34 miles, six loops, here’s what I used:
First up, liquids. Started with Nuun energy, since I actually kind of liked it. Used that for four loops. I was having trouble eating as much as I knew I should be after a while, so my last two loops I switched to tailwind, and that was great!
I also made sure to have some regular water each loop, especially after I noticed how dehydrated I was, the weather was shit, and the heat and humidity were getting to me. Had a tiny can of Diet Coke after loop 4 for the extra sugar and caffeine.
Here’s what I ate after each loop:
Loop one: Half a Bobo’s Bar
Loop two: Half a Bobo’s Bar. Still one of my favorites for a reason.
Loop three: No Cow chocolate mint bar. Not bad, a little dry, wouldn’t have again (would sub in a chocolate mint complete cookie to scratch this flavor itch)
Loop four: Can’t make out the brand but a dairy-free chocolate peanut butter bar thing. Very similar to an RX bar in terms of consistency, so not bad. I’ve only seen these at the Vitamin Shoppe, and RX Bars are easier to find.
Loop five: Jelly beans. Nothing sounded good, but I knew I could grab a handful of these and go with it, so they were just right for me for this loop.
After loop 6, had some more jelly beans as I waited for the train to pass so I could leave the parking lot, but otherwise, wasn’t really interested in eating. Forced myself to eat the rest of the day, but in very small increments.
Overall, I’m really happy with what I’ve found works the best for me: Tailwind after mile 20, Bobo’s Bars, jelly beans, mint chocolate complete cookie and something every now and then for caffeine. I’ll be stocking up for Eagle Up!
I’ve noticed I tend to not go for anything salty. I take a salt tab every five miles, and this helps me a ton, so I think that tends to work for me, but I’m always cautious of keeping an eye on that.
My training plan, from Relentless Forward Progress, called for a 50K in training. The jail loop in Pittsburgh is 5.5 miles, so I figured I’d just do six of those and make it an even 33 (of course since I didn’t run tangents and what not, it came out to 33.9 miles, so I’m calling it 34 for simplicity’s sake).
To keep myself on point, I made a chart of things to do/examine after each loop, and that was really beneficial, kind of like being my own crew ahead of time for myself.
I had the new season of Zombies Run ready to go, hit the trail early, and started on my way. It was humid, but wasn’t too terrible yet since the sun was behind the clouds. First loop was good and after a few missteps at my car, got into a rhythym moving forward.
On the other side of the river on the second loop, I ran into Elizabeth and Steve, and we ran together for a while, which really helped. We chit chatted, admired the new chalk art done outside the jail and generally had a decent time.
They dropped off when they needed to for their mileage, and I was left alone for the last two and a half loops. Halfway through loop 5, the sun came out. I ended up adding extra walk breaks when I was in direct sunlight, otherwise I wasn’t going to make it, and that was the right decision.
For the final loop I threw on some sunscreen, which helped, although I still got more sun than I hoped.
I did discover, my patience runs out somewhere around mile 29. I shoulder-checked a woman who was walking in a group four across, taking up the sidewalk. I was as far over as I could be, and she didn’t move, and I just didn’t care.
I did also call two cyclists assholes. One, who swerved to look like he was aiming right at me before correcting himself, and another who was riding on the (very narrow at that point) sidewalk, even though there was a bike lane (which means in the city, what he was doing was illegal).
Overall, I’m really proud of myself. My pace was good, and pretty consistent (aside from the sun walking breaks), and I stuck to my run/walk strategy. I was able to run the next day, and walking around and packing the rest of the day after my run was a little sore, but nothing out of the ordinary; much better than after the marathon two weeks ago.
Did I do a 50K quickly? No. Was it even as fast as I could go? No. But I’m still super happy with what I accomplished. It was a great confidence boost for Eagle Up, and now I’m seriously ready for my taper!
Things I learned:
Race reports owed: Jackpot.
Race reports owed: Jackpot.
