Sunday, May 6, 2012

Race report: Flying Pig weekend

The Flying Pig Marathon was hands down the best event I have ever done. I ran for 5 hours, 21 minutes and 7 seconds and genuinely loved every second of it. (Separate blog post with more photos.)

Thinking back to how miserable I was the last 8 miles of the Columbus Marathon, trying to make a time goal, I wonder if slowing down and stopping to smell the roses (literally, Rebecca E. stopped and made me smell some pink ones), is the best way to go.

To bad I have too much of a competitive spirit!

This weekend was a whirlwind. I'll just whiz through the early details so I can get to the super-fun stuff. Woke up at 5 a.m. Saturday. Headed to downtown Columbus to see the MITers off for the Capital City Half Marathon. Had a blast standing on a freeway overpass for several hours ringing a cowbell, jumping up and down and yelling at the many, many members of my running groups competing. The incredibly awesome Sara W. cheered with me. She blogs here.  

Me and Sara
Sat in a Tim Hortons sipping tea for an hour -- as quiet of a moment as I was going to get that weekend. Met up with Brandie D. and Rebecca and headed out of town. Got stuck in traffic for an hour because of an Obama rally. Finally got out of the car on I-270 to stretch our legs. Saw cars moving up ahead. Screamed. Waved our arms. Ran back to the car. Many engines behind us revved up as a result.

Ick! Traffic.
Finally made it to Cincy. Found parking. Went to expo. Spent too much money at expo. Bought some yummy dried fruit snacks and some Flying Pig gear at 50 percent off. Loaded up on free samples of laundry soap, wrinkle reliever and undereye cream. Since Mr. Obama held us up we were there as they were closing and trying to get rid of stuff.

Went to Arnold's Bar and Grill for dinner with other members of Run DMC. Got some yummy gluten free pasta with portabellas and a bottle of Woodchuck cider. Made it to the hotel by 10 and crashed almost instantly.  

Run DMC after dinner

Our alarms went off at 4:30 a.m. We dragged ourselves out of bed, got ready and walked a good mile in the dark to the starting line. When I woke up I was petrified, but as we were walking across the bridge that separates Kentucky from Ohio, we heard "Born to Run" over the loudspeakers and saw crowds of people pouring in from every direction as the sun rose. The fear was gone, now we're just excited. We dropped our bags and got in the corral.

Brandie and I, up bright and early.
I loved, loved, loved this course. I wish I had brought a camera so I could document some of the things we saw. The course was windy, curvy and hilly. Around every turn there was something new, a mascot, someone in a funny costume, cute kids cheering, zombies, drunk people, a band, a DJ, people with hoses to cool us off. The miles just flew by.

The race organization was impeccable, except for one water station that ran out of cups, there was plenty of fluids, and tons of people handing out snacks and "real food" on the course. I actually think eating real food (oranges, fruit snacks, applesauce, jelly beans, twizzlers, other candy) gave me more energy! 

Rebecca and I wore our headphones for the first nine miles. My calf throbbed the first mile and I was really worried, but I loosened the brace I had on it and it got better. We started off running next to a guy dressed as Forrest Gump. I didn't notice the four-mile hill since it was at such a low grade. At Mile 9, the halves turned off, and things suddenly got a lot quieter. I tell Rebecca the story of the Tough Mudder and about a scene in Touch that made me almost cry (when the video blogger starts a movement to help the French guy... think I'll watch that episode again tonight) to pass the time. We chat it up for the next few miles. 

We're halfway there. This is the toughest part for me. When you've gone so far and you're nowhere near done. Miles 13-14 I'm starting to feel my legs get heavy. I'm starting to slow down. I'm starting to doubt myself. Rebecca looks like she's fading too.

Then around Mile 15 we enter Mariemont. 


People are standing on the street shoulder to shoulder and sometimes several deep. They're handing out cookies, candy, food, water, even beer. Some of them have clearly been drinking and were inebriated, which made things all the better! Bands were playing, there were entertainers and cute kids everywhere. 

Before I knew it Miles 15-18, always the hardest part of marathon for me, were done and over with, and I am feeling FANTASTIC! Of course, it helped that I had eaten so much candy and a double caffeine Gu. I was beyond giddy and full of energy. I'm high fiving everyone, chatting it up and having a great time. Rebecca is into it too. 

