It has been over 2 weeks since I completed by 3rd marathon. Countless hours of training and many, many hills later, I now can successfully claim the title, “Runner of Steel.” Following my completion of the Pittsburgh Marathon, I can finally sit and reflect on the race, the course route, and my overall experience in the State of Independence.
Pittsburgh itself is a pretty flat city, but the course and the surrounding suburbs boast intense hills, sharp inclines, wide bridges, and narrow roads. This year;s course took me through all aspects of the city, suburbs, and the University of Pittsburgh. The first 10.5 miles of the course were relatively easy for me – yes, there were inclines and bridges – but after all that…. Well, let’s just be real: it’s only inclines and hills. The first incline hit me after crossing Birmingham Bridge on the South side of the city. This incline is no joke; it’s straight up with a slight bend in the road. To make matters worse, there were no cheerleaders or supporters, just you and the pavement. This incline became my first mental test. At this moment, I had to prepare myself for the rest of the course, the hills, inclines, and the sheer pain my body might endure. However, it was also here that I passed through some of the most beautiful parts of the city.
Miles 11 through 22 were the most rigorous aspect of the race. As I got closer to mile 22, I began my run downhill for the next 4.2 miles. Now, I’m sure this sounds great after all those inclines I mentioned. However, any athlete or runner will tell you, running downhill for so long begins to take a toll on your knees, your hamstrings, and darkens the overall experience. This, my friend, is where I hit my wall, milemarker 24. If you are unaware of what “hitting a wall” is let me explain. This is the moment in any race when you begin to doubt yourself, slow down, and don’t believe you can complete the race. Miles 24 through 26 were the toughest miles of the entire race for me, so tough that I had to make a personal, inspirational call to my mother, my biggest supporter and encourager. Over the course of those 2 miles, my mother was able to encourage and support me. She took my mind of the pain and back to why I run. Beyond all of that, though, she helped me finish yet another marathon. Thanks, Mom!
The Pittsburgh Marathon was no easy task for me. There were steep hills, sharp inclines, large bridges, and narrow roads. Through it all, I would have to say Pittsburgh and the race team did a job well done with creating a challenging, memorable, and fun course! If you ever get a chance or possible think about running this event, I highly recommend it. I encourage you to train hard and incorporate as many hills into your workout regime as you can. Once you do this, with a little perseverance and the right attitude, you can then nail it come race day!