Saturday, May 8, 2010

2010 Pittsburgh Marathon Weekend - A Weekend for the Memory Banks!

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Last weekend, Fred and I had the joy and the pleasure to visit the great state of Pennsylvania.  Ironically, the first sight upon crossing the state line was an Amish farmer plowing behind two large horses!  That was a clue as to what was to come! 

We had many reasons for the visit. 

Our first stop in town was the Expo for the 2010 Pittsburgh Marathon, which we were registered for on Sunday.  There were some wonderful exhibits.  The highlight for us was the booth for New Harvest.  They sponsored the appearance of Meb Keflezighi, the 2004 Olympic Silver Medalist and winner of the 2009 ING New York City Marathon.  He also was fifth overall male finisher in the 2010 Boston Marathon, which took place only two weeks before the expo.  He was a wonderfully nice man!  I later learned that he is a committed Christian; I knew there was something extra special about him!  He signed a ‘stats’ card for each of us, and kindly posed for a photo.  We are new Meb fans!

Destination # 2 was the home of our wonderful and generous friends, Jon and Sara, who hosted us in their suburban Pittsburgh home for the weekend.  We enjoyed their company, as well as that of their sweet and beautiful children, Rebecca and Paul.  The children are darling – and so much fun!  We played with them, and enjoyed their worship time in the evening.  Their life is dedicated to the Lord, and the Holy Spirit shines through them.  We love them, and were so happy to be able to spend time with them!

Saturday morning, we woke up fairly early to join our friend, Mary, and her nephews Jimmy and Kevin, to meet up with them and explore Amish country in Smicksburg, Pennsylvania.  I have had an interest and fascination with the Amish Community for as long as I can remember.  I try to visit various communities as my travels allow.  Smicksburg is in Indiana County, which is about 1 ½ hours from Pittsburgh.   My personal objective was to seek out the real Amish community – not the manufactured commercialized businesses that spring up in every area where tourists come to spend time in the Amish community.  We visited several of the ‘English’ businesses (‘English’ is the term that the Amish use for those who aren’t a part of their community).  After seeing one too many quilts manufactured in either China or India, my temper was a little short.  I approached one of the proprietors of a quilt shop (whose name will not be revealed here….) asking “Where can we find Amish items which were not made in China?,” after being a little defensive toward my (in retrospect) uncalled-for question, she pulled out a map and gave us accurate directions to a quilt shop operated out of an Amish home.  I was appreciative – and apologetic for my attitude….

Mary, Fred, Jimmy and Kevin ventured out on our Amish adventure.  We made a couple wrong turns (we were straightened around by a kind gentleman in a Dodge truck), we came across not only the Amish quilt shop, but an auction that was populated by both Amish and ‘English’!  I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  I am so amazed at how they can live the lives they want to live without being influenced by the world around them.  I don’t agree with all of their rules and beliefs, but I respect them a great deal.

We approached the home where the quilts were sold, and were quickly surrounded by five beautiful little Amish children.  We spoke to them, but they didn’t respond.  Finally, I remembered that Amish children speak only German until they start school around age six, when they learn English.  So the children weren’t necessarily shy; they just had no idea what we were saying!  Their grandmother’s name was Lizzie; she has 11 children and 23 grandchildren.  She was extremely friendly.  When we mentioned we were walking the Pittsburgh Marathon the next morning, she mentioned there was a marathon that went through her neighborhood.  I need to check into that!

Sunday, May 2, 2010 was the 2010 Dick’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon.  We are primarily walkers, so our start time was 6:30 am.  We finished in 6:00:36 and 6:00:37; Fred still doesn’t understand how I ‘beat’ him!  The finish line photos clearly show he stepped on the line before I did!  The race included lots of great memories – the terrific and encouraging crowd (estimated to be 80,000); the encouraging words Fred received for wearing his Team 413 tech shirt (I elected to wear a tank top, being that the forecast was a high of 81 degrees); the lead runners catching up – and passing us – around Mile 8 (they started an hour after us); the strong emotion I felt hearing someone playing Michael Jackson’s ‘Can’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough around Mile 20 (there is no rhyme or reason for the response, other than the fact that I generally want to cry at Mile 20!); the wonderful sight of all of the bridges, many of which we crossed (see the course map); and on it goes!  Marathons are amazing events in which to participate.  I am convinced that it is 80% mental/20% physical.  It is definitely a case of mind over matter.  And marathons definitely cause me to rely on Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

The finish line area is an exciting place.  Each finisher is given a medal; that is one of my favorite aspects of the marathon experience – I like the bling bling!  Then I suck down as much Gatorade as my stomach will accept, so as to not cramp up after stopping.  We proceed to the photo taking area, where we posed with our medals.  You can see those photos here.  We look like wet – but happy – rats!

After the marathon, we returned to the home of Jon and Sara – and showered and conked out for a couple hours!  After we ate a fabulous dinner (the best tasting beef stew I’ve ever had!) and the children were safely in their beds, the four of us played euchre, my all-time favorite card game!  It was Jon and Sara versus Fred and me – and, for the sake of our friends, I won’t tell you what transpired!  Suffice to say that, from the Schultz's perspective, it was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend!

Monday morning, it was time to head back to Michigan.  Thanks to the resident of Pittsburgh and its environs for a weekend to remember!  I have always heard that people who live in Pittsburgh, or have ever lived in Pittsburgh, love it; now I understand why!  We can’t wait to return!  


nicole Wick said...

What a great trip! I'm beyond impressed that you guys finished the marathon. Congratulations!

Andrea Schultz said...

Hi Nicole -
Thanks! We have so much fun doing this - honestly, we do! : )
Blessings -

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