This is the 3rd time I did the Pittsburgh Marathon. I really enjoy this race; it is in a great city with lots of cheering people and many bridges to cross. The goal for this race was to finally beat my old PR from 2005 (1:23:26). Last fall I came really close with 1:23:30. But this time I would make a new record. I knew it. I wanted it!
Based on the good time in Hartford I qualified to start as a seeded runner. This meant I could start in the first coral together with the Pros. I thought that was pretty exciting until I noticed that the control to this coral unfortunately wasn’t that rigid. There were many people from other Corals even some people from Coral D (>9min/miles). I had a hard time to even get into the Coral after my warm up. Since, I qualified I took out the right to squeeze my way up to the front. 3 minutes before the start I was within the first 10 lines which I thought was good enough. I was ready to go and even the weather was good with 50-60 degrees with a little rain.
As so often I started a little fast but if I would slow down after about half a mile, I wouldn’t know my pace at the first mile marker. So I kept following the female lead group up to miles 1. I read 6:00 min which meant that I was running about 20sec too fast per mile. I tried to ease into my pace, but that is really hard if you are feeling strong and feel like you could draft of every runner who overtakes you. Unfortunately, I missed the second mile marker so I had to wait till mile 3 to see how my pace is. I passed with 18:27, which means that I was 30 seconds ahead of time but only 5 seconds to fast on the last two miles. This sounded reasonable and I tried to keep my pace. Luckily I found some other people who were running the same pace. For the next couple miles I tried to safe as much energy as possible to have a strong finish. This meant not to lead and draft off people, after all we had wind was up to 9miles/h. I passed mile 6 a little under 38min which was exactly as planned. This meant that I was slowing down. With this in mind I tried to increase the speed a little not that I would lose more time. The next 3 miles I was mostly focusing on running around all the walkers (which started an hour earlier). I passed mile 9 on schedule with 57min.
At mile 10 the half-marathon and marathon course splits, so suddenly there were a lot less people on the course. Luckily the guy I had been drafting of the last mile was still in front of me. Even though I knew that the 10 mile marker must have been around there I didn’t see it. I checked my watch and saw that I was something over 1:03:00. This meant that I had a little less than 20min left for the last 5k (3.1 miles). This is definitely doable it is all in my mind! I increase my pace and tried to overtake the guy in front of me, but I gave up on it once I felt the head wind. Since we were running almost at my desired pace, I decided once more to safe energy and draft a little longer. At mile 11 the time had finally come to take it into my hands. I passed him and increased the speed, over the bridge back into the city, there was a really strong head wind which made it harder to run. But I was thinking only one thing: “I am not going to miss the NYC qualifying time again!”.
I pushed myself even harder, I started passing several people and then I was at the 12 mile marker. I was wondering if I could keep up this pace since my body was complaining. But I buried this thought. If I want to qualify that is the way to go. 3 turns later I looked at the last bridge. It looked and felt very steep even though I am sure it was only 40 feet of elevation. All I was thinking don’t give in… I can do it! I can do it! I over took a couple more people and some of them even encourage me by saying “Keep it strong!”. Wow, how nice of them! The funniest was a guy whom I just caught up with on the top of the bridge and a spectator asked who of the two is going to win? And the guy next to me said: “He is!” He must have known how committed I was :-).
There the last turn. I checked my watch something over 1h 20min. I was shocked, the finish seemed so far away, and I had less than 3 minutes to get there. There was nothing left to do then increase my pace again and again. At least there were a couple of other competitive runners out there which gave me a run for my money…. I can do it, I can do it… I did it!
After all the hard training I though this qualification time should have been easy. I was surprised that I had such a hard struggle at the end.
Finisher Time: 1:22:42
Amy also ran the half marathon. Unfortunately she missed her PR by only 50 seconds. Considering her leg injury and the work and school load this spring. This is a great result! Congrats!