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Race Weekend Recap- I Did It!

Whew! I've been out of the blog world for about a week now- no blogging, no reading other blogs- this rotation is proving to be incredibly busy. Luckily, the rotations that are busy are the ones that go the fastest--hopefully it'll be July before I know it and I may have a (much needed) month off. Counting dowwwnnn. If you're just dying to know what's been up (not much to speak of lol)--don't forget to follow me @Flexitalliean on Twitter.
As promised, I'm back for a race weekend recap! I had an awesome weekend, and after 431 miles of preparation this year, I'm proud to say I finished my first half marathon!

So this weekend started off with a nice, long exam on Friday afternoon until 6:00 pm. Major weekend buzzkill. Afterwards I went to dinner with my ladyfriend (hubs went out of town for the night) and then proceeded to watch Gaga's HBO special- again (love), Glee prom- again (double love), and the Voice (love). My DVR sure missed me!
Saturday am I had class (I know, it seems so wrong), then I headed downtown for the Pittsburgh Marathon Expo. It was held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, which was huge! There were vendors and goodies everywhere, but I tried not to get distracted as I got my bib and race shirt and headed straight for the prize:

I snapped a few pics on the way..

The finish line--Heinz Field!

I got my bag and headed out the door. Too many temptations, and this poor medical student did not need an overpriced spi belt or pair of socks!

The bag included dri-fit Nike socks (wore these on race day), Shapers cheddar chips (delish), a Nugo bar (not my fave flavor), Dole Real Fruit Bites (ate these before the race), a clip-on flashing light for night running, water bottle, ice compression wrap, and on-the-go ice tea packets. Not bad!
Also, I'm obsessed with the race shirt. Dri-fit, green and yellow, fit perfectly.
Last night I went to an italian restaurant to carbo-load (I won't mention the name but let's just say the food was pretty bland), then hit up an engagement party for my classmates Chad and Lindsay.

Lindsay was going for the whole rock star look during the photo. And the LRD never fails ;-).

It was open bar but my drink of choice was a splash (more like a sip before I put it down) of red wine and lots of H20. (Dress is from a local boutique, Episode)
This morning I woke up at 5:00 am with surprisingly few pre-race jitters. I think it was because I knew that barring some incredibly strange circumstance, I would have completed my first half-marathon before 10 am! I ate a banana, a spoonful of banana PB, and dole fruit bites.

I went with a yellow tank (express), the race dri-fit shirt, my favorite black leggings, my well-worn in asics, orange Bic band, and Nike dri-fit socks. The weather wasn't looking so hot so I decided against carrying my phone or iPod. I stuffed a Strawberry Clif Shot into the side of my tank top as well.
Hubs drove me and my friend Gillian (follow her on twitter @_GBean) to the starting line and kept my gear in a bag, which he carried around all day on his back (thanks love!). Race morning was rainy and gray, but not too chilly. Gillian and I milled around for 45 minutes, stretching, hitting the portas, and warming up. The race kicked off around 7 am with a "Runners Set!"... and no gunshot. So the beginning was somewhat awkward as everyone shuffled through the starting line. Once I realized the clock had started I picked up the pace. I immediately began weaving through the crowd as I tried to find a pace that I felt comfortable with. There were supposed to be pacers in the race, but the only one I saw was the 1:50 pacer, who I was able to pass around mile 3. Luckily, someone was waiting for me at mile 3--

So fast I'm a blur! (or maybe it was the rain. Hmm..) Hubs surprised me at mile 3 and whipped out my camera for an action shot. We hadn't planned on him catching up to me at different mile markers so I was pleasantly surprised.

The first few miles were pretty good, I kept up an even 8-8:10 min mile pace. I made sure to take a sip of Gatorade at each of the omnipresent hydration stations (lemon-lime was the flavor of the race--not my favorite, but beggars can't be choosers).

The course was somewhat unfamiliar to me, I wasn't sure where I was running most of the time (guess I don't know Pittsburgh as well as I thought), and we crossed many bridges. We ran through the Strip District, and I was a bit lost until we made it to South Side around mile 7-8. There were a decent amount of bands playing on the side of the course, along with groups of people cheering. I did feel like most of the race was pretty quiet, and probably would've had a better race if I'd had my iPod or Pandora radio. The mile markers did not really stick out much to me, I recall seeing a 5K sign, a 10K sign, mile 7, mile 11, and a 1/2 mile to go sign. I wish they'd have been a little bigger!

I took my (warm) Clif Shot between miles 7 and 8, and then was happy to see a Gu station with cold gels around mile 8-9. I snatched up a Strawberry Banana, which I thought was decent because it was a little gritty and I felt like it was something to chew on (the warm Clif shot was kind of gross). As I mentioned, throughout the race I snagged Gatorades at every station. It really is difficult to run and drink from a cup, so I ended up with lots of yellow Gatorade down my shirt, on my pants, on my face, and even in my eye. Woops!
Hubs surprised me again around miles 6 (I think) and 9. He also took a little tour around the city and snapped a pic of one of the bridges.

Can you spot me?

The guy next to me (his name was Bill) told me around mile 10 that I was his "pacer," and was surprised to learn it was my first half! We chatted for a little while, and I think knowing he was running for my pace made me pick it up a little bit.
The last 3 miles were tough, I can't lie. I had minor aches and pains through the race, but my left quad started to feel incredibly sore and tight around mile 11 and I did my best to stay on pace. The last turn took us to the last bridge---and then it was ~1/2 mile to the finish. I pushed at as much as I could and crossed the finish line around 1:45.

I grabbed my medal (super nice!), banana, gatorade, a Panera cinnamon crunch bagel, and a warming blanket and headed off to find the hubs. He made it to the finish line around 1:52, so he missed me finishing, but there should be some pics from the race photographers soon! I found him pretty quickly and we waited for Gillian. This was her first half, too, and she was so happy to have finished it!

After the race we headed out pretty quickly to face the traffic. We were freezing from the constant drizzle mixed with sweat! Hubs and I went home to sleep on the couch. Around 4:00 pm the race results were posted-- my official chip time was 1:43:33, I came in 517th overall, 141st female, 49th in my age division (25-29). Not bad for my first race! I then went to dinner w/ Gillian (massive chicken sandwich and fries--yes please).

Overall, I really enjoyed my first half. Although the weather was rainy and blah, I felt incredibly excited and proud to have run the race at my goal pace, get an awesome medal, place decently in the race, and come out in one piece! As for future race plans, I'm not sure at this point. I was able to finish and everything, but I don't know if a full marathon is in the cards for me. We'll see.

Now I'm finishing up some schoolwork and getting ready for the week. I am wiped. I have a little residual quad pain and the bottom of my left foot is killing me, so I'm taking ibuprofen around the clock and hoping I'll be able to get out of bed tomorrow!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

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