May 2, 2015
I came to Pittsburgh for tomorrow’s marathon. But, if I am going to travel for a race, I will get all the shirts and bling I can. Large scale marathons almost always have one or more races the day before the main event. Often, there is bonus bling for signing up for multiple events…which brought me to this morning’s 5k.
On my way, I flew into Detroit (to visit family) then drove to Pittsburgh. Driving through western Ohio, I was impressed with how pancake flat the terrain was. As I moved eastwards, the hills started. By Western Pensilvania, the interstates were an adventure. I get downtown, and missed my exit. Unfortunately, this resulted in my being forced over a bridge (in rush hour traffic) across a river, and up a hill. “Hill” is an insane understatement. It was a 2 lane narrow road chiseled into the side of a cliff. I could not turnaround until I got to the top. Once there, I had to maneuver through a residential neighborhood to get turned around. Those side streets were roller coasters. I would crest a hill and would not be able to see the road (or cars ahead of me) until I was completely over the top and pointed downhill. How these people can drive here in winter is a complete mystery to me. I finally got turned around, headed back down the cliff, and made my way to the hotel.
Once I was checked in, I headed to the expo a few blocks away. Overall, it was quite a nice large expo. I can always get lost in these things for hours, but I had limited time and would come back in the morning after the 5k. I picked up my bibs for the 5k and marathon and got my shirts. They were VERY similar, but very nice. Soft green tech shirts with a nice cityscape design mirroring the medal. The 5k was a short sleeve, the marathon (and half marathon) shirt were long sleeved. Women’s shirts were pink and v-next instead of crew neck.
While I was there, I stopped by the Fond Memories booth and they had on display (as expected) the marathon finishers medal. Very nice! I think it is 4″ diameter and has a nice weight to it. The design is a little generic compared to the last few years, but I am being rather picky here.
Here is a pic of the “Challenge Medal” that I will receive tomorrow. Love the 3-D look to it and that the design is completely different than the other medals.
The following morning was beautiful. It was a bit of a hike to get to the 5k start line, but I got there in plenty of time. My plan was to use this as a slow final taper run. I was thinking 10 minute/mile. But I then saw the pace teams (for a 5k??? Sweet!!!). I started thinking about the 8 min/mile team. I ended up joining the 7:30 minute/mile crew. My PR was right around this pace, but I was undertrained with little speed training this season (or, more accurately, I didn’t do any speed training at all). I figured it was rather delusional thinking joining the 7:30 crew…but why not test myself…
We were right near the front, with only the 7:00 min/mile pace team ahead of us. When the gun went off, we started to fly. For the first 1/4 mile, the pace felt a little slow, then it caught up with me. By 2/3 mile, I was already fading. My group was pulling ahead. Soon, they were out of sight.
Well, I knew it was an overly optimistic pace to begin with. I now just hoped to keep ahead of the 8:00 min/mile group.
Soon, I was passing the 1 mile mark. The timer showed 7:20.
What the heck?
I looked at my Garmin. That was about right. However, the maker seemed to be slightly early. My pace group was nowhere in sight.
Slightly confused, I carried on.
The weather was ideal. The course was quite flat, and I was keeping a strong pace.
The 2 mile mark came. Again, it was marginally early. It was also 15:00. Officially, I was keeping a 7:30 pace. Still no 7:30 pace group in sight.
We hit the one and only bridge on this course…and the only (small) hill. I was running out of gas and I figured this hill would drain the tank. Instead, I saw my pace group…I was reeling them in!
Half mile left and I was still gaining on the group. Right around the three mile mark, the pacer stopped, turned around, and started yelling encouragement to everyone behind him. He recognized me from the start line and started yelling at me to push it. As soon as I passed him, he turned and followed me across the finish line.
Finish Time-23:05 (7:25/mile)
I got my finishers medal (looks just like the marathon medal, but about half the diameter). I grabbed a banana and headed back to the hotel. Here is a look at the swag so far. Long sleeved marathon shirt on the left. Short sleeved 5k shirt on the right. Bibs. 5k finishers medal.
I later bumped into the pacer at the expo. He told me his watch was acting up, and it was telling him a much different pace. He thought he was going much too slow. Towards the end, he realized that he was going too fast and slowed the pace down a little. It was also why he held up at the finish line. Interesting insightand it explained a lot.
I spent the rest of the day exploring the city. It is actually a beautiful town. The hill I got lost on when driving in is part of the marathon course, and we climb it at mile 11. Yikes! There is a little train that goes up that hill. It was built in the 1800’s and it was a little nerve wracking climbing that cliff on such an ancient elevator, but it provided wonderful view of the city. Tomorrow, I climb the same hill…the hard way…