Pittsburgh Part 1 of 3: The Important Part First

By now you probably know, I am a MARATHONER! I don’t think I’ve been so excited in all of my life (I think I said that after my first half, but now I feel like that again, only I ran a full). I have been smiling all day.
The Pittsburgh Marathon Race Report is going to be two parts (unless I get too excited and post it all tonight!). I have a lot to say and I want to take my time writing about my experience.
SO … I decided to get the important part out of the way first – the Expo! You know it’s all about the shirt and the swag and the pre-race-I-could-have-easily-spent-hundreds-of-dollars-there jitters. It was so much fun!
Pittsburgh was about a three hour drive from where I live and by the time we got downtown, I was more than ready to pick up my bib and packet. We got there about 3:30 p.m. or so and while I was certain I would have enough time to pick it up before the Expo closed at 6:00 p.m., the traffic into the city on a Saturday afternoon had me more nervous than I could handle. It felt like most of our time in the car was the last 30 miles of the trip! Columbus is never that crowded on a Saturday – even with our marathon!
My dad dropped Michael (husband) and I off outside the convention center since the line to park was out of control (I found out later is was because the pedestrian crosswalk crossed the street into the convention center garage and practically every car had to stop to let swarms of runners and their families across). With my confirmation ticket in hand – and after stopping to pee twice (yes, twice, it was kind of ridiculous) – I made it into the Expo and darted through the crowd to pick up my bib. The volunteer handed it to me and I remember clinging to it for dear life as I stopped to pick up my shirt and swag.
My bib:
My shirt:
I love the green shirt, but I really wish it was short sleeves so I could wear it this summer instead of having to wait for cooler temperatures in the fall.
The swag:
My Marathon backpack consisted of a sampling of edible goodies, some super-soft (and super-light) Nike socks, a water bottle, pen, blinking light (great for running in the dark, I’m sure!), and an Arctic Ease cold-therapy compression wrap (I hoped I wouldn’t need it).
Mollie (sister) and my dad joined us in the Expo and as soon as we were sure the boys were set to find something to do not shop – we hit the booths!
It was like a Sara’s runner’s paradise – running and shopping all mixed together under one roof with other people who were just as excited as we were!
We met up with Suzi (one of my MIT Lucky 13 buddies) and her family and made plans for a pasta dinner at Bravo after everyone got settled in the hotel.
After that, we the first thing I did was look for a short-sleeved race shirt. Dick’s Sporting Goods was the place to be (clearly, since they were the main sponsor). I found what I was looking for and it fit me perfectly – thanks Nike!
My not-so-official race shirt:
And, I found another shirt that I think will look cute with a pair of jeans this summer. Thanks to my sister for bearing with me through the selection and fitting process. It is made by thrive organics and was a bit pricey at $40 bucks for a T-shirt, but was really going on you only get one first marathon and now I really didn’t have the option to not finish!
Fun shirt front:
Fun shirt back:
Then we found the place where we went a little crazy and spent the most time – Lift Your Sole. IF YOU HAVE NOT CHECKED OUT THESE GEMS YOU NEED TO – NOW! They carry a wide variety of endurance, sport, motivational and inspirational jewelry and accessories that are very reasonably priced for the design and quality. My. New. Favorite. Place.
Of course I had to get something to remember my first 26.2! I liked the winged heart because it reminds me of so many things – my mother who is in Heaven now, my love for running and my wish to let my heart and soul soar in the race I was about to run. The heart is not all the way flat so it does appear to be flying. Plus, I wear a lot of silver and gold and this was just perfect to go with anything I was wearing!
Charm #1:
I also found the perfect pendant (on sale!) reminiscent of my mother’s favorite quote by John Bingham, The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” It says: 26.2 – COURAGE TO START – STRENGTH TO ENDURE – RESOLVE TO FINISH. Yup, I’d say that was pretty much everything that was about to happen to me in less than 24 hours.
Charm #2:
And then we found it while perusing the various charms and necklaces – a LUCKY 13 charm. I about choked. Mollie and I had a freak-out session right then and there with millions of people standing around. Mollie said the only three words that applicable: Meant to be. I almost called each of my Lucky 13’s to personally tell them of my discovery. I wonder if I can buy them in bulk? I still cannot believe my eyes when I look at it!
The find of the Century Charm #3:
I screamed wildly for Michael and my dad and after showing it to each of them, they responded with the characteristic manly, “Oh, cool” and “Oh, that’s nice.” Then my dad added, “Mom would have wanted you to have a charm.” My mom would have loved shopping at the Expo with us for sure!
After most of the day’s excitement died down, I called up Duane – my personal Pittsburgh/Marathon Coach and Idol (he picked the course, ran a marathon already and got me the best job in the world helping him Coach the 13 minute MIT Pace Group) – and we met Suzi and her family for dinner.
I was pretty nervous at dinner – there was some intense conversation, as you can see:
Mollie could barely handle the stress, herself:
 And just look what it did to Michael:
After dinner we all headed back to the hotel and I laid out all of my clothes and gear for the next morning. Michael had a small freak—pout over our alarm being set at 4:20 a.m., but he quickly got over it (I may have helped with a look) and he even tucked me into bed.
I slept on and off all night, I think. I kept drinking-and peeing-and drinking-and peeing. I was nervous and scared and excited all at once. I checked and rechecked and rechecked my alarm and then gave up and called in a wake-up call to the front desk just to be sure.
I laid awake in bed for awhile thinking about how I was actually more scared then I think I had ever been in my life. Then, I started thinking how I wouldn’t have the one person who always told me I could do it (her last email to me said, We have all the faith in the world in you that you will complete this goal that you have had for so long. You will succeed!!!!) and who always believed in me – my mom – by my side in the morning. I wanted so badly to see her when (well, if) I crossed the Finish Line.
I fell into a restless sleep praying and dreaming that when I did wake up in the morning it would all be a horrendous nightmare and my mom would be knocking at my door at 5:00 a.m. ready to take 279 pictures. I dreamed of her at the start line, even though my mind knew she wouldn’t actually be there.
Yet, I had no idea who I would find waiting for me as I began my journey to 26.2 miles in the morning…
Until the next mile marker (or until I can’t stand it anymore),


  1. Holy crap, Mollie looks ridic! I always thought I made crazy faces, but dang.

    I’m still mad that I wasn’t there! I’m glad you had so much fun the night before and I can’t wait to read the rest of your recap.

  2. Awesome shopping trip Sara!!! Sounds like you really lived in the moment and took all the expo had to offer and more!


  3. More please …

  4. Part 2 Please! Kthxluvubye! 😀

  5. Awesome Swag bag! I cant wait for the rest of the recap!

  6. HOORAY!!! YOU’RE A MARATHONER!!!! Well done, my lady…

  7. LOVE!! Wow — that lucky 13 charm – what a find!! I can’t wait for the rest, I’m dying for it like it’s the season finale of my favorite show!!

    PS: I love the courage to start – quote… I need to chant that right now

    PSS: Thank you for your post on my blog today – I needed that even more.


  8. More please …

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.