(Continued from Part 1)
Our pig pen finally started to move towards the start line and soon after we were of running the 2012 Flying Pig Marathon.
I have to say, what a gorgeous start:
The crowds at the start were exciting, and I decided not to listen to my iPod Shuffle and instead enjoy their cheering. In fact, the ear buds for my iPod would never make their way out of my fuel belt.
I was just starting to get in a groove and wanted to enjoy whatever good time I had on my right leg before my IT band started to lock up when I heard someone behind me yell “Hey little piggy!” I turned around and saw that it was Molly. We took this blurry pic:
We ran together for maybe a quarter mile before she took off as we crossed the Taylor-Southgate Bridge into Kentucky. I walked up the incline (I was planning on walking all inclines during the course).
Molly had reassured me that Wendy and Emily were behind me, so I looked forward to them passing me.
Running through the Kentucky portion of the race was fun. The crowds were out and I enjoyed running through Covington, the neighborhood we were staying in.
By the way, I totally loved the iFitness iPhone belt add-on I picked up at the Expo the day before. For the Disney Marathon they had run out, and I’ve been looking to pick one up since. It made getting my phone in and out to take these photos while running super easy!
Just as I we were about to cross back the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge back into Cincinnati, I met a gentlemen who was running his very first half marathon and loving every minute of it. We were almost three miles into the race and chatted a bit before I wished him luck as we started to go over the bridge since I was walking up inclines. Chatting with fellow runners is definitely one of the pros of not listening to music.
And back to Ohio we went:
A train was on the bridge with us and honked at us runners:
I started to follow the pig:
The sun started rising and I was so thankful I bought some cheapy Ray-Ban wannabe sunglasses at Target the week before the race. I figured I could toss them if they started to bother me. We were running east and the sun was blinding:
I was feeling the heat already and was glad I remembered to apply sunscreen before we left the house.
Around mile six, I was handed this tasty treat:
These were being handed out just before a water stop, but I don’t think they were provided by the course. I didn’t care… It was the most delicious thing I had ever had. It was a hot, muggy morning, with highs expected in the mid 80′s.
Around this time I could feel my IT band already tightening up. By the time Wendy and Emily passed me without recognizing me around mile 8, I was having trouble bending my knee. I called out their names and they turned around surprised. We would run together for the next six miles or so.
Around this time you start to run an never-ending incline, which we conquered through various methods:
- Run 5 minutes / walk 1 minute intervals
- Run to the next lamp post / walk to the next lamp post
- Run until one of us cried mercy and then walk (and by “one of us” I meant me)
This is when my right leg said “I’m not going to bend anymore.” Well, I showed my stubborn IT band who’s the boss: I figured out that if I swung my leg around when I ran (think pirate on a wooden leg) that it wouldn’t hurt. Sure, I looked like a special case but at least I was covering the distance.
Up, up we went with Emily looking for the nuns she had heard about, Wendy running through every sprinkler possible, and me just hobbling along. It was hilarious because Emily and Wendy were usually a few steps in front of me and the crowd would just do the usual clap and yell for them. But when they noticed me, they would yell words of encouragement and clap harder. I know what they were thinking: “Oh boy, this poor girl has to run quite a few more miles on that wooden leg of hers.”
Here are me and Wendy cheesin’ our way up to the top of that nasty mile 8 hill:
This was one of our views:
How gorgeous is that??
And we found a local to snap a photo:
Around mile nine is the half marathon turn-off. The girls asked what I was going to do. I finally told them I was going to do the full marathon, but only under the condition that they would leave me. I knew there would be a point I could no longer run, and didn’t want to hold them back.
As my pain increased, we stopped at an aid station to see if they had Biofreeze or aspirin. No such luck, all they had was Vaseline. What kind of aid station is that?
However, if you’re running a marathon and say the word “pain medicine” loud enough several times, you’re bound to have a kind runner overhear you and offer up some of their own. I was this fortunate when we met the loveliest lady. I declared my love for her as she gave me two Advil, but sadly I cannot remember her name, other than it started with the letter ‘R.’ But I will remember her fondly.
We made it to the half marathon mark and did mini-celebrations. I tried not to dwell on the fact that I could be finished for too long. Thankfully around mile 14 we came across what felt like a street party and were offered some beer. Since I’d already disobeyed common sense rules like “don’t take drugs from a stranger” I thought… “why not.”
That beer was hands down the coldest drink I had during the entire race course. I relished it. So did Emily and Wendy.
That orange headband around my left arm is what I used to cool myself off. At every water stop I would dump water on it, then wipe myself down with the headband. It’s easier than carrying a rag and definitely helped to keep my temperature down.
Wendy and Emily kept asking me if this was still the best day ever and I kept answering with a “yup.” No one ever said the best day ever was going to be easy.
Shortly after that picture was taken I finally decided I could no longer hobble run, chasing after the ladies. After the next running interval started, I continued to walk. I think they knew it was time and off they went. I would be on my own for the next 12 miles… or so I thought.
