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Martini Fridays: Mother Runner of Steel Ahead!

"My Dad told me that he was proud of me, which still makes me weepy even a week later."
"My Dad told me that he was proud of me, which still makes me weepy even a week later."

Can we get a mother runner cheer for Adrienne Martini? Using the Train Like a Mother Half-Marathon Finish It plan and some pluck, Ms. Runner of Steel Martini crossed the 13.1-mile finish line uninjured and happy—the two goals any runner should have for their first try at any race distance—at the Pittsburgh Half-Marathon. We're thrilled for her—and thrilled to announce that she's going to keep us posted on her running exploits every other week. A Martini every-other-Friday kind of thing, starting in in a few weeks. Yay for all of us!

To answer your most pressing question first: Yes. I am now a Runner of Steel.

But that is getting ahead of the story.

After my last class on Friday, I drove the seven hours to former college roommate Trish’s house and arrived just in time to fall into bed. Julie, a friend from both high school and college who runs the Pittsburgh Half every year, and I hooked up in our old ‘hood for a pasta dinner on Saturday. We made plans to find each other in the starting corral in the morning.

I spent the rest of the night before the race planning out every step for the next morning, since I needed to be out of the door by 5:15 a.m. and don’t trust myself to think until about 9. I can be a little OCD, frankly, and took this opportunity to let my anal-retentive freak flag fly. The lines on that flag, by the way, are very straight.

I pinned my bib on my shirt; then staged the rest of my clothes in the order I’d put them on. Herr Garmin went next to my car keys along with the bag o’ crap I’d need to shower at my cousin’s house after the race. My toothbrush, contact lenses, and an Imodium—the last thing I wanted to deal with was runner’s tummy—were lined up between clothes and keys.

Sleep was surprisingly easy to come by. Some of that could be thanks to Calms Forte. Most of it, I think, was because the machinery of the race had finally started to turn. There was a concrete schedule for the next dozen+ hours and the weeks of amorphous anticipation were over.

The morning ran like clockwork, right up to the point when I got off of the T, which is the city’s answer to a subway. In the run-up to the race, my brain hadn’t really wrapped itself around just how much of a logistical nightmare 30,000 runners (plus their families and friends) is. I probably walked an extra mile to find the entrance to my starting corral. Once there, me and a few thousand of my closest friends were quickly packed too tightly to move or, even, raise our arms without groping the people around us. I never did find Julie. She had a good race, though.

Then, thirty minutes after the starting gun, I was off and running.

The first mile was full of passing and being passed, mostly the latter. I realized that I desperately needed to pee and envied the guys who were pulling up under overpasses, dropping trou, and letting fly. I don’t envy men much but there are times when a penis would be handy.

The first six miles were mostly uneventful, even though I still hadn’t found a port-o-potty that didn’t have a dozen women waiting for it and was starting to wish I’d eaten more than a half of a bagel before the race. The clouds kept spitting just enough rain to keep the temps in the 50s, which was perfect. It was easy to keep my head up and was rewarded with a view of the skyline from the West End bridge.

View from the West End Bridge. It really was that overcast, which made for perfect temps for a long run.
View from the West End Bridge. It really was that overcast, which made for perfect temps for a long run.

Mile seven was my Waterloo -- and not in that kicky ABBA way. By mile seven, I’d been running for an hour-twenty and knew there was at least that left. By mile seven, I thought the whole running thing was stupid. It’s not that I was tired—I wasn’t at that point—I was just over it.

I ran anyway. I with every few steps I reminded myself that I GET to do this. I never did Sharpie it on my arm, mostly because I failed to lay a marker next to my anti-diarrheal.

Mile eight wasn’t much better, even though I did manage to find a potty with only a few folks waiting. There was also an aid station there. I killed time watching volunteers hand out dollops of petroleum jelly on tongue depressors while reminding runners not to eat it. None did ... that I saw.

Refreshed— or as refreshed as one can be at mile eight—I rejoined the race. The 2:30 pace group materialized around me and I ran with them for a bit. How the pacers can keep to a time and hold a sign is beyond me. Kudos to you, pacers.

The rest of the race passed like a slide show. There were costumes, which ranged from Captain America to a Bride to a Dude Who Had Rigged Four Runner Puppets (with their own race bibs) Around Himself. Julie saw him, too. Neither of us have any idea what that was all about.

I spent more time than I’d care to admit watching the gaits of those around me. Some of them had amazing running economy; some seemed lucky to be running at all. There were orange slices and water stops. My favorite sign (which might only be funny if you’re a Pittsburgher) was “Yinz is Beasts.” Peter Sagal was in my ear for a bit since I’d managed to download Wait, Wait the night before.

