The post below is part of a series of posts about the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon weekend of events for which I have been selected to be a 2019 Pittsburgh Marathon official blogger. I’ve received my race registration fee in exchange for promotion of the event. All opinions are 100% my own. This post also contains affiliate links.
This past weekend was truly a dream come true and a weekend of setting some goals (anyone else reading/read Girl, Stop Apologizing?) So much so that I needed to split this post into three posts so I don’t completely bore you.
Spoiler alert (because I’m pretty sure that most of you reading are following me on Instagram, you’re an IRL (in real life) friend/family, or we’re pals on Facebook), my “dream” to chase a PR in 2019 did not come true, it was by far my slowest half marathon ever, but I DID IT. Let’s focus on the weekend and why I’m already looking forward to my next race!
2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: Meeting a Champion
If you want to be in the know, you follow the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon on Facebook and keep up with their events. That is where you’ll hear about things like the kick-off training runs, kids’ events, and opportunities to meet and greet runners who will make you want to live louder.
On Thursday, Levin’s and BEDGEAR (a Partner of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon) hosted an event to show off the amazing products in the BEDGEAR family but also to meet and greet with Stephanie Bruce. Stephanie is an American elite long-distance runner and a BEDGEAR ambassador…and she WON the 2019 USATF Half Marathon Championships here in Pittsburgh over the weekend.
At the launch party (which was super chill), I got to chat with her a little bit. Although she is super fit and about the size of my arm (see above), she didn’t judge me for my size but instead urged me to Dream Big and to have a great race. I joked with her “good luck beating me on Sunday”, we talked about staying in hotels with kids (she’s a mom) and sleeping well before race day. It calmed some of the nerves I had about the weekend ahead of meeting new people and sleeping in a hotel room with the kids the night before race day.
(And while I’ll never be an elite runner like Stephanie, it made me realize I need to work on my goals to become an ambassador for running brands I believe in. You guys proved that to me when I was selected as an official blogger and you used my referral code enough times for me to earn that hotel room through the official blogger referral rewards program! I need to DREAM BIG, indeed!)
2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: The Social Center
As part of my “duties”, I was asked to do something I’ve been wanting to do again since 2014 (but either the timing never worked out or I was not selected to help) – serve in the Social Center. That means that on Friday I was the “voice” of the marathon’s social media – specifically their Facebook messages. While things were quiet, I got to do what I love most (helping people), using the tool I love most (Salesforce), for the weekend I love most (the Pittsburgh Marathon weekend). It was a great way to give back to the organization (P3R Events) that put their faith and trust in me to be a voice in the Pittsburgh running community (and beyond) in my role as an official blogger.
To Jonah, Jordan, and the rest of the P3R Events staff and volunteers – THANK YOU for making me smile in a way I haven’t in a long time. You helped me fill a void I didn’t realize had been missing in my career. And who knows…maybe one day you’ll need a **rockstar** Salesforce Admin? 😉
2019 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend: The VIP Experience (part one of three)
Another perk of the Official Blogger program was getting the VIP experience – and in my case, I earned enough rewards to gift VIP to two spectators (my husband and oldest daughter) and two runners (the amazing SCRR pacer, Carla, and an inspiring Instagram run/walk/runner, Renee).
Psst – if you’re on the fence about VIP for future events, DO IT. I’ll go into more details, but kids 8 and under get in with their VIP chaperone so my whole family actually got the VIP treatment. You’ll need to read all three of my wrap-up posts to get all the benefits, but it is SO worth it.
For this post, I’m going to focus on what might have been the capstone event of the weekend. I was invited to the VIP Cocktail Reception on Friday night and was excited to get to relax a little and meet others who love this organization like I do. What I didn’t realize is how much I’d cry at the event!
You see, Patrice Matamoros (race director and CEO of P3R Events) not only served her 11th and final race with that title, but she is the reason why I started to run in this event in the first place. As the team was spotlighting her accomplishments over the last 11 years and she handed the “baton” to Troy Schooley (who I’m certain is not going to disappoint, either!), I was in tears because the things her friends, family, staff, and peers were saying about her were the things that made me want to run.
In one of my few tweets from the weekend, I shared how she inspired me in a crowd of Chatham Women Entrepreneurs to run for my kids – to give them the legacy love of a lifelong sport. I knew the next day that my four running buddies would all lace up their sneakers (okay, only one actually did, but more on that next post) and run this city with me because of me.
Me. Their mama who once weighed 300 pounds. Me. Their mama who cheated running the mile in high school. Me. Their mama who definitely doesn’t have the typical runner’s body (and that has fluctuated so much in the past four years – up, down, up again) but keeps lacing her shoes and loving her body healthy. Me. Their mama who inspires their daddy to move (even though it looks like he’d be the one inspiring her). Me. Their mama who can only explain her love of running as a way to show her kiddos that she loves them so much she does this for them.
Oh boy. More tears!
I remember hearing Patrice telling the story about going from programs for kids to fall in love with the lifelong sport of running to being CEO of @PGHMarathon in '13. That's when I first said YES to running for my kids. Tomorrow all 4 get to #MOVEPittsburgh! pic.twitter.com/yL4gFD84an
— Becky Willis (@mrsgregwillis) May 3, 2019
Phew. Glad to get that out one more time! All the emotions.
After the ceremony portion of the evening, I said goodnight to the amazing Erin Carlin (who wrangled us official bloggers, helped me with silly questions, cheered me on so much, and made me realize my voice matters as a writer in Pittsburgh) and thought I was headed home. That’s when I ran into Brandi (another Official Blogger), her friend Jeff (who from what I can tell is an awesome running coach), and Sue (who I’d been following on Twitter) and her husband Kevin (who love this city probably even more than I do – if that’s possible – and aren’t even Pittsburgh locals). I stuck around to chat with them and realized I need to find more running friends to “talk shop” with on weekends that don’t start with “Pittsburgh Marathon”.
What a great start to the weekend – and there is so much more to share. You’ll just have to be patient with me as I balance writing with spending much needed catch-up time with my family who cheered me on like **rockstars** this weekend, put up with my training schedule, and have dealt with my crazy emotions over the past seven months – we’re taking a much deserved time to focus on US!