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Monday, September 26, 2016

Leaving It All Out There: The 2016 Richard S. Caliguri City of Pittsburgh Great Race

Feeling GREAT! (And loving my new CUCB arm warmers!)

If you've never run the Richard S. Caliguri City of Pittsburgh Great Race…what is WRONG WITH YOU?? This race is more than great. More than fantastic. It's amazing. I run it every year and I love it.

Things I love about the Great Race:

1. It starts at 9:30am. No 7:00am starts with a 5am wake-up call! I was able to roll out of bed at 7:30am, leisurely eat breakfast, drink my coffee, use the bathroom and get dressed. So relaxing. Perfect for race day.

2. It's mostly downhill. Not completely downhill, because this is still Pittsburgh. And mostly downhill is something to celebrate in this town. Yes, the race starts uphill, ok, I admit it. But that's a good wake-up. Then you get to roll down from Squirrel Hill past CMU into Oakland, chug up a gentle hill through Pitt, then down a nice hill onto the Blvd of the Allies and get a sweeping city view. Push up the hill at Duquesne and then you are literally downhill to the finish. Those downhills help my pace tremendously. It's perfect.

3. It's point to point. I love the feeling that I'm going somewhere. I love that when I'm done with a hill I'm DONE and I don't have to loop around it again - or, what would be even worse, turn around and GO BACK UP the hills we just went down.

4. It's a big race. Some people don't like running in crowds, but honestly, I don't mind. Big races mean pace groups, lots of water stops, plenty of people to pace off of, crowds cheering you on, and lots of people to pass. It can be hard to run on your own and having a crowd keeps you going. Well, it keeps me going. And a big race means extra features like getting your 5K split and 10K finish time texted right to you!

5. It's in September. Spring races are a little tough for me because my winter training can be sabotaged by bad weather and short daylight. Fall races are usually better because I'm coming off a summer chock full of cross training and good mileage. And September is my lucky month.

6. It's in my adopted hometown. This may not seem like such a big deal, but when you're a running mom, it's really handy to have a wonderful race like this nearby. I love that there are so many friends willing to help take care of the kids so my husband and I can run this together. We have a little routine that includes a bathroom break at a donut shop in Squirrel Hill, a traditional selfie before the race, and he always seems to find me right after I finish no matter how big the crowd is.

I worried about this race, frankly, because the week leading up to the race was focused mainly on writing. I had a huge idea I needed to get down on paper. That meant staying up later than I wanted to and missing some easy taper runs. But sometimes the needs of the writing mom outweigh the needs of the running mom. Friday I had an excellent run with a friend when we looped North Park lake. The word that kept popping into my head on that run was "restorative." I felt like my reserves had been refilled.

This year's race was my third fastest Great Race time, but second fastest post-baby time: 51:13, about 8:14 or 8:15 average pace.

In 2012, I ran my PR of 46:17 and in 1998 (before kids) I ran a 50:33. My mile splits were relatively even and when I crossed the mat at the 5K, my finish time prediction was right on!

5K Split Text

10K Finish Text

When I got home, I told my boys I left it all out on the race course. And I did. Every mile I ran my best and I don't think there is a spot in the race where I think I could've done better or pushed harder. I feel like I ran smart and I'm very proud of my finish. I hate those races where I feel strong and move quick for the first 75% and absolutely die for the last 25%. That did not happen yesterday. I used my first mile as warm-up then pushed hard through each subsequent mile to keep my cadence close to 90 and my pace strong. 

So, like I said to my boys, I left it all out there yesterday. And I told them I wanted to see them leave it all out there in their activities. 

And now I'm telling you: Leave it all out there. Do your best. Be proud of yourself. 

Have a great race. 

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