I am SO PROUD of my husband. Yesterday he ran a smart, safe race and fought through hills and heat to finish the Pittsburgh Marathon! His family and I chased him all around the city to support him and we all had a great time.
Let’s start at the beginning…
We left bright and early on Saturday morning to make the 4.5 hour drive from Northern Virginia to Pittsburgh. The drive was easy and before we knew it, we were checking into the Omni William Penn hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. This was one of the official race hotels so we got it for a discounted rate, but it still cost more than we usually pay for a hotel. However, it was SO worth it. We only travel far for one or two races a year and we decided its worth the extra money to be in a great location. We were only a few blocks from the expo, start, and finish and didn’t need to move our car the entire weekend. It made everything so much less stressful! Plus the hotel and our room were GORGEOUS!
It had a huge king bed, a “sitting area”, and not one, but TWO bathrooms. Why do we need two bathrooms? I don’t know, but it did come in handy a few times 🙂
This hotel was all about the marathon all weekend and really catered to the runners. Check out the hotel key!
After checking in we walked to the expo. I love race expos whether I am running the race or not, and this one was especially great! I was very impressed with the marathon swag he received, the quantity and quality of the vendors, and the organization of the race expo.
We took our time going through the expo and just enjoyed it. Kevin bought a special marathon edition Terrible Towel and some Zensah compression sleeves because he knows how much I love mine!
After the expo we went to dinner at a pizza place called Mandy’s. Kevin found it online and saw that it usually wins Best of Pittsburgh for its pizza, and it offers vegan cheese (for me). Score! We met his family there since they were just getting into the city. It was really good, and we all carb-loaded for the next day, since both running and spectating a race are hard work 🙂
Since we ate early we got back to the hotel early too, and spent the rest of the night relaxing and getting things ready for the next day. And we wore the fun robes that were in our room. LOL!
We were in bed and sleeping by 9:30 with our alarm set for 5:30. Both of us didn’t sleep well and 5:30 came way too quickly. But we got up and started preparations for the day.
How cute is my husband? Seriously. He was DECKED OUT in the black and gold!
Kevin’s family came after a little while and we took some more pictures and hung out. The best part about being close to the race start was that we didn’t have to leave our room until 7 for the race that started at 7:30. It was awesome to be able to use our own bathrooms instead of porta-potties, and just relax for as long as we could.
We walked about 5 minutes to the start line and said goodbye to Kevin as he went to his corral.
Kevin’s parents waited at the start line, while I went ahead to where the barricades ended so that I could jump in and run the first couple of miles with him. My plan was to run the first two together, then after the course split off I was going to run a couple more miles up to mile 14. After seeing him at 14, I would run over to mile 22, where I would pick Kevin up and run to the finish with him. Kevin’s parents planned to be at the start, mile 4, mile 9, and the finish line. Whew! We had a busy day ahead.
The race began and the runners were off!
I’m going to let Kevin tell the story from here, since he was the one running the race!
As I was waiting for the race to start in my corral and listening to the National Anthem, I felt nervous and excited to be running in the city I love. Finally Ryan Clark, safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers, sent us on our way. The song Renegade by Styx was playing which is a song that is used to pump up the Steelers during their home games. I was so pumped up and ready to run!
I ran through the chute and about a quarter mile down the road I found my lovely wife who was waiting for me on the side of the road. She jumped in next to me and was happy to see me and excited to run with me for a little bit. We ran away from downtown and headed to the Strip district.
Before I knew it our two miles were up and it was time for her to split off to meet me at mile 14 later in the race. At mile two we did a u-turn and went through the Strip district and then over our first bridge of the day. I was still pumped up during these first few miles of the race, and knowing that I would see my family again soon kept me going strong. Coming up to mile 4 I ran into my family. They had raced over from the start line to try to catch me there. I was happy to see them and the crowd support was awesome at this point.
I thought that would be the last time I saw my family until the finish, but I knew I would see Katie at mile 14 so I was focusing on that next point. I kept running and crossed another bridge to head to the North Shore. In the distance I was able to see PNC Park and Heinz Field. There was still an abundance of crowd support through the North Shore and Allegheny. Shortly after I crossed my first timing mat at the 10K point at 53:28, an 8:36 pace. It felt good to run at that pace but it was getting warmer out and I knew the hills were coming, so I wasn’t sure how long I would be able to maintain it.
Around mile 9 we were around Station Square, and I was surprised to see my family again. They had somehow made it there within the short amount of time it took me to get there. I was still feeling good at this point and had even picked up the pace a little bit. After that point I started to focus on the big hills to come and seeing Katie at mile 14.
