“At first an ordeal and then an accomplishment, the daily run becomes a staple, like bread, or wine, a fine marriage, or air. It is also a free pass to friendship.”
~ Benjamin Cheever, Strides

Monday, May 6, 2013

Flying Pig Recap

I absolutely LOVE this medal.
Race: Flying Pig Marathon
Distance:  26.2 miles
Date:  April 5, 2013, 6:30 am
Finish time:  4:15:11
What sets this race apart:  Flying Pig theme, hilly course, some say the spectators

I had big goals for this race.  It was my main prize focus for this running season.  Everyone told me - "Don't expect to PR at the Pig,"  "the Pig is really hilly," "oh the hills."   Nonetheless, I knew that with my current training, my weight loss and my changed focus, I was a faster runner and still hoped to PR.  In fact, my primary goal was to beat my Dad's marathon time of 4:19:xx.

I PR'd.  By 37 minutes.  

I had a detailed plan for the race that had different pace goals for each mile based on the terrain of the course.  I.e. the plan allowed for me to go slower on the biggest uphills and faster on the downhills.  It also allowed for me to start slower if the corral system wasn't up to par.  (This was the first year that Pig had instituted a corral system).
After a photo op in the hotel lobby, we all headed to the corrals pretty early so that we could be well positioned.  
Me, Amy, Laurie and Lynne in the corral pre-race
I really think that paid off, as I never felt like I couldn't run my own pace, even at the beginning.  I got the benefit of a huge crowd feel, without having to do too much weaving.  Lynne and I stayed together for the first couple of miles until she decided she wasn't up to that pace for the day.  We wished each other fabulous races and parted ways.  As a result of the proper corral placement and the parting from Lynne, I got a bit off plan in the early pre-big hill miles.

I decided that I'd simply banked time for the amount I would run the marathon long.
Proof that the race crossed into Kentucky!
The end of mile 6 was supposed to be the start of the "big hill".  This hill started at the end of mile 6, continued through miles 7 and 8 before topping out right around the 8th mile mark.  I really tried to slow down, knowing that I had a lot of time allowed for on this hill, but the hill really didn't seem that bad.  Also, I felt really strong here.  The view from the crest of the hill was pretty awesome.  Not long after that, the half marathoners split from the pack.  It was a bit disorienting that they left us so early.  (At Columbus, they stayed with us through mile 13!)  The next couple miles were more lonely and included more downhill with a few uphills.  The gain/loss was in favor of a downhill though, so my plan had me speeding up.  I ran by feel rather than keeping my eyes glued to pace, and as a result, continued to stay ahead of plan.
I have to admit.  At this point, I was doing the math of how much time I'd banked, and the idea that I might be able to hit a secret super stretch goal of 4:15 entered my mind.  As I result, although I tried to slow down and match up with my planned pace at this point, I probably didn't make enough of an effort.  

Miles 11-15 were a section of my plan that I had originally thought would be the key to whether or not I made my goal.  Because of their relatively net flatness (gain and loss were either equivalent or favoring a net loss), my plan had this series of miles as my fastest miles of the day.  Although, it wasn't overly evident on the elevation profile, this section of the course continued the rolling hills that would haunt the entire course.  Nonetheless, I managed to have a net-gain on the plan for this section as well.
I remember clearly the moment when I hit the 16th mile.  Why?  Because I looked at my Garmin, saw where I was mileage-wise, and thought "OMG, I still have 10 more miles."  I admit, I was lonely, I was feeling a little more tired than usual at this point in a run, and the spectator support wasn't what I'd hoped for.  I don't know if that was the rainy, gloomy weather effect, if people were more nervous to spectate from previous years, or if people had simply played up the spectators more than they deserved.  That being said, the little town centers were awesome.  All the people handing out orange slices from their front doorsteps in the neighborhoods were extremely appreciated.  I partook of several orange slices throughout the run, and they were the best oranges I'd ever tasted!

One thing that was surreal about the race, were the sights I wasn't used to seeing on a race course.  When running through the town in this 4th section of the race, one of the things that caught my eye was the policeman walking a bomb dog through the spectators.  In addition, several times on the course, I saw military men (I'm not sure which branch) in full flack gear carrying semi-automatic riffles.  Every time I saw them, I thanked them for protecting us and those on the course watching us.  It was a very surreal experience seeing them during a race though.  Flying Pig's Facebook photos included a picture of one of the bomb dogs out on the course pre-race.  I'm including it here, because when I saw this it was somewhere in this 4th section of the race.
Somewhere around mile 18 or mile 19, I hit the rain.  It was just a light rain at this point, but for some reason it hit my tired mental state and I could definitely sense that THE WALL that I had never previously experienced was hovering nearby.  Although it had been sprinkling on and off throughout, this was the first steady light rain.  I took a GU and paused longer at the water stops in an effort to keep the looming wall at bay.  Still, through this section, I stayed pretty close to plan.
I'm almost embarrassed to talk about the last 10K of this race.  I think this may be my first experience with a true "wall" during a race.  I don't know if it was the rain, the fact that I chose to run without music in hopes of great crowd support which wasn't really present, going too fast at the beginning or the knowledge of my plan that did me in.  I remember consciously thinking at this point, "the plan allows for a fade in these miles, I can slow down, I can take longer at the water stops, etc., etc."  Giving in to those mental thoughts is my one regret from this race.  I remember distinctly hating all of the relay runners.  They started their last leg shortly before the last section and were way too fresh.  