I was about to put my earbuds in, but was distracted by this guy:
Apparently he had juggled his way through the 10k the previous day and was now on day two of run juggling. I was mesmerized. I even started to run again so I could stay near him longer.
Around the mile 16 turnaround point I did three things:
- Allowed myself to entertain the thought that I might not finish this race
- Scored some ice from a family (I may or may not have told the little boy that handed me the ice that I love him. Yeah… totally inappropriate… ha ha ha ha… )
- Waited until I got out of said family’s view before I dropped that ice down my sports bra for instant cooling and much happiness
Once again I was about to put on my headphones when I heard someone asking me if I was okay. “Oh yeah, just can’t bend my leg. No bid deal, just running a marathon,” I responded. It’s the same response I had given at least ten people already. However, this runner had some items of much value: IcyHot (yes, he was carrying an entire tube in his pocket) and Advil.
He offered me the Advil and IcyHot and I didn’t even hesitate in answering with a big ol’ “YES!” Since I had already taken drugs and alcohol from other perfect strangers, I thought why stop there? When he handed me the Advil, he pointed out that it said ‘Advil’ on it, so I didn’t think he was trying to drug me. I reassured him that even if he was slipping me some Ecstasy, I think I’d be okay with it. Yup, that’s how much pain I was in… I was willing to finish out the rest of the marathon in a drug-induced trance-like state. Lucky for me, it really was just Advil.
The runner ended up being a local named Will and he was running to help raise money for LAM research. His friend suffers from LAM (short for “lymphangioleiomyomatosis“) and Will figured if his friend could survive with LAM, then he could endure the pain of running a marathon without training. This made him okay in my book. He even wore the cotton shirt she asked him to wear. Also, his bib read “SHOOT ME NOW.”
The final 10 miles of the marathon consist of highway hill running and running through not the nicest of neighborhoods. This reminded me of the long stretch during Disney where you run on the highway and I started to resent it.
By this point the sun was beating down on us and there was no shade. And at every water stop, the water and Gatorade got hotter and hotter, until it was undrinkable. Oh, and the water stops were running out of water. At one water stop I spit the water out because it tasted like garden hose water, probably because it was garden hose water. (I saw the volunteers refilling pitchers with a hose.)
Here’s a pic of me at mile 22. I was holding a styrofoam cup full of ice that we had scored. I may or may not have professed my love for the stranger that handed me said cup full of ice.
In the photo above, you’ll see that the road has some pretty fresh tar. I’m not sure if they patched up the road for the race, but it was so hot that the tar was sticking to my shoes. I had to make a concerted effort not to step on it.
Around mile 24 I saw a church with a sign that said “restrooms” outside and made a dash for it. Making it up the stairs to the entrance was a little tricky though, but the promise of an air-conditioned restroom helped guide me.
The final two miles of the marathon were horrible. It was all highway, and by this point the sun was torturing me. It was relentless. And the water and Gatorade got so hot at every stop that I couldn’t drink it. All I could think about was ice-cold water. And being able to sit down.
I started to wobble run when the finish line was in an attainable distance. I crossed the “finish swine” in 7:03:10, hobbling every step of the way. My average pace was 16:10/mile. My right leg was throbbing. My throat was parched. My feet were swollen. I had joined the ever-elusive 7-hour marathon club. But I didn’t give up.
Rox and Rachelle were just about some of the last few spectators remaining. Thank God for friends!
I thanked Will for the company and headed off in search of iced-cold water. I would not find ice-cold water, but I was , however, greeted with a beer by Erin. I declared my love for her too.
Some final thoughts:
- I’ve never been to Cincinnati and had a great time exploring a new city.
- The crowds were amazing. The people were lovely.
- It was a scenic course that took you through the city, over bridges, along the water and into the hills. Oh my!
- The medal is great. The shirt was great. The duffle bag was great. (Yes, we got all 3!)
- I love the pigs. Everywhere.
- Ohio weather in May is tricky. Last year it rained. This year it was hot. I would suggest race organizers talk to race organizers from Florida for tips on how to keep runners cool: more ice, sponges, etc.
- Hills. Train for them or they will eat you up alive.
- Aid Stations didn’t have pain meds or Biofreeze. I thought this was a race staple! Bring your own.
- Don’t take 7 hours to run your marathon. If you do, all of the volunteers at the end will have packed up, and you’ll get nice warm water.
Final verdict: I would like to run the Flying Pig Marathon again one day, but with two good legs. However, I would much rather just run the half marathon, and skip the awful highway portion that makes up the back half.
Thanks to everyone for your well wishes and support! A big shout out to the six wonderfully crazy ladies I travelled with and also the ones that couldn’t make the trip, but still sent their love.
Have you run the Flying Pig Marathon? Tell me about your experience or link to your own recap in the comments!
One last time… Weeweeweeeeeeee!