Of course LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out” was on my training playlist

[Sorry if you are looking for a new exercising-in-denim picture today. I need a place to talk about my first half marathon.]

Short version of my race recap:

My ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon today (my first) in 2:09:40. I gave it everything I had in me. It was awesome. Of course I didn’t wear jeans, Silly.

Long version of my race recap:

I’m a weight lifter. Serious running along with serious weight lifting, in principle, are counter-intuitive. I’ve said it before: even though I run, I don’t consider myself a runner. I run because I know it is good for me. I don’t love it. I have no burning passion for it. I don’t identify with it. I’m not fast. My form is terrible. My face turns tomato red. I feel all sorts of terrible when I’m doing it. And I’m sure I do serious damage to my lung tissue with all the coughing that occurs (I have asthma).

But there is something about turning 40 that makes you want to punch that “4” and that “0” right in its old-lady, sun-spotted, fine-lined-and-wrinkled face. So I signed up for my first half marathon, trained for four months,* and then today…

…I caught 40 square in the jaw with a right hook, landed a spinning back kick, and then submitted that bitch with a rear-naked choke. It wasn’t the fastest “win” by any means – I did it in a shocking (for me) 2:09:40 – but a win is a win, right?


Notable things on race day:

  • I cried twice. Neither tear-fest occurred at the finish line or because of pain. At one point, early in the race, I was overwhelmed with how blessed I am – that I am able and healthy enough to run 13.1 miles. The second time I cried was when I saw all the military service men, in full gear, on the railings of one of the bridges cheering us on. Runners were yelling “thanks” back at them, drowning out their cheers for us. It was moving in a way that I can’t put into words. And the tears? Full on sobs.
  • My performance. I followed all the advice from my running friends (and sister) and, if it was possible to re-do today’s race, I would not do one thing differently. I had a negative split and gave it EVERYTHING I had in me – 100% was left on that course. I remember thinking when I hit the 13 mile marker that I DID NOT have another tenth of a mile in me, but somehow I was able to focus on the spectators’ cheers and that was enough to carry me across the finish line.
  • The concerned volunteer. A lady, when I crossed the finish line, asked me, “Medic?” as she grabbed my arm and nodded her head up and down. I must have REALLY looked bad. I was, and am, fine.
  • Spectators. I’ve written before that I could not have trained for this race without the support of my running group, Steel City Road Runners Club; their support and company has been vital in the success of my training runs. Today, the spectators were my support. The cheering, the positive energy, the cowbells, the bands, the signs were out in full force! I beamed with Pittsburgh Pride the entire race.
  • The weather. Beautiful. Perfect.
  • Miscellaneous. 1) The kid drummer for the band Chess Club and a Chick that was playing on the North Side. He was awesome. 2) The people handing out gummy worms on Carson Street. I so needed them right at the moment they appeared before me. 3) I didn’t see anyone running in jeans. 😦


And the weekend as a whole:

  • Meeting and hanging out with bloggers Charla (Running Haiku) and Tracey/Andrew (Stride and Joy) made for a memorable weekend that surpassed all expectations. Our time together was fun and comfortable and will be cherished forever. I’m looking forward to when I can get together again with my new friends.
  • I have an old man stalker. The full story is almost unbelievable (in a very fun way). For another time…


* I came up with a training plan on my own and it consisted of one day of running each week [yep, that is all the running I did – 128.5 training miles to be exact]. I’m still deciding on the title of the book that will bring in royalties matching Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway:


Leave a comment


  1. Congratulations!! Fabulous time!

  2. That is a crazy awesome time for not being a “runner”! 😉 I see so many people average 2:30 that put hours of training and effort and doing things the “right” way.

    You did amazing, Jill. I am so inspired by your dedicated to this and for sticking to YOUR plan. I’m seriously in awe of what you have done and will continue to look up to you!!

    I’m about 5 1/2 months from my half and if I can keep up my pace like I’m “training” for my 10k, I may just make it the same as you.

