feeling thirsty?

Some of you — mostly the ones who are running in the Pittsburgh Marathon or the half on May 7 — know this drill already: When you get to the fluid station at Mile 6+, look for the guy with the beard and the silly red Ohio State bucket hat for hugs, high fives and a cup of the best water on the course.

The guy in the red hat is me, by the way. See?

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For those of you who aren’t running but might not be completely averse to waking up at 4:30 a.m. and handing off hundreds of cups of water to people as they walk by … you should join me. Yes, the hours are rough, but we’ve done this for several years in a row now, and it’s my favorite annual event in Pittsburgh. And it’s a truly gratifying experience; even if you don’t see people you know running the course, everyone is grateful that you’re there and helping out. Seriously — it’s the most fun five hours you can have on an early Sunday morning on the North Side.

How do you sign up? Get to the Marathon’s volunteer page (I filtered this link to make the course water stations easy to find in the list), and scroll down to “COURSE Fluid Station at Fulton Street between Ridge Avenue and Western Avenue (North Side; Approx. Mile 6.2).” Click the button, fill out the info and you’re ready to go. And of course while we’d be happy to have company, if you’d rather volunteer at a station closer to you, that’s perfectly acceptable. We hope we see you there.

course

And if you’re running this year, keep in mind that the North Side part of the course is a little different, so you won’t see us on Western Avenue. We’ll be on Fulton between Ridge and Western, just before you guys make a hard left turn to head over the West End Bridge. Just look for the hat, people — I’m easy to find.

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water slinging.

I have a perfectly good reason to show up on Western Avenue at 5 a.m. on a Sunday morning. Just like some of you guys will have a perfectly good reason run down Western Avenue a few hours later.

Yep. Mrs. Crappy and I are working the Pittsburgh Marathon water station on Western Avenue — the one sponsored by the Humane Society — again on Sunday morning.

If you’re running on Sunday, find us. We’ll be on your right, probably in front of the First Niagara Bank as usual. And to make things even easier…

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From a year ago. Pic by @pantster.

… I’ll be wearing the same stupid bright red Ohio State bucket hat that I always wear.

So as you approach Mile Six, find the guy in the red hat. If you’ve done this before, you already know the line:

Hugs. High fives. And the best water on the course.

Find us on Sunday morning, boys and girls. We want to cheer for you.

24. trotting.

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You’re surprised that I wore an Ohio State jersey? Have we met?

I’d always wanted to do the YMCA Turkey Trot, the annual 5K held in the city on Thanksgiving morning, if for no other reason that it would provide ample justification for the gorging that would occur later in the day.

So of course, I waited to do the race until the year when I’m not really allowed to gorge any longer.

But that’s my only gripe about this morning’s race. Well, that and that freaking hill coming around Commonwealth Place to Fort Duquesne Boulevard just as we’re hitting the third mile … that sucked a little bit, to be honest. But that’s a minor gripe — especially in a hilly town like Pittsburgh — and the only one I had about the race. I loved the course; I ran (or walked) past both PG newsrooms, over two bridges and past two stadiums, all on a perfect, sunny, 45-degree morning.

How’d I do? I joked on Wednesday about finishing last in my age group. And I was close.

But that’s not the point. The point is getting outside on a gorgeous morning. The point is enjoying the energy of your fellow runners. The point is responding to the people who are cheering you because you’re wearing an Ohio State jersey. The point is moving.

I did all those. I want to do it again. Soon. Thursday morning was too much fun not to.

5. run for your life.

shoes

I started running in October 2011. And I got to the point where I craved. it.

It was important back then. I was a 45-year-old fat guy, working a stressful job and hoping against hope that my family’s medical history — heart issues, diabetes, hypertension — wouldn’t catch up with me for a while.

And it worked. I got through the three-month buildup and successfully completed my first 5K, the annual Jingle Bell run on the North Shore. And I lost weight from a peak of something north of 260 the summer before, down to 240 before the end of the year.

I kept going because I was enjoying myself. I had to work on Christmas night that year, and instead of taking a nap I ran my own 5K along the North Shore Trail — and I still count that as the best run I’ve ever had. There were great Saturday morning runs in North Park all through the winter; those were my long runs to get ready for that spring’s Pittsburgh half.

All that work peaked about six weeks prior to the event, with an 8.5-mile run through the North Side and Downtown. Long-time UC readers may recall that one as The Run With The Bloody Nipples (and the reason why I still have a tube of Lansinoh in our bathroom closet); I remember it as the run when I hurt my groin. I didn’t really have time to rest before the race, but — as I learned while running a 10K while we visited my sister in April — running through it didn’t work so well either.