Race week! I love Marathon weekend in Pittsburgh, it’s always such a fun time. The atmosphere and energy in the air, from the athletes and all the spectators is just amazing!
It was a bit bittersweet, since I really do love the course and the city, but the marathon organizer has chosen to partner with Chick-fil-A for the next three years, so I’ll be bowing out of both running and volunteering (multiple events throughout the year) until that contract is up. They already had my money for this year, but next year I’m looking at either Cincinnati or Toledo.
After my impromptu Stupid Week the week before, I took this week a bit easier to ease into the marathon
Race reports owed: Jackpot.
|Mandatory A||Don’t get injured||Yes|
|Mandatory B||Thank the volunteers||Yes|
|Mandatory C||Get some sweet high fives||Yes|
|D||PR the marathon||Yes|
|E||Stretch goal: PR the 5K||Yes|
I’m training for my first ultra in June, but still wanted to run the Pittsburgh full, so I swapped two weeks in my plan without too much trouble. I had a few weeks off due to some IT Band and then other knee issues, but ended up rallying back and having my biggest weekly mileage ever the week before this race week, so no taper for the marathon.
This was my first race ever, and always a good time and benchmark. Headed down to the North Shore, met up with some friends and headed over to the start line. Like last year, the DJ was decent, so that was a plus.
I didn’t have much of a goal for this, but a stretch was to PR, while still not pushing myself. Lots of jostling of crowds at the beginning, but it spread out after the first mile or so. Enjoyed the run through the North Shore, although it was super muggy. Tackled the hill on the bridge, through downtown and down to the finish line for the first time that weekend, shaving about a minute off my 5K!
As is custom, met friends at ‘Lost Child’ and regrouped to head to the Toddler Trot where my friend’s 2-year old was running. I’ve never watched the Toddler Trot, but it was a great time. At least one child per heat would just sit down on the ground and refuse to move, but there were lots of cute moments and the crowd support was a lot of fun for this.
That evening, the Frontrunners did a pasta party, where we all gathered at one of our member’s home for a big potluck. Caught up with some friends I haven’t seen in a while and enjoyed the company.
Woke up early, after a good night of sleep and went to the busway to catch a ride downtown. Local bus authority added “extra service” which meant a bus at 4 a.m. and a bus at 4:10 a.m., then regular service starting at 6 a.m. This is not what was publicized, but ended up making it downtown with plenty of time, despite the issues. Upon exiting the busway, everyone headed left. My friend and I turned right to go to an entire bank of unused portos!
Dropped off my bag at gear check (took a picture of which truck number for easy retrieval) and we headed towards the corrals. Ran into another friend, took a quick selfie, then she was off to the faster runners. Made friends in the start corral with a mother and daughter both running their first half to commemorate their recently dead mother/grandmother, which was sweet. We answered questions they had about the city and the race process, and wished them luck. We moved up as the corals were released, running through the drizzle.
My race partner and I chatted for a while, entertaining ourselves and other random runners on the course. I got so excited that I missed the mile markers for 5 and 6, so I adjusted my nutrition a bit to get back on track. Was feeling good, although we stopped to use a porto around mile 4, but otherwise, just clicking off miles. The area around Allegheny Commons is always great, so enjoyed the crowd support through there.
After the first relay exchange, we picked up two more runners, one of which was his first race as part of a relay team, and he joined our conversation (we were talking about the importance of science) and stuck with us. As we came near the end of the West end Bridge, we could hear the polka band, and it did not disappoint. Turning onto Carson, we made our way towards Station Square where our relay friend left us.
Up on Carson Street proper in the South Side is always a big crowd, and I encouraged those walking to go grab a drink, most of he bars were open anyway. We approached the split, and I said goodbye to my friend who was running the half, leaving me alone to make new friends by myself as I ran the extra block then up and across the Birmingham Bridge.
