Sunday, May 18, 2014

Cincinnati - Livin' on a Prayer

Clothing mountain at the start
When I ran Disney, I had no time expectations whatsoever. It was the wrong time of year and my hip was aching. I knew I'd finish in the 6+ hour vicinity, and I was totally ok with that. There was a certain freedom in knowing I had zero pressure whatsoever to PR. I had the same mindset going in to Cincinnati. My legs were aching after the 10k and I warned Bill to not expect me before 6 hours. It was even moreso after dinner on Saturday. We went to Panera and I got what I often get - a half serving of pasta and a small bowl of soup. Something was definitely wrong with the sodium level though because while it tasted fine, I gulped down an entire Nalgene bottle of water with my dinner (32 ounces) and had another within 20 minutes. Many days I struggle to finish two Nalgenes, and I just devoured both in a very short window. I only stopped drinking because it was bedtime, but my mouth and throat were on fire and no amount of water was helping.

I had tried to pace myself in Toledo and that was a dismal failure, so I approached Cincinnati with the "whatever feels good" strategy. Somehow it worked! I was all too aware of my exhausted legs, but I was totally ok with it because the discomfort meant they were working and DOING something!

#17 baby!
Mile 5ish was right downtown on the stretch with the most spectators and someone was playing Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." It was a perfect theme song for the day. So what if I was slow? I was living the dream, doing something that less than 1% of the country will ever do. Later in the course we passed a church that had the lyrics to "Amazing Grace" printed on signs and lining the course. One that yelled my name and stayed with me in particular was "'Twas Grace that kept me safe thus far and Grace will lead me home." I would dare anyone to run a marathon and not believe in God or some higher power. There is nothing within us that says we should be able to run 26 miles, yet we do.

It was seriously hot - 64 at the start, mid 70s after an hour or so, and sunny. It was beautiful weather, but not ideal for running. My hydration strategy became "yes, please." After 18 miles I started drinking yellow Gatorade, which I despise, because I was sweating out salt and didn't have any salt packets to replenish it. Mile 19 I saw a man laying on the side of the road, receiving oxygen and iv fluids. If not for the Grace of God, that could have been me.

Hey there Mr. Pig :) He was paper machie - I almost knocked him over!
Somehow I completely kept my sh-- together and didn't fall apart in the second half!!!! I need to figure out how I did it, because the weather wasn't ideal and I was exhausted, but I kept my miles consistent and never once thought "I should walk this whole mile." Only three miles the entire way were in the 13-minute range, and nothing slower than that. One of them I can pinpoint as being part of a massive 3-mile incline where I was walking.

I wasn't the only runner who brought Saturday's medals
for a post-race photo
Hal says you aren't going to PR if you're busy taking pictures and slapping 5 with kids. Perhaps, but that makes for a much more enjoyable experience. He says you need to focus on every step. I just don't have that kind of focus. I need to have fun with the race, or it's going to be a long miserable morning. Over the course of the race, I realized of course I'm not going to retire! I'm going to be really selective though and unless it's Cincinnati or Chicago, there are no guaranteed marathons on my schedule. Even Detroit is a definite maybe in the future.

I didn't PR, but my second half was double +11, which is one of the closest splits I've done. My final time was 5:11 and change. I knew it was a matter of seconds whether or not I beat my Chicago time, and after looking up my Chicago time, I had beaten it by 30ish seconds, so this was my 4th best ever, and my best since November 2012.

It was a difference of less than 15 minutes from my Toledo time, but felt like a completely different experience, one that I was happy with. Given the winter and my resulting lackadaisical training, the heat and the sun, and the hills, I regard this one as a win!

After, I picked up my 4-way goodies and we lounged on the grass and ate and relaxed. Something seriously cool that I've never seen before was a table of volunteers with computers and receipt printers. They looked up my bib and instantly printed my time, including all the timing mat splits. By the time I was ready to go back to the car, there were still tons of people finishing so it was nice to stop and watch them. I don't often get to watch other finishers. When I looked at my photo proofs online, there was a woman on my heels the entire finishing way, but I never let her pass. Had I known she was that close, I would have finished a few seconds faster, knowing she was trying to pass me. As it was, I passed no fewer than 15 people in the last 0.2 miles.

5 medals, 5 shirts, 3 posters, a tote bag, a plaque and a Skyline gift card that we used
L-R: 1-mile, 5k, marathon, 10k, 4-way challenge

Pretty decent consistency. I didn't fall apart!!!!!


  1. I love all you bling. Congrats. I had to chuckle at both the song choices. You hit it on the nail with both of them. I could hear them ringing in my ears.
    I may have started crying if I heard Amazing Grace depending on where I was while I was running. This is one of my all time favorite hymns. I reminder of my mom and others. Great recap!

    1. Amazing Grace was at mile 15, I think? Right before a HUGE hill. I started crying a little, then realized I can't breathe when I cry! :)