I had the absolute BEST weekend. Better than anything I’ve done in the past year or so. Last weekend was the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon. The thing that I love about running, is that all my best friends love it, too. So when we spend 72 hours talking about: running, food, clothes, running, guys, running, work, running, more food, farting… oh, and running. Normally Meghan and I run “destination runs” like in Vegas or this October, we’re headin’ to Chicago! We plan trips around races and sight-see and celebrate (and if we are lucky enough, win money). Since November brought Laura and I to Meghan’s home in the City of Brotherly Love for 26.2, it was only natural that our next marathon be tackled in Laura’s current city… Pittsburgh!
What made this race even more exciting, was that so many teammates from our college XC/track group live in and around the area. About twelve of them signed up to run the marathon relay! Meg, Kayla and I ran the full. It felt a lot like college- eating pre-race meals together around the same table; Talking stratedgy, trash talking slow times, discussing our superstitions, and setting goals for the next morning. It was just such a feeling of support that in a way it made this race versus Philly entirely different.
Philly was about experiencing 26 miles for my 26th birthday. Everything was new, and I felt still felt like a newbie runner even though I’ve been doing it since high school. For Pitt, it was about a collective unity and feeling like I belonged there with the rest of the runners I spend 4 years admiring in college.
Things just felt really natural for Pitt. I believed that I put the work in and although I had some minor “am I ready?” thoughts two days before on our warm-up runs around the city, I did believe I could actually do it. This race was not about reaching for that PR, it was about unity within a running community. One woman thanked me at the end of the race for pacing her… I did now idea I was. One person I passed THANKED me for running and bringing positive energy to the sport again. It’s just little gestures of positive feedback and togetherness that enrich races like these, not the clock.
All my winter training came down to one heck of a hilly course. I believe Meghan said it best, “Forget ‘City of Bridges’ more like ‘City of Hills!'” This course was a killer… My first three miles felt horrendous and I immediately thought, “wait, how on earth can I do 23 more?!” But, sure enough I trusted my training and like always, the first three miles were the most difficult. I settled in and it just felt, well… easy. Before I knew it I was starring mile 21 in the face and I was still right up there with my pace group. Believe it or not, the downhills are what did me in and slowed up my pace. I (knock on wood) have no knee pains/problems like so many other runners do normally. BUT when you’re trying to cruise down hill after battling to get to the top, it just doesn’t feel good and I had some pain.
I did meet a new Pam during this training and throughout the actual race. A lot has changed with me since Philly. I’m a physically stronger runner, and a mentally healthier version of myself. I think back to the body that ran Philly and I’m proud of the body and mind that competed in Pitt. I’m only getting better, and have already been back on the road logging my mileage. I have a lot of high hopes for pancake-land AKA Chicago… but for now I’m satisfied with being a “Runner of Steel.”