#GameOnPGH: That time I ran 26.2 miles and lived to tell the tale – Part Two

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Read Part One here. 

May 1 had finally arrived. There were no more training runs, no more carb-loading meals, no more injuries to stretch out. Just a mere 26.2 miles to run.

Best Sister ever!

My sister drove me downtown that morning and served as an amazing Race Crew for the day! She walked me down to the Westin where I did my VIP bag check-in and met up with my on-course support team, Chelsea and Jeff. We made our way to the corrals, which were a giant cluster, and the fact that Penn Avenue was still open to vehicle traffic was mind-blowing. 

I’m not going to recap every mile of the race because I can’t put it into words. What an incredible experience. Pittsburgh is a special place, and the Pittsburgh Marathon is an amazing race. I could not have asked for a better first marathon experience. Sure, my hip got REAL cranky about 15 miles in, and I came out of it with a black toenail and a huge blister, but that’s all trivial compared to the feeling of crossing that finish line, especially knowing that I was able to run a race that reflected my training and that I came in under my goal time! 

I do, however, want to talk about two very special people. Without them, I would not be a marathoner. I might not even be a runner. And my world would be little less bright. They say that you have to be crazy to run a marathon. Well, if that’s the case, you have to be a special kind of crazy to run a marathon for the sole purpose of helping another person. Jeff and Chelsea are that special kind of crazy. I literally could not have run this marathon without them. 

The Pittsburgh Marathon Bloggers all received the VIP package for race weekend, which included indoor restrooms, special gear check, and post-race massages, among other things. But if you ask me, I got the real VIP treatment having Chelsea and Jeff there to help encourage me, keep my pace steady, grab drinks and fuel for me, and remind me that the pain was only temporary. Jeff, ever the Run Butler, carried a sign the entire race – one side telling everyone this was my first marathon and the other celebrating Chelsea’s back-to-back marathons (Hall of Fame Marathon and Pittsburgh Marathon in consecutive weekends). 

The crowds were amazing. I knew they would be, but they surpassed my expectations. The wonderful people of Homewood lived up to their reputation of being the best neighborhood on the course. We got to run with a greyhound (who graciously slowed down to our mere human pace). Joanna‘s family cheered us on with a sign and rejuvenated us with freeze pops. For real, why don’t more people give out freeze pops? They helped SO much! Perfect strangers told me they believed in me, that I could finish the race, and that they admired what I was out there doing. I saw Katie from CCFA at around mile 22 (I think?) – my hip was hurting pretty badly at that point so it was a nice surprise to see her face and get a hug and some words of encouragement. 

The Best Run Butler in the history of Run Butlers.

Probably planning our next trip to Alaska.

Chelsea and Lindsey had been texting throughout the race, with Chelsea letting her know where we were and how it was going and Lindsey letting her know where we could see her out on the course. As we approached the 26 mile marker, Chelsea told me Lindsey was up ahead and there she was with my dad! Right after we saw them we saw the Run Ohana who screamed their faces off and then we turned the corner onto Boulevard of the Allies and there it was. The finish line. I bolted towards it. Chelsea later asked me where the hell that final sprint came from and I still have no idea. I couldn’t feel my feet and hoped I wouldn’t trip that close to the finish and I ran out of air with about 100 feet to go but there wasn’t anything that could stop me. 

The taste of sweet victory.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to Jeff and Chelsea for helping me achieve this goal. You two are amazing. 

The Marathoners of the family!

The future marathoner. Look out, Kara Goucher! 

Those things were NOT sturdy and I almost fell over multiple times.

<3 <3

This photo from the finish line sums it up the best:

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