And then I hit the marathon/half-marathon split and there was just a few miles to go.

Right at the end, after the crest of a baby of a hill, there was a band playing the Ramones’ “I Wanna be Sedated.” Well timed, random band. Well timed.

Then I was through the chute and handed a medal, space blanket, Eat ‘n Park cookie (!), and water. I wandered the crowds—again, my brain can’t quite deal with the number of people who were there—and found my Dad, cousin Mark, and his wife Donna. I texted a picture of me and my medal to my husband. My Dad told me that he was proud of me, which still makes me weepy even a week later.

After walking another mile collecting the bag I’d checked and finding a T station, we all hobbled back—between the four of us, there were maybe three functional knees—to our various cars and met back up at Mark’s house. On the list of great showers I’ve taken, this shower is in third place, right behind the ones taken shortly after giving birth to each of my children.

The rest of the day was spent sitting, alternated with eating. It could only have been made more perfect if my husband and the kids were there, too. But it was still pretty damn good.

The Mother Runner of Steel, later that day and in her jammies. I didn’t wear my medal to bed but it was a near thing.
The Mother Runner of Steel, later that day and in her jammies. I didn’t wear my medal to bed but it was a near thing.

Folks have been asking if I’m proud of finishing the race. I guess I am. The real pride comes from all of the work I did leading up to it, rather than the race itself. Lisa, another mother runner I know from knitting, gave me a pep talk the night before, saying something along the lines of, “You’ve already won the medal. Now you just have to go get it.”

It wasn’t an awesome race, frankly. I never felt completely comfortable and it was mentally hard to find the right space in which to run. But it was good enough. Plus, I learned buckets about the nuts-and-bolts of big races. Next time will be awesome . Because I will be going back to Pittsburgh. Julie and I have already made plans.

As for right now, I’m tired. Really, really tired, in every way one can be tired. My body feels OK, if wrung out and achy, which is to be expected. I keep bursting into tears, prompted by almost everything from being hungry and not near food to the inevitable let-down of finishing something huge and having to be a mere mortal again. There’s also a certain amount of relief, if I’m being honest, at no longer having the uncertainty hanging over me. I *can* run 13.1 miles but would prefer not to for another few weeks.

In the immediate future, I’ll be running a six-mile leg in the Vermont City Marathon over Memorial Day weekend. No worries; I’ll tell you about that later. Martini Friday will be back, once I take a week to recover and get through finals.

Before I close this out, though, I’d like to thank all of the mother runners who offered support of all types in the run-up to the race. Every runner should have the opportunity to know that so many strong women are cheering for her. You all helped more than I can say, especially around mile seven.

Thank you.

48 responses to “Martini Fridays: Mother Runner of Steel Ahead!

  1. Congratulations! What a great statement…you had already won the race and now just had to go get the medal!
    Thankyou for all your great encouragement! I ran the Garmin 1/2 on May 10th and thought of you a lot while I was running. It rained and my foot prints did look like a Nutterbutter cookie, and visualizing the race as. 2 6.5 runs helped a bunch! :). You should consider bringing Herr Garmin back to his birth place and running this half next year…it is a beautiful run! Best wishes as you continue on!

  2. Thanks, y’all! It was quite a day. And, no, I don’t think I’ll ever forget my first. It wasn’t fast nor pretty but it is mine.

    Laurie – why are you stalking me? 😉 I’ll be wearing the same skirt at Vermont City. Please holler at me should our paths cross.

    As much as I’d love to do the Great Race, Carrie, I can’t get to the ‘burgh in September. You should run it, though. There will be cookies.

    I’d argue that there is no community as supportive as the another mother runner community. You guys are great.

  3. Congratulations and let me just say, I totally relate to the weeping part! I was at a graduation gathering this weekend and someone asked me which was my favorite of all the half marathons I have run (13 but who’s counting???) I told them no one had ever asked me that before and after giving it some thought, I answered honestly (albeit a bit embarrassed because I didn’t know everyone well), “they say you never forget your first time” which of course drew some choice retorts about being “fast” and “not going to go there”, but it’s true, you won’t forget this day and these feelings no matter how many more you do. You are right, this one will make the others seem a bit easier. Now I know I always have that “can’t do this” feeling around Mile 7 but also that “I can, because I’ve done it before” boost. I also want you to know I am so glad you will continue to write posts for Another Mother Runner and that one of these days I hope to walk into that bookstore or look over in my corral and find you! It would be such a privilege to share a few miles and smiles with you!! Kudos, my new virtual, running friend!

