Reflections on the 2015 Pittsburgh Marathon

Yesterday, I finished my 7th marathon! My wife finished her second! We were both able to get personal records and we raised $20,924 for Light of Life Rescue Mission. It was an incredible journey! In this post, I want to share some reflections on the last 18 weeks!

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Our Results: 

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As I mentioned, Laura and I both got personal records. Laura beat her time from last year by over 3 minutes. I beat my best time by 8 minutes. When Laura and I realized we both got records, we were both blown away!

Here is what we did to get our PR’s this year:

1.) The Steel City Road Runners – This year, we joined this amazing runners group! I can’t speak highly enough of this club. They have 4-5 group runs each week throughout the city. They have coaches available to help you. They map out all of your runs for you. There are over 1,800 members so you are always running with and meeting new people. They have runners at every pace you can imagine so you never feel left out. They provide water, gu’s, etc. Laura and I really believe being a part of this group really helped us get PR’s. If you’re a runner in Pittsburgh, I can’t encourage you enough to join! It’s only $40/year!

2.) We Started with the 3:30 Pace Group – Laura and I have found that for us, it’s harder to run the second half of the marathon faster than the first. Therefore, we started with a fast pace group. The 3:30 group was challenging for us, but we knew we would be able to hang for them for at least half the marathon. We both did and that helped position us for setting personal records.

3.) We Followed a Plan – We used Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 2 plan. While we didn’t have a perfect training season, we followed it the best we could. This plan prepared us adequately. This was the first year we ran 4-5 days a week. Usually we run 3 days a week and lift 3. I believe that made a difference!

4.) We started Carb-Loading on Thursday night! – One member of our Light of Life team has run 44 marathons! He’s a machine! He told our team to start carb loading on Thursday night. He said too many people wait until Saturday night to carb load and that is a mistake. While we both felt bloated and overweight for three days, but we did notice a difference on race day! Thanks, Bob!

5.) People Ran with us and Cheered for us –  If you are reading this and you go to the marathon to cheer people on, you matter a lot more than you think you do! In every marathon I’ve run, I can remember specific people saying specific things that got me to the finish line! For long periods of this marathon, I was running all by myself. Literally, nobody was around me. However, so many people would scream, “Go Light of Life! Go Doug!” That helped push me! At mile 23, we saw my sister and brother-in-law. They fired us up! My brother-in-law jumped in and ran with us! That helped me get a second wind to get to the finish without stopping! Thank you to everyone who cheered us on!

6.) We were running for a purpose bigger than ourselves – For the third year in a row, Laura and I ran for Light of Life Rescue Mission. Running a marathon for a medal and for personal accomplishment is great, but to do that and run for a charity is even better! Laura said she can’t imagine not running for a charity. When the marathon gets tough, we were able to remember why we were running. We thought about the people we were helping and it helped us push through!

Team Light of Life

This was our 3rd year having a charity team in the Pittsburgh Marathon. It’s been an incredible experience. The first year, we had around 40 runners and raised just over $25,000. The second year, we had 76 runners raise over $76,000. This year, we had 109 runners and we raised over $87,000!

By far, this is one of my favorite parts of my job! I love watching our team accomplish things they didn’t think they could! Whether that’s finishing a challenging race or actually raising money for a charity! I’m so proud of this year’s team. I cannot wait to celebrate with them in a few weeks!

If you are a runner and would like to run for Light of Life next year, e-mail me at dougsmith@lightoflife.org.

Here is some of our Relay, Half, and Full Marathon team:

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Here is some of our 5k team:

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I want to thank everyone who supported Laura and I as we ran for Light of Life! Thank you for believing in us and for helping the homeless men, women, and children of Pittsburgh. Your support makes a difference.

Team Light of Life – thank you guys for being so awesome! I am so proud of each of you! Thank you for running for us!

Lessons Learned

1.) The More People You Have Supporting You in Your Life, The Better You’ll do – This marathon really taught me the importance of uplifting relationships. Between Laura, team Light of Life, the Steel City Road Runners, friends, and family… We had a lot of people cheering us on. In life, it’s so important to surround yourself with people who lift you up and push you past your limits. I’m extremely grateful to be surrounded with people who do this consistently in my life. If you’re reading this, you’re most likely one of them. Thank you!

2.) You Always Have More Left in the Tank – My friend rode the Allegheny Passage trail from DC to Pittsburgh. One person he was riding with seemed to always be pushing past his limits. My friend asked him how he did it. He said, “You always have more left in the tank than you think you do.” This rang true in the marathon. At mile 19, I thought I was done! I did not think I could run the last 7 miles. In fact, I justified not running the last 7 miles in my head. However, I thought about that quote and pushed myself to the finish line. Whether it’s a marathon or reaching a stretch goal, remember that you always have more left in your tank!

3.) It’s all about the Journey – This is always a lesson learned! Finishing the marathon is great, but it’s the journey there that made it great. All the miles trained, all the new friends made, and all the money raised. The joy is in the journey and who you become through the journey.

4.) You Can Do Anything – When I tell people I’m running a marathon, they always say, “I could never do that.” That’s simply not true! You may just not want to! I never thought I could run a marathon and I did. I never thought I could run one in under 4 hours and eventually I did. I never thought I would PR 4 marathon’s in a row, but I have. When you realize you are capable of more than you think you are, it changes you! You start going after things you never thought possible! I challenge you to try something you think is impossible for you this year!

Another marathon is in the books!

If you ran, what lessons did you learn? 

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