1) It was cheap. I know that makes me sound terrible, but race fees are pricey and paying $40+ for a short race doesn't make me feel fuzzy inside. This was around 20 bucks. Kids were 15. I like that.
2) It's nearby. Walking distance nearby. Score!
3) I love the Steelers.
4) The money goes to a good cause.
I had mixed emotions going into it.... I really haven't been training for a 5K specifically. I mean, I've been so focused on building mileage and strength and running longer that I honestly couldn't tell you (other than speedwork) just HOW to train for a good 5K. I wanted to run one because it has been nearly a year since my last one, and since Hal Higdon lists them as part of his training plans, which I'm following. He hasn't steered me wrong before, I'm not about to question him now!
I kinda knew I'd PR because a year ago my 5K time at the Great Race was 26:05 and I've beaten that in every race I've done since then as well as most of my speed training runs. That has since turned into an "easy" run for me. Amazing what time and training can do, huh? The thing is, I didn't know what kind of time to shoot for. I definitely wanted to come in under 25 minutes, but a secret part of me really wanted to try for 23 minutes and change. McMillan Running was giving me a prediction of 23:34 based on my previous race times and training paces. I could live with that.
Packet pickup Friday afternoon was pretty easy and painless. I was lucky enough to get in the short L-O line (not sure why the others were so long) and I was in and out of Heinz Field Gate C in no time.
I do have to gripe about one thing: the shirt. Oh my, oh my. For something with a Nike logo on it, this is one of the ugliest and poorest quality race shirts I've ever seen. And it's not even tech material OR a women's cut. Boo! Yes, I'm one of those people who "does it for the shirt" and I appreciate a good quality, technical shirt that I can make good use out of in the future. So, for something like this to come out of something with the Steelers brand attached to it was disappointing.
I was also unsure how to fuel for a 5K the day before. I mean, it's only 3 miles and change, right? It's not like you need a carb load pasta feast or anything... Even before long runs lately I've only had a banana beforehand and have been fine. So, I just stuck with my normal meal plan but had my new trusty oatmeal/PB2/Chia seed bedtime snack. I drank lots of water all day too... and that wasn't really hard because it was 90 degrees and nasty outside.
A good thing about the race being so close to home was the fact that I didn't have to get up at the crack of dawn the morning of. In fact, I actually got to sleep in longer than I do for most mornings. I got up around 6:50. Yep, that's "sleeping in" in my world! I got up, did my STATs, and started getting my things together. Before we left, I had a piece of toast with 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter on it. I was a little hungry, but I don't like a whole lot in my belly before a hard running effort. But, I knew I still had about an hour or so to go and I didn't want to be hungry for the race.
I also made some wardrobe adjustments since it was in the low 70s and very humid. I was planning on wearing knee high yellow compression socks, but those things make my legs so darn hot that I just wasn't having it today. I also went with the singlet instead of the shirt.
We got to Heinz Field around 7:50. This proved to be a good thing because it was packed. People were still registering, the lots were almost full, it was crazy. They said this was a record turnout - somewhere around 3800 runners? We wandered around the stadium a bit. I was impressed with the fact that they already had tables of water and Gatorade set out. I grabbed a cup of Gatorade and had a few swigs of it. I couldn't finish it - so I just tossed it. Victoria and I stopped for a potty break - the line wasn't too long, thankfully. Then, we headed over to where the start line was near the Science Center. They were making announcements about the corrals they were setting up. I found the 20-24 minute finish sign and hung around there for a bit. I did a little bit of warming up and stretching. People started crowding into the corrals so I said goodbye to the family and went to find a good spot. As I was looking around I was noticing a lot of people who must not be aware that the corrals were separated. I took this into consideration as I tried to put myself near the front half of the corral.
The race started after some former and current Steelers pep talks and announcements and Ryan Clark was given the honor of firing the starting gun. I got a good laugh out of the fact that he looked like he was afraid of it and flinched. Nick had thought the same thing and got a good pic of him.