    Awesome, awesome, awesome, inspiring. xoxo.

  3. Congratulations!! you did good, really really good!! yes, we had a clear day today but my run wasn’t that good but still, happy i can still do this!! way to go Jill!!

  4. That is a kick ass time! Congrats on such a great race! You may have to call yourself a runner after all. 🙂 I ran a half last week and had similar emotional moments of feeling so lucky. It’s weird to cry while running out of happiness and not pain. Congrats again!

  5. ripvanracer

     /  May 6, 2013

    Great race Jill! I LOVE running and am just about at the one day a week plan. I’m on the zero day a week plan for weightlifting after the ab machine incident 10 years ago.

  6. Congratulations!!! I think I like the third title best 🙂

  7. You are funny.

  8. Glad you had fun! We wish we could have been there!

  9. Great race, congrats!! I’ve also cried during races (and sometimes during training). I’m turning 40 later this year and have been thinking about creating a “Kick 40 in the Face” club, want to join?

  10. Congrats – great time! LL Cool J is an excellent training partner!

  11. Awesome job! I was hoping to find you guys yesterday but with over 100,000 people in Pittsburgh it was kind of hard lol

    I nominated you for a Liebster Award! If you want to participate, here is the link to what the Liebster Award is all about and my questions for you. :o)

  12. You are SO awesome! Congrats on all of it–running your first half, surviving training, coming up with a FANTASTIC book idea (title #3 for sure), and kicking 40 in the face!

    Your Misc. #1 brought tears to my eyes. 🙂

  13. Wow! Congratulations on your first half marathon! I’m glad it went so well for you and I am jealous of your negative split — I never manage to pull that off! 🙂

  14. Mary

     /  May 6, 2013

    I am so glad there is a “Kick 40 in the face club” already established! I have 2 years and want to be one bad ass mother when 40 comes knocking!
    Jill – Happy B-day if that’s belated or early – what ever – you are awesome! Great recap! I am proud of you!

  15. lisa

     /  May 6, 2013

    holy crap i love this post! *congrats,* jill! how fantastic! you help me with the weights, i help you with the running, yes? oh, and i totally *get* the tears. my mantra’s “because i can,” and often, just the thought of how frickin’ lucky i am to have the good health and good fortune to be out there gets me all teary. it’s the best.

    heck yeah — congrats again!

  16. I also got to mile 13 and really, truly doubted I could go on another tenth of a mile. I was about to just sit down in the middle of the road. My running mate didn’t understand this, but it was true at the time. The crowd pushed me to the end!

  17. Congrats on kicking both 40’s butt and the half’s butt!! I’m so excited for you!!! And I love your “notable things” – especially the points about crying because I’m the same way with both of those triggers! Congrats! I’m so excited for you and it sounds like an awesome weekend!!!!

  18. Katie Shearon

     /  May 7, 2013

    Yay Jill!! Way to rock that half! I knew you would do well! I enjoyed meeting you at the SCRRC runs. Maybe you can show me some weight lifting tips some time. Hope you return to out group runs!

    Katie Shearon

  19. Congratulations! Last year a guy ran the full marathon in a suit with the pants cut into shorts to protest public transit cuts. That’s as close as I’ve seen to someone running in Pittsburgh in jeans. 🙂

  20. I totally missed the gummy bears, but the people handing out granola bars on Carson Street absolutely saved my race. I love, love, love running Pittsburgh, it really is the best place in the world, and a place that I will always call home.

  21. Love your story! I’d buy your book (even though I don’t lift). I really want to try at least the 5k some day – who knows, maybe the half 😉 Keep it up!

  22. laurrdunn

     /  May 22, 2013

    FINALLY got to read this post and just wanted to say CONGRATS once again!!!!

  23. pinkelephantonparade

     /  September 9, 2013

    that’s now how I want to approach each and every birthday and I would like to pre-order your book for my next training cycle.

  1. - Wine to Weightlifting

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