Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Tips and Trick for Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend!

This is the fourth consecutive year I am participating in a Pittsburgh Marathon event. The 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon 5K was my first race since my final track meet in 2005. It is an amazing weekend and I want to make sure you enjoy the entire thing!

This year I will complete my final phase of the Pittsburgh Marathon, the relay. I want to share with you guys a little bit about what to expect during each race. These are some tips and tricks I wish people would have told me the first time I did these races! 

The expo:

The Pittsburgh Marathon expo is amazing! Since Dicks Sporting Goods is the title sponsor, there is a lot of really cool stuff. 

- If you are planning on running other Pittsburgh races, make sure you sign up at the expo. Last year if you signed up for the Liberty Mile and the EQT 10 miler you got an incentive to sign up for the marathon! 

- Friday night is the best time to go to the expo. Hands down. Last year I went three times and Friday afternoon was the most crowded. Have all of your paperwork ready and get your number right away. You have to go to the other end of the expo to get your shirt and bag. 

- If you are looking to get yourself taped by KT Tape, they are usually located at the True Runner area. Last year there was a not correct tape located right after bib pick up. Be aware! 

- If you find something you want, buy it, especially the official marathon stuff. They do not have a lot of sizes of things.

The 5K:

This year, the Pittsburgh Marathon 5K starts over by PNC Park and runs through the North Side section of the city.  If you plan on running or spectating this race, please join us for a meet up/tweet up! 

- The start of the race is very flat, but there is a decent sized hill within the first mile. I promise, it is the worst part. 

- The only water stop is just about half way through the race. I carry my own water but if you need it, the water stop is pretty big. 

- This year the 5K does not end on a slight uphill. The last hill you will encounter is coming over the bridge.

- The finish line for the 5K is the same finish line for all the races. It is nice to be able to recognize what you can expect for the big day. 

Half Marathon:

Last year I ran the half marathon. It was an experience I thought I would have been ready for since I had already done the marathon. It is a completely different race. 

- If you are looking for a pace team for the half marathon under two hours, good luck. Last year I had to stay with the 3:45 marathon pacer because I never saw any pace team under two hours. Grab a pace band at the expo. 

- Stay to the right. All of the relay exchanges are on the left and can get incredibly congested.

- If you have people coming to cheer you on, I recommend the West End Bridge. It is a little over half way through the race and for some reason there are not a lot of spectators there. 

- When you are in Station Square, around mile nine, take the extra hydration. There is not another water stop for awhile and it gets hilly. 

- When you see the signs for the split while in the South Side, stay to the left. Both the half and full go over the Birmingham Bridge, but different sides. 

- THERE IS ANOTHER HILL AFTER THE BRIDGE! If I can give one tip for this race, please learn from my mistakes. 


The 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon was my first marathon. To be honest, I'm surprised I ever ran another one. I will not sugarcoat it, it is a tough race. Plus, the year I did it the weather was very warm. It might have been warmer than my NOLA race in January. Since the half and full marathon take the same course for the first 10.5 miles, listen to the tips above and enjoy these! 

- The half/full split is an incredibly lonely place. The year I did the marathon, I was on sub-4 pace by the half, so I was in a nice group. As I slowed down I felt so alone. More than half of the participants will be running the half. Be ready for that. 

- Shady Side is the worst part of the course. Rolling hills and very little crowd support. I believe it's around mile 17. Just be ready for it. Also, don't take the power bars around this time. I almost broke my teeth trying to eat the one I took.

- Again, it was very warm the year I did the marathon and they turned on the fire hydrants. I ran through them and do not regret it. I also took tons of water from local churches. There is water all over the second half of the course. 

- It actually is all downhill once you reach the final relay exchange around mile 22. It's a beautiful thing. 

- Church Brew Works give out beer around mile 24. TAKE THE BEER! Right now, that might seem weird but the carbs and the different flavors will help so much. 

- Once you finish, stay around! I always head back to around mile 25 or so and cheer people on. Pay it forward for the people who cheered you on. We are a community and everyone has worked so hard for the same accomplishment you achieved. 

Pittsburgh Marathon weekend is a fantastic time. If you are racing this weekend, I wish everyone the best of luck. I am running the final leg of the relay so if you are running the full, I will cheer you on as you pass me! Also, I hope to meet as many of you guys as possible!! If you have any other questions about the race, please tweet me or email me!! I would love to be able to answer any questions! 

What is your best advice for first time Runners of Steel? What do you wish someone would have told you? 


  1. Good call on the West End Bridge spectator point. That's where I'll send the boyfriend! :)

  2. Thanks for the tips! Good to know that relay exchanges are on the left. I will be sticking around after my half and will cheer you and everyone else on close to the finish line! See you at the 5k!

  3. Best advice I could give would be.. Don't get to antimidated by the hill going into Oakland for the marathon. Once you make it up that the rest is all flat with moderate slight hills. I wish someone would of told me there is a beer stop at mile 22, I would of planned better and stood around for a few cup full's, lol

  4. I agree with all the tips! This would have been my fifth year in a row and I'm sad to miss it. Have fun in the relay and good luck!