Category Archives: Races

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.

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! 2:32:59 🙂 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 2014 🙂 LOVE THIS CITY!

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The Half Marathon Recap

Miles Today; 13.1

Miles This Week; 18.2

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You may want to sit back, grab a bowl of popcorn and beer, and get comfortable. This is going to be a long and picture heavy post.

This morning I woke up at 6am. Actually, I was awake since 5am but I forced myself to “sleep” until 5:45. I sat on running blogs until 6am when I finally got up. My first order of business was grabbing my coffee. I decided to do some multitasking and drink my espresso in the shower. I know, crazy. I wanted to give the most amount of time between waking up and the race for the coffee to “do it’s thing” ….i.e. clean out the system.

After the quick and actually useless shower, I got ready. I heard thunder as I was getting ready and kind of freaked. I hadn’t planned for rain. Lucky for me though, I had my Solomon jacket. I broke rule number 1 of running and that’s to NOT wear something new on race day. It worked out OK for me but I was a bit worried. I decided on wearing a visor as well, and again, this was a smart decision. I ate a Honey Stinger waffle and was out the door by 6:30.

Pre-soaked, I had no idea what was in store for me this morning.

When I arrived at the mall it was 7am. I was pretty loose actually from doing a bit of “sticking” in the morning, but I decided to take a quick walk around the mall as a test run for the jacket. I actually ended up not using my Spibelt for my gels and instead threw all my gels and phone into the pockets on my jacket. Again, good decision.

It was so dark out, it was almost weird. Before I took my quick walk I made sure to hit up the porta-potties. Again, good decision. This whole post should just be about my good decisions from the day. The lines got SUPER long as it neared 7:45 ….like, I kid you not there were maybe 100-150 people in line. I was super happy I decided to get that out of the way.

I’m not really sure why but I was shocked at the amount of people at this race. I think they said there were around 1500 runners, and for whatever reason I just can’t fathom what that amount of cars looks like. Evidently, it’s this amount.

After my quick walk it was back to my car to sit and warm up a bit. It was a bit windy and sprinkling and I wanted to take in as much heat as I could. As I sat in the car I contemplated not wearing my jacket ….SO glad I did (more on that later).

I lined up at the start around 7:55. The race began a bit after 8, but nothing crazy late. It was actually different that the other races I’ve ran because there was no National Anthem….we just kind of began advancing forward. Weird. But we were off!

The first mile was all down hill. The race begins in the mall parking lot and the first mile leads down to the trail. I tried my best to stay slow going down and not beat my legs up. This part seemed to go by forever though …and when we hit the bottom of the hill I SWORE we had already done 2 miles. Yeah …not even one mile yet.

That’s how the first few miles felt to me. I felt like I was running much faster than I was and that we were farther along than we were. I specifcally remember looking down at my Garmin at the 2nd mile thinking….wait, only 20 minutes? Really?!

After hitting mile 3 was when it finally hit me that I was running a half marathon. Before this I’ve only done a 5k ….I remember thinking “Well, this sucks.”. I didn’t really HATE the fact I was still running, but the fact I still had nine miles to go was not the best thing in the world. Then another thought popped into my mind ….my fueling. I need to drink water with my Clif shots and GU’s, so I had to wait for the first water stop. I didn’t know when it was …but was praying it was soon because I could already feel myself running out of gas.

Mile 4.5 was the first water stop I used. Except, I accidentally grabbed gatorade. Oops? I didn’t want to drink that and my gel, so I just drank the cup and figured the next stop I would take my gel. It was lemon lime gatorade which I ABSOLUTELY HATE, but for some reason it was like nectar of the gods at this point.

Mile 5-6 was when I was feeling really good. After I took my gel around 6.5 I started really chugging along. Getting to mile 7 seemed as if it took forever though. The course is an out and back so you begin to see the elite runners coming back. I kept trying to see where they were coming from and if it was close …but it just kept dragging on and on and on! Finally I hit the turn around and this is where I began to hit the proverbial wall.

My back was KILLING me and it was obviously from bad form. At this point I allowed myself to walk at all water stops and all mile splits. I would stop, stretch a bit and be on my way. Mile 8.5(???) was the next water stop and I actually took two gatorades. Again, the lemon lime tasted supreme. I wanted more!!! Miles 9-10 were painful and I just wanted more than anything to walk and be done.

