On Saturday, May 4th (MAY THE FOURTH BE WITH YOU), I participated in the UPMC Health Plan/UPMC Sports Medicine Pittsburgh 5k. Christ, that is one long sponsor-y name. I signed up forever ago, when the idea of a shakeout run the day before a marathon was a completely foreign idea. I’m more of the “total rest” camp, but my training plan outlined doing 2 miles. I decided to run the 5k at a very easy pace. Bonus: finishers medals!
Also, how awesome is the shirt? Last year I think they were short-sleeved and white. This is awesome. The design is the same as the marathon shirts, which I was initially disappointed in when I saw a men’s version: dijon mustard yellow. Like… why? The women’s shirt is much nicer, I think, and will be great for running visibility in the fall and winter.
Since I wanted to run this at an easy pace, and I didn’t trust myself to be able to hold myself back if I was alone, I planned to run with Jennifer, a fellow lady of Steel City, and her friend April. This would be April’s first race ever, and she claimed that she would only be able to do a 14 minute per mile pace. I was totally fine with run-walking, as again, I’m used to total rest for days pre-marathon.
I was staying at the Wyndham, which faces Point State Park, and it’s basically the perfect location for all marathon weekend activities. My room overlooked the Point, and I remember thinking that I would never get tired of that view. I wish I could wake up to it every single day.
My morning started after some restless sleep, at least when I was trying to fall asleep. My mind had been racing from the expo Friday night. When I closed my eyes, all I could see was the bright colors and motion of everyone moving through the expo. Talk about literal sensory overload. I woke up feeling fine, with the exception of my feet and legs. They ached from all the standing I did on Friday. It wasn’t a soreness from running, but just a general pain and ache. I was a bit worried, but figured that since most of Saturday would be spent sitting on my ass, I should be fine.
The start of the 5k was across the river, at PNC Park. Many of my fellow Steel City friends were running the 5k also, so we planned to get a group photo prior to the race start. I headed out, greeted with a chilly wind, with air temperatures around 55 degrees. Normally the wind would worry me, but I wasn’t racing. I took my time walking over to our meetup point, taking photos like a tourist.
Since I was running for funsies, I didn’t feel any of the usual pre-race nerves. Also, this was the first time I would be running with my camera. I wanted to take pictures on the run, especially since this was April’s first race ever. I always wonder how runners take pictures while they’re racing. Holding a camera and trying not to spill water on it would make me mental. I had no issues since this was a short, easy race, but I probably won’t attempt this running anything longer than 10k.
Soon it was time to line up, and after the national anthem, we were off.
We kept the pace around 11:30/mile, nice and easy. It felt very different not to go balls-out, and it was a nice change. I was able to enjoy myself, looking at everyone around me, listening to spectators cheering. April was doing great during the first mile.
Our pace slowed a bit during the second mile, due to a water stop. I wasn’t expecting one, but I was happy to have a drink mid-run. Soon we had a nice downhill to enjoy, with gravity doing most of the work. We began to cross the Warhol bridge, where the famous “Runner of Steel” banner hangs. I ran up ahead of the girls so that I could get a photo of them running underneath. It looked badass!
April had basically had enough at this point, so Jen and I encouraged her. No, you aren’t going to die. Yes, you can do this. Yes, the finish line really is close by. Only a few more minutes of running! Think of that medal! Soon the finish line came into view.
April was so worried that she would finish over 40 minutes. Here we all are, with a 37:29 finish!
This was the most fun I think I’ve ever had during a race. We chatted the miles away, encouraged each other, and just had a great time. I need to figure out how to make more of my races to be this way, even the ones when I’m competing.
Post-race, I met up with (another) Jen and Michael. Michael had run (insanely fast) and Jen was a spectathlete. The corporate challenge tent was pretty empty, but we enjoyed nice warm pancakes courtesy of Fischer Nutrition.
I spent the rest of the day in my hotel room, carb-loading, Epsom-salt-bathing, preparing, and sitting. My outfit was all ready, my fuel prepped, my bags packed as much as possible (in case my finish time cut it close with my checkout time). Technically, physically, I was ready. Emotionally, mentally? Stay tuned to find out.
(If you missed it, Friday’s recap is here.)