Running up the bridge, I fell quickly in with two other runners, both of which running their first fulls (despite one having finished a half Ironman already). I gave them some encouragement (which included cursing at the bridge beneath our feet), and we got across before making our way up The Monster into Oakland. I ran up with no problems, although the top of the hill is always a bit sad, as the schools of Oakland have already graduated and the neighborhood is a bit empty. However, as I was running near the museums, a spectator handed out icepops, and I ended up stopping with two guys who remembered me and my silly antics from the year before!
The part of the course down fifth (with a short diversion onto Walnut) can be brutal mentally, but I got some orange slices from spectators, so it was decent. On said detour, a friend of mine was out on his porch, so I looked out for him and got some cheers. Hit the next relay station at Mellon Park and we headed to the next mentally grueling part, Penn Avenue; this just seems to go forever. Grabbed a beer and more orange slices, made a few jokes; wasn’t too bad.
Around this time was when I found spotted some really good eye candy, so I just tucked in behind them and tried to keep up whenever I was falling behind. Left turn onto Braddock brings you to Homewood, which was rocking this year! The crowd support was amazing and a great boost.
At this point, I hadn’t seen a pacer in a while. I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to knock 20 minutes off my PR to break 5 hours. I looked up and saw the 4:45 pacer and couldn’t believe it. I caught up with her small group, and we chatted a bit. My mind told me to stay with them, to reign myself in a bit and and just finish strong, I remembered I had at least three decent rolling hills to get past still. My hearts said I had more in the tank, so I took off.
Ran through Larimer and Highland Park before hitting the last relay exchange. I passed the two guys and told them how much I appreciated running behind them and off I went. Clicking off miles, finally hitting my favorite crowd support section near Church Brew Works. The wall of crowd support is great, but as I grabbed a beer from the Hashers, noticed that an ex-coworker of mine was there on the sidewalk. The man is a giant, bigoted asshole and made my life a living hell for two years. Had I not been running I would have stopped to tell him off, but I let that anger power me as I ran down to the Strip and back to downtown.
The return trip down Liberty is also mentally grueling, but I was ready for it, I just keyed into my music, tried to find some zen and take a bit of time for some catharsis and reflecting on the fact that I don’t have to work with that waste of a human anymore.
Saw team members right as I was heading into downtown, and I got some quick updates on how everyone was doing/did, which was a great boost! Made the second to last turn and was trucking along, counting off the lights before I could turn onto the Boulevard of the Allies. Quick chat with someone else who was also in the Pain Cave, and I told her, once we hit that McDonalds, if you have it, that’s when you start to really kick. Sure enough, we get there, and we both kick it up another notch. I felt my chest burning, so held back just a bit for a quarter mile more, then rounded the corner and kicked for the finish line.
My goal was to cut 20 minutes off and break 5 hours. Chip time: 4:33:12.
It rained most of the second half of this race, and I just wanted to be dry; the temperature had been a bit lower than the 5K the day before, and the steady rain helped to at least make it feel like the humidity wasn’t as much an issue, but it was still less than ideal. Went through the chute, which is a feat unto itself (I have implored the marathon the last two years to give us the bag to collect water, chips, fruit, bananas, bagels and cookies after the medals and heat-sheets, not at the very end, but I have been ignored) and headed out towards the finish line festival. Ran into two team mates, congratulated them and then collected my Steel Challenge medal before doing a bit of stretching and meeting up with some of the Frontrunners.
I had to pee since about mile 19, but ignored it. Finally, about half an hour after finishing, remembered I needed to, but it was brown. Pretty sure it was just dehydration, but I stopped at the medical tent just to double check. Doubled up my water the rest of the day and was fine, but the combination of the humidity and Nuun Sport (instead of Gatorade) was just a weird mix for me, even though I had trained with the Nuun.
Grabbed the T (subway) back to my bus station, and was lucky enough to get on the bus just before it left, saving me about half an hour. I did some stretching on the bus, and wound up exiting the same stop as a volunteer. I thanked her for doing it, it was the first year she did, so I told her I oped she would do it again next year.
