Apr 22

Pittsburgh Marathon Training Week Fifteen

Before I get into my training recap, I have to mention yesterday’s Boston Marathon finish. It was such an emotional race for me to watch (listen to) from start to finish. First off, seeing the start line and knowing I was there last year made me incredibly thankful I had the chance to experience it. Second, watching Meb finish for the US was incredible. We took back our finish line, literally! Then I had my friends to track. A couple of them were repeat runners, an incredible thing to experience more than once, and one friend who was denied the finish line last year due to the bombings, finally got to finish what she started! Yup, an emotional morning for me.

Exhausting really. LOL.


Boston is over and Pittsburgh is around the corner, literally. 11 days away. To say I’m anxious already is an understatement. Coach K keeps telling me to relax, but honestly, I don’t know who he’s kidding, he’s worse than I am. Sorry K, but it’s true. ;) My Taper officially started last week. A drop in miles but not too far down that it was THAT noticeable. The during-the-week miles were pretty much the same but the weekend was considerably lighter. This week there is another big drop in miles. The week will be lighter AND the weekend. This is where the taper gets tough. You’re going along, hard, and making significant progress, then BAM! It all slows down and you wait. Wait to run, wait to race, wait to test your training. It’s harder than you think.

So, to recap last week: Tuesday, 5 easy miles (9:19) coming off my 20 miler last Sunday. Wednesday was another 5 miler at an (8:42) pace during lunch on a beautiful sunny day and Thursday was another 5 mile tempo at (8:32).

20140421-212105.jpgI knew the weekend was going to be a little tricky with Easter on Sunday so I flip flopped my runs. 12 miles on Saturday and a 4 mile pace run on Sunday instead of the other way around. I choose a very hilly course for my 12 miler on Saturday to get a “feel” for hills. Yeah, they stink and still make me cranky, but I need to power over them in 11 days, so it was good practice. Sunday, after a family Easter breakfast, I took Cooper along for my 4 pace miles. He did okay, but really needs shaved – too much hair = one HOT doggie. He sat in the shade while I finished my last 1 mile loop around the high school.

20140421-213627.jpgThis week’s training (Taper Week Two)

  • Monday – Rest (roll, roll)
  • Tuesday – 4 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday – 4 x 800 (7:48 pace with jogs in between)
  • Thursday – 4 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Friday – Rest
  • Saturday – 3-4 miles at marathon pace (8:47 – 8:57)
  • Sunday – 8 slow long distance miles (9:27 – 9:57) I really NEED to stick to this slow pace!

For all of you tapering, stick to your plans! Nothing you do right now will make much difference. You’re training and hard work are done. Trust it. This is actually starting to sink in for me.

Need tips for running Pittsburgh’s Marathon Course? Visit my mile by mile breakdown with elevation information here.

Have a great week.


Apr 21

Monday Motivation

Never give up

Apr 17

The Pittsburgh Marathon Course – mile by mile with elevation and details

2014_Run_Home_Blogger_BannerFinally, the post you’ve been waiting for. At least some of you have been asking about it for a while now. The Pittsburgh Marathon course mile by mile with elevation information and details. During my taper, this is what I do; familiarize myself with the course so I know exactly what’s coming. I call it “getting to know the enemy”.

Through my memory of the course, and the added details that I missed from Coach K, I think this gives you a pretty good idea of what’s coming with tips for running a strategic race.

Elevation gains are marked in red and losses in green. I hope you find this useful on race day and it helps you earn your Runner of Steel title. Want an elevation adjusted Pace band? Please see the end of this post for details.


