Recap: #GAMEONPGH UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon Kickoff Training Run

Confession: This was the first time I ran with a group. Realization: I LOVED it.

Today I drove into Pittsburgh for Pittsburgh Half Marathon kick-off training run. I thought, what better way to officially start my #GAMEONPGH training than with a huge group of wonderful people who have the same goal as I do? Turns out it was a great decision, even if it was 3 degrees with the windchill!

I left Youngstown around 6:20 am and arrived in Pittsburgh slightly over an hour later. The drive was particularly peaceful, mostly because there’s nothing like seeing the sun come up over the City of Champions.

Parking was no issue, and I was thrilled to be at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex where the STEELERS practice indoors (I sat on the field in all of my glory)! In addition to race day registration, runners were also able to purchase some amazing Pittsburgh Marathon in-training gear, hats, gloves, and more.


Before the run began, we were greeted by Bobby Curtis, second fastest American marathoner in 2016. He answered our questions and gave us some good advice, and there are a few points that stood out to me as both an RRCA coach and a distance runner:

  • When carb-loading during taper, decrease the calories – but increase the carbs. I don’t know why this is news to me! It makes perfect sense, but it’s not something I was doing correctly. I basically ate all the calories but got them from carbs. During my taper for the Pittsburgh half, I’m going to take his advice and see how that goes. Decrease the calories; up the carbs.
  • It takes a few runs of at least 20 miles to prepare for what your body experiences during the big 26.2. I haven’t run a full marathon yet. I’m way too busy this year to train for a full, but it’s definitely something I’d love to accomplish someday. I do, however, coach athletes that are training for a full marathon. Some training plans don’t include a 20 miler (such as Hanson’s), but I always include them in training plans. It was nice to have my methods, and the methods of several other coaches, backed by someone like this fantastic runner on site today.


After our group chat with Bobby, Dr. Vonda Wright showed us the ropes with her dynamic warm-up. Jumping jacks, lunges on steroids, and my favorite – high knee skipping across the practice field!

And finally, we were ready to run.

Steel City Road Runners provided pacers for both the 3-5 mile and 7-10 mile groups. I don’t usually stick with pacers, but I had a great time running 5 miles with the 10:30 group. She brought us through the finish at (according to my Garmin) 10:28 minutes/mile – right on time! Believe it or not, the run was actually pretty flat and was a great combination of off-road running paths and the City of Pittsburgh (such as Carson Street on the South Side).

When we finished our run, we were greeted with some free snacks, water, Gatorade, and a treat for the pups – Rachel Ray Nutrish dog food. My Goldendoodle, Miles, was pretty darn happy when I came home.

Today was unique for me. I’m not someone who runs in a group. I’ve always enjoyed running alone a lot, so I guess it just never intrigued me to try running with a group. I was pleasantly surprised today when I stuck with the 10:30 pace group the whole time. She started us out a bit slower than our goal pace, so I was able to enjoy the run because I didn’t go out too fast (classic Courtney).


I am hoping to complete more group runs during this training cycle! Do you enjoy running with a group, or do you prefer running solo?

Special thanks to Steel City Road Runners for their effort to put on a great run for us today!

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One thought on “Recap: #GAMEONPGH UPMC Health Plan Pittsburgh Half Marathon Kickoff Training Run

  1. I had already lost feeling in my toes by the dynamic warm up, that was a SERIOUSLY cold commitment! Glad you had a good time — I am a total solo runner who also just rediscovered how much fun group runs are, I’ve been running with Steel City this training season and having a blast. Major props for your early AM drive into the city, so impressive! Hope to meet you sometime!

    Liked by 1 person

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