Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cincinnati review part 3 - Sunday

The Flying Pig marathon began at 6:30 am. Oh man, that was early!!! I wasn't exactly running for a PR. I always am, but at the same time, I knew it was a hilly course and my 4th in 4 weeks. I was exhausted before I even left the hotel, so I knew it was not the day to be disappointed if I failed to PR. Nevertheless I picked up a 5:00 pace band at the expo. There were pace teams, but everything helps with pace.

Driving in, there were two spotlights that I immediately connected to the Batsignal and channeled my inner Sheldon Cooper again. "I'm Batman...." Incidentally Batman was serving water at one of the tables :)

The half and full started together and stayed together for nine miles. The amount of runners was massive, but extremely well organized. Each runner was assigned a corral, and volunteers actually checked bibs as people entered the corrals. There were tons of school buses on hand for gear check. I didn't have anything, but it seemed really organized.

I was assigned corral E, the pink "pigpen" for runners expecting to finish between 4:00-4:40. Obviously I was feeling a little optimistic when I registered. I saw a man wearing a Turkey Trot shirt and we chatted before the race. He was from Dearborn. It's always great to meet fellow Michiganders :)

Before the race started, a bagpiper played Amazing Grace, then as the first waves took off, the first song was Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," a nod to Boston.

It took my group 9 minutes to get from the corral to the start line. There were hundreds and hundreds of spectators at the start and we were off! There were pacing teams, but the amount of people was so massive that I never saw them in the corral and I was on my own for controlling my time and not going out too fast. I did pretty well with it. 

The race began the same as the 10k and followed the same bridges into and from Kentucky. Like Saturday, it was insanely humid, to the point that I was drinking 3/4 my water, and dumping the remainder on my neck. The best part of the whole race was in downtown Cincinnati along 7th Street, where there were soooooo many spectators! They had some seriously funny signs:

"Don't walk. People are watching and taking pictures."

"You're almost there. That's what she said."

"I ran once. I didn't like it."

"Fly little piggies!"

People have complained tons about the hills, and yes they were bad, but no one mentioned the huge downhill stretches. They didn't make up for the inclines, but they were good. We climbed to the top of Eden Park and ran into Elvis!!!!

Despite the rain, tons of people were out watching. We ran by a retirement home in Kentucky and many of the residents came out to watch us. The nuns at a convent watched. A man was sitting in a lawn chair in his front yard, playing drums on pots and pans. There was a group of Rockettes in Kentucky doing a choreographed routine. The only thing is.... I couldn't tell if they were men or women... I think men...

I ate so often on the race it was crazy. People were in their front yards with oranges, watermelon, licorice, jelly beans, gummy bears, Gatorade, ice, bananas, pretzels, Rice Krispie treats. I've never eaten that frequently at a race and I passed by many of the food tables! The greatest thing about the on-course food is that it's not sponsored by the race, it's just regular people who want to help us. They're great!!!!

Hills are steeper than they appear!!!!
I was running smart - running tangents, and staying close to the corners, as much as possible. I know from experience that hills really hurt my hips, so I walked up the hills, knowing I wasn't losing that much time from walking versus running really slowly and painfully.

I was doing really well with my pace through 18 miles. Despite the exhausted legs and screaming hips, I was right on pace with my temporary tattoo. Then it started raining and I lost it. I wound up finishing in 5:22:17, which was 57 seconds faster than the Martian. The crazy thing is that the Martian, Toledo and Cincy were all finished within a 1:56 window. I seem to be incredibly consistent, just 25 minutes slower than I'd like. But whatever. I finished.

The finishing set-up was the same as Saturday and once I crossed the "Finish Swine" I couldn't get back on the other side of it, so my #10 finish line picture is with a pig. The medal is SWEET! the only problem was that no one knew where I had to go to pick up my extra item for the 4-way. Finally, after asking 15 people, a guy told me to go to booth 51. I found it, but after running 35.5 miles, the last thing I wanted was to go one step further. I hope next year the extra pickup will be right next to the medal pickup (10 steps off the finish line).

The food situation was the same as it had been on Saturday and I wasn't hungry. Picked up a bottle of water and a bag of Sunchips, but gave both to my friend.

Somehow my clothing all coordinated. Wow! That doesn't happen very often! As I was leaving, I saw the greatest race costume!!! The little piggies had a ton of costumes and it was fun. 

Overall I'd give Sunday 9/10. My only complaint was having to search for my 4-way stuff. Well, that and the rain, but that's obviously out of their control. Otherwise it was a great race, one that I'll definitely do again.

Thanks to Dan for the raceday memo he texted on Thursday. It was so funny and so offensive I HAD to use it. A few people laughed, one guy said I must have misunderstood the 4-way challenge :)

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