Tuesday, May 6, 2014

4 Marathons in Five Weeks

This past Sunday I completed my fourth marathon in five weeks. It started on March 30th with the Knoxville marathon with Raleigh and Boston 2 and 3 weeks later, respectively. I finished it up 13 days after Boston with the Pittsburgh Marathon. It has been a whirlwind 35 days. In that time, I probably had my most consistent running mileage with all but one week in the 30's. Obviously that was because 26.2 miles were occurring in one day. The races did get progressively more challenging with Knoxville feeling comfortably hard, Raleigh harder but which I attributed to the heat, Boston was hard through the half but then I slowed it down considerably to document the day. And that leaves Pittsburgh, and boy was it hard.

Although this was a short trip it was a really fun one. I had never been to Pittsburgh but didn't have much expectations for the town thinking that it was firmly rusted in a stagnant effluvium. How wrong was I? The town is really quite cool. The districts in town are each so different and lively, the architecture beautiful and diverse and the food amazing. I flew out early Saturday morning and met my friend Rich who is just finishing up his grad program at Carnegie Mellon and Brooklyn who drove up from Cincinnati. After Rich showing us around town, Rich took us to an amazing Polish restaurant for pierogies and then to a seafood restaurant for lunch.
Talk about fresh seafood.
 We headed to a local bar where we used liquid for my carb loading, laughed a lot and played indoor shuffle board which I consistently lost at. We then headed to the Pirates v Blue Jays game with pretty good views of the field but better of the skyline:
View from our seats

Apparently it is that awe inspiring:)


That beer is actually filling from the bottom.
 The beer being filled from the bottom up was so amazing that we had to see it multiple times to believe it, which, unsurprisingly, led to a late night and early morning. In fact, I woke up in a state of shock realizing that the liquid carb loading may not have been the best way to prepare for 26.2 miles of running. The way my head and stomach both felt, I really couldn't think of anything better than to fall back asleep. However, right at that moment, Brooklyn muttered something about offering to drive me in to the start of the race, and I realized I better get my butt off the air mattress. He had driven up pretty much just for the night and despite a short sleep on a coach(I took the luxorious air mattress) he was still willing to wake up at four to drive me in. The least I could do was run(Illogical thinking perhaps, but 4am with a pounding head, you need any excuse you can to get up).

And the fun began... I was in the seeded corral for the start of the race which had a combined 30,000 runners between the full, half and relay. However, it never really felt crowded. The race was well organized and was very accomodating. They even had a 3 hour pacer(which is unusual since it's a fairly fast time to rely on someone to consistently hit pace goals). After dry heaving when trying to tie my shoes, I realized that just trying to stay with that 3 hour pacer was going to be challenging.

The race starts with about 3 miles of pancake flat terrain which was nice because it didn't jostle my stomach too much. I gingerly was trying to replenish by fluids with gatorade but fairly quickly was losing sight of the 3 hour pacer. Oh well. I resigned myself to just try completing the race and I could always come back to do it under 3. After about 8-9 miles of all miles well off pace, I finally started feeling somewhat better and caught the 3 hour group and ended up running with a brother and sister who were running together. The brother was a collegiate runner and he was trying to help his sister break 2:55. We chatted for 3-4 miles before I let them go. I pulled back alongside the 3 hour pacer who had now dropped almost half of the group and we went through the half in 1:30:13 which, if you're doing the math, is pretty darn close to exactly a 3 hour marathon but didn't give me much wiggle room to get under 3. Rich and Brooklyn were at mile 14 with mimosas and it took all I had to not just stop there.

My saving grace was a girl who was hanging on. This was only her second marathon and her previous PR was a 3:09. She was trying to break 3 hours and was beginning to struggle. The pacer, John, was doing his best to keep her motivated and to stick with him and I decided to help out as well. At every aid station, he and I was sprint ahead and grab a water and gatorade for her. We would run lockstep unless there was wind in which case I'd pull ahead of her to block it. By focusing on making sure that she was staying on pace, I really couldn't focus on how badly I was feeling.

We put in some seriously faster than pace miles in the second half and we winded up finishing in 2:58:36 which was over 10 minutes faster than her previous one.

After getting a big thanks from her, I then spent the next thirty minutes trying to remember where I parked my rental car.

Brooklyn, Rich and I went out for an awesome burger and shake for lunch and then Brooklyn parted ways with us. Rich and I hung out for a while and then went out to church that was converted to a brewery. Did I mention how cool Pittsburgh is?

All in all it was a really fun weekend. Now I get three weeks rest until my next marathon in Buffalo.

Up Next: Ironman Texas(Amber) May 17th-watch it on Ironman.com

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