|One of the Flying Pigs painted like a Cheetah|
May 6, 2012
20th Marathon Completed
Time - 3:45:00
Pace - 8:36/mile
Place - 78th/357 40-44AG
Overall Experience ... 5/5!!!
Spoiler Alert ...
- Probably the 2nd or 3rd best marathon experience I've ever had
- GREAT volunteers and organization
- GREAT community involvement and pride around the event
- BEST water stops and aid stations ever
- Challenging, but very nice course
- Got to run in two States ... crossing over from Ohio into Kentucky briefly
- Hung out with our friend Coy from First in Philly all weekend, and met fellow blogger Jeff from Detroit Runner
- Awesome weekend in my most favorite part of the country
- HIGHLY recommend this race!!!
Medal & Swag ...
|2012 Flying Pig Marathon Medal - Front & Back (pig butt on the back, hahaha)|
|2012 Flying Pig Marathon Race Shirt and SWAG, which included great P&G Duffle Bag and race poster|
While I think I've been to almost every nook & cranny in the Flyover-States in my 43 years, Cincinnati, Ohio had somehow eluded me. But I always knew I would love it. After all, it's fairly close to some of my favorite people and cities ... Louisville, KY - Indianapolis, IN - Nashville, TN ... so how could it not be great! And I was exactly right ... it was awesome! And it's now on my favorite cities list!
|Cincinnati, Ohio at night on the banks of the Ohio River - one of my most favorite pictures I've ever taken|
|Some more pics from the Expo|
|Michael & me with the great Pigippides|
Expo & Packet Pick Up ...
Depending on the size of the race, Expos seem to come in two sizes ... small & non-existent or over-the-top huge. This one was the latter. It was a huge, very well organized, very festive race expo that matched the enthusiasm and excitement of the 30,000 runners for all events being held during the weekend ... but the overwhelming thing that stood out the minute you walked in the door was the volunteers.
I've never experienced a race with better volunteers. They were simply everywhere and unbelievably helpful. They stepped up and offered to take pictures without being asked. They offered assistance and directions willingly and without hesitation. And almost every volunteer greeted you with a smile and wished you good luck. The volunteers were probably the single greatest thing about the weekend. They were simply unlike any I've ever experienced.
|Coy, Michael, Jeff, & me at the Flying Pig Marathon|
From time to time I've had the opportunity to meet other bloggers at races, which is always really fun. At this race, we met Coy from First In Philly, and Jeff from Detroit Runner. I've followed both of them for a while and love reading their blogs. Jeff and his running buddy had driven from Detroit and met us for a few minutes to chat and snap a picture at the Expo. I really felt a little out of shape for this marathon and told Jeff that I might end up walking the last 10 miles. Jeff laughed and said, "Yeah right!" ... and he was right, I ran the whole thing (more on that later). But it was great to finally put an actual person with a blog. He was a great guy and I think had a pretty good race too! I told him that when I ran the Detroit Marathon in a few years I would look him up.
Coy, on the other hand, is a completely different story. Where do I begin with
|Umm ... you two know that's not a real bear, right???|
The Race ...
On race day, I usually go through the same routine. Get up about 3 hours before the race. Eat a banana. "Read the paper". Stretch. Stress worse than a Fashonista over what to wear ... both to accommodate the temperature at the starting line, and to look somewhat stylish (which has never worked thus far). Seriously - I'll write a blog on this later, but it's pretty ridiculous. I mean I'm a totally heterosexual 43 year man who worries more about what he's gonna wear for a race than the actual race itself. Pathetic ... I know. And then, after everything is in place, and if Michael is at the race with me ... we get down wit da World Famous Pre-Race Dance Party. Up until now, it's always been a two person party with Michael and I bustin' a move. But for this race, we had the honor of adding Coy to the mix. I was a little worried that she would be camera-shy or not really get it ... but no chance with this gal. She was a perfect fit and got her pre-race dance on right along with us.
|Me & two grown women in pig ears flat out gettin' down!|
Going into the race I felt severely under-trained and less than prepared. I don't remember ever feeling this "out of marathon shape" before a race. I was worried about the temperature, which was about 60 degrees, with 90% humidity and expected to near 80 degrees before the race ended. And I was worried that I would simply crash at about mile 20 or 21. I promised myself that I would go really slow at the start and then just see what happened. I fully expected a 4 to 4-1/2 hour finish time.
|2012 Flying Pig Marathon Elevation - 1,459 ft of elevation climb|
|The finish line in Cincinnati|
I had qualified for Coral B, but because of a late pre-race port-o-potty stop, I ended up in Coral D. This caused my first few miles to be a little slower than normal, which was completely fine. My first mile was 10:32 - the slowest first mile of any race I've ever ran. I picked it up a little on miles two through four, but a bathroom break at mile 5 resulted in a 12:21 mile. After that I decided I was feeling pretty good and began to pick up the pace. I started averaging between 7:45 and 8:40 and felt pretty good considering the conditions. I just took it easy on the hills, but never walked. At some races, I'm up toward the front killing myself with a lot of other idiots killing themselves too. But toward the middle of the pack, people are chatting, singing, laughing, and enjoying the race a little more. It was pretty cool.
The course was beautiful and you definitely got to see some of awesome sights of Cincinnati. You start at Paul Brown Stadium, home of the Cincinnati Bengals - and end at Great America Ball Park, home of the Cincinnati Reds. I was hoping to see the Reds play, but they were out of town in Pittsburgh. Between the start and the finish, you cross the Ohio River twice, enter Kentucky, run by beautiful Hyde & Dogwood Parks, and see a lot of the greater Cincinnati area along the way.
By far and away the best thing about the race was the incredible crowd support and world class volunteers. There were folks watching and cheering at almost every turn, which was not surprising considering the more than 30,000 runners at the race for all events on Saturday. But the volunteers were really what made it special. I had never ran a race with such great volunteer support on the race course. There were water, Gatorade, orange slice, Jolly Rancher, spray hose, and medical stops everywhere. I'm not kidding. I usually take water at every stop in a marathon, but for this race, I skipped a few because it was simply too much water on my stomach. If I would have taken fluid at every stop, I would have floated home. And at mile 21 (I think) the volunteers provided a "Pig Wash". They actually had ice-cold wet towels and hoses for every single runner. A FRIGGIN' ICE COLD TOWEL IN A MARATHON ON A WARM DAY!!! How awesome is that! I was the perfect pick-me-up for the final few miles, and one of the most awesome features to any race I had ever ran.
It got a little warm in the final few miles, but the day had been so enjoyable that I hardly noticed. Don't get me wrong, I was ready to be done. But at mile 24 I received a High-Five from an 85 year old woman. Not to be out done, an 85 year old man offered the same High-Five at mile 25!!! Two High-Five's from folks old enough to be my grandparents. That was cool! I really hadn't looked that much at my pace along the way - I was just enjoying the day. But at about 25.5 I looked down and thought I might be able to get in under 3:45, so I pushed it a little for the last few hundred yards. I ended the race at 3:45:00. And that was completely fine! It was a pretty good day for having no idea how I would do and starting so slow.
I can't really decide what I enjoyed most about the Flying Pig Marathon. Meeting Jeff and spending a couple of days with Coy was awesome. Being in Cincinnati for the first time was definitely cool too. But as far as the race goes, I just can't say enough about the volunteers and how well this race was organized and ran from top to bottom. I would highly recommend it to everyone!!!
... be great today!