Guest Post: The Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay

Guest Post: The Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay May 5, 2013

By Uncle Goat – Joe George 😉 

Hello there!  Thought everyone might need some weekend inspiration and motivation, so I’ve got a little guest post for you today!

As you may or may not know, I started running more or less about 18 years ago…my little brother was a runner too.  And there was one more runner in the family, my dad’s older brother, our Uncle Joe!

Me and Uncle Joe rockin the Laurel Highlands Sr. High Alumni Cross Country Race!

Me and Uncle Joe rockin the Laurel Highlands Sr. High Alumni Cross Country Race!

And me, and my brother, and my Uncle Joe, well, we’ve kept on running over the years.  And we’re our own little running family.

The running Georges (minus Little E!) Beth, Uncle Joe, Pooky & Me!

The running Georges (minus Little E!) Beth, Uncle Joe, Pooky & Me!   We all won that day too!

And Uncle Joe – he’s 66 years old now – he’s still going … and according to his 2:09 half marathon performance at the 2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon… he’s still going strong and is truly a Runner of Steel!

From the Goat:  And...the rest of the running family (again, minus Little E)...Beth Ann, Darren, Phil & Uncle Joe!

From the Goat: And…the rest of the running family (again, minus Little E)…Beth Ann, Darren, Phil & Uncle Joe!

In honor of this awesome performance – I asked him to write a little guest post about his experience at the race!  I mean, if he’s still running – and running pretty fast – at 66, then you have no excuse – right?  And from the looks of it, it turns out that not only running fast runs in the family but also stellar blogging lol.  Enjoy – and big congrats to Uncle Joe and everyone else who ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon this year!

Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon and Relay Marathon  May 5, 2013

 ……….as I approached the Half Marathon finish line, I looked to my far right noticing out of the corner of my eye a lone runner sprinting, and after thinking a moment I realized, hey the winner of the mens Marathon running twice my distance beat me to the finish…..He did have a six minute head start. LOL

It all started two hours, nine minutes and fourteen seconds ago there I stood in singlet and shorts anxiously waiting my turn to tour 13.1 miles of Pittsburgh’s bridges and neighborhood.  This morning in Southwestern Pennsylvania presented near perfect weather conditions.  Sunny, dry, low humidity and temperature in the breezy 50’s.

You could feel an air of excitement, caution (with tightened security) and reverence to our running brothers and sisters of the Boston tragedy.  A moment of silence along with shirts, wrist bands and the accommodation of 37 Boston runners who were unable to finish the April 22nd race.

My strategy for the race was to run mile splits at a comfortable hard pace.  Last year I went out too fast struggling the last few miles.  My training for the past four months had been erratic so I was unsure about what pace I could hold.  I estimated around a ten minute pace which came close to the 9:52 that I averaged besting my time from last year by two minutes.

As in previous Marathon years Patrice Matamoros with her team and many volunteers pulled this one off successfully in light of the Boston bombing.

The Half Marathon course is mostly flat with a few short rolling hills with five inclines coming from the five bridges to be crossed.  The Marathon course as well crosses five bridges with one steep climb up into the Oakland neighborhood and again with a few short rolling hills and a lot of flat area.  Along the  course bands provided entertainment and motivation along with many spectators throughout the thirteen Pittsburgh neighborhoods.  Race organizers provided fluids, gels and medical facilities along the route.  The amenities (fruit, fluids, sweets) continued at the finish.  Point State Park was used as a reunion area and finish line festival area providing many recovery aids.

From the Goat:  Uncle Joe looking great and rockin' his medal after a stellar half!!!

From the Goat: Uncle Joe looking great and rockin’ his medal after a stellar half!!!

There was a record setting 22,143 finishers in all distances.  As a result organizers had wave start with corrals A,B,C,D,E to ease congestion the first three miles.  James Kirwa from Kenya won the mens Marathon race in a time of 2:13:37.  Mary Akor from California won the womens Marathon race in a time of 2:37:35.

On a sad note one of our fellow runners  23 year old Kyle Johnson collapsed at mile 12 and later was pronounced dead at a local hospital of “a inherited abnormality of the coronary artery system”.  Race director Patrice Matamoros said its a loss for the entire Marathon family, our hearts and prayers go out to his family.

I missed wishing friends good luck because of the large crowd and corral assignments.  I did see two of my fellow runners by chance at the finish line festival, then using texting and facebook to hand out accolades to my other race friends.

The ideal weather conditions presented many racers with the opportunity to achieve a personal best time.  One of my friends Laura bested her 2012 Marathon time by 15 minutes.  Following the pack mentality she fell in with a pacer group that pulled her along.