Mile 0-1 (elevation gain 14 feet elevation loss -5 feet) Total net elevation gain +9 feet

Liberty Avenue between 6th Street and 7th Street

 Mile 1-2 (elevation gain 2 feet and elevation loss -7 feet) Total net elevation loss -5 feet

Follow Liberty Avenue to 29th Street, Left onto 29th Street, Left onto Penn Avenue

Details: The energy at the start line is fantastic in Pittsburgh. The wave start is helpful in keeping groups separated, but with this many runners the first couple of miles are considerably congested. Use this to your advantage by not sprinting off the start mat. I’ve made the mistake of weaving in and out of runners to reach a specified pace quickly, but advise against it. Watch other runners here! People will not be paying attention and will jump in front of you. There will be plenty of time to pick a spot when the first hill emerges in mile 2-3


Mile 2-3 (elevation gain 34 feet and elevation loss 0 feet) Total net elevation gain +34 feet

Follow Penn Avenue to 16th Street, Right onto 16th Street

Details: You will hit your first water stop here which is always CRAZY. Advice from Coach K is to immediately go to the end of the water line here and avoid the crowd. Look for volunteers with only ½ a cup of water to void spilling it all over yourself. Drink early, and often! When you get to the bridge, the turn gets tight and congested, watch your footing and other runners around you.

Mile 3-4 (elevation gain 6 feet and elevation loss -46 feet)  Total net elevation loss -40 feet

Cross 16th Street Bridge, Left onto East Ohio Street, Follow East Ohio to Cedar Avenue, Left onto Cedar Avenue, Right onto Stockton Avenue (North Canal), Left onto Anderson Street

Mile 4-5 (elevation gain 40 feet and elevation loss -8 feet ) Total net elevation gain +32 feet

Follow Anderson Street across the 9th Street Bridge, Right onto Ft. Duquesne Blvd, Right onto 7th Street Bridge, Follow the 7th Street Bridge onto Sandusky Street

Mile 5-6 (elevation gain 27 feet and elevation loss -9 feet ) Net elevation gain +18 feet

Follow Sandusky Street onto East Commons, Left onto North Commons, Left onto West Commons, Right onto Ridge Avenue, Proceed onto West Ohio Street, Proceed onto Western Avenue

Details: This back and forth across the bridge is the first point you can start hitting your race pace. Around the Commons through miles 5 and 6 have a lot of turns. Again, watch your footing and other runners. This is typically the first “re-fueling” point. Try to time your GU with a water station to wash it down.


Mile 6-7 (elevation gain 14 feet and elevation loss -18 feet ) Total net elevation loss -4 feet

Follow Western Avenue to West End Bridge, Proceed over West End Bridge, Turning slightly right onto East Steuben Street

Mile 7-8 (elevation gain 4 feet and elevation loss -24 feet) Total net elevation loss -20 feet

Proceed to Alexander Street, Left onto Alexander Street, Left onto South Main Street, Right onto West Carson Street

Details: Watch this downhill. Slower runners may get in your way and relay slackers start walking. Try not to weave in and out of people, adding steps and time to your race.


Mile 8-9 (elevation gain 18 feet and elevation loss -21 feet) Total net elevation loss -3 feet

Follow Carson Street

Mile 9-10 (elevation gain 25 feet and elevation loss -24 feet) Total net elevation gain +1

Continue to follow Carson Street past the Birmingham Bridge to South 24th Street

 Mile 10-11 (elevation gain 12 feet and elevation loss -9 feet) Total net elevation gain +3 feet

Turn left onto south 24th Street, Left onto Sidney Street

Mile 11-12 (elevation gain 89 feet and elevation loss -5 feet) Total net elevation gain +84 feet

Left onto South 23rd Street, Right onto Carson Street, Right onto the Birmingham Bridge using east lanes

Details: The long stretch of Carson Street seems to go on forever. But there are lots of people cheering you on along the way as you head into the Southside. Towards the end of Carson street, you’ll wave goodbye to your half marathon friends as 13.1 runners bear left and 26.2 runners keep right. This is clearly marked so no need to worry about getting confused. Mile 11 brings with it the first major hill in the marathon as you make your ascent into Oakland. Get your bearings on the far side of the Birmingham Bridge and prepare to climb. The relief at the top is visible in every runner. But don’t be fooled – the hard part and elevation gains aren’t over yet.



Mile 12-13 (elevation gain 75 feet and elevation loss -6 feet) Total net elevation gain +69 feet

Right onto Forbes Avenue

Mile 13-14 (elevation gain 49 feet and elevation loss -19 feet ) Total net elevation gain +30 feet

Left onto S. Craig Street Right onto Fifth Avenue

Details:  You’ll continue your climb into Oakland (mile 12-13), home of the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon campuses. Once you pass the Cathedral of Learning (you can’t miss it), they take your picture. Take this hill at a slower pace, just slow enough to not exhaust yourself but fast enough not to kill your time. There’s another climb up Fifth Avenue (mile 13-14) so shake your shoulders and arms out to prepare for the next couple miles. 


