I enjoyed the 13.1-mile run through the City of Champions yesterday during the marathon and half marathon in Pittsburgh. And even with the pebble that has managed to replace the nerve in my left foot, I finished strong and could have made it another two or three miles.
Note to self: Don’t even think about the marathon next year.
And that had been my plan, actually. I was going to use yesterday’s half marathon as a test to see if I had one last marathon in me, next year. Can’t see that happening next year, or ever.
But I may go for the half marathon again.
Like most big city marathons these days the event is as much a public spectacle as a self-directed tour on both feet of the city. The downtown hotels, bars and restaurants were jammed Saturday night. And some 18,000 runners jammed together up and down Liberty Avenue as the run started at 7 a.m.
When I ran the marathon in Pittsburgh in 1988 there was no half marathon. So I really can’t compare the courses. But yesterday the running tour took us through several neighborhoods — including the lower North Side close to the hospital where I made my world debut nearly 64 years ago.
And we finished running down the road that joins the baseball and football stadiums. Hey, I watched the first Steelers game in Three Rivers Stadium — now defunct — more than 30 years ago. And yesterday’s shuffle to the finish line was the closest I’ve been to the replacement Heinz Field. Times change.
And if for some reason my friend and college roommate Tom Kollar is reading this post, the half marathon course at mile six went right by the Shamrock Inn. We spent many a Sunday morning there in the 70s drinking Iron City and preparing our strategy for the Steelers game that followed at Three Rivers. I’ll admit to enjoying the Iron City more than the Gatorade I sipped at three or four stops from a paper cup on the run yesterday. But I would much rather be on the streets running these days than watching sports on TV or in person. Times change.
OK. I was fretting during the past few days about the weather in Pittsburgh for the run Sunday. It turned out great for me: cloudy and a modest drizzle throughout. But the weather forecasts leading up to Sunday urged runners and spectators to begin constructing an ark and load the animals. Go figure.
So with the weather top-of-mind, I’ll admit I’ve lost the thread of the big stories: the battle Inside the Beltway over the debt ceiling, the dawning — or not — of the Arab Spring, Pippa’s underwear — or not — and so on.
But I’m back now focused on the big fish in the skillet both foreign and domestic — and with great memories of my days in the City of Champions, including the half marathon Sunday.