On May 4, 2014, I ran my first half-marathon – the Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I had been told by multiple people just how awesome this race was, so my expectations were high. The race managed to meet all of my expectations, and that was mostly due to all of the people who came out to cheer on and entertain the runners. Until I started running, I wouldn’t have believed that a few encouraging words could make such a difference, but they definitely do.
The church group singing in the West End (yellow shirts) was especially memorable, as well as some of the funny signs…my personal favorite was a drawing of Heisenberg from Breaking Bad with the word “RUN.” The few “Worst Parade Ever” signs also made me chuckle. A little girl on the sidelines stuck out her hand for a high-five when I was feeling miserable around mile 11. Stuff like that makes such a difference, and gives you the boost you need to keep going…because yeah, I definitely needed a boost!
The race was well organized and the aid stations and port-a-potties were plentiful. I appreciated the divide between gatorade and water at the aid stations – the volunteers made it very clear which was which, and the different colors of the cups was a very good idea.
There were times during the half when negative thoughts crept into my head and I wondered why anyone would voluntarily put themselves through this (let alone pay a hefty registration fee for it) but the feeling you get after you finish is worth the pain. I had a nice long walk back to my car (parked at the casino) and I think that helped. I so badly wanted to sit down, but I think it was good to shake out my legs.
Overall, I only really have 2 complains about the race. First, the super crowded race expo, which you were forced to attend to pick up your packet. It was so crowded that I could hardly breathe, and there were no signs telling you where packet pickup was. I asked a couple people and bib pickup and packet pickup were on 2 opposite sides of the convention center, forcing you to wade through the crowds and vendors. The other is the crowd at the finish line. Another case where I couldn’t move due to the crowds.There must be a better way to keep people flowing out of the finish line area. Can you tell I don’t like crowds?!
I’m very glad I did the race, and may even consider doing the half (the half was enough for me, no fulls anytime soon!) again next year. In the mean time, I’m signed up for two small local races this summer, a 5k and a 10k. Looking forward to those, they will seem like a vacation!
Here are some pictures from the race: