Tag Archives: race review

Race Recap: Great Race

29 Sep

I don’t even know where to start with this recap other than to say this was such an awesome race!!  I had built this one up so much in my head that I had been nauseous for DAYS, I mean I’d been running but I definitely did not stick to my training plan.  Oopsie?  The night before I tried really hard to just relax, but of course I want to fuss over everything when I’m stressed out.  I ran down to the expo on Saturday and grabbed my bib, I did a few laps around and talked myself down from buying anything because I wanted EVERYTHING.  I did stick around and play with the kitties at the ARL booth and say hi to the Greyhounds.


I made sure I ate something carbaliciously familiar the night before and somehow managed to get an awesome night’s sleep.  I woke up at 6:30 and at a pumpkin english muffin (who knew those existed?!) with peanut butter, a bottle of water, and a banana.  Then I paced around my house for several hours.  I finally decided to head to the starting line super early because I thought it would be better to just stretch and people watch.  As soon as I parked my car I realized that my phone armband thing was broken which was soooooooo annoying.  The stupid velcro just came completely off so it wouldn’t stick together anymore.  I guess if something had to go wrong on race day morning, I’m glad it was just that!


The starting line was insanity.  This was by far the biggest race I’ve ever been to.  The relay didn’t seem crowded to me because I started at an exchange point and the crowd was pretty small.  It looked like this in front and behind me.  I seriously could not stop people watching, I’m such a creeper!  The crowd started slowly walking towards the starting line and I was so so so nervous because this race starts with a hill.  As the people crossed under the start, the tempo picked up a little bit and they were blasting the song “Shout.”  It was seriously the perfect time in the song as I started, the way the crowd was picking up speed at that exact moment – I seriously can’t even explain how awesome that feeling was!  I was totally not nervous anymore and I killed it up the hill.

I felt like I was pacing myself pretty well, which was easy since it was so crowded.  I tried to just find someone who looked experienced and was running around the same pace I wanted to be at, then just tried to stick with them!  That worked like a charm for the first 2.5 miles.  As we got into the Oakland, I was shocked that the first 1/3 of the race went so fast.  I started to struggle around UPMC because I felt like my bladder was about to pop – luckily that’s right where the 5K starting line was so there were bathrooms available.  I seriously wished there had been at least one other bathroom available  before the middle of the race.

The second half of the race was a LOT harder than the first for me.  It was getting really hot and there is not much shade from Oakland until you get downtown.  I made sure to walk through every water station.  The first actual walking break I had to take was right at the mile 5 marker because I started getting a side stitch.  My legs felt like jelly as soon as I started walking so I kept telling myself to push through it because ain’t nobody got time for that.  I think I SPRINTED down the hill on the Boulevard of the Allies and I knew I would be okay when I was still passing people as we pushed into downtown.  I just remember thinking – “OMG, this is the coolest thing EVER!” as I ran into downtown.  That was another big first for me!

As soon as I saw the finish line banner I gave it all I had and finished strong.  I was actually kind of nervous at the mile 6 marker that I would be crawling across the timing mat because I was just so done at that point.  Of course the crowds and the adrenaline wouldn’t let that happen though. 🙂


It was really disorientating after the finish line because it was just a massive crowd of confused, tired, sweaty, disoriented zombies wandering around a grassy knoll.  I made a bee-line for the water station, which was really understaffed if you ask me.  All I wanted was a banana and people would. not. move.


I grabbed 2 bananas and an apple and headed directly for a shady spot closer to the point and away from the crowds.  I just laid there and couldn’t move.  You know I’m just exhausted when there is a squirrel within 15 feet of me and I literally don’t react.  (I do NOT like squirrels.)  I laid in the grass, ate my apple, and listened to my favorite cool down music.  I want to always remember those few minutes and that feeling:


It was seriously so awesome!  My Garmin said I finished in 1:07:22, but my official time was 1:09:55.  Since this is my first official 10K, I’m considering this my PDR race AND since I ran basically this same distance in the relay in May – it was a PR too!  Just a great day all around and an absolutely awesome race.   Definitely didn’t have the energy for a full smile though!


