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Blood, Sweat, Tears and Pee; The Pittsburgh Half Marathon – A Love Letter

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Here we are all bibbed up and ready to go!!

I’m going to start off with a quote from my mother: “If someone told me five years ago that Bethany would be running a half marathon, I would have peed myself laughing.”

Funny story. While running the half marathon I actually did pee myself. But not from laughing. And not even a lot. Just a wee bit. Basically enough to make it look like I had a glandular problem. But I’m getting ahead of myself. This story really starts on Christmas morning, 2011.

Casey has always been a superior gift giver. I can freely admit that. One year for Christmas, I gave him a toaster. Who does that? What GIRL gives her BOYFRIEND a TOASTER? Granted, he didn’t have one, but still. That is like a husband getting his wife a vacuum for Mother’s Day. I was basically saying, ‘Merry Christmas. Now go make me some toast.’ Sexy!

Anyway. My point is that Casey has been smoking my ass at gift giving since day one. And this past Christmas was no different. My two favorite gifts were 1.) My Pittsburgh Marathon training sessions with Fleet Feet Pittsburgh, and 2.) two tickets to the Pittsburgh Wine Festival. LITERALLY my two favorite things. Running. Wine. (thus the blog name)

I noticed that they were a scant three days apart. Wine Fest, May 3rd. Marathon, May 6th. At the time it didn’t occur to me that this was a problem. I have this habit of giving myself way too much credit when it comes to events where restraint is in order. I figured we would go, have some wine, and go home. Because clearly I forget who I am sometimes.

I ran my Cooks Forest Half Marathon, I ran my Tough Mudder, aaaannnnnd that’s really about it. I went to Florida. Laid around on the beach. Drank rum. Ran once or twice. Nothing too pushy. Sure, somewhere in my brain I was worried that I wasn’t training hard enough, but the other part of my brain was like, Look. Listen. We are tapering. Relax and have a gelato.

Fair enough.

I get back from Florida Wednesday the 2nd, at approximately 11:00 p.m. Less than 24 hours later, Casey and I head to the Pittsburgh Wine Festival. If you haven’t been before, let me set the scene. Imagine Heinz Field filled with hundreds of wine vendors from all over the world. Table after table after table. After table. After goddamn table. If there is a heaven, it looks a lot like this. But with taco stands.

At first we played it cool. We would walk slowly up to a table, graciously ask for a sample, swirl, sniff, sip, thank them, and slowly walk to the next table.

This lasted for roughly three tables. After that, it was a free for all. We were racing giddily from table to table, cutting in line, demanding they ‘give us the good stuff’, chugging it down, belching, and running to the next table. Lest you think we were alone in our behaviors, let me assure you, we were not. Adult grown up people think just because it’s wine, they can get as drunk as they want and still be classy. If you’re spending $25 on a bottle of wine you’re not a drunk, you’re an aficionado.

Long story short, I went to bed at 3:00 am and woke up Friday morning with what I knew was going to be a two day hangover (I’m sorry. A deaficionadoing). I knew I was screwed for Sunday.

But I was going to give it my best shot. I was going to go, run and enjoy the day. I wasn’t going to run my best, or my fastest, but that was no one’s fault but mine. My dear Megan was running it with me, and we weren’t going to worry about PRs. We just wanted to have fun.

The night before my friend Jen texted me, to see if she could meet up with us to ride the train in together. She grew up in the country, and public transportation made her nervous. She also mentioned that she was still breast feeding, and had to pump before the race, so she would have her pump with her, and was that okay?

And that’s how we found ourselves on race morning, in the lobby of Gateway Plaza, asking a random security guard if she could stow her breast pump there. He looked alarmed (as he should. How often do three blonds in running shorts ask you to hold their breast pump?), but he gallantly agreed.

We then made our way to our starting corral, where I happened to bump into my neighbor. She was running in memory of her son, who had recently passed away. She had her friends with her, and we all cried together a little before the gun went off.

I had Megan by my side. As you may recall, Megan beat my time by well over 20 minutes at the Cooks Forest Half, and she could have easily gone and gotten herself a better time. But she did not. She stayed with me no matter how slow I was.

And at every step  I was reminded why I love this city do damn much. The kind, breast pump holding security guard, my neighbor, my friend, the legions of people lined up on the streets to cheer us on, the thousands of people running for charity, the gorgeous neighborhoods, the bands, the bridges, the views, and most of all, my fellow marathoners. We sang, we laughed, we danced, and yes. Some of us peed our pants a little.

WE DID IT! Man. Megan has some sweet ass arms. I’ve really never noticed that before.

I couldn’t have been prouder to a be a Pittsburgher that day. As I slowly made my way, with Megan, it renewed my faith in humanity. I’m not a religious person, but I felt the spirit of the city that day. And it was awesome.

So, no, I didn’t get my 2:15. I got 2:33. And I’m okay with that. I might have had a better time at the Cooks Forest Half, but I had the time of my life at the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

My dear friend Amanda, me, and Megan. Enjoying some post race Coronas. The first of many.

Yours in good spirits,



5 responses »

  1. Glad to hear you had the time of your life!!! Better train more next year haha!

  2. Girl, it WAS amazing, wasn’t it? NEXT YEAR, you’re going 26.2, am I right or am I right?!

    • You are right! This is the year of the half (halves?), but next year, I am all about the whole. BRING IT ON.

  3. It was a lovely day!! You did AMAZING and I couldn’t have asked for a better running partner. Oh by the way do you mind helping me pay my citation peeing in public? Thanks!


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