  4. Congrats to you Adrienne! I never wanted your race day to come because I never wanted your storytelling to end. So glad you’ll continue to inspire and entertain your virtual fans!

  5. Congratulations, Adrienne!! I’m so happy for you! Well done, Mother Runner! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’ve been inspired and learned so much from all the gritty and delightful details. I’m looking forward to reading more from you as your insightful and hilarious prose always has a few laughs in store for me. Laughing is crucial for wellness. Be well.

  6. Congratulations!!!!! Loved following you & loved the Race recap. Enjoy your rest time. Yep, lost it when you said your dad was proud of you. So, so sweet.

  7. Congratulations! I was a Runner of Steel (now I’m more like a Runner of Muffins). I might do it again next year (this year I’m doing Hershey). But mostly I’m commenting to say how excited I am that you’re going to still be a regular feature! Your writing is exactly the style I love – funny, with the occasional poignant thrown in! Now, take a few weeks off to recoup and keep us updated on your running life!

  8. Today I’m off to a beginner runner’s clinic – Brand new to all of this but have been reading your posts for the past few months. Kudos to you. It really is about the work beforehand – and not the actually race. Good stuff!

  9. I LOVE your posts. I think i even saw you standing somewhere, waving at people walking by. I recall waving at you & thinking “that’s the Martini lady from BAMR blog”. I saw you in your BAMR shirt and waved back. I seriously don’t recall where, as I was in Race-Day-Nervous-Excited-Brain Fog-Scared-Focused-Mode. You make me laugh, as my dad takes me every year, (he drives me in so I dont have to think about parking…read the above on race-day-brain). The the race is near my old hometown. I still feel like his little girl & am equally as proud to have him there. I yelled at every BAMR I saw! Way to go!
    Would love to meet up for a run. You are hysterical!

  10. Congratulations! I was there too and mile 8 or so right after the West End Bridge was especially hard for me too. Who knew the slight incline of a bridge could seem so torturous? I purposely had my kiddos meet me at the marathon/half marathon split because I knew that final hill was coming and I wanted something to look forward to beforehand. That really helped because I was counting down the miles before I got to see the family rather than dreading that stinker mile long hill! Thanks for writing each week. It was so fun to train “with” you for the same event!

  11. Hurray for you!!!! I have loved following your adventures and I can’t wait for more to come…

  12. Congratulations! I have really enjoyed reading about your slaying of the 13.1 and totally get the mix of emotions afterwards. I talked with you at the AMR party and then glimpsed you at Proctor’s and now we are going to end up in the same place again! I will be at the VT City Marathon cheering on friends running a full and a two person relay. I will look out for you. You will love this race – such a great atmosphere and course (even the highway section is cool because you get to see lots of other runners going the other way). Even in the horrible weather that we had last year, the spectators were awesome. Have a great recovery and hope to see you to cheer you on!!

  13. Wow, the crowd. That’s why I only like running races that 1-5 thousand runners at most. You can find people you know at the starting and finish lines.

  14. Great job, Adrienne. I had the same thought today as I “virtually” raced my half marathon. I think it was at mile 6.3 though. I considered ditching the whole thing. It just wasn’t my day. I’ve run much better races, and it actually did seem pretty stupid to keep going. The only thing that kept me going was this whole Prove it Challenge, and knowing that I would be uploading my run on Strava afterwards. Peer pressure. Still keeping me going after all these years.
    Take some time to rest and recover. You deserve it!!!

  15. And Phoebe, I did have to stalk you on FB when you went quiet on your blog (sorry, I was worried about your parents). So glad to hear from you again!

  16. Yay Adrienne! I’ve been waiting all week for this race report…thought it would be on Strava but figured you had to hold out for your adoring audience! I think you are so awesome…can you believe what you have accomplished? And you’re right, running is stupid…we are all crazy to want to run 13.1 miles! And we can’t wait to do it again! (once we’re not so tired and achy) Thank you for letting us all be a part of it!

  17. Congrats to you! I have been thinking of you all week and just never got the stalker energy up to see how it went via the race website. I guess I will have to have my regular old beer Fridays from now on!… at least every other week.

  18. I hope you know that not only are you cheered on by mother runners, but that you are an inspiration to many. You are a classic example of why I like this tribe so much — because everyone is so relatable. And the fact that I relate to you is one reason why I’ve decided to go for a half marathon in the fall. You have made it seem possible and do-able, if not easy. So thank you for that!

