2016 Pgh Marathon recap

As usual, the 2016 Pittsburgh marathon was a great race, with a great atmosphere, great crowd support, tough hills, and lots of awesome runners. I am happy with the outcome, though it is not exactly everything I wanted.

The ups

  • Thanks to a bit of rain, the temperature could not have been any better. The race started in the high 40s and never got past the low 60s.
  • My hotel was only a couple of blocks from my corral entry, which means I got to use a fancy bathroom instead of standing in the porta-potty line.
  • Most of the race I was close to some runners sporting Penn State gear, which means we got some “We are”s from the crowd.
  • I love the super-heavy Runner of Steel finisher medal.
  • More importantly, I felt strong most of the race. I made it to mile 22 at my target BQ pace, and I got a 20 min (!) PR.


The downs

  • I left my lucky charm back home. Since my wife just had foot surgery last week, she couldn’t accompany  me to Pittsburgh.
  • The rain wasn’t heavy, but it did complicate things a bit. The worse part was the 90% humidity after it stopped raining.
  • Also, because of the chance of rain, the support crowd was not as big and enthusiastic as other times. I am very grateful to those that braved the rain and came out to show support. Volunteers and support crowds rock!
  • I should have done a dress rehearsal run. I usually run with Nike singlets. This time, I bought one of the fancier ones, and it turns out I am allergic to it. I didn’t feel anything at first. But, around mile 17, a fellow runner informed me I was bleeding from my back. As a matter of fact I was bleeding everywhere, from my back, chest, stomach and sides. I didn’t hurt much (except on my nipples) so I decided to endure it and deal with it after the race.
  • The biggest down for me is that I didn’t meet my BQ standard, and I didn’t finish strong. More about it below.
  • The walk from the finish line to my hotel was the most painful experience I remember. I had to stop by the medical tent to get some ice for my legs. And I had to stop a few times to lay on the ground and let my legs rest. The pain, not having my wife with me, and the disappointment of a so-so finish made for a somewhat unpleasant experience.  But everything was fine once I made it to my hotel room, changed into clean clothes and got in touch with my wife 🙂

The wall

  • The wall is very real. Of course it has to do with glycogen reserves and fatigued muscles, but the most real part for me is the mental defeat.
  • I hit mile 20 in under 2:22, which meant a BQ was within reach. I just had to do a 42 min 10k and my lungs and heart were feeling as strong as ever.
  • But my legs were not. I was feeling no pain at this point, only a bit of stiffness. But, as hard as I tried and as much as I pushed, I was no longer able to hit the 7:00 pace I needed. I kept checking my Garmin and reading 7:20, 7:40, 8:15, and not understanding why.
  • This time, the name of my wall was Disappointment. By the time I reached mile 23, I realized that I would need to finish with a 20 min 5k if I wanted to BQ. The 3:05 pacer passed me around this point. When I hit mile 24, I realized there were no more ‘ifs’ and ‘coulds’, the BQ was no longer within reach.
  • I realized it was not happening. I was so close, but not close enough, and I felt completely defeated. That was the moment my willpower ran out and I hit a hard wall.
  • I just wanted to finish and go home, and  I couldn’t push it any more. Everything started to hurt, I had to stop a few times, I walked the last two water stations and then I walked some more.  I did a 9 min 25th mile. The 3:10 pacer also passed me.
  • It was a hard finish. But a finish nonetheless. In the end, I got my medal, my PR, and a smile and a victory shot 😉


The outcome

  • I didn’t finish strong, and that always leaves a bit of a disappointing after taste.  But I ran a strong race overall and got a 20min PR.
  • My official time was 3:11:37. 
  •  I didn’t meet my time goal, but I did meet my target pace. Back in January I set as realistic goals a 3:10 finish @ 7:15 min/mile. According to my Garmin, my average pace was 7:11, I didn’t make the time goal because I ended up running 26.63 miles.
  • I didn’t make it to Boston, but I was fast enough to qualify to Chicago, which I’ll be happy to run next fall.
  • More importantly, I was close enough to my BQ time, that now I know it is within reach. Before this race, improving my time by at least 27 minutes seemed completely unrealistic. Now I know that I can do it. It is only 7 more minutes to go, and there are plenty of marathons that are much faster than Pittsburgh.


Next step

  • My legs are still sore, but I already did a couple of recovery runs, chose my next race, and started to devise a strategy and a training plan to qualify to Boston.
  • My wife and I were planning to do our first triathlon in June, but we decided it was the right moment for her to have corrective surgery on her left foot.  Since I want to share my first triathlon with her, that leaves the fall open for another marathon.
  • The next race on the horizon is the Erie marathon: flat, shaded and fast.
  • This time I don’t want to do as well as possible or improve my PR by as much as I can. Now, the name of the game is Boston.

Author: brunosalcedo

Can't spell Bruno without a run. I do game theory between long runs.

3 thoughts on “2016 Pgh Marathon recap”

  1. Congrats on your huge PR! Sorry you didn’t BQ, but the fact that you got so close in difficult conditions means you are there. I think it’s important that you were able to take that away from this race. The best goals are the ones that are long term and sometimes we just have to settle for getting there a little bit at a time. I’m happy with my own outcome at Pgh but it was also a reminder that if I want a huge goal it’s probably smart to choose a cooler flatter race 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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