Pittsburgh Marathon 2012: Spectathlete Report

I love marathon Sunday. LOVE it. Whether I’m racing or cheering I just love the energy, being around other runners and being a total goof while I’m out celebrating being alive and enjoying my city. I didn’t run this year because I’ve had too much going on in our house with a new dog, two new jobs, moving to two new cities and jaunting off to Italy, but the Pittsburgh marathon is one of my favorite races (of nearly 20 marathons and ultras which says something) so I had to go out and be a part of it.

One of my favorite parts of my favorite races is Walnut Street. It’s a quaint shopping district  shortly after mile 14 where people pack the streets to cheer and it is in my neighborhood which gives it more of a personal feel. Racing down Walnut Street feels like I’m running through a gauntlet of friends and so when it was my turn to cheer, I walked with The Boy and the Dog to meet my friends in front of Coffee Tree (would you be surprised to read that it’s one of my favorite coffee shops? I’ve spent hours studying in the large open garage door and have met many good friends there).

Coffee Tree Roasters in Shadyside

We saw several friends and I cheered for people by name to the point where my voice is hoarse. I think there were two highlights for me:

  1. Seeing my friend, Ben. A few years ago I lead a “Learn to Run” workshop for his company, Communiteach, and Ben went on a run with me that afternoon to start the foundation of making running a habit. I think we ran 2 miles along the river. I issued Ben a 30 day running challenge to run 3 times a week (any distance, it still counted if it was just around the block) for 30 days. I wasn’t surprised, but I was thrilled that he completed the challenge! Then he did his first 5K. Then his first half marathon. Today I got to see him running his first marathon! There are not words for how proud of him I am and how far he’s come.
  2. Getting people through the pain cave. As an athlete I’ve fallen apart at all sorts of points during all sorts of races. Mentally or physically something gets in your way and often you need a nudge to get going again. Some of the people I have the most respect for are the back-of-the-pack runners. They are on the course so much longer than the runners ahead of them and by the time they come through all the spectators have left- with the exception of me. Whenever I cheer I make sure I stay for the last runner. Today when the crowds started to thin it was easier to read the names on the bib and I got extra cheer-y and spastic and at least two runners were able to rally and switch from walking to running. I know how valuable those transitional moments have been to me in the past and it was such a privilege to be part of those moments today.

I adored being out with friends on a beautiful morning in a city I love and it was truly inspirational to see so many incredible athletes. Although I have an extensive running history and continue to be a sponsored athlete, it’s been a while since I’ve raced because of injuries and schedules. However, seeing the runners today made me motivated to get back on the trails and on the racing circuit. Looks like it’s time to find a race calendar for Colorado 🙂

To everyone who completed the Pittsburgh Marathon, Half Marathon, 5-K or Relay- Congratulations and thank you for your inspiration!