Feb 23

Spring Thaw Race Recap – A Pittsburgh Marathon Warm-Up

20140223-071413.jpgDuring marathon training, I always wonder how I’m doing. Am I on target? Is there something in particular I should be focusing on, a weak link? Yesterday’s 38th Annual Spring Thaw race answered some of those questions.

First off, I’ve been wanting to run this event for the past three years, but every year I’ve had a scheduling conflict. As a matter of fact, it was the first time I’ve ever raced in North Park, which is crazy considering the amount of events they have there. We were extremely lucky to have great weather on our side. Other than some wind, some pretty strong gusts, the temperatures were pleasant in the upper 40’s with sunshine. Considering we’ve been struggling with sub 20 degree temperatures over the past few weeks, this was a real treat.

I did a training run out there last weekend and ran almost the exact same course, so I was pretty familiar with the terrain. The race was 5 mile loops around the lake, the number of which depended on the distance you were going. Three loops for me. There were rolling hills, but nothing too steep, however, some of them can feel pretty long after 10 miles.

Pre-Race: I picked up my race bib and hat (pictured above) and must say, it was completely painless and very well organized. The runners were able to hang out in Rose Barn prior to lining up at the start line. It was warm, had restrooms (the lines were not long at all) and a DJ.


On my way to the restroom, I was so excited to run into one of my first facebook/blog followers Dan. Dan came from Ohio for the race and we kind of recognized each other at the same time. So cool to finally meet him.


After running into Dan, I was able to meet Mike, who also contacted me through this blog. We became friends on Daily Mile and he’s the one who actually helped re-shape my training plan. He’s been so great about answering all of my random running questions and has helped me get connected with some other Daily Mile runners. Today he introduced me to Stacey, and the three of us hung out a bit. It was great to keep company with such nice people. (who love to talk about running)


I also had a small snack, Honey Stinger Energy Chews. Two thumbs up on the Cherry Cola flavor. These were delicious and had just a touch of caffeine to give me a little boost. I’ll be adding these to my pre-race routine from here on out.


I also ran into Jen, who blogs over at The Local Elite. She is an amazingly talented/fast runner and me, the dummy, didn’t get a picture with her. Bad blogger! She is such an inspiration and I really love following her blog.

Now one to the race:

Loop One: (Time 42:42, 8:32 pace) The first few miles always feel hard to me, as it typically takes a few to warm up. Today, I also decided to NOT carry a water bottle but to practice actually stopping at the water stations. I loved not having to carry the bottle, but did have to walk at every station to drink. Need more practice. :) At the end of the first loop I was feeling good and at the 6 mile mark, I had my first gel and water.

Loop Two: (Time 43:38, 8:43 pace) Even though I slowed a little I still felt good. One good thing about running in loops, you figure out quickly where the pain points, and easy parts are. The wind seemed to pick up a little bit more on the second loop, or I could have just been more sensitive to it.

Loop Three: (Time 44:51, 8:58 pace) I struggled a little through miles 12 and 13 on this loop and hit a 9:00 and a 9:14 respectively. But was able to drop it back under 9:00 for the finish. The moments through 12 and 13 are what really in my mind, define me as real runner. Those moments when I’m questioning why I’m doing this. It hurts, it’s hard…..but I keep going and wait for the next “high” to come and sweep me out of the low. It’s always worth it when it’s over.

My goal pace for yesterday was 8:37, and I wasn’t able to hold that pace. looking back, I just went out too fast. A mistake that I make over and over again. I think one of my biggest struggles is defining what’s too fast for me. My other struggle is mental. I fear that if I start at an 8:45, I’ll just get slower anyway and end up with a finishing time I’m not happy with. It’s something that I have time to work on and improve on over the next several weeks. If I continue to slow at that rate every 5 miles, I won’t hit my goal in May.

I had a great time yesterday and went to bed with a sense of satisfaction. I also went to bed with several thoughts on how I can overcome obstacles that prevent me from reaching my goal.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend.



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  1. Jen B

    Great to meet in person and I can’t believe we didn’t get a pic either! Next time!

    I think all runners have the problem of starting too fast at some point in their racing. I know it has happened to me time and time again! I think it’s wonderful that you pulled out of the slump at 12-13 to finish strong though. Those are the moments that define the race and runner and will make you mentally and physically ready for the marathon! Awesome job!

    1. Kim

      Thanks Jen! Makes me feel better knowing I’m not the only one. Hoping it’s a valuable lesson learn and a mistake I won’t make May 4.

  2. Shaun

    First congrats on a nice time! I am so mad I was unable to run this race. Hopefully next year I will be able to

    1. Kim

      Thank you Shaun, it was a good event. I’ve had to pass on it the past couple years so I was glad to go yesterday. Hopefully next year you’ll participate.

  3. Running Bear

    It is very cool that you ran a test race at this point in your training program, seems like a good time to do it, test out your progress in training. Sounds like a very strong experience to build off of as the race gets closer. Congrats on a great time, and a nice hat.

    1. Kim

      Thanks – the hat is cute right? HaHa. I agree – good time to test things out. At least I know where I need to strengthen. Wish I could have maintained the goal pace, but on the other hand, this puts some fuel in the fire.

  4. Kristy

    First of all, I love the new blog banner. You did a good job!

    I do the same thing in races, and have the same thinking as you. I think we both just need to practice starting slower and finishing fast IN TRAINING, that way, we are used to it during races! (easier said then done, I know, one day I may actually do this).

    Congrats though, that’s still a great pace, and you were very close to your goal, and you still have a ton of time to get there!

    Watch out for Mike K., he’s trouble. 😉 (I kid of course).

    1. Kim

      Thanks! That’s not the exact banner I sent to PGH Marathon because of size, but close.

      You’re right, lots of time to work on this starting slower thing. I think I will do the march mad dash and make it a point to practice there as well as in training.

      Mike K says the same thing about you. (I kid too) LOL

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