I was so ready for the marathon to be over. Ready to resume a normal life that involved innovative things like vegetables (and not copious amounts of carbs) and staying up late and other asundry things.
May 3 started for me at 4:30 AM. I had pre-made a PB sandwich on cinnamon raisin bread but chose to eat my banana instead. My anxiety still manifests itself in (severe lack of) appetite. Rational Corinne is a bully in my head, yelling “B*tch, you are going to burn 3600 calories today, you think a banana is going to cut it?!” I listened to that voice and choked down the sandwich. Coffee also helped.
Since I’m a member of SCRR, they host a pre-race lounge downtown which means indoor bathrooms and snacks and a place to relax before all of the roads start to change. Running friend got up at 5 AM and took me as close as I could get to the Westin Hotel (I adore you, MB) and I relaxed for a bit there, writing my mantras on my hands.
Soon enough it was time to line up in the corral. I was in Corral C since I ran the first leg of the marathon relay for church. (I ran all…of the legs. Haha.) This is me at 7 AM, half fake smiling because I’m anxious and half real smiling because I was ready to do this thing.
And off we went. This is crossing one of the five bridges. I love the juxtaposition of the yellow steel against the blue sky. You can also see the 2015 Pittsburgh marathon sign hung on the bridge.
I went through the first relay exchange, but the person was.not.there. Amid many minutes of frenzied angst as I called the church coordinator and tried to take off my relay bib and chip timer, I decided to just go on and find the third runner at the next relay exchange. So I kept on going, obviously running faster for science.
I always take a ton of pictures at Station Square because it has amazing views of the city. I stopped to take a few, and didn’t note the sun in my photo. I think it looks pretty darn cool. Pittsburgh is stunning.
It was starting to get extremely hot, as evidenced by that blazing sun, and the ambient air temperature around miles 9-10 was probably around 60 degrees. And it was only going to get hotter. My typical gel strategy is to take one every 5 miles, with adequate water, and drink to thirst at aid stations. Sometimes that means I take a cup of water and pour it into my handheld water bottle for later, sometimes that means I drink on the spot. One does have to be cautious for hyponatremia (more people have died of that than dehydration on marathon courses) but I was already covered in sweat, so I was feeling okay with my fluid consumption. It’s a little jarring to have to weigh yourself that morning and write it on your bib, knowing that if you pass out on the course they use that pre-race weight to tell if you’re hyponatremic.
There was a bit of a change this year – my beloved Birmingham Bridge is undergoing repair. Normally the half marathoners run on the left side of the bridge and the full marathoners run on the right side of the bridge, but construction meant that everyone ended up on the left side and there were numerous signs that MADE SURE you knew which course you were on. (Obviously important, but they’re a bit jarring at the same time…)
I always walk up the Forbes hill – it is part of my strategy. My rationale is that hills are extremely taxing and I’d rather conserve my energy to finish the marathon strong. A ton of people walked with me and ‘adopted my strategy.’ We looped into Oakland and then into Shadyside. LOUD, LOUD drumming startled me a bit as I turned onto Walnut Street. This Steeline (link goes to a video to show how awesome they are) may very well be the first Steelers-related thing I like in my life. Because they were intense and motivating and just what I needed around mile 14.
It’s pretty cruel to pass by your own home around mile 15. And that’s just what happened. However, I’m also lucky in that running friend lives near me and offered to bring me water and gels that I had dropped off in advance. His mom took this photo, which I believe epitomizes friendship.
After Shadyside, we ran into Point Breeze and then Homewood (this neighborhood always gets a bad rap – but it is my FAVORITE on race day because everyone is out cheering and clapping.) I may or may not have stopped to do the Wobble with a church group before continuing on my “merry” way.
In Highland Park, I noticed these inspiring folks.
I can’t imagine doing an entire marathon holding a flag. Everyone cheered and clapped louder for them – and it was immensely well-deserved.
After Highland Park, we ran into Friendship. At this point, it was easily 65-70 degrees out. Which sounds pleasant until you remember that I am running 11-minute miles for 26.2 miles and you typically add 20 degrees to the air temperature when the body is at maximum exertion. Yeah, good feeling gone. So these lovely babies that the Friendship folks handed out were probably the sexiest things I saw all day.
I did well maintaining pace in Bloomfield and Lawrenceville, but when we looped through the Strip District again I decided to stretch out my calves. FATAL MISTAKE. My left calf immediately cramped and I winced in pain. I was at mile freaking 24 and knew I would finish come hell or high water. It actually hurt more to walk than to run, so that choice was also taken away from me!
I finished, not with a flourish, but with a shudder. I knew I was going to be close to last year’s time, and I was really disappointed. I trained harder this year and had lost weight and gotten faster. I ended up cutting 23 seconds off my time from last year, and as I type this I’m a little bitter…
…until I remember all of the stats everyone posted.
Someone had a heart attack at the finish line and stayed in the ICU for a week. He was just released today. Several runners I trained with got EMSed on the course due to low blood sugar or dehydration. A runner I started the race with (did not know her) was EMSed out in front of me at mile 23. She looked so defeated and I resolved to finish for her. Medical personnel treated 199 people for stuff from blisters to dehydration and heat exhaustion on the course, and another 168 at the medical tent. 47 runners were taken to city hospitals. Ten people were dunked in ice water because their core temps were between 108-110 degrees.
I don’t put it lightly when I say DAMN, I was lucky. I’m shocked I even finished earlier than last year, when so many people who put in so much hard work didn’t finish or had medical issues. Am I mildly irritated with my time, even though it was probably due to heat? Yes. But I’m not going to let that overshadow the fact that I finished my second marathon, the first marathon I ran with my new-old last name, and that I did my best. I am still a marathoner.