So. No half. I was crushed.

And I’ve never really come back consistently. I’ve done a few Pittsburgh Marathon 5Ks since then and I half-heartedly trained for the first EQT 10-Miler, which I managed to complete without dying only by the grace of Fred, who pretty much dragged me through the entire course.

But the on-again, off-again thing has been switched back on, thanks to the diabeetus. In other words, one of those things I was kind of worried about when I started back in 2011 had suddenly become very real.

Among the best things I can do to help manage the disease is to lose more weight, and I know from experience that I do that when I run. I’m not sure that I appreciate fear as a motivator this time around, but I’m also painfully aware (literally — the neuropathy is noticable if I sit on my ass too much) what the potential alternatives, one of which is, you know, dying.

But here’s the good part: The fear is diminishing. I’m getting to the point where I enjoy it again. I still have hard mornings, the one where I’m tired or resentful of the reason why I’m getting up at 5:45 a.m.

runrise

I’m going to keep pushing, though. That’s the only way I’m going to see sunrises like this one.

hope you’re thirsty.

It’s a pretty simple theme. And all you have to do to take advantage is find the guy in the red hat.

As we’ve done for several years, we’re volunteering again at a Pittsburgh Marathon fluid station. As we done for not quite as many years, we’re working the Mile 6 station, on Western Avenue near the Humane Society’s North Side shelter. And as we’ve been able to do since we’ve worked that station, we hope to set up on the right side of the street — for those of you who are running — near First Niagara Bank.

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Find the hat. Get a high five.

So if you’re running on Sunday morning, look for me and the same red Ohio
State bucket hat I wear every year. Find me, and that’s where the tag line comes in:

Hugs. High fives. And the best water on the course.

See you Sunday morning, yinz guys.

6. picture of health.

Ten miles to go.

I knew that getting through a 10-mile run would result in some, uh, discomfort for a few days after.

But i had no idea about the full range of reactions my body would put me through in the days following Sunday’s jaunt.

  • Pain. Well sure, this one is obvious. And as I said on Sunday, it was evident by the time I was halfway through the race, in my calf, in my hips and in the now-infamous groin. And as everyone warned me, the pain and stiffness continued into Monday, even after a torturous morning session with our foam roller. Tuesday was better in general, but there’s a pain in my left thigh that appeared out of nowhere today. I’ve learned several new funny walks since Sunday, but this will clear up with time, more foam roller abuse and a new bottle of Advil.
  • Exhaustion. I expected this as well, although not to the degree it’s actually hit me. In spite of the pain I had to deal with on Monday, I actually felt pretty good most of the day. But when I got home and took a seat on the couch, I was immediately ready for bed. This wasn’t helped by working until 1 this morning, but it’s getting better as well.
  • Food. I made a mistake on Sunday — when we went to Piper’s for a post-race breakfast, I immediately ordered the richest thing on the menu, their version of chicken and waffles covered in delicious banger sausage gravy. On a normal Sunday, I would have had no trouble hoovering the entire plate; on that Sunday, I ate about a third of my meal before my stomach made it clear that something lighter would have been a better way to go. I ate the leftovers without too much trouble Sunday night, but the discomfort continued on Monday, when the only thing that sounded interesting for dinner was a can of chicken noodle soup. Even yesterday’s election-night pizza is still fighting with me today. This can stop any time now, thank you.
  • Drink. WHAT? WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN I CAN’T DRINK BEER? Sadly, this is true. I’ll chalk up Sunday’s experience — ordering an amazing (and amazingly strong) Victory DirtWolf instead of a nice, cool wit as I had planned — as a poor decision; that’s because I couldn’t finish my glass. I drank about 47 gallons of water on Monday, but I didn’t try with the beer again until that night, when another strong IPA led me to suffer feedback from my body *urp* that I experienced on Sunday. And as I am bound by journalistic tradition to have a post-election night beverage, I successfully downed a bottle of Woodchuck cider when I arrived home last night. I think I may give the beer another try tonight, because DAMMIT THIS IS COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

I’m going to try to get outside for at least a brisk walk tomorrow morning, to try to work out the last of the kinks I’m suffering from Sunday. I know, I know — i’ll take it easy for a while. But I want to take advantage of whatever momentum I gained on Sunday and turn it into a regular thing again.

And so I can skip the part about having to avoid beer for three days after the next race.