Runner of Steel

In one week, I’ll be returning to the Pittsburgh Marathon to reclaim my “Runner of Steel” title. Pumped, pysched, anxious, wired…the list goes on for the emotions racing through my body right now, and so I write to find solace.

My first marathon experience in Richmond, VA, was filled with numerous challenges, including a knee injury that caused it to be an exceptionally long and painful race. Vowing to return the next year, I went home and registered for the race a few days later, and set out on a search for a spring marathon to add to my race calendar. I HAD to know what my time would have been, and there was no way I was going to wait another year to find out. Pittsburgh was the closest marathon event to me, and where I attended college and graduate school, so my love for the Steel City certainly swayed my decision, despite lots of negative reviews. Still, fear and uncertainty held me back from registering right away. Thankfully, I snapped out of that self-defeating funk and practiced what I always preach.

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I registered in January and never looked back, but not before going fromIMG_1434“Ahhh! What did I just do?!” to

IMG_1356“Here we go again!” 

Pittsburgh really has a way of drawing one in. Earn the title “Runner of Steel” was one of my favorite parts of the race, and you had better believe I utilized it any chance I got. The mere sight of the signs posted all over the city and bridges sent me into a fit of childish glee, and I couldn’t wait to earn my name. I even had a photo taken underneath of one of them.

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To say the least, the 2012 Pittsburgh Marathon was a FANTASTIC event! The organization and volunteers were wonderful, and everyone involved was so friendly and encouraging. I honestly don’t know why Pittsburgh hasn’t been labeled one of America’s Friendliest Marathons, because the spectators were just as amazing as Richmond’s.  I’ll never forget one in particular around mile 19 in East Liberty, where a man was calling out “Ya’ll are an inspiration!” While Richmond will always hold the special “first” place in my heart, Pittsburgh was my “first” marathon run without injury and I loved every minute of it (especially the finish line)! I vowed to run this race again (and again) in the future.

I went on to reclaim Richmond six months later, this time finishing uninjured with a PR of nearly 20 minutes. Success!  After running three marathons in 12 months, I took a break from marathons for the past year and a half. Spring came, and it was very difficult to read/hear/see all the hype over Pittsburgh Marathon 2013 and not be a part of it, but I kept reminding myself of why I needed a break. Then this happened.IMG_7549

A friend of mine had run the half, and not only was she a two-time “Runner of Steel,” but they had created a medal that reflected it. That was enough to light a spark in me to return sooner rather than later to secure my own. It’s the simple things… 😉

Back in October, I came close to registering for this race on opening registration day, but instead ended up canceling my order. Each month the rates continued to increase, and still I held back. I knew I would surely regret it if I didn’t run, but I had other goals in mind that didn’t align with marathon training. 1503838_693044520738419_1589371104_n

Eight weeks ago, I caught the marathon buzz, and it just wouldn’t let go no matter how much I rationalized reasons not to run this race. Then the words “I’m doing this,” escaped my lips, and I jumped into my training as though I had never stopped, feeling stronger than ever, but certainly not without challenges

So bright and early on May 4, 2014, I will be at that starting line, one in 30,000 runners, ready to secure my “Runner of Steel” medal I so desperately need desire.

Stay tuned! 😀

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