My Half Marathon Journey: Race Recap

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It’s time for the final post in my 2017 half marathon journey – the race recap! (Enter disclaimer text)

half marathon journey



It’s hard to believe that almost a week has gone by since the 2017 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon (in which I ran my second Half Marathon). Life has been super busy ever since the weekend of the race and has finally slowed down enough for me to breathe and think about the run. It’s race recap time!

Race Recap – The Prep

The Flat Lay: It’s tradition before a race to put together your race outfit, the flat lay. I put Flat Becky together before we headed to dinner, but this is when my nerves set it. I knew I’d be a mix of cold then hot and I started to freak out. I decided to go with my Fila pants (with some mesh around the calves) and the work running t-shirt, nothing under or over it. But maybe something under it. Or not. (I’d decide later that night to go with my 2013 Turkey Trot long sleeve under it, a decision I now regret). The Bigs asked that I wear my hat, which I was perfectly fine with as the day looked like it might be a bit rainy and overcast (in hindsight, ha).

flat lay

Carb-Loading Dinner: Work put on a beautiful dinner at the St. Clair Country Club, but I was challenged by the carb-loading part of race day prep (thanks to my body’s dislike of gluten since Whole30). I gave in and had some tortellini and even though I sort of regretted it that night, I did not regret the energy the next morning. Greg and I got all fancy but forgot to grab a photo with our phones.

Sleep: Plain and simple, it came super easy. Big props to my mom who stayed the night so we could sneak in (although Isla and Arianna woke on our arrival) and out. With about 6 hours of sleep, I figured this would bode well.


Race Recap – Before the Start

Mile 0 – Getting to the Half: Greg and I woke at 4:00 AM and left the house by 4:45. We were parked and waiting by 5:30 – decided (correctly) to get a spot in a garage on the North Shore. It was only $5 and connected right to the “T”, which took us right where we needed to be, Gateway Plaza.

I had to find the porta-potties twice because nerves. We wrapped in garbage bags but I wasn’t sure if I was too cold or too warm. Greg and I parted ways at about 6:45 – me to Corral D and he to Corral C. I was worried I’d not given him enough time, but it turned out we had plenty.

After the National Anthem played, we waited and waited. I’d taken my inhaler but needed to take it again because almost an hour passed between when I thought I’d need to take it to start. I gave up my garbage bag early, around 7:15, and wished I’d still had it. The gun time was delayed because there were cars on the course. It ended up not being time for us back of the packers to go until 7:45.

I crossed the starting line at 7:49 AM.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Good Half

I used my FitBit to conserve my phone battery – because I killed my phone in 2013 – and it logged 13.44 miles. Something was definitely off, but I’m using that for my mile breakdown. This is the unofficial time! 

Mile 1: The fast one. Pace: 11’46”

This seems to be the one that always gets my heart pumping and my legs moving. It’s always fast, even with others who are trying to navigate their way through the swarm of people trying to run their first mile, too. We were still pretty packed in, like sardines, but I made the best of it and worked my zig-zag. I felt good, just right in the heat department, but shedding the gloves as we went down Liberty.

To my left, a guy caught a garbage bag and went spinning top over bottom for about 15 feet, saving his landing and moving on. I was impressed!

To my right, there were four guys, Marathoners, running in Star Wars costumes. I’d see them until we broke at mile 11. Behind me was the 12’35” pace group, the group I wanted to stay ahead of. About 0.5 miles in, they lost me – gone to the point I couldn’t see them anymore and to the point I was scared this wasn’t going to go well. It was too early to feel that, but I felt that.

Interestingly, my FitBit showed 1 mile just as I got to the 1 mile marker, and my time was an exact match on the clock (against gun time).

Mile 2: The Familiar One. Pace: 11’53”

This began my familiar trail, the roads I run at lunch. I knew this section of the course so well, I could have closed my eyes and did it. This felt so good and I didn’t see things going downhill in any way. Who cares that I couldn’t see the pacers any more, what I knew was no others had passed me from behind and were nowhere to be seen behind me, either.

I snuck a peak down toward my office, thanking God for the changes in me since taking this job, for the way they support this running thing. Next thing I knew, mile 2 was DONE.

Mile 3: The 16th Street Bridge. Pace: 13’23” 

This one felt like it took forever, like it was stretched out farther than I remember during my training. I felt good as I took the hill to the bridge and kept my eyes on those around me who seemed to be pacing about the same as me. I prayed for them to keep up their pace and endurance because I was motivated by them.

Mile 4: East Ohio Street. Pace: 13’25”

This was a mile I could have done better on. It was mostly flat, save for the journey up to East Ohio, and full of people cheering. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember seeing the 4-mile marker, but I know it was there.

Mile 5: Downhill and Excited. Pace: 12’56”

I knew my pace had slowed a little, but I wasn’t discouraged. We were looping around the North Side with some downhills and water stations. I was encouraged going uphill to the Urban Impact cheer team, fiving the crowd. This mile felt good and I knew I’d round a corner any second and see Greg (who had finished his 5.3 mile leg about 30 minutes after I took off).