Pittsburgh area is known as the city of bridges(446).  Its location is where  three rivers converge.  The Allegheny and Monongahela flow together forming the Ohio..  One of the pictures posted was taken in the Mon Wharf parking area showing the Monongahela river in the background.  The medal given to all finishers honors Pittsburgh’s past by having the logo “Runner of Steel” engraving (picture posted).

From the Goat: I am SO jealous.  Runner of Steel??? Best medal ever!

From the Goat: I am SO jealous. Runner of Steel??? Best medal ever!

I would highly recommend Pittsburgh as a class one destination Marathon and Half Marathon race.  I myself have run both and am already thinking about next years event.

Can’t wait till 2014!!!

 uncle joe shirt

I Get to Do This!

I get to do this.

I get to do this.  I am one of the lucky ones. I get to do what I love.  I have two arms and two legs and everything works.  It may not always work great, but it works.  I get it done.  I get to do it.  And that’s amazing.

It really is sometimes, isn't it?

It really is sometimes, isn’t it?

 Charlie Birchem Ligtenberg, a FB friend I met through Swim Bike Mom coined the phrase, “I get to do this.”  It’s how she gets through her tough workouts…traipsing through freezing temps and snow to get her Minnesota runs in.  I loved it.  I borrowed it.  And it works wonders.  Just remind yourself, “I get to do this.”  Not only for workouts but just about everything.

The awesome Charlie racing away - getting to do it!

The awesome Charlie racing away – getting to do it!

Running the marathon today, I saw so many people with pained, miserable faces.  I understand that its tough, but as Parag reminded me last night, this is your hobby.  Stop stressing about it.  You shouldn’t be doing this if it’s stressing you out – if you’re not having fun.  You should be enjoying it!

homer beer running

And that’s the attitude I take with doing races.  I get to do them.  I love to do them.  I enjoy doing them.  And I show it.  I smile.  I wave.  I thank each and every volunteer and fan that I pass.  They are the ones toughing it out.  Getting up at 4 or 5 a.m. to help us all get out there and achieve our goals.  And for what, a free t-shirt and wet cups being thrown at them?

Tell me that's not excitement!

Me, cheering for the crowd and volunteers and getting everyone riled up!  Good times!

And so, while it may take a little more energy, try it.  It will help your run immensely, I guarantee it.  Smile.  Enjoy yourself.  Wave at the spectators.  Thank them for coming out.  Cheer for the volunteers, thank them for giving their time.  Pay it back.  And in the meantime, you’ll benefit, I promise.  And you’ll have a whole heck of a lot more fun.

SO today was the Best. Race. Ever.  It was awesome.

Some more excitement.  This is just a ridiculous face.  You know, it know it.  But I was just loving it.

Tell me that’s not a “Best Race Ever” face!

I’ve run the Georgia Publix Marathon before.  I ran it last year.  My goal was to go sub-four hours…but I couldn’t find the pace team at the start.  Then I had to stop to go to the bathroom.  A number of factors later, and I finished at 4:09.  Ok but not great.

This year I went back with the same goal, to break four hours.  And that I did!  How, you ask?

Well, the stars aligned and things went perfectly.  It was just one of those days…

 But I think a few things helped.  And here they are:

  1. Since last year’s Marathon, I’ve added strength training.  In particular, I added an awesome class that the awesome Alana teaches at Urban Iron in Buckhead that involves old school exercises like deadlifts, clean and jerks, rows, squats, etc. and uses a bar instead of free weights.  Adding weights has made a world of difference.

 class with alana

  1. Since last year’s Marathon, I’ve added yoga.  I found a class and teacher I like and I go as often as I can fit it in.
OK so my yoga teacher SO looks like James Harden.  So I had to throw this in here ;)

OK so my yoga teacher SO looks like James Harden. So I had to throw this in here 😉

1.  Since last year’s Marathon, I’ve eliminated most gluten from my diet, added a B vitamin complex and Iron compound in the morning and calcium and magnesium at night.  Plus twice daily doses of turmeric during heavy training.  The B vitamins and Iron help with energy.  The calcium and magnesium at night help with muscle cramps and ease sleep.  The turmeric is an anti-viral, anit-fungal and anti-inflammatory.  Eliminating gluten also helps with inflammation and recovery.  This all helps with recovery…so I can train harder, recover faster, and train harder all over again!

2.  Attitude…its not that I had a bad attitude last year, but it’s better this year.  That comes from a place of leaving a less than ideal work situation, joining an ideal work situation, and working on following my dreams.  It also comes from a place of “I get to do this” and gratefulness for what I have and what my life has become.

This is the NEW attitude.  Try it out.  It's pretty awesome.

This is the NEW attitude. Try it out. It’s pretty awesome.

3.  The last two are the most important – GELS!!!! I finally got my fueling right! AND my pre-race activities … everything you shouldn’t do before a marathon…

But that’s for the race report!  Till we meet again!