And then ….it happened.  Torrential downpour.

THIS is why I was happy to have my jacket. The whole race I saw people who had their jackets on prior had ripped them off and thrown them. I kept mine on …I saw the sky, I KNEW something was coming…and it did. At this point I wanted to say “fuck it” and just walk the rest, but I couldn’t let myself do that. I kept thinking “Just a 5k on tired legs, that’s all!!!” It worked until about mile 12.

I kept pace with one other girl for a while who seemed to also be having back issues. She will never know but she got me through the back end of the race. There were puddles inches deep and at points I couldn’t even run on the trail. My jacket was soaked and my socks and shoes were so heavy …yet I kept trudging on.

Mile 12.5 was where I kept thinking HOW am I going to finish. It was only .60 from the finish but I could NOT keep running. I just stared at the ground and counted my steps til the end. Finally, at 2:33:44 , I passed the finish. I actually passed the first pad and walked to the second. I was so out of it ….I grabbed my medal, two gatorades and headed for the bus pick up station.

I was actually so out of it I forgot to get my chip taken off, oops!

I also forgot to shut my garmin off at the end …I actually let it go for the duration of the walk to the bus….oops! But I WAS DONE!!!! The worst part was walking to the busses. While I understand the premise and why it was necessary to walk, IT STILL SUCKED! I Just ran 13.1 miles, I don’t want to walk ANYMORE than I need to !!!! Haha. The bus also didn’t smell wonderful either, but oh well!

Awful, awful AWFUL pacing, but I was just glad none of my miles ever hit 13 minutes. I FELT like I was running 10s after the 6th miles, but boy was I wrong!!!

When we got back to the starting area it was actually kind of dead. That was the sad part of this race is that everyone kind of cleared out since it had been pouring. I actually didn’t even get a picture out there because I was so cold and needed to change. That’s another thing, I was reaaaaaaally hoping for those space blankets (I read from those in the past they don’t give them out so I didn’t hope for much) But boy did we need them today … I was shivering the entire walk to my car!

But I did it! My first half marathon, and while it was tough, I will definetly be doing another one! I just simply cannot imagine a better feeling than crossing that finish line today. On more than one occasion I thought of my celebratory Blue Moon and sushi that was awaiting me.

Icing time, take 1!

Assuming my favorite post-LR position; leg drain on the wall!

Post run foodage …Blue moon and sushi with Miso. MMMMMM!!!!

Jordan also ran a half marathon, he was very sleepy.

And that was my show. I had a great time, will totally be back next year if time permits …Weirdest of all, I can call myself a half marathoner. Hope you all had a great Saturday!

Steelers 5K RECAP!

It was a great day for running. Today was the Steelers 5K of which the great selling point is finishing in Heinz Field. Being a huge Steelers fan, I was all over this race. I woke up at 7 am and got myself ready. If you are interested in my times/finish you can read that here.

At me a Honey Stinger (side note, does anyone else think ‘Honey Stinger Don’t Care’ when they eat these? No….?No? Bueller?)

 

These things are good. Totally eating one of these this Saturday for the half marathon. I didn’t feel too full and wasn’t running on empty either for the race. I also drank a Starbucks espresso and cream and was out the door.

I don’t live incredibly far from the stadium, but I was worried about the parking. They had two lots open for free parking. When I got there Gold Lot 1 was full (as expected) but Gold Lot 2 was still open. In fact, I got primo parking in front of the porta potties!

Score!

I got there at about 7:45. The race was scheduled to begin at 9am so I had plenty of time to walk around and get loosened up. I actually sat in my car until 8am because I didn’t want to be walking too much.

My favorite part of it all was that you could actually walk into the stadium before the race began. Lots of people were taking advantage of that. There were plenty of cups of water being laid out, though honestly I was hoping for Gatorade. After all, the race was sponsored by them 🙂 Maybe I was just hoping a little too much. I wasn’t upset about it as it wasn’t super hot and I don’t even usually drink gatorade on shorter runs ….(whine whine whine…..bitch bitch bitch). I dunno, just strange I didn’t see any around I guess. Maybe I missed it?