  19. Way to go!! I’m running a half marathon tomorrow morning. While it won’t be my first, it’s the first time I’ve really pushed myself with my training, and am starting to get jittery about meeting my pr goal. I LOVE your friend’s words: “You’ve already won the medal. Now you just have to go get it.” That will be my mantra along the course tomorrow. Thank you for allowing us to follow along on your journey!

  20. Congratulations Mother Runner of Steel! I’m a former Pittsburgher, and I want to run the half next year. In the meantime, I’m considering The Great Race in September. Can I count you in?? There are smiley-face cookies at the end of that one, too!

  21. Congratulations!!! Sounds like you have the post run blues…they hit hard…it reminded me of post partum depresssion..but YOU DID IT!!! We are all very happy for you!!!

  22. Congratulation! I laughed out loud several times during this post! Loved the part about taking the opportunity to let your anal-retentive freak flag fly! Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’ve looked forward to Martini Fridays every week – so glad they will continue in some sort of fashion.,

  23. My favorite costume was the guy dressed as Luke Skywalker with a toy light saber in hand and a plush Yoda backpack on his back.

  24. Congratulations on your accomplishment! I look forward to seeing what challenge you take on next (when you’re done celebrating this one!)

  25. Oh what a great ending to a fabulous journey! Congratulations and thank you for sharing it with us. Big fan of “you already won the medal, now you have to go get it.” Really neat.

  26. I laughed out loud at your Mile 7 thought of running being stupid. That was definitely going through my mind yesterday while trying to get in a long training run in 80 degree sun, my half isnt until June and it was the only time I could get in the miles (during middle daughter’s dance classes). Then a good friend and running buddy met me with a cold water and ran 3 miles with me. I agree we are all strong women and it’s wonderful to cheer each other on:) Congrats on your race and thanks for sharing, I have truly enjoyed it!

  27. Congrats Adrienne! I ran a 1/2 last weekend too, and found myself thinking about you ( a good distraction). Glad you got a cookie post-race. Am totally stealing your friend’s quote about “already winning the medal–go get it”. True ‘dat.

  28. Way to go! Running is a great adventure. I think you journeyed well! Can’t wait to hear more!!!

  29. Congrats!! I’ve been thinking about you all week! And I’m so glad we’ll get to keep Martini Fridays; it’s the highlight of my day. 🙂
    I’m moving to Pgh this summer – next year we should organize a BAMR meet up before/after the race!

  30. Congrats on finishing 13.1! Don’t be hard on yourself for it not going exactly how you wanted, it’s still an awesome accomplishment!

  31. Yay! I’ve been reading your journey and loved every post. Enjoy your break and don’t let your brain go too crazy with ‘what next’.

  32. Congratulations! Way to go! Love that you’ll be back on here writing… I’ve found your posts very inspiring!

  33. I love that you said it was “good enough.” That’s a wonderful perspective to have. And 13.1 is nothing to sneeze it. It’s a huge accomplishment. Way to go, Adrienne! So proud of you.

  34. I have so enjoyed reading your reports along this journey, and I am thrilled you’ll be back! Pittsburgh is my hometown, and although I’ve lived in California now for years, it made me feel nostalgic thinking about the sights you’d see and that cookie you got to eat! Congratulations on a job well done!

  35. Congratulations! I agree with Kelly that miles 8-9 are the worst, mentally. I’m very glad you will be back to be a regular feature going forward. I have really enjoyed your columns.

  36. OH, and just to clarify, the tiredness I felt 3/4 of a mile before the finish line was NOT the first time I felt tired. It hit about mile 8, as it almost always does. But right before the finish was just memorable. 🙂

  37. I have big, droppy tears in my eyes. I’ve only recently (like in the last month or so) begun following your journey, but I am SO proud of you! I remember all-too-well that first half marathon. I remember, as I was about 3/4 mile from the finish line just feeling really tired but then getting really introspective and I actually said outloud to myself, “You only finish your first half marathon once.” And I trucked on with a smile on my face.
    Congrats on all your hard work!!

  38. Congratulations! We’re all very proud of you and thanks for sharing your journey. I also start to “lose it” mentally during halfs at about mile 8 or 9, only to recover and finish happy so I am grateful you shared your thoughts. I also agree that there are times when a penis would come in very handy!

  39. Fantastic job, Adrienne!! We all knew you would complete your 13.1 with flying colors, thanks for taking us along for the ride. Huge congrats, BAMR!

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