This race recap has been a long time coming. What’s ironic though is that I actually had a draft of most of this recap on my laptop from November but completely forgot about it! Oops! As I always say though, better later than never when it comes to my race recaps.
When I was given the opportunity to run the EQT 10 Miler, I was so excited to get it back on my calendar. I had not run this race since its inaugural year in 2013. That year, I loved that race so much I ended up in the med tent afterwards. It was the first and last time that happened. The 10 mile race is actually probably my favorite even though I don’t get to run it enough.
The course for this race is part of the Pittsburgh marathon course, but backwards. We start in Station Square, run through the West End to Chateau, the Northside, over to Downtown and then through the Strip before ending back downtown only a few blocks there the marathon starts. I certainly don’t find the course to be flat either until last 3 miles when we hit the Strip District. It was a different course though from when I ran it back in 2013. They also took us around a different route on the Northside that the marathon doesn’t take you on.
Come race day, it was unseasonably warm for the first weekend of November. When I ran this in 2013, it might have been the coldest weather I had actually ever raced in. Now, I was lining up to run this race in a tank top and shorts. The only bad thing is they were calling for rain and potential storms all morning.
Since this race started in Station Square, but ended downtown, I was debating on where to park and how to get to the start line. I had thought about taking the T over to Station Square, but didn’t want to risk then being stuck if it was raining as they were calling for. On race morning I decided to just park downtown and walk over to Station Square. It worked out well as I found free on-street parking on the Blvd of the Allies which was a great in between from the state and finish.
There was about an hour until race time, but I decided to walk on over. I immediately hit the bathrooms inside of Station Square and headed outside to meet up with some of the other local bloggers. It was nice to be able to be outside for that long before the race and not freeze. We all chatted some, took some pictures and with about 10 minutes left before race start, we split ways and headed to the start corrals. I decided to settle in just behind the 11:30 pacer. And in no time, we were off!
As I headed into this race, my plan was to forgo my normal run/walk for as long as I could. The goal was to try and get to mile 5 before I fell into that normal routine. I had been pushing prior to the race to drop the normal run/walk routine for some longer distances and this race was the first real go at that.
The first 3 miles of this race in my opinion are the hilliest. You go from Station Square to the West End and that’s basically all small climbs along the way. Nothing huge, but you’re still climbing. I really did not want to go out too quickly in these first miles. I wanted to make sure I stayed back a little. I ended up doing pretty well for once. In the West End, we had the shortest, but steepest hill. I surprisingly was able to power up while a lot of others around me just walked up.
The first real kick of the race came as I was going over the West End Bridge. This is one of the longest bridges we run over and was the first spot on the course where I felt strong. This is where the course started to deviate from when I ran it back in 2013. Instead of going right into the Northside, we turned left and headed down to Chateau for a small amount and then turned to head back on Western Ave into the Northside.
It was along this small stretch in Chateau that I had my first small feeling of fatigue. It was still pretty early in the race, but I was starting to feel the miles add on. I didn’t want to stop for a walk break as I knew if I stopped still this early, I’d want to take more and more walk breaks. We made our our way around the Northside and then around allegheny commons. As I was approaching the bottom of the hill and heading under the railroad overpass, I heard someone call my name. Low and behold it was Amanda, her sister and brother-in-law! We caught up with each other and it was so great to see them and have someone to run with for a bit.
After hooking up with Amanda and her crew on the course, we pretty quickly hit the 9th Street bridge to do a quick cross over into downtown before hitting the second half of the course. As we headed up the bridge, I took my first walk break. I thought making it halfway was pretty darn good! I didn’t see the point of this part of the course other than to give us a bridge to run, but we got onto Ft. Duquesne Blvd and literally turned around after one block and went back to the bridge. It’s almost like they really should have had us go over the 6th Street bridge and back over the 9th Street. The biggest issue with though I can understand though is there would be no bridges open for people to drive over. But honestly, for a few hours would that be the end of the world? Coming back off the bridge, we turned right onto Canal Street behind the Northside Giant Eagle and that’s how we got up to East Ohio. Again, just not the best part of the course as it’s a beat up road and not very scenic. It’s on Canal Street that we passed into mile 6.
Just shy of hitting mile 6.5, I saw a friend, Mickey, giving out beer before you headed to the 16th Street bridge. Unfortunately, he was on the right hand of the street and I was all the way over to the left. However, Amanda was all over the beer so she veered over and grabbed some! If I had been on that side, I would have grabbed some, but I was in a stride and wanted to keep moving forward. Since Amanda grabbed some beer and her sister was pulling back a bit, we started splitting ways around this time.
By mile 7, I was really starting to feel the fatigue. It also started to sprinkle. Nothing too hard, but enough to almost feel good because it was still rather hot. We headed down Penn Avenue and as we went away from downtown, it seemed to rain a little more each block. We made the turn around at 31st Street and as I turned around and saw downtown, I immediately saw the very dark clouds coming towards Pittsburgh. It was pretty ominous looking and this put a little pep in my step as I was going into the last two miles of the race.
Back on Liberty Avenue and I was starting to move. My last and final walk break was back at the 8 mile marker and with the weahter looking as it was, I was determined to get to the finish line before storms rolled in and they potentially shut the course down. Well, the dark clouds worked as I went from a 11:19 in mile 8, to 10:57 for mile 9 and then crushed mile 10 at 10:19. It was by far the fastest mile of the race. Not only was it fast, but those last 2 miles did feel great.
I made the last turn at the bus terminal and was staring down the finish line. I didn’t want to pick it up too early, but I was anxious to cross that finish line. And finally, with a big smile on my face, I did! It was such a fantastic race. I grabbed my medal and slowly made my way through the finisher’s chute and just a few minutes after I finished, in came Amanda and her family.
We tried to go to BRGR for the official after party, but we didn’t have our IDs on us, so we couldn’t get in. This is what gets me about after parties at races. I have a bib on me, you can check my age from that, yet we were denied even coming into the bar because we didn’t run with our IDs. Since I have my bib and it’s connected to my emergency information, I usually don’t race with my ID. If this information would have been given to us prior, maybe I would have. Either way, we should have at least been able to go into the restaurant, but the volunteer outside was so nasty to us, we walked away. We went go get some pictures taken and just as we finished, the sky opened up. The storms certainly were just over Pittsburgh and not only was there some rain, but some thunder and lightning as well. I know they were near the end of the race, but I am sure runners were still out there.
I truly do love this race. I think I liked the original course better in 2013 than this one, but it still gives you a nice tour of some great neighborhoods. It’s nice to run backwards versus the Marathon course as well. This race is always dependent upon the Steelers schedule, so the first Sunday around Halloween that there is no home game is usually when this race is. I will certainly be making sure to hold my schedule as right now for 2018, those weekends are open. Maybe in 2018, I’ll be in shape to push for a 10 mile PR. It’s certainly doable at this race!
Official Finish Time:
236/324, Female 30-34
Disclaimer: I did receive a free entry for this race, but all opinions are my own.