Thursday, May 7, 2015

Pittsburgh Marathon Relay Recap

Saturday night I had all of my wonderful running friends over for dinner. It is the first time we have all be together like this since September, and we even added some more people this time! We had some great food and laughs. It really warmed my soul.

Sarah, Nathan and Gloria were spending the weekend with me, so once everyone left we put out our race clothes, took flat photos and crashed. It was an early wake up call after some parking problems last year.

The four of us left the suburbs and made it downtown before the roads closed. We are already doing better than last year. We met the rest of our group at Kelsey's hotel room that she won from the Pittsburgh Marathon. We could see the start line. It was really nice to relax and take some photos. Since I wasn't going to the start line I made sure I wished everyone the best of luck. I would be cheering them on close to mile three on the first bridge. Kelsey and Charles were the last to leave the hotel room, and I never saw them actually leave the hotel. They were the first two legs of my relay team, I really hoped they didn't fall back asleep!

Natalie and I. AKA the twins.

Natalie, Me and Kim

Me and Lauren

Top Row: Chelsea, Jeff, Me, Sarah
Bottom Row: Brandi, Mandy, Lauren, Natalie

I took Chelsea's boyfriend, Robert with me to the 16th Street Bridge. Joe met us with the worlds most annoying cowbell. Natalie's husband, Jimmy, met us there as well. It was a little chilly on the bridge, but I was so excited to get to cheer everyone on. We had the perfect spot!

16th Street Bridge. Around mile 3.

Joe and I were really excited!

This is the first time I have spectated the Pittsburgh Marathon, so I was really excited to see the elites come through. It's so mind blowing to me that in 2012 when I first participated in marathon weekend, the only person I knew was Joe. Now I have an amazing group of friends that even include some of those elites!

Some of the elites coming through
I cannot tell you how much I screamed when I saw people I knew come by! I tried to get pictures of everyone, but some of you caught me off guard! It was the best feeling in the world to be able to do it! I am so proud of all of you!

So, as you can see, Kelsey is the biggest picture through this. I am searching for Kelsey on this bridge. I need her to get to mile 5.5 for the relay. She would be continuing on for the half marathon. People are going by and I still don't see Kelsey. I am SCREAMING on this bridge "HAS ANYONE SEEN KELSEY? DID SHE START THE RACE?" Some people yell back "Oh yeah, she's right up there!" Well, all of a sudden Kelsey shows up (cue photo) and my anxiety level drops tremendously.

Jimmy ended up leaving us to meet Natalie on another bridge. Joe and Robert are starting to get hungry so I decided just to head to my relay exchange. I wanted to see Nathan and Carrie and cheer on everyone I could. My relay exchange started a little before mile 22, so I knew it would be a good place to cheer everyone on. Plus, I got to spend some time with one of my flock mates, Elisa, who was also running the last leg.

Charles had let me know he handed off to Lauren and she was off on her 11ish mile journey. Her husband was supposed to run one of the legs, but due to injury he couldn't join us. Now, if you remember back to NOLA, Lauren has a tendency to wander during a marathon. She texted me that she was in Panera. I love that girl to bits, but sometimes she makes me crazy! She wanted to use a real bathroom, plus it started getting really warm. I told her to take her time and I would cheer everyone on!

About two hours later, I see Lauren coming down the road. I saw the five hour pace team come by and I was ready to fly through the final 4.5 miles of this course. The plan was I would finish then run back up the course and find Chelsea. Since I had no idea where Chelsea was, I was just going to sprint. 

The only uphill of my relay leg was the first half mile or so. It's been two years since I did the full marathon, and I really didn't remember much of the final six miles, one reason why I wanted to do the last leg. I was trying to encourage people as I was running by, but I then decided to play the fun game of pick off as many relay runners as you can. My first mile was 8:12

My second mile was ALL DOWN HILL! I was so ready to pick up the speed. This is also the mile where you get beer. I had waited for two hours to get moving, I deserve this beer! I chugged the beer and kept moving/cheering/picking off relay runners. Mile two: 7:45. 

After the downhill ended, I backed off a little bit. I passed the five hour pace team and got a little congested from the other people I caught. There were two choices, a lot of weaving or just keep a steady pace. I went for the second option. Besides, this is the last time I'm running this race, might as well make a few mental notes! Mile three: 8:31.

I wanted to keep the pace pretty consistent for mile four. We are really flat at this point and I was so close to being done. Since my half coming up in California was pretty much all flat, I wanted to see if I could keep the pace. I saw Kristy during this time and ran to give her a hug. She told me I looked awesome and I told her I felt really good, even after the fast 5K the day before. I grabbed a piece of watermelon from a cheer station, and made the final turn of the course. A little later down the road I see Lauren again. I ran over to hug her. She told me I looked incredible and I told her I was proud of her. Not too far down the road I saw Joe, Robert, Nathan and Mike. They screamed to me that Chelsea had passed mile 20. All I could think of was that I was so excited she was still going for it. It was really REALLY getting warm out. Mile four: 8:25. 

I made the final turn to the finish line, just like the day before feeling so strong. I really wish I counted how many relay people I passed in those four miles, because I was flying. The crowd was awesome and I was feeding off of them to finish strong. I crossed the line with no idea how our final time was. All I know is I did my leg in 36:30. I was so proud of myself! But my job was not done, I had to get Chelsea. I quickly went through the finish area, that had ran out of bananas, got my second medal for finishing both races, and called Joe. I told him I was on my way back up. He said Chelsea was coming up to mile 24. I booked it!

I found the guys, handed them all my stuff and took off back up the road. I caught up to Chelsea and Jeff a little before the mile 25 marker. The look on Chelsea's face when she saw me made it all worth it. I could tell she knew what seeing me meant, she was almost a marathoner. I tried to distract her by telling her about my escapades for the day, and it helped. By the time we got back to the guys I told her I wanted her to finish it on her own. She did and I am so proud of her! Sarah was not too far behind her either. Everyone ended up having a decent day! Like I said, I have never been so proud of these people. Its such a rough course and it got hot really quick!

My phone ended up dying before I could see our time. When I finally saw it, I was thrilled to see we finished under five hours. I also patted myself on the back that I could bring our pace down to an even 11:00 pace!

With finishing the relay, I have now completed all the Pittsburgh Marathon races in consecutive years. I would have never imagined in 2012, when I completed the 5K for the first time, that this would have happened. I really thought that maybe after finishing the relay that my interest for running any of these races would spark again, but it still hasn't. I am so lucky to have been able to finish all the races but I am not the biggest fan of this race. It's not because it is challenging, I like a good challenge! I am just ready to run somewhere else. There are so many races this weekend in other places, I want to try something new. Maybe next year I will stand in the same spot on the 16th Street bridge with the worlds most annoying cowbell again.

R to L: 2012 5K, 2015 Relay, 2014 Half, 2013 Full, 2015 Steel Challenge

I want to know how your race went! Comment below with your recap or just let me know what race you ran and your time!


  1. All I can say is you're welcome. I didn't even sit once! If you don't count that time I got ice cream and laid down for a minute :)

  2. I love everything about you! Thank you!!

  3. I've never done a relay, but it sounds like fun! Great job!

  4. It was fun hanging out with you at the relay exchange! It sounds like you had a similar experience with the anchor leg as I did (except more friends along the course😊). They were out of bananas when I finished too! In fact, that was my big complaint - it wasn't a big deal for me with such a short leg, but I felt so bad for all the marathoners who were finishing with me - it felt like they were already packing up the finish line to go home. How disappointing after running 26.2 miles.