Monday, May 14, 2012

Cincinnati Flying Pig: The Race

Leading up to to my third marathon I was feeling pretty good. All that was really freaking me out was the weather forecast! I had run two marathons previously, so that whole mental component of, "are you freaking kidding me? How far are you running?" was no longer a concern.  Or so I thought!

Sure enough, the crew of Roy, Patrick, Bee, and I met at 5:30am sharp in the hotel parking lot.   I've got to say, three marathons in and I've got my pre-race routine down to a science.  Bee and I looked at each other  at 5:27am and we were like, "we're ready with 3 minutes to spare."  I ate 3 cranberry and dark chocolate chip mini-scones that I made Friday night.  Yeah, it's weird but that's what I make the night before a long run and it works.  I suffered major tummy issues in my last marathon and didn't want to repeat that mess. 

Our hotel in Covington, KY was a mile from the start of the race and that was the perfect walking warm up for the race.  Except for that freakish moment over the bridge when a HUGE truck rolled by and I got freaked out when the pedestrian bridge started shaking.  Alright Cincinnati, let's do this thing!

Weather update:  60 degrees and 90% humidity.

The start went off without a hitch! I was able to actually start slow for once.  I was in the corral for the 4hr to 4:10 folks, which was awesome because it was such a large group of people running pretty much the same pace.  A 10 minute spread was pretty small for such a large race.  

The humidity was brutal! At mile 2 I was already wishing I wore a sports bra rather than a sports tank top.  I knew I was going to have some serious chaffing during this race.  

Miles 1-5 passed pretty easily.  

Then, the hills came. 

Seriously, miles 5.25 through 8.25 were nothing but brutal hills. I am a freak and absolutely love hills, but these suckers were long and never ending. Normally I like to charge the hills because I firmly believe, "charge the hill and you're done with it quick."  Yeah, that didn't work with soul suckers like these.  

Thankfully, there were amazing bands and an amazing speaker setup in the hills BLASTING Beastie Boys.  I yelled out a quick, "RIP MCA!!!!" and took the next hill with a bit more vigor.  

Then, mother nature called.  Quick pitstop right before mile 10 and I was back out on the road.  

 Bee's dad, Dr. D., and stepmom, Marcy, were camped out at mile 10 to take pictures.  Bee looked amazing!
Normally I race all races in capris to cut down on the dreaded thigh rub, but this race was just going to be too hot for that.  So at the expo I did everything you're not, you know buy something new and use it the next day.  I bought this little pocket wristband type thing to stash my fuel in and it worked amazing.  Best $10 I've ever spent!
Dr. D joked that my braided pony tail could kill someone.  I think I might have to cut my hair here soon because I could feel it swatting my back throughout the race.  It's rough being a girl sometimes. 

Here's my splits for the first half of the race:

Running a bit slower than I would have liked, but with the heat I knew I had to slow down in order to survive.  I definitely slowed down during the hills, but I didn't want to charge them and use up too much energy. I will give major props to the Flying Pig organizers because as soon as the weather forecast was made for higher than normal temperatures they added additional water stops.  There was a fluid station on every mile of the course, which at first sounded like a bit much, but I only skipped the first water station because the crowds were too thick still.  After that I welcomed every cup of water. 

 Mile 16 and feeling good!  Running with the 4:10 pace group and having a blast.  It's hot and I've stopped at all of the medical tents for additional petroleum jelly (Vaseline is a brand people, not the product!), but other than that I was feeling amazing.

Then, there was a quick, steep hill right before mile 17.

I don't know what happened, but 10 seconds up the hill my right leg slipped back and my left leg crossed over my right leg and my back just snapped to the side.  It was like a lighting strike ran down the course of my spine and everything became solid.  My butt became numb, which has been one of the most odd experiences I've ever undergone in my life. I couldn't rotate my back at all, which meant that swinging my arms felt like a serrated edge knife was jamming down my spine and getting caught on every vertebrae.

It sucked.

I really did try to keep moving.  Some moments were easier than other, but it seemed my whole body started shutting down.  Miles 20-26 were nothing but asphalt and the open road, which mean lots and lots of sunshine.  It was so hot that I was practically melting.  People started running on the sidewalk just to tuck into any bit of shade they could find.  

Miles 25 and 26 felt like they would never end.  A medical technician on a bike actually rode next to me for most of mile 25.  Yeah, it felt like the vultures were circling.  I had to keep reminding myself that every step forward meant that was one less to the finish.  

It's crazy, I knew that that faster I got to the finish line meant the faster I'd be out of the sun, but I just couldn't get there.  My body wouldn't cooperate.  I felt like I still had energy in the tank, but I just couldn't put together the right physical movements to make it happen. Every time either one of my feet pounded on the ground I started to cry.  Then, I'd get pissed at myself because I didn't want to waste any body fluid with tears.  It just hurt so bad.  

I got there eventually.  It took a heck of a lot longer than I wanted, but I finished in just under 5 hours. Yuck!  It was 82 degrees at the finish, which sucked.  I got so sunburned and I think I was more embarrassed by that than anything! I take my sunscreen routine very seriously. 

Here's some more photos from the day.  Marcy was great and took a ton of pictures with my camera. 

Roy, "didn't feel it" at mile 2, but still finished in a 3:32.  Marathon #27 is in the books! 

Of course Dr. D jumped on the course at mile 25 to run a bit with Bee.  She jumped in the New York City Marathon and ran a few miles with him during what turned out to be his last marathon.  

Everyone knew he's jump in for a bit, but no one was sure for how long.  

Finally at the finish!  Patrick busted out a PR and ran a blazing fast 3:24.  On such a tough course that was awesome.  Everyone said that as soon as they hit mile 20 the weather felt really hot.  It must have been the way the course was laid out!

I was super embarrassed that everyone had to wait so long for me, but they all found a spot in the shade and had a good time.   That's what friends are for -  they wait for you at the end of a ridiculously long and hot race with nothing but smiles and encouragement.

I know I'm not happy with my time, but I'm happy I finished. That pig medal was all I could think of in order to get over the finish line.  As the pace groups kept passing me by I didn't even care about the time, I just wanted to finish and be done.  It took every ounce of energy and toughness to walk by the medical station at mile 25 and not give up.  

 It's all about the details people! Not only was their a pig on one side of the medal, there was a pig butt on the other side!

I literally earned that medal in blood, sweat, and tears.  That medal means more to me than a lot of other medals I've  earned over the years.

I do have to finish with a massive thank you to all of the volunteers or "Secret Service Grunts" as they were called at the Flying Pig. Everyone was amazing.  A heartfelt thanks to all off the spectators during the race. Your enegry and care was amazing.  There were random strangers with signs like, "Don't POOP your pants," and people that threw house parties along the course.  There was a church around mile 9 that set up a series of water sprinklers that were such refreshing treat.  There were two women around mile 19 handing out ice chips to all the runners. The volunteer fire department at mile 21 (I think, it was all a blur at that point!) that handed out cold water logged towels and they were just what I needed.  Someone tucked a water bottle into my hand at mile 25 and I carried that bottle like a safety blanket to the finish of the race. Seriously, when it came time to go through the finish festival a Grunt tried to take my empty water bottle and I looked confused. 

I thank  anyone who had anything to do with the Flying Pig Marathon.  It was an amazing time and I'll never forget the kindness.  I don't know if I'll run the Flying Pig again, way too much pink for me, but I'll have nothing but positive things to say about the race.  

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