The Pittsburgh Marathon weekend for me always starts with the 5k on Saturday. For the past 2 years since I was running the full the next day, this race was really meant to be a slow shake out run. Even though I was only planning the half this year, I planned to just take it easy and relax. Plus, honestly, I knew I wasn’t anyway in shape to race this for any time of PR. The weather on Saturday was not looking favorable. All week it was decent spring weather and then Friday night a major cold front rolled in with tons of rain. When I got home from the VIP reception on Friday evening, I decided to wear capris and a long sleeve. Last minute I threw my light wind/rain jacket and I am glad I did.
The race started at 8am but roads would start closing much earlier than that. Since I had to cross the course to get into town, I got up early and headed downtown to park. Last year I parked on the North Shore, but this year with the weather, I figured downtown might be better since it was closer to the finish line and less time spent getting back to the car after the race. I easily got into the garage at 6th and Ft. Duquesne and a few minutes later met Mike with his 5k bib. We left the garage around 7:20am and was outside of PNC Park saying good morning to everyone about 10 minutes later. The weather still wasn’t great. It was cold and there was a light drizzle and windy. I was certainly happy I threw that jacket into the mix while we were waiting around. Oh, I also wore gloves because you know, gloves are an important wardrobe feature for May races.
It was nice to see a lot of the out of town folks before the race. It has become our nice meeting spot to say hello before the craziness of the weekend! So many people come into town for the weekend’s events. We happened to be at the start line area when the singer came out for the National Anthem. It was probably one of the best renditions I’ve ever heard. It was just amazing. Afterwards, Lauren and I headed down toward the end of the corrals. We hadn’t actually discussed doing any official run/walk, but I figured lining up around the 11-11:30 pacer would be good. Luckily this year’s race started on time and at 8:01am I was going across the starting line.
With the construction to the 7th Street bridge, this year’s 5k course was new. Instead of going around all of Allegheny Commons and right over that bridge, we had to do a little cut on General Robinson then turned left to head over the 6th Street Bridge. From there, we made a slight detour on Ft. Duquesne and then turned right onto 7th Street. One other change was that the turn around on Federal St (at the top of the Commons) was pushed back just a bit. We also did not run and turn onto 7th St to the commons, instead it was from Federal St South. Personally I didn’t find the changes to make the course any flatter or worse. Since I live on the Northside, these are also roads I am run usually 2-3 times a week.
The only main issue about the course itself was coming to the railroad bridge on Ridge Ave. So for some strange reason they have the one side of the bridge closed off. This means that everyone still going out for the 5k and then everyone now returning for the 5k are pushed to two lanes. As Lauren and I came up to the bridge, we literally came to a halt. I get that it was tightly packed, but the people trying to avoid the puddles didn’t really help the situation. I also didn’t want to be rude and push right into the way of the faster people headed back in. Even as a Northsider though, I actually do not understand know why that side of the bridge is closed. It’s been closed for some time now though. Maybe someone reading this actually knows.
Since Lauren and I actually didn’t talk about doing any official run/walk, but pretty early on I could feel we were going a little faster than I would like. The entire race we actually only did 3 short walk breaks. The first was because Lauren took her jacket off and wanted me to stuff it in her pack, then somewhere before mile 2 and then later in mile 2. We just were cruising along and actually not a lot of chatting like normal. That probably should have been an indication that we were going too fast. Oh well. On the back stretch of mile 2 Lauren made mention that her legs were feeling wiped and I was feeling that too. This was basically the paces I had been doing lately for some faster shorter runs. It’s so sad though because this still should have been an easy pace. Just another indication of how out of shape I got over the spring. We did have negative splits though at 11:19, 10:59 and 10:37.
Soon enough, Lauren and I made our way to the finish line chute and met up with some other friends. It was still cold out and as we just hung out I was starting to get chilly. Even though the 5k is the main event for the first half of the Steel Challenge, Lauren and I weren’t actually done with the races that morning. We had to get back to the North Shore to meet up with her family for the Kid’s Marathon. Her niece and nephew were doing their first official race and since you needed one adult per child, I volunteered to team up with her.
We easily met up with her family and at least one of the kids was excited to see “Aunt Chelsea” and run their race! Lauren’s niece, Quinnlan was paired with me and before the race started she asked if I would carry her when she got tired. I told her she had to give it her all, but if was too tired, I would do that. Luckily, I actually only had to carry her for maybe a minute or two the entire race. She was very much into it and along the way would turn back and cheer her brother, Dexter, on. Unfortunately though, Lauren did not luck out so much and had to carry Dexter on several occasions.
Despite it taking forever for them to start the kids race, it really seemed like they had a great system. There were a lot of kids that ran by themselves and the parents had to come up with the ‘kid claim check’ for them to ensure each kid went away with the correct person. Even leaving the finish chute, they stopped every kid and adult to ensure we had matching bibs. Certainly seems like a good system to me!
Once the kids got their medals, Dexter was very quick to put it around his neck. Quinnlan however was not. She just sort of carried it around. I tried to place it around her neck, but she just wasn’t having it. The kids really did a great job and I thoroughly enjoyed “racing” with them along the way! As the newly acclaimed “Aunt Chelsea,” I was very proud of their race they completed. They were amazing!
All in all it was a long race morning. It was cold, windy and wet and I was happy though to finally be done and ready for a hot shower. I actually turned on the heat even when I got home because it was 58 in my apartment! Brrr! Way too cold for a weekend in May! It was a successful day and I can officially say that the only 2 races now that I haven’t done on a Pittsburgh Marathon weekend are the Toddler Trot and the Dog Walk. Maybe next year though I can borrow someone’s 2 year old and dog and complete the spectrum of races.
For dinner I headed up to Mike’s as he was prepping some pasta to get prepared for his first marathon the next day. He put together some great food and it was great to wish him luck one last time. He had prepared so well for the marathon and mostly on his own. I was anxious to see how he did the following morning. Once home, I started coming up with what I planned to wear. Originally I was planning shorts, a tank and the Pittsburgh ProCompression socks, but with temps in the low 40’s with feel like temps in the high 30’s I knew that was out. I ended up going with capris again with a short and long sleeve combination. I also brought gloves and something for my ears. Weather was saying that even by the time I would be done, it wouldn’t be out of the 40’s and still very breezy. Once I settled on my Flat Chelsea, I was off to bed by around 9:30pm and ready for that 5:00am wake up call. Half marathon #40 was right around the corner.
Official Finish Time:
135/260, Female 30-34