to finish. It’s like sardines in a can!! Again this year, as I was trying to sprint to the finish, I was finding myself weaving in and out of people so I could finish at my strongest. Even though it got pretty crowded I didn’t run anyone over on the way to the finish line. Win.
When I looked at my watch, I was shocked to see my finish time! Sub 1:05. Um, OK? Sure! I will take it! I was even more thrilled to see the second 5k was faster than the first. Oh yea, and remember how Lauren left me around mile 1.25? Somehow I passed her along the course and I didn’t even notice. How I didn’t see that girl (trust me, it could be very crowded on the course, but you always see Lauren) I will never know!
Official finish time:
580/909, 25-29 Females
Next year will I probably sign up for this race again? Urgh, probably. But when I do.. someone remind me why I hate it so much and talk me out of it!
Also, out of group we had a crazy number of PRs: Lauren, Mike, Gloria, Nathan & Matthew!
The sad part about this race ending though is that everyone would be going home and leaving Pittsburgh. I was pretty sad to see this amazing weekend to come to an end. After we finished, we went to lunch together to spend some more time together and then said our good-byes. Of course we already started plotting our next weekend together, which I think will be Pittsburgh Marathon weekend 2015.