2013 Pittsburgh Half Marathon

I ran my fourth half marathon, and second Pittsburgh half, yesterday with 20,000+ friends yesterday. Initially I was disappointed to missing out on a spring marathon, but my training just wasn’t there coming off knee pain in the winter.

I reconfigured I don’t know how many plans to get to the starting line before deciding to do the half instead.

I’ve run 2 other half marathons (Wheeling WV and Myrtle Beach) and Pittsburgh is my favorite. There’s just something about running around this city that does it for me.

After hitting the expo early on Friday, we came back to Pittsburgh to stay with my aunt for the race. We did lots of running around Saturday, which is a nice change from a full when you really can’t do much before or after the race.

20130505_064641As usual, I got up much earlier than necessary, and was in corral C over an hour before the gun went off. For me, there is enough stress leading up to race day not to want to worry about getting there right on time and finding parking etc.

After attempting a warm up in the corral, the gun finally went off.

My plan was to use the race as “just another” long training run. That’s easier said than done, but I didn’t want to push the pace and wind up injured.

I figured a leisurely 10:45-11:00 pace would do the trick. Because of this, I began at the very back of C to be safe.

After passing the first mile marker passed the Strip, I saw a friend from Wheeling. I sped up to talk to him for a minute, but he was shooting for a 3:40 marathon finish so I let him go on his way (he finished about 3;55 I think). At the 2 mile marker I passed an older man running in jorts who claims he runs one day a year, and it’s always the Pittsburgh Marathon…. His number looked legit, but the outward appearance suggested otherwise!

20130505_075231After the Strip came 3 back to back bridges. The one out of the Strip is nothing special, but the Rachel Carson bridge coming back into downtown, and the 7th street bridge heading back our are pretty cool. This was where I saw my cheering section for the first of two times. Aubrey and Christy were there, along with her sister, my niece and nephew, my aunt, cousin and her daughter all yelling and ringing cowbells for me.

Nothing special happened on the north side or the west end that stands out. Along E. Carson Street, I had the fortune to see my friend Michael who was biking the course cheering for friends. I almost didn’t recognize him, but as I was looking back at him with his bike helmet on he recognized me and YELLED my name. It certainly helped!

After making my way through the South Side it was up the last bridge for the last 2.1 miles of the race. I actually towed the center line as long as I could see the full and half split. I even contemplated how I would text my wife to tell her I went crazy and ran the full instead. I also had visions of calling her around mile 16 begging her to come get me….

I thought better of it and made the left out of the south side.

I knew my cheering section would be stationed near Grant Street and the finish wasn’t far behind.I ran passed them, gave my 4 year old the all important high five, saw Mark from Cranberry on the side, and finished with an 11 minute per mile average pace. Fairly pedestrian compared to my 2011 half finish in the low 1:50’s but that was my plan and I’m pleased to have stuck to it.

It wasn’t easy to stick to my original plan, but coming off an injury, and not being in great race shape, I knew it was the right decision for me. I plan on dedicating the next 3-4 months to rebuilding a nice aerobic base before running the Mt. Nittany Marathon in September.

Race Signs

I complained to someone lately that the marathon signs I’ve seen lately have gone stale. That is I tend to see the same ones over and over. I saw a few new ones this time I liked:

  • If this were easy it would be called your momma
  • Run faster I just farted
  • For a good time tweet @Cprior2 (a twitter friend)
  • Run faster the Pens are on at noon
  • And one that just said Motivational Sign

I really want to run the Pittsburgh Marathon again next year, and am hoping playing yesterday smart will lead to 12 months of great training leading up to it.


Someone I don’t know took this picture as I was coming back across the 7th street bridge. He posted it on Twitter, WPXIScott retweeted it, and my buddy Chris spotted me in it. I can’t imagine the odds of being captured in the picture all the way to me seeing it, but here it is:

Twitter Bridge Shot

  • Kristy @

    Way to go, congrats! You’ve got some running willpower, sticking to the plan is tough!! That guy you talked to, I think, is one of the guys that has ran EVERY Pgh marathon. My friend talked to him in 2009, at the 1st one under Dick’s, and I remember her telling me that he only runs one day a year, which is the marathon.
    That “nothing special” bridge in the Strip, the 16th St. Bridge, is my favorite in Pgh, LOL. Such a beautiful bridge!

    Congrats again.

    • Russell Dunkin

      Thanks Kristy. Running Erie and Akron at (roughly) planned paces convinced me I could use races as training runs. Pinning on the number certainly complicates that mentally but I think I have it down to a sceince…

      As for the 16th St. Bridge, it’s fine. The other two are better during the race (for me) since they’re open and you can see the city etc.