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Today was the Inaugural Pittsburgh EQT 10-miler, another medal for my list. Make that five! It was cold. I am not going to lie about that one bit. But that’s okay, because the run made me feel super strong. Here’s what I remember from the day…

1:30 AM: I was wide awake. I read a Facebook post about a runner who completed Iron Man and felt motivated. Luckily, I quickly fell back to sleep.

6:40 AM: My first alarm went off. I was (again) wide awake. Knowing there was no going back to bed, I started my morning. This is when I realized the truck was frosted over. Great.

7:15 AM: We were supposed to be out the door. Arianna was giving me an incredible amount of trouble. Greg was searching for the double stroller (which now we think we sold in the yard sale or on craigslist). We were so far behind, and I was getting hungry and MEAN.

7:38 AM: We left the house, all of us bundled up in a ridiculous (but perfect) amount of layers. I still hadn’t ate, and was scared it would bite me later in the day.

7:45 AM: We get to GE Express and I get a pumpkin bagel (score) and donuts for my family. The register tape stuck and I got real irritated. Roads were closing in 15 minutes and I didn’t want it to impact our drive. I tried to fix it, but failed. Gah!

8:04 AM: We pulled into the First Avenue Garage, about 11 minutes later than I hoped. Greg made up some great time, ahem.

8:34 AM: We had crossed the Smithfield Street Bridge. Arianna was walking (trooper) but crying that she was “going to die” because we walked too far. I was crying mad and probably said some mean words.

8:44 AM: Arianna and I joined the porta-potty lines. Holy long. Dr. Vonda Wright was doing the warm up I really  wanted to be doing. A kind lady gave me a hand warmer and commented on Arianna’s hat (which I’ll be reviewing here in a day or two!).

8:54 AM: We finally got to use the porta-potties. I was nervous I’d miss the start.

8:59 AM: I finally get to my corral, the anthem is done and countdown was on. It went much quicker from here to start than the Half!

9:03:50 AMish: I crossed the starting line, hitting what felt like a fast pace, but good. I was so glad I’d opted to keep my hat, broken sunglasses, and gloves. My goal was to complete it in under 2 hours 11 minutes (which would have been my half pace of 13:13 per mile). I’d be ecstatic with a “sub 2” (less than 2 hours). I set my sights on the 11:30 pacers and 12:00 pacers and set a goal to stay between them in case I needed to walk at any point. (My training last week was non-existent. I was so sick!)

At this point, we started up a hill. Fast and flat my broken toe (apparently, it’s very easy to re-fracture a bone that’s already been fractured…). I remembered loving that hill in the half. Next thing I knew, my phone was saying I was a mile in – just before the the one mile marker. Based on my running app, split was 11:04.

The second mile took us through the West End. Historically, according to the one time I ran through this village, there were tons of folks out to celebrate. Not as many as I’d hoped this year. Then, I remembered a second pretty decent hill before a slight descent to the West End Bridge. No worries, my Tarentum hill training had my beyond prepared and I took that hill (and then West End Bridge) like a champ. Split, 11:38.

Mile three made me ridiculously giddy and happy. There was a fluid station. I took both Gatorade and water. I smiled as the Delta Foundation cheered us on, waving rainbow flags. “Black Girls Run” ladies cheered us on. The harmonica guy (who played “you are my sunshine” at the half” was out on the streets of the North Side. Loved, loved, loved it. Split, 11:40 (I blame the fluid).

Mile four brought us through the Children’s Museum area. I can’t recall much of this section because I was testing the temperatures. My butt was frigid, but my hands and head were sweating more than I liked to worry about (who gets heat exhaustion at 40 degrees?!?!). I decided to take off my hat and gloves, but held onto them hoping Greg would be waiting for me. This part of the race took us over the 7th street Bridge, right into my favorite part of town. Split, 11:00.