I crossed over another bridge at mile 11 (Pittsburgh is called the City of Bridges!) and then not long after that the hills began. I knew about this particular hill before the race and was dreading it. It was a slow and steady climb for two miles. Even though we run hills all the time in training, this was tough. I had to stop in the middle of the hill to use the bathroom, and after that my running pace went from 8:20 to 11:00/mile. Towards the top of the hill I took my first walking break. The hill finally ended around the halfway point, and I crossed 13.1 at 1:57:34, an 8:58 pace. Just like that, the crowd support was pretty much gone and my Garmin died. At this point, even though I knew my half time was good enough for a sub-4 hour PR, I also knew that there were more hills coming and the temperatures were rising. I decided to take it easy and run a safe, smart race, rather than go all out.
I couldn’t have been happier to see Katie at mile 14. It gave me some more motivation, but at the same time, I knew I would only be with her for a few minutes before she left to meet me at mile 22.
After mile 14 and saying goodbye to Katie thing really got tough. The crowds were very small and the heat took away a lot of my motivation. I started walking more, taking multiple water cups, and dumping water over my head at every water station. The course was full of rolling hills and the medics called a “Code Red” which meant that temperatures were getting dangerous. I focused on staying hydrated and just finishing. Knowing that Katie was waiting for me at mile 22 kept me going.
I ran into a few people on the course who were on the same page as me. We all agreed it was really hot and not worth hurting ourselves or go to the medical tent with a DNF. We ran together for about two miles, taking breaks when needed. The miles were going by so slowly, and I felt like I was never going to get to mile 22 to see Katie. I passed the mile 20 timing mat at 3:21:54, and my average pace was now 10:06. Obviously, I had slowed down quite a bit. I knew that when Katie got my split update texted to her she would be worried about how slow I was going now. I didn’t have my phone so I didn’t have any way to talk to her. I was hoping that she would try to meet me earlier than mile 22.
My wishes were answered and I finally saw her around mile 21.5. She had suspected I was having a hard time and wanted to meet me earlier than mile 22 to help me out. She had a cold bottle of water and a terrible towel that she had soaked in cold water, and it was so refreshing to have that to wipe off all my sweat and salt. I was so happy to see her and she helped me get up two more big hills.
Just past mile 22 a huge downhill began. Actually, the last 4 miles of the race were mostly downhill. Unfortunately, with my knee issues, going downhill is more painful sometimes than running on a flat surface so I had a hard time. We stopped to walk when I needed to, and started picking points ahead as our goal to run to once I started up again. At mile 24, they had a food station with little bags of chips instead of salt packets. I knew I needed some salt, so I grabbed a bag and enjoyed some chips while taking another walking break.
At every water stop I grabbed some Gatorade and some water, and had the volunteers pour water over my head. I was so ready to finish this thing!
As we entered the last mile of the race, I knew the finish line was near. I started being able to run for longer periods of time without needing to walk, and I was running as fast as I was in the first half of the race. The crowds started getting thick again as we entered downtown and I couldn’t wait to cross the finish line. I waved my Terrible Towel and pushed it to the end.
At about a tenth of a mile from the finish, Katie started to get emotional because she was so proud of me. I was waving my towel and the crowd was cheering. I saw my family on the right on the bleachers and gave them high fives and I sprinted to the finish line.
And just like that I was finished with my third marathon. My final time was 4:45:52. Not my best time, but I knew with the heat, hills, and humidity, that this race was about the city I love and finishing safely. I was proud of myself for having fun with it and finishing with a smile on my face.
We met up with my family and grabbed some food and water. They were all so proud of me too, and had also worked hard that day. They walked about ten miles all around the city. And my amazing wife Katie ran almost ten miles chasing me around and supporting me. I am very thankful for my family and my wife.
We walked back to the hotel which was tough, but I knew it would be good for my legs later. I ate some leftover pizza when we got back, then showered and screamed when I realized how much chafing I had (hot showers are the worst for that). After that we all headed to the Sharp Edge for beer to celebrate, and a little while later after my family left Katie and I had dinner at Pita Pit. Later on we had chocolate lava cake for dessert at our hotel!
That night I was asleep by 9 and slept like a rock. The next morning we packed up, checked out, then went to the Dor-Stop for breakfast.
I saw this restaurant on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and really wanted to try it. It was definitely as good as it seemed on the show! I got banana chocolate chip pancakes with eggs and bacon, and Katie got the strawberry pancakes with eggs. We also split some home fries. It was all delicious!
It was a great ending to an awesome race day. I couldn’t have done it without my family and Katie!
Aww, isn’t he so sweet? I was so proud of Kevin this weekend for so many reasons. He was able to run his first solo marathon on a hilly course and in very hot temperatures. However, what I was most proud of was his attitude. He was smiling every time I saw him and he never let himself get down about how his race was going. He truly enjoyed it and stayed positive, despite how competitive and hard on himself he usually is. He inspired me and motivated me and I can’t wait to be able to run another marathon with him again after the baby comes.
Stay tuned for our next races- I am running the Delaware half and he is running the full (yes, another one!) this Sunday. He’s going to become a Marathon Maniac!