Mile 14-15 (elevation gain 43 feet and elevation loss -39 feet) Total net elevation gain +4 feet

Left onto S. Aiken Avenue, Right onto Walnut Street, Right onto S. Highland Avenue, Left onto Fifth Avenue

Details: There are some “hidden” climbs through this area. If you took it easy going up Fifth Avenue, you should be fine through these rollers.  If it’s a hot day, you will have some shade and relief through here.

Mile 15-16 (elevation gain 30 feet and elevation loss -1 foot) Total net elevation gain +29 feet

Right onto Penn Avenue – continue on Penn Avenue

Mile 16-17 (elevation gain 4 feet and elevation loss -61 feet) Total Net elevation loss -57 feet

Left onto North Braddock Avenue – follow North Braddock

Mile 17-18 (elevation gain 9 feet and elevation loss -39 feet) Total Net elevation loss -30 feet

Left onto Frankstown Avenue – follow Frankstown

Details:  These are tough miles. Concentrate on the mile you’re in. People who haven’t run a smart race up to this point, or skimped on training, will start to unravel here. If you’ve run a smart race, this is where you can start making your move by increasing your pace slightly. If you do that, you’ll most likely start passing people who are struggling. At this point your only focus should be making it to mile 18


Mile 18-19 (elevation gain 29 feet and elevation loss -36 feet) Total net elevation loss -7 feet

Right onto East Liberty Boulevard

Mile 19-20 (elevation gain 85 feet and elevation loss -7 feet) Total net elevation gain +78 feet

Right onto North Highland Avenue

Details: Everyone always focuses on the hill into Oakland and never talk about this. This hill is a HUGE climb. Repeat your mantras, occupy your mind, talk to the person running next to. This is the LAST hard part, just focus on that, and will be run on guts and determination! You just need to make it through this mile one step at a time. 


Mile 20-21 (elevation gain 8 feet and elevation loss -48 feet) Total net elevation loss – 40 feet

Left onto Bryant Street, Left onto North Negley Avenue

Details: I remember when I ran this marathon for the first time in 2011. A good friend told me that if I can make it to mile 20 feeling strong, you have the marathon in the bag. This is where you make your turn BACK to downtown. Try to push here and see how your body feels. Increase pace by 5-10 seconds and try to hold on.


Mile 21-22 (elevation gain 27 feet and elevation loss -35 feet) Total net elevation -8 loss

Right onto Baum Boulevard – follow Baum Boulevard

Miles 22-23 (elevation gain 23 feet and elevation loss -60 feet) Total net elevation loss -37 feet

Right onto Liberty Avenue

Details: This part of the course can get boring BEFORE you hit Bloomfield. The climb into Bloomfield will also feel like a mountain. Try to maintain pace and hang on because the downhill is coming.


Mile 23-24 (elevation gain 0 feet and elevation loss -146 feet) Total net elevation loss -146 feet

Follow Liberty Avenue

Details: Coach K says this is GO TIME! Get the legs moving and make up time lost from the climbs behind you. And he also wanted me to mention, they hand out beer at the brewery.


Mile 24-25 (elevation gain 5 feet and elevation loss 0 feet) Total net elevation gain +5 feet

Follow Liberty Avenue

Details: This is the part where you may feel like you’re in hell, literally. If it’s a hot day, it will feel hottest right here. It’s “no-man’s land” and runners, surprisingly, lose it here. I remember seeing runners on the ground left and right through this mile. But don’t let that scare you. Trust your training. Dig deep here, drink some water, and just get through to mile 25. This is make or break time.


Mile 25 – 26.2 (elevation gain 12 feet and elevation loss -11 feet) Total net elevation gain +1 foot

From Liberty Avenue, bear left onto Smithfield Street, Right onto Boulevard of the Allies, follow the Boulevard of the Allies to the finish line.

