Saturday, January 12, 2013

City of Pittsburgh Great Race 2012 5K

This race happened several months back, but I at least wanted to give a short recap of it so I can add it to the list.

This race was on September 30, 2012.

First off, the expo, held during the 2 days preceeding the race was cool.  I went on the first day, and it seemed a slight bit disorganized, but it wasn't bad.  It seemed like some of the vendors were still in a frantic setup process and there were a couple of empty tables where it looked like something should have been, but wasn't.  Oh well, it didn't really bother me.  There were a TON of people, but at least packet pickup was a smooth process.  In my swag bag there was a long sleeved tech race t-shit, a hat, a nutrition bar, ear buds, biofreeze, a keychain, and other miscellaneous samples along with the requisite flyers/advertisements.  My bib number was 13585.

There was a pasta party being held at the Spaghetti Warehouse, but I didn't sign up for it after reading many horror stories of indulging too much at those events prior to a race.  We had a simple pasta dish of our own at home and I felt a lot more comfortable and controlled there than I would have out and about with people celebrating all night.  I think that was a good decision that I will continue in the future.

Race morning was an early morning.  I got up and ate a slice of toast with peanut butter.  I wore black capris and my ubiquitous grey shirt.  My family dropped me off about a block and a half from the starting line with around an hour to spare before the gun went off.  There were tons of people there already and by the time pre-race announcements happened people were like sardines in the starting area.  Speaking of the pre-race announcements, I hope they learn a lesson in doing soundchecks for next year because my side of the road didn't hear anything.  The speakers conveniently didn't work.  There were people of all ages, sizes, etc waiting.  Very diverse.  I struck up a conversation with an older lady and her husband who said that they'd done the race before.  He was armed with his Garmin and she her iPod.  We also chatted with a lady with seemed to be about my age and obviously at least a casual runner.  She also lamented on the amount of people and said that the race has become very crowded in recent years and she doubted she'd do it another year if they kept letting more people in.  She prepared me for having to dodge walkers for the beginning of the race.  I didn't truly know what she was talking about until the race started.  I nervously putzed with my watch to make sure it would sync up and I did some half assed stretches.

Thankfully I was able to hear the National Anthem and the gun go off.  As a tradition, the Great Race starts the runners off playing the song "Shout", which was cool, because it was pretty much a dance/shuffle to the starting line to take off anyway.  I tried to start off around 1/3 of the way back the pack because I thought I was going to be one of the slow ones.  This I will NOT do again.  My starting line companion was correct - for pretty much the first half mile or so, it was swerving and bumper cars with people who were walking or shuffling along.  And, as I've discussed with others who ran the race, walkers are cool and deserve to be there, BUT when they are walking 5-6+ people wide and taking up the WHOLE ROAD it's just rude.  At least have the decency to stay to the right and leave room for people to run past.  Anyway.  After the race got out of Oakland, there was lots of room to maneuver.  I kept looking at my watch and thinking my pace was WAY fast (my goal time was less than 30 mins), but I felt good.  I held myself back a bit so I was sure I didn't burn out at the end.  Running into downtown was epic cool and I really appreciated the bands, bagpipe players, etc that were out there to support the runners.  There were a couple of fluid stations, but I didn't stop at any because I didn't feel the need.  Once we were in the heart of downtown and I saw we only had a short way to go and I picked up the pace.  I was still passing people up to and including the entire way through the finishing chute.  I sailed across the finish line with a chip time of 26:05.  Average pace: 8:24.  Way faster than I had planned on, and honestly I feel like I could have went faster!  This time was good enough for 19th in my age group.  Cool!

After the race I grabbed some water and gatorade (didn't drink the whole cup of gatorade because I'm used to the low calorie kind and this was the full test stuff) as well as a Smiley cookie!  I hooked up with my husband and kiddos and we watched the rest of the race.  It started raining a bit, so we walked to a local convenience store for coffee and hot cocoa for the kids and then took the T home.

Overall, this was a great first race experience.  I agree with those who say that the Great Race is quite crowded and cumbersome in places and would be much more palatable with a phased start.  I did hear that this year they are capping the 5K and 10K differently, so hopefully they are planning better.  I am planning on doing the 10K next time!

For your viewing pleasure, here's the link to a video of my finish.  You can see me around the 26:35 clock point.  Right side of the screen behind a tall guy in a bright blue shirt.  Rocking my ubiquitous grey.

Great Race 2012 5K Finish Line 25:01-35:00

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