Disclaimer: I received an entry to the DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Relay as part of being a member of the Brooks Run Happy Team.
For my first official Run Happy Team event, I got to be part of a marathon relay team for the DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon. The event was held virtually this year, so my team members and I all ran in our own areas — five different states!
Run Happy Team members interested in running in this event let our Brooks community manager know we were interested, and we were placed on a team with fellow members. On my team — the Sneaker Seekers — were Quin Jenson, who served as team captain, along with Reixa Phillips, Dan Adamietz and Jamie Rowen. They are a fun group and this was a great opportunity to get to know my teammates.
Run Happy Team Coach John Honerkamp provided four workouts runners could do in the weeks leading up to the relay. I did the first two. There were variations, but for the first one, I ran 12 400s, and for the second one, I did a four-mile tempo run.
For the tempo run, my average pace was 10:14. So, by the time this race came around, I figured I would try to shoot for as close to a 10:00 pace as possible for my 5.3-mile leg. Of course, if I could run faster, I would, but I figured that was a reasonable goal — and it turned out to be right on, as my average pace was 10:08.
I wanted to go to a location where I wouldn’t have to worry too much about cars, so I drove to the Route 413 Rail-to-Trail, a paved trail that is currently 4.5 miles one-way. The trail isn’t finished yet, but a parking area was added on the Marion Station end since I visited last summer, so I parked there instead of at the Crisfield end.
I wore my Brooks Discovery Trucker, which we used as our “baton” in the handoff video, a Run Happy distance graphic tank, a Dare Crossback Run Bra, Method Shorts and the Adrenaline GTS 21. I don’t usually listen to music during races, but since this was virtual and I was alone, I listened to the 2021 P3R Playlist on Spotify that was shared for this race, picking the songs that I liked the most for running (I like fast, upbeat songs if trying to run fast).
It was a windy day, and during the first mile, my hat actually blew off! It didn’t take too long to get it.
I have been having issues with allergies, and I was having some problems with coughing because of this, so I ended up walking when I hit miles 2, 3 and 4 for about 40 seconds or so, which seemed to help. However, I tried to keep up a fast pace otherwise, so these walk breaks didn’t get in the way of me keeping up a consistent pace.
I had Leg 1 of the relay, which was 5.3 miles, and I ran straight out on the paved path toward Crisfield. There are some road crossings, but I never had to stop for a car (although I would have if needed, or run back and forth or something like that). When I was getting toward my turnaround point, there was a pole in the ground that was right before a road crossing, so I decided to use that as my turnaround, and then I headed back the other direction. Mile markers have also been added every half-mile since my last visit to this trail.
It was windy, but the weather was nice and was cooler than the following day, when I ran an in-person half marathon. I started my run just before 10 a.m. Saturday, May 1. My fellow team members ran their legs during the weekend of May 1-2, too.
I was happy that I was able to stay pretty consistent, running the miles in 10:13, 10:05, 10:16, 10:17, 10:06 and the last 0.3 in 2:47 (a 9:08 pace). My time for my 5.3-mile leg was 53:45. My teammates kept up faster paces for their legs, and our combined time for the marathon was 3:41:28.
After finishing my run, I took out the tripod I brought and filmed myself running for our relay handoff video. Brooks challenged us to do some creative things for the chance to win prizes in different categories. You can see the video on my Instagram stories or on one of my teammates’ Instagram feeds. I also got some photos.
On the way home, I stopped at Squeaky’s Cafe in Princess Anne, which I’d heard of but never been to, and enjoyed a BLT.
Later that day, I received my swag box in the mail from the Pittsburgh Marathon. This included my race shirt, race bib and medal, along with a couple packs of Nuun Endurance, a Smiley Cookie, a Honey Stinger waffle and gel, sunscreen, a lip balm and coupons. I’d already done my run, but I had the waffle on my way to the next day’s half marathon and also put on some of the sunscreen for that run.
There was also a virtual experience online — powered by DICK’s Sporting Goods and Brooks Running — that gave more of a race weekend feel compared to just running on my own. The virtual experience offered various social media templates, videos, and for locals, course ideas. The playlist can also be found there.
Participating in this event with my Brooks teammates, doing workouts provided by our coach, having the virtual experience online and getting the swag box definitely made this a fun event. I have also enjoyed seeing the creativity of other teams — there were 20 teams of Run Happy Team members signed up for this race. I’m definitely interested in checking out the in-person version of this race in the future!