Going off food/diet for a bit and writing about a few races I've done recently!
I ran a disastrous race back in March just before we started figuring things out with my stomach problems. I didn't train for it because I had been feeling so sick and couldn't eat. The evening before the race I started feeling worse than usual, so I went in feeling bad. Let's just say it didn't end well...yet another trip to the medical tent at the end of a race...
BUT I am happy to say Pittsburgh went much, MUCH better! Even though my mileage going in wasn't much better than before Reston, I had been feeling a lot better in the weeks leading up to the race - translation: I was able to eat without pain!! Who knew that eating makes a big difference?!?! =P
I met my parents in Pittsburgh Friday night and we spent the evening and all day Saturday walking around the downtown area of the city. I had never been to Pittsburgh before so it was a lot of fun to see at least the part of the city between our hotel and the expo. My mom has been wanting to run this race for a while because she loves Pittsburgh, and now I can see why. Our hotel was right at the edge of a park where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela (no I can't pronounce that...) Rivers all come together. It was also right at the finish line - BONUS!!
Sunday morning was sunny and gorgeous. As always I stressed about what to wear...it was 50, clear, with little to no wind. I ended up wearing shorts with compression sleeves and a long sleeve shirt. It was perfect. I was cold at the start (who isn't) but warmed up within a few miles and never felt like I wore too many layers.
I was running this race with my mom and we were planning to take it easy, walk the water stops, and not worry about our time. She had been having a lot of knee problems, and I had been having all my stomach issues, so neither of us were as prepared as we would have liked.
The first couple miles were great! It was very crowded because the marathon, half, and relay all started together, but we settled into a comfortable pace. We stopped for a quick bathroom break around Mile 2ish, but otherwise we were running easy. I don't remember all the details of the course, but I do remember really liking it. We ran over 5 bridges and crossed all 3 rivers which was fun and very scenic. There were a few slight (very slight) inclines as we went over the bridges, but no large hills in the first part of the course.
Whenever we mentioned we were training for Pittsburgh, everyone always warned us about the hills, so throughout the whole course we were anxiously waiting for Mile 11 and the supposed "killer hill." Right before the hill we crossed the last of the bridges. As we were running across we could see people running at the top of a cliff, so I figured it was close. After the bridge we turned a corner and began running up. It was definitely a hill and we KNEW we were running up it, but after the horror stories we had been told, it wasn't anything worse than hills we trained on. It was about a mile long, but as soon as we reached the top, it was all downhill to the finish, literally!
Overall, Pittsburgh was a fun race! The expo was pretty good - LOTS of vendors, but not as many great deals as you can get at some races. The course was fun and scenic. I didn't like how crowded it felt the whole time, but I also didn't feel like it affected my running at all, so I guess this really wasn't that bad. The best part: NO MEDICAL!!! My mom and I finished and walked around for a bit to keep from cramping up, then headed back to our hotel to shower and wait for my dad. He finished in a decent time considering his training, too. We all enjoyed the race and had a good time hanging out and bonding as a family! =P Successful weekend!
Completely unrelated to the race, but still a major high point of the weekend - on our way out of the city after the race we stopped at a restaurant a little ways outside of downtown called Mandy's Pizza. They had numerous gluten free/dairy free options and it was fantastic!!! I would almost run Pittsburgh again just to be able to go eat there...