By Princess Jodi
When my spring race calendar started to come together, a definite theme emerged: badass. Starting with Around The Bay, I would run my longest race ever on an infamously challenging 30K course and follow that up a month later by becoming a Runner of Steel while running the bridges of the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon. While I would always prefer to dress up like a Princess and run around Disney World taking photos every mile, sometimes I like to remind myself – and anyone else who needs to be reminded – that Princesses can be tough too.
Many people know about the famed Around The Bay race, and can understand the lure of that one – or at least, the lure of being able to say you finished it! But why would a Canadian runner, more often jetting off to Florida or California, choose Pittsburgh for a destination race? I am fielding this question a lot lately! And I get it.
A year ago, I was openly campaigning for a spot on the Another Mother Runner Ragnar Relay team. Soon enough, I’d win my spot. And I’d fly to California and run with my idols, Sarah Bowen Shea and Dimity McDowell. I’d run through some beautiful places while the sun was up and then run through the Valley of the Moon in the middle of the night. I’d struggle through the toughest, roughest, hardest run of my life in Napa Valley. I’d wear a tutu and try to sleep in a field and sing loudly and cheer wildly and crash completely when it was over. (Do you want to run a Ragnar? Click here for my post of tips and tricks!)
I had won an experience I will never forget. But I also won something else: a whole team of new BRFs, scattered across the United States. The Napa adventure ended, but we kept the conversation going and, soon enough, a reunion plan was hatched. We talked about various races in various places at various times of the year. But one day, a few members made the declaration that Pittsburgh was a go. And one by one, team members starting to commit to joining the crew in the ‘burgh.
Initially, I was not drawn to Pittsburgh as the destination. I had never heard of the race. I knew I’d likely run a spring half, but I’d been thinking of something more local. On the face of it, Pittsburgh didn’t make sense for me. Flights were super expensive, and the city wasn’t calling my name. But…
As peer pressure mounted (in the best way!), I checked out a map to see exactly where Pittsburgh was located. I realized I could drive it in the same amount of time I could fly it, once I factored in the drive to the aiport and the 3 hours I’d have to arrive before my flight. Then I started to look into the race itself. I had no idea what was to be seen on the run in Pittsburgh or why I’d want to sign up for a hilly, challenging race when I could find a fast, flat one much closer to me.
As I read race report after race report singing the praises of this well organized, unique race that takes runners over the many bridges of Pittsburgh, I started to get excited. As I read about earning the title “Runner of Steel”, the theme of my spring races started to come together. And the thought of seeing my teammates was too much temptation to resist. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a thing. And, besides, when else would so many of these awesome BAMRs be just 7 hours away?
As most of you know, many of the major races I do now involve Princess Laural. And I knew that I wanted my spring half-marathon to be no different. She and I had already been debating various spring half-marathons when Pittsburgh came onto my radar. I wanted to recruit Laural to join me for the road trip and the race, giving me the best of both worlds: getting to run with my BRF and my team. As with most of our schemes and plans, she was quickly on board and, in the blink of an eye, I was registered. BAMRs (re)unite!
Since then, I have been so impressed with the Pittsburgh race. I love races that communicate with their runners well ahead of race day. I appreciate having an event I can join on Facebook and share with friends. I love to see countdowns to race day on social media. I enjoy the medal reveals, updates, fun facts and general hype during training. It makes me feel like they have everything organized and under control, and are just waiting to set the stage for a great running experience. It assures me that I have made a good choice. Let’s face it, we can only do so many big races each year. You want your time, money and training to be worth it. And Pittsburgh has won my confidence.
Not all of our badass mother runners will be there, sadly, but the majority of the team will be on hand – some of them running the full, more of us running the half, all of us ready for a fabulous girls weekend on the run. From Golden Gate Bridge to the bridges of the ‘burgh, here we come!
After my slog of winter training on the treadmill and completing Around The Bay, I must admit I’m tired. My goal was endurance, distance and completion of that race (without dying) and indeed I reached those goals. But there was a price. It has left my legs heavy and I’m not finding much speed at the moment. My body does not seem to have gotten the memo that its participation is not optional in all of my plans! As a result, I won’t be racing this course in the ‘burgh, but running it with a happy heart and good friends. Just as I worked my way up in mileage, I am now focused on working my way back down to a place where I am more comfortable, where I can push myself in other ways. But first, I need to get my legs back under me and that is what I hope to do in Pittsburgh with great friends on the course. One of our team mates said the goal of this race should be “Peeps Over PRs”. I couldn’t agree more. This race is all about the people.
Tell Us: What is your goal race this Spring? Have you run Pittsburgh?