I friggin’ did it! I ran 6.1 miles in the 2014 Pittsburgh Marathon Relay!
This isn’t going to be as in depth as my previous race recaps because I just ran a portion of the relay, but let me start at the beginning. I spent the majority of Friday and Saturday trying to do as little as possible except stretch and hydrate. I was convinced that I would roll my ankle or Kevin Ware my leg at any given moment. RISK NOTHING ITS MARATHON WEEKEND! I went to bed super early and was basically up at 5:30AM when Christina left with her dad and sister for the start of the race. My future sister-in-law started us off strong as our first relay runner! I then managed to pace around my house, talking to my pets (and myself) and trying not to binge eat all of my anxiety. I tried eating half an English muffin and literally could not get it down, I was so worked up! Note to self: running a leg of the relay that starts later in the day is THE WORST. I managed to get myself redonk stressed by the time I headed to my exchange point at 9AM. It was a tad chilly by the time I started running around 10:30, but for running purposes the temps were perfect.
Since the Race Joy app completely crashed the morning of the race, I relied on text messages from my team as people started/finished running. No big, we are all pretty close so we were texting each other anyway. When I got the call that the first 2 legs were done, I headed to my exchange point. I didn’t run into any road closures on my way to Relay Exchange 3, so it took me all of 10 minutes to drive there and find a parking space basically at the corner of 5th Ave. BONUS!
The exchange point was well coordinated but hectic with so many people hanging out waiting for runners, plus spectators just hanging out to cheer.
I had to go to the bathroom, but I was way to nervous that my runner would come as soon as I got in line. Instead, I ended up standing under a tree for 20 minutes in a nervous cold sweat. There was a guy announcing the last 3 numbers on the incoming bibs and that’s how you knew when your person was coming. It felt like he was auctioning my sanity off to the highest bidder. Eventually I heard my number and saw my runner appear! I put the medal around her neck, gave her a big hug and I was off!
Clearly I didn’t remember to hit start on my Garmin until I turned the corner onto Penn Ave! I also forgot to let Christina know that I was starting my leg, so that sent her into a scramble to get ahead of me. (Not an easy feat with all the road closures!) That would not be my last rookie mistake of the race…
My first mile was too fast. I knew that was going to happen because I was all pumped up and I had Tom Petty singing American Girl to me, so I hit the bathrooms at mile 1 and forced myself to restart at a more sustainable pace. People had told me the crowds on this leg were awesome, but I could never have imagined that they would be as amazing as they were! There wasn’t a single block that I ran in Homewood or East Liberty where people weren’t lining the streets – standing, in chairs, under tents, outside restaurants, cooking out, hanging out with greyhounds, giving high fives, just an incredible turn out.
I have never given so many high fives to little kids in my life, it was awesome!!!!! I tried to keep my energy high and positive the whole time and the crowds were totally feeding it. I told myself that somewhere in the middle of my leg, I would try to take in Gatorade and whatever fuel was offered. Frankstown Avenue was a very long, long stretch of road and I was trying to stay in my zone as much as I could. That’s the only explanation I have for the fact that at some point I was handed Body Glide/Vaseline on a paper towel and absent-mindedly ATE IT. Ok, I didn’t eat it necessarily, but I definitely put a big glob of it in my mouth. When I realized that it had the texture of Crisco but no taste, I immediately spit it out. I was laughing hysterically at myself (inner monologue style) when I noticed the woman running next to me looking horrified. At which point I powered up and ran the HELL OUT OF THERE and away from anyone who saw my hysterical faux pas.
Thank God I didn’t swallow or chew or bite down really. As soon as it hit my tongue I realized my mistake and saved myself! I called my mom and told her about this afterwards – we both could not stop laughing at how typical that is of me!! Anyway, thankfully there was a water station immediately afterwards so I could sort of rinse out my mouth and keep going.
Nothing else significant really happened after that until mile 5, where I got a sudden jolt of HOLY SHIT I’M RUNNING IN THE PITTSBURGH FRIGGIN’ MARATHON and managed to negative split on this mile.
Just before I crossed Relay Exchange Point 4, my phone was ringing and it was Christina! She was living a nightmare trying furiously to get ahead of me and the road closures and wasn’t able to get where she needed to be. Having her voice in my earphones instead of stupid music as I crossed that timing mat was seriously so cool! I felt like she was really with me in that moment, almost more than if she had been off in the crowd cheering. I immediately found my runner and wandered off to the side of the parking lot to try and hold my tears in. I had done it – a PDR at 6.1 miles and my most significant running experience to date. Not long after, Christina found me and gave me the biggest biggest hug in the world while I basked in all of the moment’s glory.
I was emotionally and physically exhausted, so we decided to head home by way of Subway and just come back for my car later in the day. I was seriously on cloud 9 all day yesterday and I basically still am!
The rest of the day, I fielded phone calls of people asking what the heck happened with the Race Joy app and why our team’s numbers were so messed up on marathon’s website. Turns out that our first runner didn’t wear her timing chip (aka because her dad and sister lost it somewhere downtown). The real problem started when the runner who handed off to me decided to keep running to the finish line with her timing chip on. Sooooo basically it looks like we were a 1 man relay team that started at leg 3? Thanks for not reading handbook jagoff! God I’m such a hall monitor, but seriously. READ THE FRIGGIN’ BOOK.
Thankfully I had my Garmin so I know my stats and that’s all that matters! We signed up for the relay as a fun race, so I’m not really upset about the timing chip issues. My only real goals were to finish injury-free with a medal and a PDR – and I accomplished all of it! I am so ready to take on the next challenge! Also, for anyone wondering about the Race Joy issues/refunds, see below. They have been awesome via Twitter and other social media as far as communicating with users. For such a new company, I’m pretty impressed at how great their customer service has been with handling such a large issue. Hopefully they work out the kinks, the app seems really great!