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The Montour Trail Half Marathon – A Ranty Recap

While I hesitate to make my return post in such a negative tone, I simply cannot complete this recap without some sort of cynicism towards running today. It was both on my part, and the organizers. Simply put, this race has gone way, way downhill since I first ran it three years ago.

Three years ago this was my very FIRST half marathon. Three years ago the conditions were far from perfect (muggy, rainy and a torrential downpour at mile 10). However, three years ago I was so blown away by the sheer effortlessness of this race that I have continued with distance running. I do not, however, think that the way this race is being managed right now would encourage new runners to continue with the sport.

I’ll get to why I’m so negative in a moment, but first I actually should recap my own experience.

I woke up at 6am, played on my phone in bed until 6:30, and finally managed to get up and get clothed. I didn’t eat anything until 6:50, and scarfed it down when my ride was there at 7. We arrived at The Robinson Town Centre Mall at 7:30, and searched for another friend of ours who was running. This run was not any sort of PR race by any stretch; In truth, it was a training run that we paid for.

When the gun went off (or should I say, the lady yelled “Ready, set, GO!”) we were off. And second to last in the pack. I have NEVER been this far back before, but today I didn’t care. I was in no shape to be running 13 miles, just coming off a week and a half vacation and barely a carb eaten in the days leading up to the race.

This race starts in a mall parking lot. You then run around a half mile out of the mall, down a hill and onto the crushed limestone trail. From there, it is an out and back style course with the turnaround point at mile 7.

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The race all around sucked. If I hadn’t been running and BSing with my friends, this would most certainly be a wash. We incorporate walk breaks into our long runs since it seems to help keep us injury free, and today the humidity and sun was killer. At mile 10 we phoned it in and began walking nearly every mile marker, sometimes at every half mile point. We didn’t care, it was simply TOO hot and all we wanted was our brunch of chicken and waffles at the end.

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2 hours and 55 minutes after the “gun went off”, we crossed the finish. We were first greeted with a lukewarm water bottle and NOTHING else. After a half marathon, I’d appreciate some sort of sustinence. Heck, at that point a piece of bread would have sufficed. Also, no finishers photo. Would it have killed someone to have an iphone out or something? This race hired photographers in the past. Anyways, we kept walking towards the busses back to the starting line.

By the time we reached the mall parking lot, the food for runners was already packed up. That’s right, we made it under 3 hours (the cut-off time for this race), and there was no food left for us to eat. I paid the same amount of money as the people who finished in half my time, where’s my food? I don’t think it’s really that much to ask to have a banana or bagel sitting out for me to grab. In fact, dare I say it’s dangerous for them to NOT have them available?

Keep in mind, we were FAR from the last finishers on the course. After we saw them packing up the food, we were absolutely disgusted. We discussed this being the ‘last time’ we run Montour, and that sealed it. No respect for slow runners. That along with no medal, and I’m sorry …my training runs will best be left as just that, training runs.

Again, I apologize for the sheer negativity in this post ….but I absolutely just hurt for the people who’s half marathon this was their first. It was appaling and poorly mismanaged. I’m not sure what happened with it, but it’s not what it used to be.

A Return on the Horizon…

I know I have given false hope in the past of making my return to the blog-osphere, however, I assure that this time I am telling the truth! I did a little bit of ‘soul searching’ (lolz) for the past few months and realized what I was truly missing in my life was an outlet for my thoughts, both on running and other things.

Be on the lookout for a new look and some running updates! Right now I am actually over half-way done marathon training for my SECOND full; the Columbus Marathon on October 19th, EEK!!!!

Hopefully you will forgive my longer than normal hiatus.๐Ÿ™‚

I’m back! With a (Half Marathon/Relay/5k) Recap!

So, yes …yes I know it’s been ENTIRELY too long since my last post. I was still running since last October, but got completely engulfed in work, wedding planning, moving to keep any kind of motivation of my blog. But now, with a renewed sense of “running being” I feel like I’m ready to come back! In the coming weeks I’ll explain all the craziness that has happened (HELLO, MARRIED NOW!?) but for now I REALLY want to bring you a recap of an awesome weekend of running!