Mile five started with the end of the bridge and a jog over to give my kids and husband a high five (plus hand off the accessories). Greg yelled, “Babe, you are RIGHT behind the 11:30 pacers, keep it up!” and I just smiled. The next few turns took us up to the 9th Street Bridge and I started to worry about how I looked. I redid my hair and made sure my shirts were all tucked okay. Photographers were somewhere around mile 5, I needed to be ready, yo. I had to walk through the fluid station thanks to a backup of runners, but I was okay with that. The first station had me barely getting fluid. This time, I gulped, but my nose wasn’t happy. Bacon smells filled the air as we passed Bistro to Go. Split, 11:38 (fluid!).

Getting to the mile marker at 6 felt like a breeze – “I’m over 50%!!!” kept going through my mind. Then, it hit me. A rock in my stomach, thanks to the fluid. It hit me hard, and I wanted to puke. I’ve never really wanted to puke while running. It made this mile rough. Ladies with signs saying “If it was easy, I’d do it” and “This will all be worth your Facebook status update” made me happy. Someone got behind me running very loud – like horse hooves — and it messed with my groove. I forgot about my stomach issues and busted out of there. By the time I hit the end of the 16th street bridge, I realized Greg was going to try to meet me there, too. I saw him roll up to the curb as I hit the same area and gave more high fives. So happy! Split, 11:30.

Two things about running mile seven that made me happy were seeing Joe and Mary Lou of Paint Monkey working on a mural with spectators and seeing a Twitter friend at a fluid station. We definitely started a slow incline, and I could feel my body getting tired. The 11:30 pacers were no longer in sight. Gah! Split, 11:49.

Mile 8 was more of a struggle, but I made it. Some uphill, some happiness as I passed the storefront of former Dozen and then Swank (my giveaway – have you entered?). Even more happiness with the descent through the end of Lawrenceville and the Cupid’s Underwear run folks. Split, 11:58.

Mile 9 was rough. I was happy, but feeling tired. I was cold. Bitter cold. My right hip, which had been bugging me BAD in training, felt amazing. My left leg, however? It ALL hurt. And hard. From the tips of my toes to my hip flexor. I was not happy. I was thirsty. I couldn’t see the end in sight. I really wasn’t sure how to feel. I knew it was going to be over 12 minutes, but didn’t care. Split, 12:04.

Mile 10. Oh, mile 10! I hit a stride. The path was flat. The end, it was so close. My stomach did the “I’m going to burst everywhere” thing again (thanks fluid), but I pushed through, finding my strength. After turning the corner into the last stretch, I could see the Finish Line. It looked close. Greg and the kids looked closer. I told myself to PUSH, PUSH, PUSH. Split, 10:53.

Mile 10+ (my app started just before the starting line, like JUST before, and I forgot to shut it off during pictures, fuel grabbing, and meeting Greg; however, it logged an extra 5 minutes past my “official” time and .44 miles…). Getting to the finish line, I saw my family. I also saw a fellow Genre’s Kids runner and introduced myself, then pushed. We both pushed. It hurt. I shed tears. It felt AWESOME. I hit a stride, crossed the finish line. Official time: 1:57:01 (pace 11:42 / mile). Sub 2!!! WOO!

After getting my photo, heat sheet (thank goodness, I felt SO COLD), and snacks, I met the kids and Greg. I stretched. I wanted heat and coffee. We found my results and walked about a mile back to the car. (No coffee.) Was ecstatic, proud, and felt so blessed to have 1) been able to do this and 2) have my family have watched me and supported me. I’m proud of Arianna who walked through much of the city with Greg with limited complaining (she saved that for the morning walk). I’m proud of the runners who beat me, crossed with me, and finished behind me. We found a reason to start, and pushed to finish.

And now, I’m on my runner’s high and can’t wait to plan what’s next (after the Turkey Trot 5-miler on Thanksgiving, of course). Shh…a thought crossed my mind that if I ran 11 miles next weekend, I could easily do RNR Las Vegas Half with Kristi (but right now I have a conflict, so am not even thinking about this). And this makes a sub 2:30 half in my reach. I don’t have words except for thankful, blessed, and over the moon.

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