I took the shuttle back to the starting line where my car was and I will NEVER do that again.  I underestimated how badly a city bus full of sweaty runners could actually smell.  I will run this race again and again and again though!


Race Recap: Ole 5K

14 Apr

Well, I did it.  I ran my first 5K on Saturday, April 13th, 2013.

I decided to wake up at 7 a.m. and eat a light breakfast on Saturday.  I had a banana, a piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, and some water.  I was a complete ball of nerves all morning and I was terrified to eat too much or drink too much water.  The 10 a.m. start time didn’t help – by the time we were getting ready to leave for the race, my stomach was grumbly.  I’m still not sure if this was nerves or hunger.

We were meeting my mom, brother, and sister in North Park before the race, which began at 10 a.m.  I don’t even know if you can call my mom punctual, which describes someone who is on time for things, because she is ridiculously eary to everything.  They arrived at about 8:15 a.m. for no reason!  I think she might have been a little nervous because my brother was registering the morning of the race.  Since I had pre-registered, I asked her to grab my race bib and timing chip, which they allowed her to do.  We arrived around 9:15 a.m.  and there were all ready TONS of people there.  I had received an email the night before letting us know they were expecting around 700 attendees!  (Not all were racers, though.)  I grabbed a slice of orange, pinned my race bib on, and got to stretching.


I was so freaked out about my clothes.  I had worn a t-shirt, because I always overheat.  But it was way colder than I expected and I ended up keeping my fleece jacket on.  I pinned my race bib on the front of my jacket, over top of my zipper.  Rookie mistake, which I’ll get to below.  I also opted not to wear my headphones because I wasn’t sure if Brother was going to stay with me or not.

At 9:40ish, while I was using the bathroom, I heard the announcement that we were to head to the starting line.  This was it, no turning back now.  My brother and I chatted on our way there and I reminded him to pace himself and not burn out in the beginning.  I also told him that if I was running too slowly for him, to leave me behind and run his own race.  We continued to stretch out at the starting line and talk about how hard we had worked to get to this point.  He’s absolutely adorable and I am so glad I asked him to train with me – this whole experience was such great bonding for the two of us.

And we were off!  We ran by the pavilion first, which allowed our cheering section to give us a big send off.  Also, for a photo op.  You can see us passing the orange cones for the finish line.


The course went around a big loop and ended up back near the pavilion.  Brother pulled ahead of me almost immediately, and I wished him good luck.  I didn’t have my phone or my headphones or anything, so I had no idea what my pace was like or how far I had gone.  I did keep pace with these two women who seemed to be at the same skill level as myself.  I stayed right behind them until just before the halfways point where we turned around.  Right before that point, I stopped to use the porta-potty.  I know.  But, my nerves were completely shot and I didn’t want to pee my pants.  Better safe than sorry!

Just after I used the bathroom, I saw Brother looping back around and he yelled “Great job, Michelle!! Keep going!”  and I yelled back “Thanks buddy!  You’re doing great, too!!”  Then, at the turn, I saw my mom and Christina with huge smiles and it was a huge motivation.


The cold weather was an issue for me.  I literally felt like each breath I took, my lungs were on fire with the cold air.  I felt like I was going to have an asthma attack!  But, by the halfway point, I was so hot and sweating.  As I was nearing them, I kept thinking that I wish I hadn’t pinned my bib on my jacket because I would have taken it off and given it to them.  In retrospect, I think that would have been a bad idee based on the temperature.  I was thankful for the water station at the turn and kept going.

This is where I feel it is safe to explain: this course is not what I expected.  I had checked the elevation chart, and yes, I saw that there were several hills.  But the course description kept saying: “mostly flat course,” and that overrode the geographic map.  As someone who holds a Master’s degree in a geography-based field, I should have known better.  Oh, there were hills.  There were hills going and hills coming.  There was nothing that would’ve posed a problem if I was walking, but I hadn’t really trained for elevation changes.  And I walked.  I took more walking breaks than I care to admit in this recap.