Other embarrassing thoughts?  I clearly remember thinking around mile 23, "I never want to run another f-ing marathon again in my life."  This thought was closely followed by the "why did I sign up for Detroit" thought.  I even prayed about not giving up.  I told myself I was allowed to walk to get a drink at the hydration stops, but I WOULD NOT WALK any other time.  If I needed to slow down, fine, but no walking.  I did dally longer at most of the water stops in this last 10K though.

Of course, the rolling hills continued here.  In the last mile, there was a slightly steeper hill.  As I was going up it, a spectator yelled "only a quarter mile from the top of this hill."  I pushed harder up the hill as a result and got to the top only to find that I couldn't see the finish line in the distance. I looked at my watch, the finish line was still at least 0.5 miles away depending on how far I'd run the course over.  I have never wanted to hit someone so much in my life.  Note to spectators, it is acceptable to lie to someone about how they look at the end of the race, but it is not acceptable to lie about how much distance remains.

Once I could see the finish line, I looked at my overall time.  Once it shows hours, my Garmin doesn't also show the seconds, but I realized that whether or not I made the 4:15 goal was going to be tight and picked up the pace.  Unfortunately, I picked up the pace a few seconds too late (or maybe dallied a few seconds too long at one of those water stops) and missed the sub-4:15 by 11 seconds.  
Can you say wall?
I also continue to run marathons about 0.25 miles long.
My time DID beat my Dad's marathon time with a hefty margin though, and that's what really matters.  :D

After I crossed the finish line and was walking through looking for medals and refreshments, for the first time, I felt the hobble effect of post-run cramping muscles.  OW! OW! OW!

I really feel like this finish line area was a bit of a mess.  It started raining harder just as I crossed the finish line.  What bananas they had looked absolutely disgusting because they'd been exposed to the rain for who knows how long.  I never saw anything with protein in it (although I've been told there were protein bars present).  Most things were in little packages and we had nothing to put them all together in.  They did have cups of Gatorade and water bottles.  It was also pretty cool that the volunteer actually put the medal over my neck instead of simply handing it to me.

I hobbled through the finish area and decided to head to the hotel to pick up my cell phone (I'd left it behind because of the rain forecast) before my friends finished.  Here is where I made a fatal error, on the advice of the information guy, I decided to take advantage of the hotel shuttle.  I think my hotel was 1-2 miles from the finish line.  The shuttle ride felt like a tour of Gilligan's Island.  Instead of dropping runners off at the hotels right there, we drove over into Kentucky to parking lots over on that side of the river, stopped at a bunch of places no one on the bus wanted and then the driver got lost.  She was asking us which street we were on!!!  What would have been a slightly long walk, became an HOUR LONG shuttle ride.  Absolutely ridiculous. As a result, I didn't make it back to the finish line and missed my friends finishing.  Very disappointing!

I did meet back up with them at the hotel and got to take a cheesy picture of new marathoner Heather and I lying on the floor of our hotel room.  She rocked it!
Medals and friends and floors make everything better!
After we showered and checked out of the hotel, a group of us went to lunch at a local brew house before my friend Laura and I drove back to Columbus.  Runners are such fun people!  Definitely a highlight of my weekend.
Yes, we took our picture in the brew house.
Other race specific observations???  The expo had lots of cute picture opportunities.  
Lynne, Laura and I with the Finish Line Flying Pig
However, we got there late in the day on Saturday and most of the official merchandise was sold out.  Traditionally, the Pig gives out a bag with a pig logo each year.  This year it was a cooler.  
Race stuff: Poster, shirt, bag, medal, bib and pace band
Bottom line - I had a great race, if with a somewhat disappointing finish from an energy/wall standpoint.  It was a MAJOR PR and a new family record!!  The medal is absolutely fantastic, and crazy heavy.  I actually LOVED the first half of the race, and not-so-much with the last half. 

Would I do this one again?  Probably not.  I feel like there are a lot of awesome Spring Marathons that would conflict with another Pig at this point, and the logistical stuff with the shuttle and the finish chute were big detractors for me.  I also felt that, at least this year, the spectators weren't as awesome as advertised.

Now, I intend to enjoy this one, take a few days off of running to recover, and switch focus to mountain climbing.

Anyone else race this weekend?  Any races coming up?


  1. Congratulations again! You are awesome! Don't worry about that wall--it was a good learning experience for pacing your next one (Detroit?)--and who cares anyway with such a huge PR and family record! I'm really really happy for you.

  2. You are such a planner! Congratulations on an awesome finish :)

    Oh and I see that both of us take issue with the spectators who give false information...

  3. Congratulations on your awesome finish!! I bet it felt good. I have to admit - you and I had a similar race - even if I was way slower than you. The half turn-off messed me up for a mile and I really thought I had gone farther. Those hills were killer! I banked some time in the first half which was good but disappointed myself in the second half. But that's a story for my blog.


    1. I look forward to your recap Laurie!

  4. Yowsers, a 37 minute PR?!?! That's fantastic, congratulations!

    I share your sentiment on spectators lying about the distance to the finish line. Not cool, people. Not cool.

  5. Congratulations on finishing and your PR! Reading your recap was like reliving the experience (but you were 10 minutes faster). Funny enough - you and I had the same thoughts at mile 23. :)

    Good luck with Detroit in the fall!

    1. I'm glad I wasn't alone in the way I experienced the race! Congrats on finishing the Pig!


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