Steel City’s Marathon Kickoff is quite the event. It’s the start of their “official” training cycle for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Various vendors and sponsors set up tents and give out runner’s delights such as water bottles, buffs and gloves. Buffs are tubular stretchy fabrics about a yard long which are prized winter headgear. There’s the usual finish line food; bagels, bananas, coffee and hot chocolate. There are also about 400-500 runners who show up. This year must have been more because I missed out on the “First 500 Blanket Giveaway”. Damn it! Carpooling doesn’t seem to be too big in the Pittsburgh running community yet, so there are also more than 500 cars here, too. There are not 500 parking spaces.
So, I did my usual and got there at the last minute. The parking situation threw me off a little, but I was still there in time to find my peeps, chat with friends and go out with a pace group. Feeling frisky, I joined the 8:30 pace group for 8 miles. It was a lot of fun. Our group had 20-30 runners in it. Got to chat with Alisa, Jessica and Emily. Got to annoy Jon with the jingling of my keys. (Inspiring me to write a book I’m going to call “10 Benefits of Running With Your Keys”. It will revolutionize distance running!) Eventually, the group’s route was simply an out-and-back along a trail. At that point, I decided to get a few more streets under my belt and elevation under my feet. I took a left off of the River Avenue and went up Rialto Street. That captured most of the elevation on my run. It didn’t add too many miles and I landed back at the Steel City garage about the same time as everyone else.
So, in terms of neighborhoods, this run crossed at least four – North Shore, Central Business District, Allegheny Center, and Troy Hill. I was surprised how small these neighborhoods are. Thinking about it, they do, indeed, have their own personalities, so I suppose it makes sense. The North Shore could be called “The Stadiums” because it is the areas adjacent Heinz Field and PNC Park. Troy Hill is considerably more isolated than the others, perched atop a large hill overlooking the Allegheny River. It is also much more residential, with tall houses side by side lining the narrow streets.