May 4th was the annual UPMC Pittsburgh 5k. Brian and I did this race last year as my first EVER road race. This was the race that inspired me to come back this year and run the half marathon! We woke up early at 6am and headed down to PNC Park around 7.

I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember much of the actual 5k. I was too busy trying to run as slow as possible (We finished in 37 and some change, so mission accomplished) but it was just so much FUN to be running with Brian again. I think we might make this a yearly thing. It was also a great shakeout race for me!

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We left shortly after we were done racing, and it was actually amusing because we walked down one of the closed of bridges that carried the famed “Runner of Steel” banner. I wanted a picture with it, and we weren’t entirely sure if we could walk in the road. We decided to anyways since the barriers were still up, and a cop actually drove down the road. As he passed us, Brian screamed “YES!!!!!” and the cop cycled back asking if everything was alright. We had to shamefully say that we were just happy he hadn’t yelled at us for taking the road. He laughed and congratulated us, then went on his way. Oh his big mouth…..

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The rest of the day I plumped myself up with CARBS CARBS CARBS!!! I ate so much sushi and rice I was also vomiting. I counted on MyFitnessPal and I had around 70% carbs to like everything else, so I must have done something right. With all those carbs coursing through me, I was so ready for bed at 9.

4:45 AM on Sunday the 5th came WAY too early. I didn’t sleep well, taking multiple bathroom breaks and a strange twinge in my back. Needless to say, I was still excited and hurried myself up. I ate maybe a quarter of a plain bagel (not my smartest idea) and a starbucks espresso + cream (my signature pre-long run drank). I was out the door by 5:30 to meet my mom to drive me to the start.

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Since my parents live maybe 5 minutes from downtown it was a piece of cake to be dropped off. I was there by 6:15. I walked to gear check and headed to my corral (D since I was running a relay leg). Oh yeah, that was another thing. A friend of mine’s relay team ironically lost their first leg runner and asked me to pick it up since I was doing the half anyways. Um, of course! All it required me to do was wear another bib, a shoe tag and get another medal and shirt and swag bag. Sign me up! And …hold on, speaking of swag bags ….you must see this;

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RIDICULOUS. For some reason I was signed up for the half TWICE, so they gave me two bags, one for the relay, two bags for the 5k and my charities bag. YEESH!

Anyhoo ….back in the corral. I was FREEZING. I planned on wearing my arm warmers which saved me, but boy was I cold! We didn’t move until around 7:15 when our corral finally lined up at the start.

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Finally we were off. I started off way too quickly, running a 9:18 mile. I kept yelling at myself internally to SLOW DOWN, but I couldn’t! I was too excited, and it ended up biting me in the butt later on. I listened to Marathon by Rush for the first few miles on repeat, it helped me get into a groove, albeit a much faster one than I wanted. I REALLY had to pee, and around mile 3.5 I darted for some open potties. I was in and out and kept on trucking. About the time we were headed over our first bridge was when I started shedding the arm warmers. They came down to look like guantlets at first, and then I eventually got one off. Since my pants had pockets I just stowed them there.

The relay exchange came at mile 5.5. I was so confused and disoriented when I headed into it that I had ZERO idea where my team member was. Thankfully she saw me, handed me my medal and was off. I had to flag a volunteer to help me take off the relay bib on my back and my shoe tag. He was kind of confused as to why until I said I was continuing on. It was a little hiccup, and I ran with the relay bib for a bit since I wasn’t sure if I was gonna pitch it or not. I ended up stuffing it in my pocket. Miles 5.5 to the West End bridge were a huge blur. I don’t remember this section at all except “DAMNIT WHERE IS THE F****** BRIDGE?!” By now my legs were like, WTF Robyn …why you run so fast? Ugh. The lemon lime gatorade was also not helping my spirits.

