- What? Spring Thaw
- When? February 23, 2019
- How far? 20 miles*
- Where? Pittsburgh, Pa.
- Website: https://www.athlinks.com/event/43rd-annual-spring-thaw-35943
- Finish time: 3:26
|B||Thank the volunteers||Yes|
|D||High fives||3 out of 4|
|5||52:06 (10:25 pace)|
|10||1:43:46 (10:23 pace)|
|15||2:35:02 (10:20 pace)|
|20||3:26:07 (10:18 pace)|
This race wasn’t on my radar at all, but it happened to fall perfectly into my training schedule, so I figured I’d use it as a supported long run. There is an asterisk next to the distance since when you sign up for the race, you indicate what you what to run, but you can change on the fly as you run. It’s a five mile loop around a lake, so you can drop or add loops to get 10, 15 or 20 miles.
The website predicted doom for parking, and I hadn’t been to North Park in a long time, so I ended up getting there about 45 minutes before registration opened. So I ended up helping them get set up. Setting up coolers of hot chocolate, roaster pans full of soups, that kind of thing. One of the guys was nice enough to give me one of last year’s hats as a thank you!
This race is also awesome in that you don’t get a shirt, instead you get a knit hat! If you complete 15 miles you get a pair of gloves (I opted for baby blue, the other option being black), and if you complete 20 you get a jacket! We were able to try on jackets, and they’ll be embroidered and ready to pick up in a few weeks, but they’re nice lightweight wind breakers.
I didn’t intend to race this, just a long supported run, but hey, that changed! There was no 10:30 pacer, so a bunch of us put ourselves between 10 and 11 and made the best of it. Parts of the course were more windy than others, so overall, I was a bit cold, but nothing I couldn’t deal with. Running in shorts was wonderful though. There was also one weird spot where it was always drizzling. Apparently mother nature did not want the people playing tennis to enjoy their games.
I’ve been listening to audio books lately on long runs, and I got a good chunk of “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda” completed. There were some really good and really hard-hitting moments (also filled with high school drama). I have a bit to go, but there’s a lot of great stuff in there. Also, pro tip: check with your local library to see what they offer. I use an app called Hoopla and with my library card, I can borrow audio books for free!
As I am wont to do, I was just chatting with everyone around me (one earbud out, popping into the book when it was quiet), and ended up chatting with an older (than me, maybe late 50s), gentlemen about ultra running. We ran together for about two miles as we chit chatted, but as soon as I mentioned that I run with the Frontrunners (the gay running club), he immediately stopped talking and took off. I won’t say I didn’t smile when I passed him later (and never saw him again).
At the beginning of the second lap, three of us ended up falling in together, and we kept each other going the rest of the race! Our little pack was awesome! Amber was on her last run before the Shamrock Full in Virginia Beach and Rita kept seeing coaches and friends from her running club so we got lots of cheers! We chit chatted, and all commented at various times about how the group was keeping us going. Also, big shout out to them for holding my water bottle as I retied my shorts, I figured the people behind us didn’t want to be mooned!
As we were finishing the second loop, two guys joined us for a bit, both of them struggling, but enjoying the temporary company. I told them some bad jokes, and cheered them on, and I like to think that I brought some joy to their 15 miler.
The third loop was of course, the most arduous mentally, but we powered through. At one turn, I had gotten high fives, but the woman there said she was waiting on her husband, so I knew I probably wouldn’t see her again. On loop three I commandeered a random guy out on his morning run to give me a high five.
As we started the last loop, Amber put on music and told us she’d probably speed up, but to stop her if she did. We did the first time, then she was just in her zone, so we let her go. We could still see her, but she was looking great! No high five on the last lap, but I powered through the emotional defeat. I stopped at a water stop and Rita went on, so our little group became a line of three of us. I got to cheer on Rita as she finished, and Amber was waiting for us both!
Walked across the street to grab some hot soup and bananas. Super excited I ran as far and as fast as I did. This training cycle has really increased my speed and confidence a little bit too! It’s a fun race, and I’d certainly recommend it to anyone. I had originally been looking at the race they put on the next month, but that gets about three times as many runners (but also gives out shorts instead of a shirt), so I have to decide if I want to do that.