Good day everyone. Due to my week long celebration of the movie Thor, I have passed the blogging duties to my dear Wife. She will be informing you of the great weekend we just had where she participated in the Flying Pig Half Marathon. Also it is likely I will blog about Thor on Saturday go be sure to check in. Peace.
I know this blog is a long one...but the husband told me to not hold back and to describe the whole experience!
This past weekend was one of excitement, accomplishment, goal-reaching and fun. To quote Charlie Sheen, it was WINNING! I came, saw and conquered "the flying pig!" In other words, I finally ran my first half marathon on Sunday! I have been running since third grade and ran competitively throughout junior high, high school and college. Other than hurdles, I had ran every track event from the 100 to the 10K.
After my post-collegiate running career, I have done a decent job keeping up with my running, but primarily for fitness purposes. I do not run at the intensity that I did in college nor do I have time to do so. Shortly after college graduation I set a goal for myself: run a half marathon. However, it took a few years for me to actually do it and I began to wonder if I had the guts and drive anymore to do so. It was something I wanted to do, but to be blunt, I was scared. A half marathon is stepping out of my comfort zone...BIG TIME! With encouragement from the husband and some of my running club members, I realized that I could do it. I began doing long runs again (something I hadn't really done much of except for days when I just felt like going out and doing more miles), and decided to set my sites on The Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio. The race was voted by Runners World magazine as one of the Top 10 most fun marathons in the country or something of that nature. Also, I mean the theme is a flying pig, SO CUTE!
Sooooo as the week of the Flying Pig came, I unfortunately caught a sore throat/head cold. YUCK! I hate being sick! I know what typically comes with a sore throat and I was determined to not let myself get worse so I tried everything. Cough drops, massive amounts of Claritan D, ect. The husband suggested gargling salt water...which I found gross, until Internet research indicated that this was a good idea. So I spent the days leading up to the race gargling massive amounts of salt water. Tasty! While I didn't magically get completely healthy, I know the salt water actually helped and my throat didn't feel nearly as bad! Winning!
Still feeling not 100 percent, I decided I was good enough to go running wise, so we kept our hotel reservation in Cincinnati and headed off to conquer "the pig" Saturday morning. This was the first time since my last race in college that I was actually nervous about running again! My only expectation was to finish the race, but because it was unknown and something I had never done, the nerves kicked in hardcore. I asked the husband one thing: to not go all Daniel and complain and rant about the traffic. He agreed to do so, however, this promise lasted only about 20 minutes as we got stuck in traffic in Gallipolis due to a tractor pulling a van. LOL. Sure. Well after we got our dog checked in at his "doggie camp" for the weekend, we finally got out of traffic and made it to Cincinnati in good time!
We immediately went to the Flying Pig Expo so I could register for the half marathon! Parking of course was an adventure, but everything worked out. I registered and then the reality finally slapped me in the face: "OMG I AM ACTUALLY GOING TO RUN A HALF MARATHON TOMORROW!" The expo provided a great distraction though. It was HUGE and so well organized, like the entire Flying Pig Marathon event. There was basically a store in the expo, so along with my race "swag" I got some other goodies, including a pink Flying Pig t-shirt and hot pink arm warmers. Winning! After all the expo madness and checking into our hotel, As a pre-race tradition that dates back to my high school cross country days, we went to Carrabbas for dinner so I could carbo-load with some pre-race pasta and bread! Yum yum!
Sunday race morning came early. VERY EARLY. The race started at 6:30 a.m., but in order to park at Paul Brown Stadium (which is where the race started) we had to be there no later than 5:30...which meant I got up at 3:50 a.m. I'd wager to say I got about 2 hours of sleep total Saturday night. Between the annoying hotel air conditioner, my head cold crud and my nerves, sleep really was out of the question. I woke up with a familiar nervous feeling that I used to always get before races. For my pre-race meal I forced down a Snickers Marathon Bar (not good but a quick fix and better than those awful chewy PowerBars!) I also did another old pre-race tradition of mine: PEED ABOUT A MILLION TIMES. Why oh why do I always pee soooo much when my nerves are up? Luckily, the Flying Pig was also organized in this department and had a HUGE row of multiple porta-potties near the start. After pacing and semi-stretching, the rain began to fall just in time for the runners to go to their starting corrals or "pig pens" as the Flying Pig called them! I was in Pig Pen B (pig pen/corrals are based on projected finish times). My pig pen was the second fastest one. I had to leave Daniel and head to that area alone. I was surrounded by many runners who had running partners or at least knew each other. However, during the 10 minute wait in our pig pen, I ended up making some friends and chatting with people. That's the beauty of distance runners, who for the most part, (except for the witch with a b who tried to accuse me of line jumping during one of my multiple porta potty trips!) are always very friendly. That was nice and made things more relaxed.
