HOT.HUMID.HORRIBLE. Those 3 H’s pretty much sums up the 2014 Run Around the Square 5k for me. I ran this race last year after winning an entry from a local restaurant in Regent Square and as much as it sucked last year, I wanted to give it another go this year.
About 2 weeks before the race, my college friend Erin emailed me to say her and her boyfriend were thinking of a quick weekend trip to Pittsburgh/Cleveland. It happened to be the same weekend as Run Around the Square, so I talked her into it! She did mention this was her first race since we ran Ragnar TN back in October. For me on the other hand, this was my 13th race of 2014.
One of the reasons I wanted to do this race again is because its such a great neighborhood race. All along the first part of the course, local residents come out and cheer the runners on. Some might be sipping on coffee or a Bloody Mary, but they are out there making noise and giving the runners an extra push. Twice during the course you get serenaded by some local saxophone players and within the first 0.5 mile you get to enjoy 2 different bands.
We left the Northside pretty early and headed to Regent Square to pick up our race bibs and shirts. With the Squirrel Hill tunnel closed, I figured we would go Rt. 28. I didn’t know how long it would take us with potential traffic/road closures so we got there pretty early and had time to just hang around at the start line. I did run into a few others I know as well!
I did warn Erin that the course was not your typical road race. You race on brick roads, trails and sidewalks. The first 3/4 miles is through the streets of Regent Square on brick. I especially hate these roads to run on because it can easily trip you up. Race morning was a little wet due to the rain the night before so I felt it was extra slippery out there.
Next came trails. I am not the best at running trails, so basically this course is everything I avoid. However, as soon as you hit Frick Park, you get to enjoy a beer of champagne shot if you’d like. I didn’t grab one, but I am sure lots of runners did!
Mile 2 of this race feels like it’s just that.. 2 miles long. Last year I felt it was such a long mile and again this year, it felt SOOOOO long! I am not sure if it’s the mixture of trails, sidewalks, trails and oh, the nice hills thrown in that, but this mile kicked my butt. It really doesn’t help that I suck at uphill.
About 1/3 of the way into mile 3 you start the downhill part of the race. My favorite! There are a few times where you think you might be done, but it plateaus a bit before throwing another downhill section at you. This is where I caught up on some speed from my not so stellar mile 2. I actually passed a fair amount of people during this mile and really let it go the last .3 to .4 mile of the race. Downhill is much more my thing.
This by no means was a well paced race for me. I was all over the place. We’ll just blame the hills on that mile 2.
Mile 1- 9:15
Mile 2 – 10:54
Mile 3 – 9:34
Finish Time: 30:09; 35/103 F25-29
I didn’t hit my goal of going sub 30 minutes. I missed it by :09 seconds. All considering with the heat and humidity and my least favorite running surfaces, I will take it. It was a 3:03 PR from last year’s race (race 2013 in 33:12).
If you haven’t done Run Around the Square yet, add it to your list for 2015. I think it’s a local 5K every Pittsburgher should do.