Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Post Pittsburgh Marathon Post...


So after a day of mini heart attacks watching my wife and kid spend money like drunken sailors at the Premium Outlet stores in Grove City, we headed out in the blindly optimistic search for a hotel room on Friday night. Friday the 13th no less. Miracle of miracles, we found a room in Cranberry, just a few minutes north of Pittsburgh. And that's when I took another leap of faith, or another blind departure from established reason, similar to striking out on a Friday without booking a hotel room. Yes... on the night before the night before the marathon, I had a beer. Well, how could I help it when it was Happy Hour in Cranberry, PA?



So the next morning we struck out for Pittsburgh and got settled into our (pre-booked) hotel (at 9 am... pretty cool that they let us in that early) and headed out for the Dick's Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Expo.



And what an Expo... there are good expos and crap expos in my extensive experience with these things, and I have to say that this was a very top notch expo. There was a great mix of cheap running clothes, out-of-town run booths, freebie power bar samples, shoe sponsor display area... and lots of well-initiated volunteers. Details, all taken care of, something that impresses the hell out of me.



We wandered the town for the rest of the day, spending a few hours in the Andy Warhol Museum (extremely cool, one of those places everyone should visit), and checking out various other stuff. Mostly we wandered slowly while our kid, who is an obsessed photographer, took tons of pictures, none of which are in this post. Yet.



We had dinner at the Bar Louie in a very neat little shopping area across the river from downtown. The view of the skyline was excellent, and the trains that passed were actually kinda neat. And that's where I did it once more; I had a 20 ounce Dos Equis. After all, it was Happy Hour again. The marathon was going to be interesting...



The start line was a few steps from our hotel. Better than I had even calculated. And the corals were very well designed to make the start orderly. A light mist of rain fell most of the four and a half hours that I was on the course, never too heavy and just noticeable enough to help mitigate the humidity. And as I settled in to find my stride and break out of the crush a bit, I was impressed by the fact that there was a pretty decent band performing close to the start. Very shortly thereafter, another band appeared. Then another. I counted 20 bands in the first 10 kilometres, apparently out of a total of about 60. There were choirs, bagpipes, stand up basses, steel drums (not all together of course)... even a couple of guys on idling Harleys who lit them up like thunder on demand.



I've never seen so many orange slices. There were easily a dozen groups - large groups - of people handing out orange slices. Orange peels covered the pavement in places. There were Skittles dispensing citizens, banana hand outs, countless water stations that were not official water stations...



I've seen kids high-fiving runners before, of course, but not like this. There were kids shaking out their hands from over-high-fiving, but they weren't gonna quit. Hundreds of high fives going on. Countless people shouting themselves hoarse from crowded bars (not a typo, and yes it was early morning)...



This is not to say that this was the first enthusiastic marathon host city I've encountered. This is to say that this was an enthusiasm that said "You want orange slices? We'll bring Florida up here. You want gels? Every couple hundred feet you'll get gels. We're gonna blast this baby out of the park."



So how could I possibly have declined the beer shots at mile 23? Not after the guy who was handing them out with the enthusiasm of a salesman earnestly assured me that it would be good for me. So what other explanation could there be for the noticeable dulling of pain that followed, or the crazy half mile sprint to the end?



And speaking of the finish area... half a mile straight in an open area, lined with wildly cheering mobs. Design geniuses, these course planners are. It was brilliant, right down to the size and space of the finish area and the meeting area outside of it.

So obviously I highly recommend not only the Pittsburgh Marathon but Pittsburgh itself. After all, who could expect a marathon of anything less than excellence when you look at how these folks approach their sports. They go for the win, and they sure as hell pulled this one off with flying colours.

12 comments:

chasingalittlelion said...

What a fantastic description of our city! So glad you could have such a good time!

Gina said...

I'm glad you enjoyed Pittsburgh! I love this post.

Stacy said...

Loved reading your recap. I ran the half this year after cheering my husband on through 3 Pittsburgh marathons in previous years. This is a fantastic city and seeing it from the course and from your perspective makes me so proud of my home!!!

Myron said...

One other thing that I found remarkable was the way everyone on the street would look you in the eye and say hi. Very cool in a large city, shows that they care you came to run. I've found the same thing in some other cities such as Cincinatti, Knoxville, and Chicago. A very livable city!

Sara said...

LOVE YOUR REPORT (I am still working on the second half of mine)! And yes - you are right, it was crazy FUN! It was my first marathon ever and it was awesome! It was a hard course for sure, but I was thrilled with the course support too, both official and unofficial.

The Expo was so much fun (not that I spent ANY money at all there!). ;)

I finished in 6:52:19. It was the hardest thing I have ever done (due to many circumstances), but I DID IT! I am still flying high!

I'm glad I found you too - looking forward to reading more of your awesome blog! :)

Sara said...

P.S. - The event organizer kept the FL open (with medals and support) even after the streets were closing to let me and several others finish! It was completely wonderful!!!!!!!!!!!

Myron said...

I am so unsurprised that they would keep it open longer; totally in keeping with the whole attitude of the race. Any race organizer can tell you that pulling this one off so successfully takes a helluva lot of work and great people, and they had those ingredients in pittsburgh to a degree that's extremely rare

runningfromthecouch said...

Sounds awesome! Congrats!

Amanda said...

I just found your blog, and am so glad that Pittsburgh was able to show you a great time! We like to go big or go home here, and it's always great to hear a visitors experience!!

PS - In Pittsburgh, you will ALWAYS find a happy hour ;-)

nickisnook.net said...

I am so happy to hear a good time was had in PGH at the marathon. My daughter has moved there and adopted this as "her" city. I have another friend who ran this as her first marathon and had a horrible time. She finished but just didn't like PGH or the race.

Thanks for showing me another point of view.

Myron said...

Thanks for the feedback, folks; I'm positive that next year will be even bigger and better... if that's even possible ;-)

ES said...

I ran with a relay team, and my husband ran the half, and I totally agree. The crowd support was awesome! Couldn't have asked for better cheering and support from the side lines as I ran down Carson St!