“My Pittsburgh Marathon Story : Through The Years.”

My running journey began in 2010 as a simple weight loss goal but, by 2011, had transformed into my passion. As I began to expand my physical ability beyond the basic 5K races and hour long training runs, I started to consider the possibility of running the half marathon in Pittsburgh. My proposal of this inspired a few others in a local running group to work toward this goal as well. In the meantime, however, I became sidetracked by a promotion at work which took up almost all of my time and energy for the next nine months.

On the morning of May 6, 2012, I awoke to see the half marathon posts and finish line photos from all these inspiring women who had taken my idea and run with it (LITERALLY) sticking to their plans and goals and finishing the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. I have never felt so down on myself as I did that day. I had always been a self-motivated, self-disciplined person who stuck to and achieved every goal that I’d ever set for myself; but, this time, I had failed. I laced up my shoes that day and went for a run. Nearly 4 miles. It was hard. It hurt. I nearly threw up. I had lost so much of of my previously earned progress, but I vowed to NEVER let myself down like that again!

In 2013, I made my comeback. I ran my first half marathon in Pittsburgh! I was nervous and alone, but quickly fell in step beside a marathoner from South Dakota, Dean Hjelden (sorry, no photo) and, with the help of his company and coaching, eased into a respectable first time pace.

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2013 – 2:06:57)

In 2014, I returned with confidence and a friend, Cherish McCartney, as we both set out to complete our very first full marathon along the streets of Pittsburgh.

(Pittsburgh Marathon 2014 – 4:37:36)

In 2015, I returned with the help of Herb Cratty to achieve my very first “fast paced”, sub-2 hour half marathon.

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2015 – 1:59:55)

In 2016, I had hoped to achieve a sub-4:30 full marathon but had run my first ultramarathon (31+miles) two months prior to race day and wound up treating tendinitis in my ankle. I opted to transfer down to the half marathon and ran an incredibly fun race with Hilary Smilek as #MavAndGoose – complete with rum soaked gummy worms, cupcakes, and beer!

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2016 – 2:30:28)

Upon completion of our race, I was honored to return to the course at the 26th Mile mark and run the final .20 with my good friend, Joe (aka “The RocketMan”) as he secured, yet another, Boston Qualifying marathon performance!

In 2017, I trained hard and smart, and made my full marathon comeback with a self-satisfying PR. I did not do this alone, however. Cherish was there, again, to run me (smartly) through the first 10 miles of my race, and to meet me again at Mile 25 to run me (fast and strong) to the finish line.

(*To read my full race experience, see blog post “Mile 9: Pittsburgh Marathon 2017-“4:27:56”.)

(Pittsburgh Marathon 2017 – 4:27:56)

Truth be told, I could not have done it without her!

In 2018, I had hoped to run another fast half marathon PR with my friend and Coach, Shep, but “life” took a very difficult and trying turn for us both with the loss of my parents in a car crash and the loss of his wife following a medical procedure. We kept running and did the best that we could, but things do not always go as planned. So when Shep told me he had to withdraw from the race due to a calf strain, I reached out to Cherish again. I was pleased to find that she and I were in the same boat- running the race alone and with no set goal in mind. We were simply looking to find the “fire” that Pittsburgh always has a way of sparking inside each and every one of us to keep running towards bigger and better things.

We took to the streets of our beloved Steel City and ran for the pure joy of it all. Some solid running, a few pauses for photos ops and, of course, the South Side’s notorious rum soaked gummy worms at Mile 10! 😛

(*For full details of this race experience, please read previous blog post entitled : “Mile 23: “Choose Discipline”.)

(Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2018, 2:09:15)

In 2019, I was still dealing with alot personally and now professionally, as well. I was struggling to find meaning in my running/racing and was contemplating hanging up my Asics for good. I decided to, once again, forget all about time, pace, my dreams of qualifying for Boston, and JUST RUN. My friends, Sara and Dawn, were dealing with some difficulties of their own and none of us were particularly looking to “race” anything. We decided to team up together and I made it my mission to give these incredible ladies the BEST run around Pittsburgh that any of us have ever had! (Fully equipped with party favors, props, flags, gifts for the volunteers and supporters in the crowd, photos/videos, alcoholic “fluid stations”, and several tasks/challenges to be completed throughout the course.🤗)

I don’t even know our official finish time! It didn’t mattered to any us so we never looked it up. It was the most fun we’ve ever had at a long distance event and, to this day, I simply say that we “got the most out of our registration fee” that year.😂

Pittsburgh Half Marathon 2019 – “PRICELESS!”
Held on Cinco De Mayo 🍹

(*For the full account of this epic race experience, please read my previous blog entitled: “I Am Resilient.”)

This year, 2020, I had registered for the full marathon and was on track to run my strongest & fastest race ever, potentially qualifying for the Boston Marathon. But, like all other runners, have been stopped short, as the world continues to battle Covid-19.

One by one, each and every 2020 race event I have registered for has been cancelled or postponed.

It is quite possible that NO large race events will take place for the remainder of this year.

Is it heartbreaking? Yes.

But is it necessary? Absolutely.

And it’s a small price to pay if it helps to reduce the number of lives lost to this viral killer amongst us.

So while it is difficult not to mourn what could have been on this first Sunday of May (always Pittsburgh Marathon Day) I, ultimately, choose to be happy, grateful for my health, and thankful for my ability to keep running – even if it’s alone, even if it’s untimed, even if it’s “off the record”.

Even if it isn’t for “Boston”…but simply for the love of the run. ♥️🏃🏽‍♀️💨

#ChasingBoston #ForTheLoveOfTheRun

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