Finally, the race started...as more than 30,000 people were in the race and I was in Pig Pen B it was several seconds later (maybe even a minute) before I actually crossed the start line. This of course did not effect times, as all participants wore a timing chip on their shoe that officially started their time when they crossed the start line. The first two miles were insane... "bumper to bumper" traffic of people! These miles were quite slow as there were so many people and not a lot of room to move. I don't even remember seeing mile 1 or the time because all of a sudden I saw the marker and time for mile 2! These miles (although slow) went by fast. While I didn't exactly have a time goal, I knew I could be going faster and finally "traffic" began to be less tight and I picked up my pace. We ran over three bridges (which I loved!) and were in Kentucky for a short stint of the race. My biggest memory of Kentucky was laughing at the "Big Daddy Liquor" store we ran by lol. Yes, I am so mature! When we crossed the third bridge back into downtown Cincinnati, I knew the supposed difficult section of the race, called "the climb" was coming up. I had taken a virtual course tour thanks the beauty of YouTube...so I braced myself for the hills to come. The climb itself wasn't nearly as bad as what I thought it would be. A lot of the runners who had written course reviews describing "the climb" as brutal have obviously never suffered through Agony Hills repeats in Charleston. However, the hills were by no means easy and were still quite a challenge. You would think a hill would be done but then it would keep going! Finally, I hit mile 8 and knew the bulk of the main hill part was done. That being said, I would describe the whole course as not really flat, but a "rolling course." Much of the hill part took place in the beautiful Eden Park, which also was a nice distraction. I like to have nice things to look at while I run, and it was gorgeous there! I went through mile 9, which had some bit of a downhill. But, I really began to feel fatigued in mile 9...although I made it through the hills quite fine and didn't find them to be as scary as I thought, they really made me tired for the remainder of the run. At mile 10, I hit the dreaded "wall." I knew I only had 3.1 miles left...but I was exhausted at this point. Mile 11, while having a major downhill, was probably my worst one. I know I slowed down and of course blew some sweet snot rockets thanks to my head cold...I am a classy lady! I remember thinking on this mile that I couldn't wait to finish and that maybe I wouldn't do another half after this. Then mile 12 came and I realized... ONE MILE LEFT. JUST ONE! THAT'S IT! I got a breath of energy back and as I neared Great American Ballpark, I knew I was soooo close to crossing "run a half marathon" off my bucket list! In the final 100 meters or so, I unleashed my good ole "track speed" and passed quite a few people with my finishing kick. I clocked in at under two hours, which was good enough for me and my first half marathon effort.
Crossing the finish line was amazing! It was such a rush of adrenaline. Despite nearly puking on one of the volunteers as I leaned over after crossing the line (another oh so wonderful running tradition of mine), I was instantly filled with happiness. As I walked down the finishing area, I was immediately given my finisher's medal. I also decided at that point that even though I was sore, exhausted and drenched (it literally rained the entire race), that I would definitely do another half marathon and would have to do the Pig next year too! I hadn't felt that good about myself in a long time, and it was nice to have that feeling of gratification back again. The adrenaline from finishing was like a drug and now I need more! As I collected snacks in the finishers area and made my way out of the "tunnel" to find the husband post-race (which took an hour by the way lol) I cried. I actually did it. I kept saying that to myself. Running this half marathon was just the emotional boost I needed.
Finally, I found the husband and we walked around downtown as much as I could...but ultimately decided to go to the car. LOL. I was sore, tired and ready to change into dry clothes, meet up with our Cinci friends and get some post-race Skyline Chili!
Overall, the race experience was amazing. The Flying Pig organizers put together one awesome, well-run event! Not to mention the support of the city of Cincinnati and the cities in Kentucky that we ran through. Every single step of the race had spectator support, cheers, bands and entertainment of some kind! It all helped motivate me and the other participants sooo much! They also had gatorade and water offered throughout the whole race! With my sore throat, this was AWESOME and very helpful! I feel like I was probably spoiled doing the Flying Pig for my first half because it was so huge and the crowd support was soooooo awesome! The post race snacks were also amazing. I had the best yogurt I've ever had. It is now my quest to find it. They even had non-conventional post race snacks that many people shockingly seemed to enjoy. I've never seen so many people swig down chocolate milk immediately after racing. Not for me, but to each is his own!
Upon completing the race, I also found that some runners and spectators, including Daniel, got a full view of one runner. A naked runner man that is. Manbearpig?!?! Evidently, according to the news report the next day, the man jumped in the race at some point (he was not a registered participant) and well, ran naked! He actually had to be tazed! I am glad I did not see the naked dude... but have to give him props for being so "ballsy." Hahaha to cheesy jokes!
Anyway, this weekend was awesome and an experience that I will always treasure and never forget. Thanks to all those who supported and encouraged me, especially the husband who is and always has been my "biggest fan!" I still can't believe that the girl who used to complain about having to run the 3200 voluntarily signed up for a half marathon and completed the race...and further more, enjoyed it!