Finish line on the Boulevard of the Allies between Stanwix Street and Commonwealth

Details: you may feel another surge of adrenaline as you approach the finish. Embrace this, pull out and give everything you have left to finish strong.

Elevation information provided by MyMarathonPace.com. Want a pace band that’s elevation specific? If you’re like most people, you run slower uphill and faster down. Visit MyMarathonPace.com. Input your goal finish time and My Marathon Pace will adjust your pace according to elevation and help you reach that goal. They also provide a printable pace band to wear on race day. I’ve tried this out and absolutely love it.

Apr 15

Pittsburgh Marathon – Training Week Fourteen (when runs go bad)

20140414-200043.jpgI would feel bad NOT mentioning Boston today, the one year anniversary of the attack on such a cherished race. The media is really doing a great job covering the “one year later” so I won’t go into any of that. I’ve written about my experience and memories here and here so if you feel inclined you can re-visit those posts.

Now on with week fourteen. Last week was one of those weeks when nearly EVERY run felt great! I had energy, my legs felt great, and my mood matched! Tuesday was an easy 6 miles at a relaxed pace. Wednesday was hill sprint/repeat day and I did those later in the day around my neighborhood with Cooper. The little guy did fantastic, but started to lose his pep after 2.5 miles, so I dropped him off at home to recuperate while I did the other 2.5.  Thursday was another easy day on the treadmill followed by a day of rest on Friday.

Saturday the forecast was beautiful and it didn’t disappoint. It was shorts and a tee shirt for my 5 mile pace run. I didn’t have 15 layers on and it only took me a few minutes to get dressed. Typically I’m layering and layering, tucking and covering. It takes me longer to get dressed some days in the winter than to run a mile. No joke. Saturday was supposed to be a pace run, but I was feeling so good, that I effortlessly (well, almost effortlessly) ran 5 miles at an 8:25, nearly 30 seconds under marathon pace. Good times. Pictures from last week:

20140414-192711.jpgThis is where the week kind of took a turn. Now on to the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad run. My last 20 miler before I taper. I was so excited to get out and run this because I was feeling so great all week. I expecting to kill it. Instead, it nearly killed me. Ha, not quite, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I knew the temperatures were going to be warm…I mean WARM. A drastic shift from my previous long runs. I SHOULD HAVE started early, but I had something very important going on Saturday night (High School Musical) which kept me out and up late. I decided a good night sleep was just as important and didn’t start running until 10:00am. By 11:30, it was up near 80 degrees. Yikes. Remember the 20 degree rule? Yeah, it felt like 100 degrees after 10 miles.

I was trying to hit negative splits again and managed it for the first 15 miles (9:26, 9:26, 9:25) and then I started to overheat. My water I was carrying was getting warm fast, I was stopping at the water pumps in North Park to dump and refill with cold water. (thank god they were on) and found myself walking here and there through miles 17 and 18. At mile 19 I felt like I was going to be sick and when I was finished I was sick to my stomach for about 20 minutes. It was the heat, no doubt. One one hand, it was a horrible run, on the other hand, it reminded me that I need to prepare for a warm marathon and come up with a game plan to stay cool. Coach K and I discussed it at length today and I feel like I have somewhat of a plan.

I got the miles in, and at the end of the day, my overall pace was a 9:28. Pretty much where I want to be even though the ending stunk. A few weeks ago, I crushed my 20 miler and that’s the one I’ll focus on. ;)

Sunday’s run:

20140414-195133.jpgThis week: Taper – Week One

  • Monday: Rest
  • Tuesday: 5 miles (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday: 5 miles (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Thursday: 5 mile tempo (mid miles at 8:15)
  • Friday: Rest
  • Saturday: 4 miles at marathon pace (8:47-8:57)
  • Sunday: 12 miles (9:27 – 9:57)


Thursday I’m finally posting the Pittsburgh Marathon course mile by mile with elevation. Stay Tuned!

Apr 14

Monday Motivation



Apr 09

Negative Splits and EnergyBits! A Review

Last Sunday I did a long run and guess what? It wasn’t freezing cold, it wasn’t snowing, raining, icy or windy. I know, it’s hard to imagine. Almost EVERY Sunday has challenged me and every other runner in Pittsburgh with less than favorable weather. Last Sunday, however, was gorgeous. Sunny, with a slight breeze, not too warm and not too cold – just right.