ANYWAYS, I am pretty familiar with the race route because I’ve ran it many Saturdays before.

Lots of boats were lined up against the shore which was pretty neat when we started running. Lots of people cheering and a few confused folks.

Seriously, this is why I love running this trail.

I walked around a bit more and headed to the start around 8:45. There was a corral system which was different to me for a 5k. It was necessary since this is a narrow trail, well not insanely narrow but for the number of people running it was.

It was neat, though I do think some people got confused and went in the wrong ones. I got caught in a lot of bottlenecks and a lot of people walked without recognizing their surroundings. Oh well, you live and learn and you deal.

The race began shortly after 9 with the first wave starting then. I was in the 4th wave. I started towards the right outside and was kinda freaking out that I was going to fall into the river but that passed quickly. This was where I experienced the most problems oddly enough with people walking. I kept starting up and stopping and eventually passed enough people to get comfortable. The first water stop was at the first mile and there was plenty to go around. It even had ice which was nice! I ended up chewing it for a bit and that was a different experience …nice 🙂

The finish.

As the path grew narrower after the first mile more and more people began to walk and more and more people began to slow down. It is inevitable and not much that people can do but just run and dodge. I felt I did a pretty good job. It was about 1.5 miles when the turnaround was and we ran back on an open road which was AMAAAAAAAAAAAZING.

From here on out I experienced no issues, other than I had to pee LIKE MAD. Holy crap did I have to pee like …it was not good. I saw several porta potties but was determined to not stop. Come on, I’m not stopping TO PEE. Geez.

Anyways, there were several Army service men on the sides of the road blocking it off and it was cool to shake their hands and give them high fives. I’m sure they think runners are insane. We are putting our bodies through so much and yet we are so happy and giving handshakes and high fives!

When we crossed the 2nd mile mark is when we headed down the ugh I can’t remember the name of this freaking road but it leads to Heinz Field road towards the stadium. No lie, this was incredibly motivational. Running down this stretch and seeing the end in your sight is awesome. I even heard a lot of runners saying that it was the main reason they kept running!

The end was great. Though, one peeve was that the Rib Fest is going on ….so when I ran through, I could smell the delicious ribs getting ready. Mmmmm….didn’t help I ran past a cart of Blue Moon either. Oh well, just keep running ….nothing to see here…..

The finish was awesome. Everything I thought it would be. I especially enjoyed the fact they had the runners on the jumbotron!

After the race they shooed people of the finish like normal. You could hang around on the field for photo ops and stuff, just weren’t really allowed to lay on the grass which I get (hello, this is for football).

From there you walked up the steps and they had food and refreshments in the Great Hall. I also had this finishers tag on my bib that I was supposed to give to someone in a finishers tent, but I had no idea where that was (or if it existed).

If there was a time I was confused, it was here. I was hungry and thirsty and wasn’t entirely sure where the lines began and ended for the food. They were set up at the concession stands, but there were two seperate lines. I ended up accidentally cutting some people, but I don’t even think they knew where they were in line either, lol. I grabbed some chocolate milk and a banana. There were oranges, cookies, ice cream and some kinda bread stuff. They also had water, sierra mist and pepsi. I high-tailed it out after grabbing my food though.

I believe they had door prizes and raffles (I saw some footballs, coolers and Steelers merch lined up) but I didn’t stay for that.

The only other thing is that they didn’t give out medals. At least, I don’t believe they did. I don’t really mind, though. The cost of this race is 15 bucks and a lot of the money goes to charity (including a scholarship to my alma mater, North Catholic). I don’t even really like medals, I would prefer a nice tech-tee or a jacket honestly.

All in all, it was a fun race. I will totally run it next year given the opportunity (and force Brian to as well) It was well put together and had a fun atmosphere. Plus, how can you say no to running in to Heinz Field? You can’t.

First Sub 30 5k – Steelers 5k!

Miles Today; 3.1

Miles This Week; 3.1

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5K Number 3 is in the books!

I had a BLAST at the Gatorade/Steelers 5K. It was awesome to walk in and around the stadium and see so many past steelers and steelers fans! And ….I broke my goal for this race of running a sub 30 5k!

Chip times were announced and my time was 28:58!