I struggled against those hills and my legs and most of all, my mind.  But then, there were three wonderful girls cheering for people somewhere in the middle of the course.  And some of the runners who were apparently running the course a second time were cheering for us.  And I felt like I could do it.  And then, and THEN, I came around a turn and I saw the girls who I ran behind for the first half of the race.  And then I felt awesome!  Just as I felt a little pep added to my step, I saw Brother heading back from the finish line which I could not yet see. He had come back to find me and finish with me because he’s the most perfect brother in the world!

Ole5K.LastLeg Ole5K.FinishLine

And even though I wanted to quit, I knew that I would run the whole way to that finish line because I could not let Brother down.  I could hear Christina and my mom before I could see them.  And you know what?  I dug down deep and found the energy to spring across the finish line and finish strong.  And IT. FELT. AWESOME.

I’m not sure what my exact finish time was because I was all ready fighting back tears.  They collected my timing chip as soon as I passed the clock.  My mom ran over to me and gave us both a big hug and then as soon as Christina hugged me, I was fighting back big tears.  I had done it.  I had done it.  I had done it.  I kept saying, “I can’t believe I just did that!”


But I did do it and Christina said that my finish time was close to 37 minutes.  (The race results haven’t posted yet, so I’m not 100% sure).  But y’all.  That makes my pace around a 12 minute mile.  I trained at a 14:00 mile!  I know it was just the adrenaline of the race and all the people and not having technology on my person.  I kept telling myself to just slow down, but I couldn’t.  I just couldn’t.  The whole time I just felt like I was going to slowly…well, until I caught up to the two women from the beginning of the race.  Then I realized why I kept having to take walking breaks – because I stopped to use the bathroom and literally stopped at the water station to re-tie my pants and still caught back up to them.  DUH.

But, no regrets.


I am really happy with my time and really proud of how I did.  I did better than I expected given the temperature and the hills.  I seriously reccommend this race to anyone who is looking for a good 5K in the Pittsburgh area.  It was really, really well organized and just plain old fun!

Here are some of my final thoughts on the details of the Ole 5K:

COST:  I paid only $20, for pre-registration.  There was also the option of early bird at $15; my brother ended up paying $25 the day of the race.  There was food provided before and after, along with a cute shirt.  I really felt like I got my money’s worth AND I knew it was going to a good cause (Father Scott & his Mexican clinic):


PARKING:  Parking was awesome.  It was really well organized, with at least 3 people directing cars into parking spots.  I say “parking spots,” but really we parking in the grove near the pavillion and starting line.  The race pavilion was directly across the street.  I noticed that there were two porta-potties in the parking lot.

BATHROOMS:  Also an extremely important thing to note.  There were 5 porta-potties near the pavilion, 2 in the parking lot, and I noticed at least 3 along the course.

PRE-RACE GRUB:  There were bagels and cream cheese, dougnuts, bananas, and oranges along with beverages.  I saw coffee and water, but there may have also been juice or a sports drink.  I was too nervous to even walk over to the bev table!

TIMING:  From what I could tell without a watch, the race started right on time.  We were clocked using timing chips.

WEATHER:  It was freezing.  Like, absolutely freezing – I think it ended up being between 35 – 40 degrees while I was running.  I felt so bad for my mom and Christina, cheering from the sidelines with rosey cheeks and chattering teeth!


POST-RACE GRUB:  After the race, we enjoyed a “fiesta!”   All attendees lined up in two single file lines and went through a nacho line.  The options for topping were rice, beans and peppers, ground beef, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.  I meant to take a photo, but I was so overwhelmed after the race.  By the time it occured to me to take a picture, I had all ready inhaled my nachos!  But, everything was really yummy and served hot.

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