I did my 15 miles with my new favorite: NEGATIVE SPLITS, progressing in pace until I hit my goal marathon pace for the last 5 miles. It felt great and this run can go in the books as another confidence builder which is very important at this stage of the game. (5 mile splits: 9:42, 9:36, 8:54)

20140408-230058.jpgThese long runs are SOOOO important as the marathon gets closer. Coach K calls them “dress rehearsals” for race day. He always tells me to wear the same socks, shoes, “unmentionables”, and gear that you’ll be wearing when you get to the start line. And just as important, what you eat before and during your long run should be pretty much nailed down by now and carried out in the same way it would be prior to and on race day.

I feel pretty good about my hydration and fuel, but this past Sunday, I added something extra to my routine. Right before I ran I ate one serving of ENERGYbits. I’ve heard other runners talking about them so when I received a sample pack, along with lots of supplemental information in the mail, I was really anxious to try them.

logo1In a nutshell, ENERGYbits are food, not a supplement and are 100% organic green chlorella and spirulina algae. I stress that they are a food, because though they make looks like pills, vitamins or a supplement, they’re NOT man made. Algae is a crop that’s grown, not produced in a lab. Think, tiny dried concentrated vegetables. It’s recommended that you swallow or chew 30-40 bits at a time for the following benefits:

  • high concentration of nitric oxide which opens up blood vessels
  • high concentration of antioxidants (extremely nutrient dense)
  • Great protein source (64% – the highest concentration in the world) WAY more than a steak
  • Improved stamina and energy
  • curbs appetite
  • improves digestion without any stomach discomfort
  • enhances the immune system
  • Is anti-aging
  • Low in calories

Honestly, the list really does go on. Plus, they are 100% vegan, organic, gluten free and certified Non-GMO. And you know what caught my eye out of all of the above benefits? Curbs appetite. You may have heard me mention more than once that I always get this really hungry feeling after mile 15 that gels just don’t satisfy. I was curious to see what would happen if I followed my regular routine but just added a serving of ENERGYbits just before I started running.

20140408-232439.jpgI wasn’t quite sure about swallowing 30-40 bits at a time, so I divided them in two and did half and immediately the other half. I swallowed them rather than chewing them cause “it’s OK to swallow” :) and they went down much easier than I thought. I was a little concerned at first that they would upset my stomach, all these bits at once, but they didn’t at all. Taste? Well, I swallowed them so didn’t taste much, but are probably an acquired taste. And as far as that hungry feeling…I never got it. I’ll have to try these again to verify that they were the reason, but I feel pretty hopeful that they helped.

The other thing I noticed was how I felt after my run. Typically I feel great right after a run, for a while, and then I come off that high and crash. I would say 85% of the time I need an afternoon nap, even if it’s only 30 minutes. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, but no nap required this week. I came home did some things around the house, made dinner did some analyst work and never really crashed. Again, it’s something I would have to verify with another run, but I’m hopeful.

I’m packing them for my 20-mile run this Sunday to see how they perform with an extra five miles. This time I think I’ll take half at the start of the run and half in the middle to see the difference. I have to say that I’m really impressed with everything I’ve read about them and think that this could actually be considered a perfect food. I’ve dabbled a little bit with spirulina here, but nothing this pure or concentrated.

To find out more about ENERGYbits, click the logo above to visit their site. When I recap my long run next week, I’ll be sure to comment on the ENERGYbits affect and hopefully report the same results. To read more reviews, please visit the ENERGYbits Pinterest page.

Please note: ENERGYbits provided me with samples for this post, however, I WAS NOT compensated for my review. 


have you ever tried ENERGYbits? Was it a good experience?


Apr 08

Pittsburgh Marathon – Training Week Thirteen

2014_Run_Home_Blogger_BannerWow, I almost named this Training Week Twelve! They are just flying by. Here it is, the peak week. I’ll probably hit my highest mileage. The plan says 40 miles, but I may push a little each run and actually hit 45. (Don’t tell Coach K I’m planning on deviating from “the plan”) My legs are feeling good, my head is in the right place, so I figure I can let a few miles slide in.

