13.1 Reasons Why The Pittsburgh Half Marathon is My Favorite

Two weeks ago today, I ran my second Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Now, it didn’t take running it a second time to realize that it could very well be my favorite, but it did definitely cement it as such. It also didn’t take two weeks to come up with 13.1 reasons; I knew those during the race. Heck, I have lots more than that! But, I’ve just been a wee bit busy since I returned home to NC, but I’ll chat about that in a later post!

13.1 Reasons Why the Pittsburgh Half Marathon is My Favorite

So, are y’all yinz ready for my 13.1 reasons? I have no particular order; just rambled them off making mental notes. Sit dahn, grab a hoagie from the Iggle, warsh it dahn with an IC Light, and we’ll get started, n’at.

1. The views.

pittsburgh marathon pre race morning

pittsburgh marathon pre race ballpark

pittsburgh marathon morning pre race

Would you just look at that?! Take in the beauty of my city. I took these the morning before the race as we stood in a parking garage. Day, night, from any venue, it doesn’t matter–it’s pure gorgeousness.

2. The people.

pittsburgh marathon pre race 2

Pittsburghers are a friendly bunch. And highly excited and proud of what goes on in their city. We are no fair weather fans of anything. When we cheer for something, we are all in. (You get used to cheering when you’re in the home of the SIX TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPIONS, the PITTSBURGH STEELERS.) 😉 My sister saw them talking about the marathon on the local news and said, “Wow, all of Pittsburgh is really into this race!!” That’s right, sis. The crowd support during this race is amazing. Beyond any other race I’ve witnessed before! Now, if you don’t understand Pittsburghese, you may not know what they’re shouting. But keep running; it’s all good.

3. My family.

pittsburgh marathon sister race posters

Usually when I run in a race, there is no one there to greet me at the finish line. My family knows I run, but driving nine hours to see me cross a line is not high priority. So I get there, run the race, take a selfie, and then go home. No one is at the finish line to receive a sweaty hug from me or offer me a big, “Way to go!” Except for when I run in this race. It’s super easy for my kin to get there to be supportive in person versus over the phone. Normally, one of my sisters is there to greet me–this time both sisters were there!

4. My hometown.


When I go home to Pittsburgh, I also go home to the suburbs in my hometown in Beaver County. This is where I’m happiest and get to visit all my old stomping grounds and see old friends that I only get to see through the likes of Facebook now. Down to earth people I’ve known since the early 80s, fantastically cheap dive bars, my goodness I love it.

5. The Bridges.

pittsburgh marathon on bridge

I used to be deathly afraid of bridges. If my mother were alive she would gladly chime in about how I’d scream in the car and flip out like I was having a breakdown every time we drove over one. BREAK. DOWN. And this was quite often because it’s pretty doggone difficult to drive anywhere in Western PA without crossing a bridge. Now, I love them. Don’t know when it happened, but I get overly excited to cross five of them during the Pittsburgh Half Marathon. Beautiful, bright golden yellow works of art!

6. The food.

Nope. You’ll find no picture here. Pretty much everything I ate while I was at home for the race was inhaled before I even had the thought, “Ohh let me Instagram this.” But it was all good. Ok, well, not good-for-you good, but hella tasty good. And I don’t even mean Primanti Bros. I’m one of the weird Pittsburghers who doesn’t like fries on her sammich. I want those delectable pieces of golden deliciousness to have a spot on my plate all by themselves. So umm, yeah, when I move back there I’m going to have to step up my gym game. Seriously!

7. The course.

pittsburgh marathon morgan apartments north shore

I’ve seen some amazing sites of the city from the driver’s seat of my SUV. But somehow, but foot, you see it in a whole different way. There are so many off-the-beaten-path, intricate parts of the many neighborhoods of Pittsburgh that I’d never get to see unless I were running past them. And especially at the turtle-like pace I run, I really get to slow down and see it all. Haa. Now this picture of these apartments doesn’t showcase anything that is tucked away, but it is a complex that I stare at every time I come home. Usually it’s from the other side of the river, but during the race, I was like, “Hey!! That’s Morgan at North Shore!! I want to live there someday. OMG, I need a picture!”

8. The post-race.

pittsburgh marathon post race smiley cookie_

I love the moment I finish this race because I know seconds after it, I’m going to have something delicious in my mouth. Normally, that would be a beer. But with the Pittsburgh Half Marathon, it’s the Smiley Cookie. Yes I can just go to Eat ‘n Park and get a cookie after the race, but running 13.1 miles and earning one is cooler to me.

9. Meeting IRL people.

Of the thousands of people I talk to via my social media channels, it super rare to ever get to chat with one of them in person. At this race, I’m bound to meet someone–this year I met two! My buddy David from Facebook and my buddy Janice from Twitter!! It’s so cool, when someone comes up to you and asks, “Cherie??” I’m like, “Wow! Somebody knows who the heck I am and spotted me in this crowd. That’s crazy!!” It was fabulous seeing them sans little avatar form! And of course poo poo on me for not getting any pics. Grrrr.

10. Black and Yellow/Gold

I Run You Run Can I Have Your Number tank top

I love seeing a sea of my team’s colors all over the doggone place! It’s like we’re dressed up in our very best spirited outfits heading to a Steelers, Pens or Pirates game, but running a few miles first. I can’t help but jammin’ to Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” on my iPod as I run–it’s errrrywhere! Coming from Chapel Hill, in which I see nothing but Carolina Blue/Tar Heel everything all the time, it’s so nice to see my hometown colors for a change!!

11. I can’t get lost.

pittsburgh marathon pre race 1

Sometimes when I run a race, I have this overwhelming fear that I’m going to get lost and be stranded somewhere in a town where I have no idea how to get back to the finish line, my car, or home, period. I have so such feelings of nervousness in the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

12. The Hills.

pittsburgh marathon on bridge 2

Granted, I haven’t tackled the beast that is the full Pittsburgh Marathon, but the Half has some decent hills that aren’t too shabby. Yes, I like running hills so that is definitely a plus to running this race! So you’re probably like, “Why are you showing us a picture of flat bridge when you’re talking about hills, Cherie?” Well, let me just say–this bridge, and all of them, may “look” flat, but when you’re running over it, it’s a whole different ball game. This wasn’t flat–none of them were! They all have a lovely incline to them. So those + the regular hills o’ Pittsburgh add to a nice burn in your buns. Love it.

13.1 My smile + happiness.

pittsburgh marathon pre race

Sometimes I don’t see them as much down in North Carolina. As one my friends said to me, “Cherie, you don’t have any sad Facebook posts when you’re up here; they’re all happy!” Haha, I had to laugh at that. I was like, “You know what? You’re right.” I’m in a general good mood when I’m in Pittsburgh. Thank goodness for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Lately, it’s been the one time every year I know I’ll be able to make a trip back home for a racecation and to see my family and friends.

One. Time. Every. Year.

I had to think about that. It does not make me happy to only make it up to Pittsburgh once a year. I miss my family on all the major holidays, my dad is getting older and I don’t see him enough, and this genuine smile is seen way too infrequently in the mirror.

I simply need to move back STAT. And there’s not enough space on this blog for me to list all the reasons why. But stay tuned for all that in another post!