Its been almost a day and a half since the Pittsburgh marathon and I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe that I ran 26.2 miles in the rain … and finished. I can’t believe so many people have been so kind in their comments, praise and support. I really can’t believe that I am able to walk today.
To understand why this experience was so significant for me you have to understand where I’m coming from. After leaving college, my only running was the annual 5K at the Race for the Cure. I had a gut at age 32 and was wearing size 38-40 pants. I only started running in February of 2009 … and had gotten hooked enough to do 5 half-marathons but never the full marathon.
Worst of all, I really didn’t train the way experts like world famous trainer Hal Higdon suggest training for this experience. My longest run with 15 miles … and that the previous Sunday.
But this Sunday, I forgot about what I had not done prior and focused on what I could do if I pushed myself. I ran at a good, steady pace as not to burn. I did a 10-minute mile and I left my iPod at home. After running with music in my ears, I forgo the songs for the soundtrack of the city and its neighborhoods.
I heard the cheering of the people along the route. I listen to the eclectic mix of bands that played along the race route. I heard the volunteers in each neighborhood offer Gatorade and water to us. I even heard the guys offering beer at mile 24 in Lawrenceville outside the old Iron City Brewing.
My medal from Sunday. Of all the awards I have won, professional or athletic, this one was the most difficult to achieve .. and the most rewarding.
I also hit the wall at mile 18 in the east hills. I knew I had gone further than I had ever gone before. My aching ankles told me that. However, seeing the neighbors come out from Homewood to Shadyside and from Highland Park to Bloomfield inspired me. To have runners come by as I started to walk and urge me to keep running/jogging kept me going. Finally, to reach the strip with two miles to go and see friends and loved ones gave me that much needed second wind. I ran the final mile with crowds five deep cheering.
I finished in 4:28:56. I predicted 4:20. I’m very happy.
I’m also very proud of my city. As you well know, I love the city however I was never more proud than during the marathon. In the driving rain ( did I mention it rained the whole time ), people came out to support the runners. While the athletes are the stars in this race, the real story are all those Pittsburghers who pulled for us. As one runner from Boston said after the race, this would never happen in Beantown.
Would I do it again? After much thought I have decided I will but not in another city. I have decided that while I like to travel to other cities to run half marathons, this will be my only marathon city. In a town that gives it’s all for me its the least I can do.