Mile 6: Cranky begins. Pace: 12’48”

As this one started, I saw Greg. He had beat his goal for his relay leg and looked excited. I handed off my gloves then asked him if he’d gotten a text about my time. He hadn’t. But wait, he had, so he came running after me. He told me my average pace at 4.4 was 13’11”. I pouted. This wasn’t going to be a PR at that pace. What was going wrong? I felt so good and now so confused. I was passing PNC Park then Heinz Field, I should have been so happy. This part of the course was ROUGH – lots of pot holes. Eep. Something kicked in, though, and I tried to make up for the time.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Bad Miles

Mile 7: The West End Bridge. Pace: 13’47”

As I headed toward the West End Bridge, the cold got to me. I didn’t feel trained, I felt like an imposter. I slowed to a walk as I crested the hill to the bridge, trying to get it back together. I started to jog and a $20 bill flew under my feet. Not even money was gonna stop me. With the walk, this was one of my slower miles, but I felt a fire in me that I didn’t want to let out.

Mile 8: The inhaler part one. Pace: 13’52”

In the West End, the spectators rocked, as usual. One of them was a college friend. She probably doesn’t know it, but I high fived her as I went by. I swore I was actually moving in the West End, but as I got to the end where we head up and out, my lungs were screaming. I stepped to the side and grabbed some energy gels and two puffs of my inhaler. I realized I was no longer cold, but not hot.

Mile 9: The strip club. Pace: 13’01”

As the course took us through Carson Street, the sun started to shine and I started to feel woozy. Really woozy. Like I was going to need a medic. I realized I was starting to overheat, quickly. How the heck, when all the spectators were bundled up in hats and gloves? After I ran past a line of soldiers, high fiving us, I knew I needed to do something to get cooled off. A cup of water to the chest and back didn’t help, so I tried to take off my long-sleeve. It was stuck, so I had to go to the side of the road and peel it off then put my other shirt back on. It wasn’t pretty, but it was necessary. At this point (TMI ALERT) I also realized being a woman brings its own fun challenges to the race – I NEEDED a bathroom but I was not going to stop to make any adjustments. Eep. 

Mile 10: The smack. Pace: 13’39”

Greg had traveled across town to see me at the 2nd relay exchange. When I saw him, I stopped. My first intention was to give him my long-sleeve, but then I told him I was done and ready to quit. I was physically uncomfortable and way too hot. That’s when the asthma attack started. It’s also when he told me how proud of me he was and that I needed to take my inhaler and get moving (SMACK!). So move, I did.

Mile 11: The flat-ish one. Pace: 13’07”

The course boasts this as the flatest mile. Sure, it wasn’t bad, but I was disappointed that there was no gu and barely any water at this point. I saw my kids’ faces in my mind and kept pushing, crying, but pushing. I watched the time on my FitBit slip quickly from an average of 12’45” per mile to 13’01” and stay there for most of this mile.

Mile 12: The worst. Pace: 14’59”

There’s no nice way about this one. I was done with hills. My broken toe was throbbing. My pants felt so heavy and I was afraid I was going to pass out. My shirt was drenched in sweat, but I couldn’t get cooled down. I decided to power walk this entire mile, across the Birmingham Bridge and up Fifth Avenue. I don’t know how I ran this mile in 2013, but I did. As soon as I got to Jumonville, I knew I wasn’t going to be swpt, so I told my body to get it’s act together. According to my FitBit, I was still going to PR if I just kept moving.

Mile by Mile Breakdown: The Finish

Mile 13: Like the wind. Pace: 12’11”

Get it together, I did. I flew down Fifth Avenue, refusing any more water. I felt good all over again, because I’d lived through the uphill battle. I barely had time to realize we were running past PPG Paints Arena or to realize how close I was to the finish.

Mile 13.1 (then some?): The tears. Pace: 11′17″

I zipped through the final steps. My FitBit told me I was done, and when I saw the time and the fact that I had the official 13-mile marker just ahead in my sight, I knew a PR was not going to happen. I cried my way to the finish line, pushing hard (especially when I saw Greg) and not stopping until I crossed into the end. It wasn’t enough, to PR, but it was enough to finish. I didn’t quit, and I could have.

I cried as I was handed my medal. I cried as I got my finisher’s photo taken. I cried because I did this again, 4 years, +2 more kids, -30 pounds +75 pounds – 25 pounds, + a major surgery,+ a job change, + a move, + so many other things later. I felt mad about not PR’ing, but so proud.

Once I found Greg, I saw the pride in his face. He had talked to the kids and they were proud, but I needed to hear it.

Once I did, all my anger at myself went away and I enjoyed time with my hubby and co-workers.

Will I do it again? Abso-buc’n-lutely. I cannot wait for 2018.


Unofficial: 13.44 miles, 2:55:54 minutes, 13’05” pace

Official: 13.1 miles, 2:55:43 minutes, 13’25” pace


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