Three weeks and a day until the Pittsburgh Marathon. Over three months since the Steel City Kickoff run and now I was finishing this training cycle with a nice group of friends. This year, I got in a 17 miler, a 19 miler and a 21 miler. This day was destined for 20 miles. There were some down times, too, like falling in February, which set me back for a few weeks.
But today’s run was a big deal. Hundreds of runners had signed up to run with Pro Bike. More were running with Steel City, just down the block. I parked on the Northshore and trotted over to our start location. I had to circle the block a couple of times to actually find the entrance, but managed to just squeak into the group picture. Off I went with the 10:30 group.
Much of a big-city marathon is navigating your way and pace through the thousands of starters. Today was similar, restricted to sidewalks. We wove through the downtown sidewalks, potholes, and people waiting for buses. We flowed among the Steel City runners, who had gotten a late start. Their faster runners sometimes flowed around us. We made our way across the 16th Street Bridge and across Allegheny Center, Central Northside and across the West End Bridge. Since the roads were not closed off, we used the various sidewalk ramps on the approach to the West End Bridge. Those ramps bounce. With dozens of people crossing at the same time, the ramps seem to buckle and wave like a bucking bronco. No one got thrown off this time, thank God.
The actual marathon goes into the West End, but the preview run stuck to Carson Street. Just over three miles later, we paused at our water stop near the Birmingham Bridge, where swirling masses of runners vied for water and a snack. But, onward and upward. After crossing the bridge, half-marathoners went left and we went right. That’s always a sobering time on the course, when all those folks you were running with just…leave! Appropriately enough, a car zipped by with a “Kitty is Mad Because You Suck” sticker on it! Down to a half-dozen, we marched up the hill. The way through Oakland and Shadyside was uneventful, just miles zipping along as we chatted.
Penn Avenue, Baum Boulevard, Liberty Avenue and finally another water stop. I was grateful to Kim for stationing herself at the stops and staying until everyone came through. This one was suspiciously close to Smokin Brews, with its $2 Jello-shots! Getting started again after stopping was tough. Perhaps I should have had a shot.
Now, just the two mile stretch to the end. But wait, we had to do two laps around the building!! Finally all done. A doughnut to celebrate. Some chatting and back to reality. This one was tough for me. But it was a good preview run. Taper time!