When we finally got there I said to myself, just run this whole bridge then you can walk ….just this bridge. Well, the bridge turned into running through all of the section of crafton til we got back on East Carson. I was feeling rough, and finally got my other arm warmer off. By now I had eaten half my bag of chews and was feeling OK.

By now we were at about mile 7. I walked at every mile marker from here on out, give or take that and a potty break. I went to the bathroom THREE times during this race. What the heck! Anyways, I will skip ahead to the South Side and the Birmingham bridge where i finally could see the end in sight. For those of you who don’t know, this half marathon ends on a HUGE grade for the 11-12 mile. I have to admit, I walked it. My legs could not handle it. I hadn’t trained well for this race at all and I accepted it. But when I hit that 12th mile marker, I ran. I’m NOT going to walk the last mile!

Running down BLVD of the Allies was thrilling. You kept hearing EVERYONE scream and holler, some heckling saying to run faster, and everything just was going so fast! It was everything I envisioned finishing this race would be. I even got a PR! 2:32:59๐Ÿ™‚ Haha. Had I not gone to the restroom I probably would have been about 2:24, but oh well!

After I was done I grabbed some food and headed to the finishers circle to hook up with the relay team. Found them in the grass napping, and I of course could not pass up the chance to join. All in all, it was an awesome weekend of running …and my legs are certainly feeling it. I’m on the mend, and ready for my next challenge! That challenge is the AKRON MARATHON this September! I have been signed up for two months and my training plan has me starting May 27th. So, here we go onto the next challenge!

All in all, I loved Pittsburgh. I’ll be back next year, hoping to do the full marathon in 2014๐Ÿ™‚ LOVE THIS CITY!

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OKAY, OKAY, I’M BACK!

PLEASE forgive the long absence. I definetly underestimated the toll that moving would take on me! It wasn’t just the move itself, but adjusting to a longer commute, having to do ALL my own chores/errands and getting sick in the process.ย  I’m all better right now and ready to give you a recap of my running life + real life!!!

Last Saturday was OKTOBERFEST!!!! I drank a half gallon of Penn Brewery Penns Gold and had a grand old time. I love Oktoberfest so much!!!

I did decide to get a Lululemon Define jacket. I fell in love with the color and fit and just had to grab it. It also didn’t hurt that when I sold my Great Race bib I doubled my money (got 40 bucks, only paid 20!). I went straight to my store to pick it up. I love it!

This past Monday the 24th Brian had to work at 6am. I took this opportunity to get up with him and go to the gym to bang out some miles. I did and felt GREAT! I wasn’t even tired the rest of the day and would totally go again at this hour.

Saturday was my next running day but I didn’t take any pictures. It was actually a very impromptu trip. Brian and I decided to go around 7pm that night and I had eaten TONS of spicy food and cheese. My body hated me after that run, but during it I felt OK.

And today after doing mounds of laundry I hit the ‘mill again for three more miles. After the three I hit the balancing ball and did some crunches and planks. My abs hurt.

That’s my second Lululemon jacket, I think it’s called the In Stride. I fell in love with the neck on it because it comes up and covers your mouth and nose when it’s fully zipped, perfect for chilly mornings๐Ÿ™‚ Again, I need to cool it with the Lulu but I sense a very, very bad addiction coming. At least they are good quality I suppose.

This past week was also my pup’s SECOND BIRTHDAY!

I can’t believe he is two years old!!! Craziness.

Anyways, I think I am adjusting to apartment life well. My running right now is sparoadic and with no plan. I have no races planned yet , so I’ve been running on feel and how much I feel I can push myself to that day. I do have the Pittsburgh Half Marathon on my radar (5/5/2013). It’s about a month and a half after our wedding, so I need to map out the training plan and see if it’s doable (I think it will be OK though if I keep my mileage up). They are having a sale on registering on Tuesday of 15 off the standard price of 80 ….tempting!!!!

Hopefully I’ll keep up with this better than I have been, but thank you for being patient!!!