My goal race is coming up in five weeks! Have a down week this week then one more big push before I head off to tackle my first ultra. I’m glad this race helped me to better remember to go in and accept the weather with everyone else, as well as teaching me a bit about how to stay better hydrated, although I’ll be happy to return to the world of real food for fueling instead of gels.
I had two weeks off, followed by one week on, and then another two weeks off, due to injury. During those times, I really had a tough time mentally, not only because exercise helps me keep better control of my emotions and mental health, but also because I put far too much stock on the number my scale says. Yes, I still have a bit to go and need to continue working on being healthy (with a holistic approach, not just a number), but after losing a significant chunk of weight, I’m realizing I have a more complicated and messed up relationship with my body than I care to admit, and I need to work on those things.
Recognizing these problems is a good first step, so hopefully, with some help, I can put together some sort of plan to explore these issues and find some resolution.
What a crazy week! This week and next are shaping up to be almost as busy, so no rest for the wicked I suppose.
Reading last week’s post, I enjoyed that I just threw out the advice to not run big the week before the marathon. No one is better at moving goalposts than ultra runners I suppose.
This week ended up being my biggest week of running ever, at 60 miles for the week! Previously, I had gotten to 48 (I think, I’ll have to double check this). While it probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do so close to the marathon, I have to remember that the race on Sunday, at least for me, is just a supported long run, my goal race is Eagle Up.
The knee still felt a bit twingey at times, but honestly, doing 60 miles in a week will do that. And the fact that I hit this new mileage distance without having to stop is a great sign. I still think I’m at about 90%, so I’m hoping another week of stretching helps even more.
Race week is always a fun and exciting time, although I have trips to Ohio for work both this week and the day after the marathon, so that’s putting a damper on things. I’ve been trying to balance my miles and speedwork with both hills and flats, to help with both the marathon and Eagle Up, and both have been very beneficial. I feel like so much of both days is going to come down to the weather, keeping my fingers crossed for cloud cover!
Race reports owed: Jackpot.
Slowly ramping back up during the week was good, but my knee was still shot. But let’s take this story all the way back to middle school, when I was in physical therapy for chondromalacia patella. Basically, the knee cap in my left leg used to go sideways instead of up and down. Well, it seems that my right knee decided to get in the action as well, after all these years!
So while I probably did have (and continue) to have some IT band issues, I also needed to include specific stretches for my kneecap. So I dusted those off after my run on Sunday on a whim, and felt about 80% better within half an hour.
As I write this today, I’m walking without pain in my knee, and honestly, for the first time, feel really confident about the marathon again. I have two 20-milers and one 22 miler under my belt already, and while yes, I did miss my 24, I’m not going to do that the week before the marathon to make it up.
My goal right now is to nail both the marathon and my 50K training run, then I can glide into Eagle Up confident and ready to go. It’s been a huge roller coaster of emotion, and I’m sure it’s not done, my knees may still act up, who knows, but for now, I’m excited again and raring to go.
I think, so much of me is just ready to get back to long hours alone with my thoughts, running and processing. I look forward to that time, and I’m excited to get back to it. Part of me, even while knowing it was wrong, was stuck in a loop thinking these weeks of training had been for nothing. I’ve made big gains this cycle, and while I hope they pay off in a new marathon PR, even if they don’t, I can still look back and see how far I’ve come.
Race reports owed: Jackpot.
Alright, let’s see what we have today. First up, the teaser for Star Wars, Episode IX is out:
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings series is headed to Numenor, and that’s a good thing!
Speaking of Tolkien, there is a new biopic coming out about the man, which I had no idea. The trailer looks good:
The far, far right has taken over Brazil, and they are systematically removing all LGBT references in school textbooks.
The author of The Frontrunner, where my running club gets its name, has died. She was just recently made the first honorary lifetime member by Frontrunners International.
That’s it for now, have a great one!