After four months of training - through the rain, snow, sun, treadmill, travels - the half marathon came quickly on 05 May. On Friday beforehand, we carbed until we could not carb any more. We ate desserts until I felt like Honey Boo Boo on her anniversary dinner. It was glorious.
On Saturday beforehand, Dad grilled up some shish kebabs. Delish.
And then I didn't sleep the night before. How does one turn their mind off beforehand?
5:00 I got up for good. I pulled on my sweet sneaks.
5:45AM we left. I posted my outfit so my friends and family could spot me. Blue & orange for Gettysburg, the place where I learned I could love running.
And then 7AM came. And I ran.
The run started in downtown Pittsburgh. We ran through the strip district, which was familiar from so many Saturday morning outings. We went through the north side, which by far had the best fans. The West End Bridge was the most beautiful view of Pittsburgh I've seen in a long, long time. The West End was hilariously sassy with their cheers.
And then I hit Station Square. If I hadn't seen my family cheering I might've stopped; it was there exhaustion set in. The South Side was murder, but once I turned on to the Birmingham Bridge, an array of high-fives propelled me forward. A man yelled, "Just under three miles now!" As I gasped "THREE MILES!" the woman next to me laughed. Other fans were cheering, and reading the name on the bibs. "GO CARINNE!" I heard, from complete strangers.
Suddenly, looming ahead, less than one mile to go - was the boulevard of the allies. This should be named boulevard of the enemies. Runners started dropping; walking because of this brutal hill. To every runner who stopped before me I said, "Keep going. Keep going." I was telling them what I needed someone to tell me- and all of them picked it back up. "You're right," they said, and they started running again. I saw several at the finish who thanked me for pushing them. Who was that band on that side of the hill? They were fantastically motivating.
Once I hit the top of the hill, the finish line could be spotted below. It was this rush of adrenaline - I MADE IT! Down I ran, killing my goal time with a finish at 2h 20min 46 secs.
It was the fans - both those I knew and didn't - that made this experience exceptional. I believe every year from here forward, whether I know runners or not, I will cheer on the runners. And the bands - thank you so much for your time. I appreciated that on every turn, a different local band was playing. There should be a compilation album for sale at the marathon, featuring the artists. I'd buy it.
After the run, I sauntered around the after-picnic at Point Park for a bit, devouring Eat n Park Cookies, before my family and I went to the local bar. There, they promptly hung my sign on the wall (where it still stands to this day!). I love that place.
So proud. So happy. The day has replayed in my mind many times, and couldn't have gone more perfectly if I'd planned it. Thank you all for your support over four months and especially on that day.