If I ever move to Cincinnati, I'm living in Mariemont. It may well be my new favorite place :)

Things quiet down as the course runs along part of the highway. "This is going to be boring", I thought. Toward the end, not a great time to hit us with drab scenery. There were so many pretty views along the entire course. 

But nope! They managed to keep us entertained.

There was a contest for the best water station, and the groups at Mile 18 and 19 outdid themselves. 

Mile 18 was a Luau. The volunteers were amazing! Totally decked out and into it.

We merge back into the neighborhoods, and just ahead of Mile 19 we saw two kids in sunglasses and suits with plastic saxophones. The Blues Brothers! One of my favorite movies! We came around a corner and the water station was in character, suits, sunglasses, music and signs everywhere with quotes from the movie. Amazing! I voted for them at the end.

Rebecca and I have been running at about an 11-12 minute pace the whole time and we're feeling great. The course was fun, the crowd support unreal, the amenities fantastic.

It hit at Mile 21.

We came around a corner, and glaring at us was the big, ugly yellow thing in the sky, beating down with all kinds of vengeance. Mother Nature had been kind to us up until this point. It was warm but not overly hot. I drank so much water the day before and had taken several salt caps so I thought I was prepared. 

Within minutes, though, I'm feeling the effects, starting to feel a little queasy and dehydrated. We stop at a water station. I'm suddenly shaking as I ask the water station volunteer to hold my iPod as I lose a layer. I ask her to clip it back onto me since my hands are so slimy. 

After a little break, though, Rebecca and I are feeling good again. Time to push through to the finish, but we need just a little motivation to get there.

So we decided to try and beat a mutual friend's marathon time. Sometimes it's the little things that get you through. We pick up the pace more and more as we plug through the last five miles.

I was amazed at how many people were walking at this point. It was disgustingly hot out by now, maybe too much for people? The Pig had offered to defer entries because of heat warnings. 

But the crowd support is still there! Not nearly as many as were there at the beginning of the race, but still so many people stood out for hours to cheer us on, and the crowds got thicker as we got closer to the finish. At Cap City I cheered for three hours and was EXHAUSTED by the end, but here, people stayed out for a race twice as long through worse weather. We saw a guy with a sign with my favorite marathon slogan "26.2, because 26.3 would be crazy" at the beginning... and then he's there at the end, 5 hours later!! I thanked the crowd where I could. It made all the difference. 

Rebecca and I crossed at 5:21:07. We ran almost all of the course, except for a few steep hills. This was Rebecca's first full, and my third. Here are the stats, according to the official results:

  • Overall place: 3,180 of 4,080
  • Division place: 238 of 324
  • Gender place: 1,160 of 1,683
  • 6.8 mile split: 1:23:03 (pace: 12:09 , rank: 3707 )
  • Half: 2:41:18  (pace: 12:19 , rank: 3660 )
  • 19.7 mile: 4:07:34  (pace: 12:34 , rank: 3483 )
  • 25.2 mile: 5:11:48  (pace: 12:23 , rank: 3213 )
  • Last half: 2:39:48  (pace: 12:12 , rank: 2692 ) -- Negative splits baby!!
  • Last mile: 0:09:18  (rank: 1107 )
  • Pace: 12:16

After the race we hobbled around trying to find Brandie, who did the half. I'm beyond sore, but not as bad as I was after Cleveland and Columbus. The post-race refreshments and organization was wonderful.

While it was my slowest time, this has been the best race I've ever done. To all worried about the hills, they're not bad!! (Disclaimer: I do live in a hilly area so they're hard to avoid during training.) There are a few steep ones that you might as well walk, but most of the climbs are slow and gradual. It is a phenomenal race, and I'll absolutely do it again! 

The Finish "Swine"
Front of the medal

Back of the medal


  1. What a great write-up Jessica. Thanks for sharing while it was still fresh.

  2. Loved, Loved, LOVED this recap!!!!!!!!!! Can I say it one more time?!?!?! I LOVED IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I want to run this race now!!!! (The half, probably). Awesome picture of us - although, I look dazed and confused!! I had a blast cheering and chatting with you on Saturday.

    Congratulations on the Pig!! Phenomenal job, my friend! You are an inspiration to me!!!!

  3. Congrats on making it to the finish swine of your third mary!! Loved your can do attitude even on such a hot day. :)

  4. This race sounds phenomenal. What a great recap! I have official put the Pig on my list of races for next Spring!

    Congrats on an awesome race!!!

    And - thanks for cheering at Cap City!