I found this today and thought it was very appropriate. It can also be applied to training for the 26.2 miles:

26.2 trainingIt’s been 16 weeks of sleeping, eating and breathing marathon training. Is it obnoxious to say that I’m really proud of myself? Despite a few rocky moments and a few missed runs (AHHHHHHH), I’m feeling pretty good about training. Not only because of the miles I’ve run, but because I did it without the rest of my life falling apart. It’s certainly a balancing act which deserves a post in itself. This is my last week of intense training and then the taper. More discussion on that at a late time. ;)

So last week, I stayed close to the plan except for one day. I just had scheduling conflicts last Wednesday and actually missed a run. I’ve never missed a run unless something was hurt, period. But the day just got away from me. It is what it is. It guess there’s truth in the saying “either you run the day or the day runs you” I lost last Wed.

I did however run Tuesday, an easy 5 miles at a relaxed pace. I ran a five mile tempo on Thursday and 8.17 miles Saturday at goal marathon pace. (8:53) Saturday’s run was a little disappointing. It was cold, with the windchill, very cold, and I just didn’t feel all that strong. Luckily, I turned it around and had a great run Sunday, which will be covered in a separate post with a review included, (spoiler alert)

20140407-133626.jpgFavorite recovery smoothie from last week: Banana Berry :)


So, this week looks like this:

  • Monday – Rest (stretch, roll)
  • Tuesday – 5 miles easy (9:12 – 9:27)
  • Wednesday – 5 miles Hills Sprints (yup)
  • Thursday – 5 recovery miles (927 – 9:57)
  • Friday – Rest (stretch, roll)
  • Saturday – 5 miles GMP (8:47 – 8:57)
  • Sunday – 20 miles Slow Long Distance (9:27 – 9:57)

Well, looking at the schedule, I can pretty much guarantee I won’t tack any extra miles on to Wednesday. Ha!


Who else is getting ready to TAPER??

Apr 07

This Morning’s Segment – Pittsburgh Today Live – Exciting!!

In case you missed this morning’s segment, this was my “five minutes of fame” on Pittsburgh Today Live. I have NEVER been on TV before and I was so nervous thinking about it all weekend. I had a pretty good idea of what they were going to ask, but spent much of my long run yesterday thinking about how I would answer. I was so afraid I was going to draw a blank, talk too fast, stumble over my words, but it turned out okay all-in-all. To be honest, I could have talked running and blogging for a full hour. :)

Rich drove down with me and Laura from Pittsburgh Marathon Media was there as well to keep me company until it was my turn to go on set. “On set” sounds so professional. HaHa.

Here are a few pics from this morning and the video:

Me outside the green room and Rich hanging inside for moral support.

Me outside the green room and Rich hanging inside for moral support.


The “set”

Apr 07

Monday Motivation


Apr 05

Link Love – Sharing my Favorite Links of the Week

Link-LoveGood morning! Happy Weekend! I just wanted to quickly share a couple of links this morning before I head out for my run. Hope everyone is enjoying their Saturday.

Link One

Nicole at Fitful Focus always has some great posts. In today’s link, she talks about the Five Race Day Essentials. Oh, and I’m pleased to see EnergyBits are right up there in the fuel category. ;) Nice post Nicole.

Five Race Day Essentials


Link Two

About two weeks ago I was craving spaghetti squash, so I made it. I kept it really simple and just ate it, pretty much, plain. Amber, at Eat and Exercise by Amber, offers up a great recipe that includes spaghetti squash. Honestly, I’m including it here not only to share with you, but to make sure I don’t lose track of the recipe. :) Thanks for sharing Amber!

Italian Spaghetti Squash Skillet


Link Three

Running-Usa.com is a site that I frequent often. I can always go there and find interesting reads about running, fitness in general, and nutrition. There’s a lot of runners out there gearing up for Spring marathons so I thought this article was particularly helpful as most of us are really stacking up the miles.

How to Deal with Running Injuries

link 3There you have it, a couple of good reads in your weekend leisure time. Enjoy!

Have a great post you’d like me to share? Head over to my contact page and drop me a note. :)

Older posts «


Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: