When I signed up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, I noticed an option to complete the Steel Challenge which meant running the 5k in addition to the Half/Full. Figuring it was a nice was to warm up for the half on the following day, I registered myself and pretty much forgot all about it until race weekend.
Fortunately, I saw my fellow Pittsburgh Marathon & Half blogger friends, Chelsea and Lauren, on Thursday at a pre-race party and we chatted about the 5k and made plans to meet on Saturday morning to shake out before our races on Sunday.
I was a little nervous about parking logistics since I’m still not super familiar with Pittsburgh’s downtown and the 5k is not a loop (starts on the North Shore by the stadiums but ends in Downtown). But I had nothing to worry about: traffic on Saturday morning was non-existent so I made it from Shadyside to a parking garage downtown in 15 minutes. I opted to park downtown and jog the mile to the start line at PNC Park.
Chelsea and Lauren know pretty much every runner in Pittsburgh so it was fun to run with them on Saturday morning. Every few minutes, Chelsea would cheer on someone she knew or someone who knew Lauren would bump into us and chat for a bit. Case in point, we were a group of 13 hanging out before heading to our corrals!
Chelsea and Lauren were running the full marathon (Lauren’s first!) and knowing if left to my own devices, I would run too hard, too fast for a true shake out run, so I hung with my friends and we ran Lauren’s marathon pace. Chelsea’s friend, Kathleen, was in town from Chicago for the half marathon, too, so we were a chatty group of 4 running through the Pittsburgh streets.
We finished the 5k in 39:09, running 3 minutes, walking 1, to mirror the pace/cadence Lauren and Chelsea would use the following day in the marathon. It felt good to get the blood flowing and loosen up my muscles while catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in a while!
We finished with smiles, feeling warm but not spent. After the race, I headed home to nap (#yolo), prepare for visitors and plan out half marathon race day logistics.
I’d never participated in a back-to-back race schedule but, given the option in the future, I would opt to run an organized 5k the day prior again. I liked getting a feel for the course and it was fun to feel race day energy ahead of ‘the big race’, it helped me get into race day spirit/excitement that much more.