This is the third year of the Pittsburgh Penguins 6.6k and I have a perfect record. In 2013 I ran it while recovering from a bad case of ITBS. Last year I ran the race as a wardrobe test for the Columbus Marathon. I was not really sure how this was going to go with racing Akron the week before.
Allison and I met Kelsey and Charles down at Consol Energy Center bright and early on Sunday morning. I had decided the night before to go after my PR. Since this race is 4.1 miles, I figured I should be able to average a 7:30 pace at this point, but I was still feeling that half marathon.
I ended up meeting two of my Oiselle teammates before the start, Erin and Shannon. It was nice to finally meet them in real life! I ended up forgetting my arm warmers at home and it was far too cold to wear just my singlet. I have never raced in double layers so this was new for me.
After talking for a bit, we headed down to the start. I saw the sign that said 7:30 pace line up here. So, I did. Quickly I was moved up to the front. I did not want to be there, so I ended up lining up at the 7:00 pace sign. I still didn't want to be there, but I felt better.
The start changed this year. We started on Fifth Avenue right in front of the bottom entrance to Consol Energy Center. Number 66 himself shot the starting gun for us, and we were off!
I wanted to run the first mile by feel. We started on a slightly up hill and the mile would end going down to a bridge. Everything felt very good. I was surprised. The one mile mark was right after the first bridge we crossed. When my watch went off it was 6:23. People that is a one mile PR for me! How on earth was I going to manage three more miles! Oh man, I messed up bad.
Mile two was pretty flat. We ran through part of the South Side on our way to the other bridge. I finally feel settled at this point, and I am super glad I wore the extra layer. The breeze is very cold. I start seeing people pass me at this point, and I am very at ease with this. I am still passing other people in the process. This is when racing is fun. The two mile marker is in the middle of the second bridge, my watch said 7:30. BAM!
I knew I would lose GPS signal a lot in the last two miles. We run under two overpasses and a tunnel in the second half of the race. Luckily it only took me four seconds to cross the start line. Mile three is a down and back and I could see the leaders on the other side of the road. One of my Oiselle teammates, Aubrey, was kicking major butt. She is was the leading female and I screamed for her. Then I saw another teammate, Heather, who I also cheered for. Those ladies actually finished 1-2 which is freaking amazing! Anyway, I hit the turnaround and started to turn it up to get up this hill to the tunnel. I did not catch my three mile split, because the GPS was off, but I did see the clock for the 5k split said 22:51, which would be a 5k PR! WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!
One mile left, gotta move. Wonder if I could actually go sub-30? Then the tunnel happened. The Armstrong tunnel actually has a slight uphill to it. Plus, there is no air movement. Oh it was warm. Oh my quads. Oh that 6:23 first mile. I wonder how fast I'm going. All of these things are going through my head. Out of the tunnel it was time to move. There was a little bit of a downhill before the final quarter mile or so is uphill to the finish. I wanted to gain as much as I could. The clock at the four mile mark said 30:xx and I knew I didn't hit my goal, but I was going to PR since my previous one started with a 32.
I saw the finish and kinda coasted. My quads are crushed and I have another half in two weeks to think about. As I crossed the finish line, I high fived Mario (my new yearly tradition) and stopped my watch. I did in face PR, by 2:02! My finish time was 30:47, a 7:30 average pace. HOLY CRAP I DID IT!
I placed 143 out of 2955. I was 25th female out of 1647 and 4th in my age group out of 320. I was shocked. Really shocked. I set out to average a 7:30 pace, and I did it. I didn't crash and burn after the first mile, and I really enjoyed myself racing! It was the perfect race to shake off Akron. I could not have had a better race!