Pittsburgh Marathon race report

  • Thread starter Walter Schradin
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Walter Schradin

Hey group - I thought I'd send greetings from the "Steel City" and a brief report on the Pgh
Marathon. First off this was my second marathon, having run Philadelphia in the fall. I'm from
Pittsburgh so thought I'd give it a try and visit my dad and run with my brother - kinda make it a
family trip. The weather was perfect - sunny and ~50F, climbing to 60ish by noon. The race starts
just outside of Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers, and just across the river from "dahntahn"
(downtown in Pittsburghese). It's a mediums size marathon of ~2200, but with 2,3 and 4 person relays
there were ~6000 I heard. My pre-race nutrition of a powerbar, poptart (the breakfast of champions),
coffee, and cytomax felt great until part of it came up in the parking lot. My pre-race jitters
always includes nausea - really irritating, but I always feel much better afterwards. Warm-up
included a pre-race massage- which I thought was pretty cool.

Finally I was with my brother at the line, wished him luck and we were off. His white hat quickly
disapeared as his goal was to break 3 hrs. I felt really good at the start clocking a few 7:20 miles
thru the strip district of Pittsbugh. The early morning crowds thru downtown were loud if not huge.
Then it was a double back to the stadium and thru the North Side and across the West End bridge
(across the Ohio River). By this point I had traversed 2 previous bridges across the Allegheny River
and would have 2 more - one across the Monongehela and the last back across the Roberto Clemente
bridge and the Allegheny. A really nice tour of the 3 rivers.

In the shadow of Mt Washington and under the Fort Pitt bridge my speed distance monitor still showed
me @ 7:30 pace. I had written out splits for a possible "Boston" qualifying race of 3:20 on my bib
and at mile 5-6 I was 3 mins ahead. Wow I thought maybe Boston is possible. That was my "A" plan, my
"B" plan was to PR > than my 3:30 Philly time, and my "C" race was NOT to visit my friends in the U.
Pitt Medical Center medical tent! Running in to the sun thru the North Side was great! There were
lots of people and several bands! I hitched up with two running partners who were going my pace. Now
mile 10 brought the dreaded climb in to Oakland.

It was across another bridge, smile for the camera, and up the hill to Oakland and the University of
Pittsburgh. The elite athletes were commenting after the race how much tougher the course was than
they expected. I thought the hill wasn't bad, the total elevation was only ~ 200 feet. I guess
training on hills in York, PA really paid off, it was about an 8 min mile. Here I was a little
worried but my legs still had gas so I went back to ticking off 7:30ish pace. Thru Oakland I really
felt like getting a Primanti's sandwich or stopping in at the Original (the O) for a hotdog - I had
a banana instead.

My crew were waiting to cheer me on in Shadyside just past the half mark which flew by in 1:38. It
was a real lift to hear my name from people I knew. What I learned in Philly is that if you write
your name on your jersey or on a sign people will cheer you on, and sure enough instead of hearing
other peoples names, I heard "Go Walt!" throughout the course. It was a real pick up. A few rollers
and a long stretch on 5th avenue brought me thru the Homewood section of town. I high 5ed some kids
along the sides and took some oranges as well. One of my compatriots was still with me.

The only thing I remember about East Liberty is a loud speaker playing "YMCA" and I obliged by
trying to lift my arms above my head to make the letters. The miles were a bit of a blur, but my
pace kept up, spurred on by my new found "running partner". I was beginning to think a Boston
qualifier was beginning to look like a reality as I still had a 2 min cushion. Bloomfield and West
Penn Hospital brought big crowds and the beginning of a long downhill. Not good news because now
every footfall brought pain up thru my quads, and it was pretty apparent to me that toe #3 on the
right probably was going to lose it's nail. The only reason miles 21-23 went at
7:40 was because of the downhill.

Then I hit my wall, not a bonk - aerobically and mentally I was fine, nutritionally I felt good. But
now I had a goal 3:20 and a little cushion, but the long stretch down Liberty Ave towards the city
felt like it took forever. I could see the tall buildings but didn't seem to be getting any closer,
my running partner had dropped off the back, and there weren't many people around me running or
cheering. My legs felt like weights and my R calf was really starting to hurt. They just wouldn't go
at speed any more. I was pushing for all I was worth to run 8 min/miles. Finally a turn and across
the last bridge and the stadium. My watch said I still had time.

What a rush in to Heinz Field, image up on the Jumbotron, people cheering and 3/4 lap to go. The
clock said 3:18, unless I fell down I was gonna do
it. I didn't fall, my hands went up in the air, and the clock said 3:19:10, my chip said 02. 58
seconds to spare and an "A" race for me and a ticket to Boston!

The last couple of days have been the cripple walk, now time to recover, recover. Hopefully in time
for the Columbia Triathlon in a week and a half. Yea I know I'm nuts, but the run's only 10K.
Swimming should go fine anyway, unfortunately it's my slowest race. So for all you Boston
qualifiers I'll see you in 2004! Whew. Happy training and anyone going to Columbia or Eagleman I'll
see you there!

1/2 FeDoc

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