Flying Pig Marathon: Race Recap - Part I

Well its over.  After all the sweat and tears (and blood on Jes's shoulder from her spill on a training run), I can now officially say that I am a marathoner.  Yesterday I ran 26.2 miles.  I did not run them up to my ability, and I am honestly not sure what happened, but never mind, it was my first marathon and I made it.  I can reflect on what I can do better for next time, later.

The mileage times I am posting in my entry are garmin times.  The garmin ended up saying I finished with 26.45 miles, so they are a little bit off.  Keep that in mind!

The whole team argeed to meet at my house in Blue Ash since I am fairly centrally located at 5 am (which also meant a little bit of extra sleeping time for me!) and we would all head downtown together.  We had gotten a carpool parking pass which allowed us to park for free, which was nice, and we all managed to fit in one car!  So downtown we went and walked from the carpool lot to the start to kind of get our legs a little bit warmer.  As soon as we got there we hit the port-a-potties to make sure we got them in before the lines got ridiculous.  Turns out, that was really smart of us!

We then split up to go into our own corrals because we have a pretty big variety of paces in our group, and here was the scene in the corrals.
18,000 runners trying to figure out where to be and get into the right places.  Hectic for sure!

Jes and I went into corral D and found the pacers for the 4:10 group.  Their names were Jon and Stacey (both male, in case you were curious!)  They were dressed like twins, right down to their shoes, which I promptly made fun of and then they told me that they were given the shoes (and outfits) for being pacers.  I guess that is not something to complain about then!

Jon and Stacey were chatting with us, and mostly talking about the heat.  They had both run Boston two weeks before and were hot.  They said that this would be hot too, and while they thought the deferral option was silly (obviously, we're all bad @sses!) but that we should expect to run up to 35 minutes slower than our goal time!  That had me worried almost right away.  4:10 was feeling a little bit ambitious to me, (which makes me a little sad!) and now they are saying 35 minutes slower?  Yikes!

Before we knew it, they were singing the national anthem and the gun was going off.  We walked up to the start with Jon and Stacey, and then we were off!  The start was crowded, but not unbearable, and not as crowded as I expected.  We could run right away after we crossed the starting line.  We were not running our 9:33 pace, but under 10.  We ran by the stadiums and J's parking garage and mile 1 was over when we hit the first bridge.

Mile 1 - 9:51

The bridge took us into Kentucky at Newport.  Most races that I have done downtown take that Bridge (Taylor Southgate Bridge) the opposite way, so I think this was my first race going over it in this direction.  We ran through KY which was nice and flat with a lot of crowd support (I guess this is where all the KYians go to cheer!).  We headed over the Licking River bridge into Covington, and I did not remember the bridge being a hill like it was.  Jes said it was because we ran it the opposite way the last time we ran it, and before that we were both struggling with past injuries on Thanksgiving!

Covington passed quickly and without incident.  I honestly remember very little about this because it feels like it happened SUCH a long time ago.  (Yesterday morning is already blurry.  It must have been the heat!)  Before I knew it we were on the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge (where Jes lost her knees on Thanksgiving) headed back to Ohio.  Jes and I were both feeling chipper at this point, with her yelling, "hey, what do you say we go back to Ohio!" and our little pace group cheering.  After crossing the bridge we headed west for a brief time over on Cincinnati's west side.  This was the first time that I stopped for water, and it was a rough stop.  The first several tables were already out of water!  I had to sprint a little to catch up with my group.

Mile 2 - 9:05
Mile 3 - 9:07
Mile 4 - 9:08

We headed up Linn Street to turn onto 8th and curving into 7th to enter downtown.  7th street was packed with people from beginning to end cheering with cowbells and signs.  The people definitely were inspiring for me to keep the pace up and stick with the group.  Things were a little tight in through here but we were still making up time from our slow start, and hoping to pick up a little time for the huge hills that we knew were coming our way miles 6-9.  Jon and Stacey told us that plan upfront, so we were ready for it and expecting it.  At the corner of 7th and Gilbert, I saw my dad and J, right where they said they would be and I yelled (LOUDLY, Jes said) for them, but they missed me.  Sad.

We turned the corner on to Gilbert to start our ascent to the highest part of the course, through the most difficult climb in the course, up to the overlook in Eden Park. 

Mile 5 - 9:26
Mile 6 - 8:57 (our fastest mile all day!)

We headed up Gilbert and took a right on to Eden Park drive.  We were in a fairly shady portion of the course, and I was there, about two steps behind the pacers, following their lead.  Stacey would shout little instructions about taking shorter steps, using our arms more, and then shaking out the arm tension on the downhills.  I was so glad to be with them because they were reminding me to do the things that I was too focused on to remember!  We crossed the 6.8 timing pad and my time was sent out to J on his phone, and we hit another hill. 

Soon we were running through the Overlook with beautiful views of the river and at the top of our big climb.  There would be a few more hills to come, but we were through the hard part.  There we also saw Brett, one of our coaches, who made a sign for us!
Buckeye is the store we run with, and so it was only approriate to have it on the sign.  It definitely helped to see him at this point.  We ran around the curve, past Edgecliffe and onto Victory Parkway.

Victory Pkwy is a nice street, interesting, to me, considering where it is located.  It is not know as one of the best neighborhoods in Cincinnati, but it was very pretty and people came out to watch.  Soon we were running up Woodburn headed toward Madison Rd.  Woodburn is where god blessed us on our 20 miler and sent us a map of where we were running.  I am eternally grateful for that map.  At Madison, the marathoners turn right, and the Half runners go left, they are headed back toward home.

Mile 7 - 9:56 (HILLS!)
Mile 8 - 9:39
Mile 9 - 9:30

At this point, we were still sticking with the pacers.  But I was beginning to feel it mentally.  My legs were holding up ok, but I was definitely hitting a mental barrier to my success.  I was taking in water at every stop, and occasionally mixing in some gatorade.  I had trained with gatorade a little bit, so I knew that I would be ok to take it without getting sick, so I figured the electrolytes would help a bit.  At the very least, they couldn't hurt. 

I slowly started to fall back from our pacers and lose some stamina.  I was already frustrated with myself for losing them a little bit.  I told Jes at that point (ALREADY!) that she should go ahead, but she was determined to stick with me (thank heavens).  We passed St. Margaret Hall, where some of the folks that live there were out on the street with bells and pig snouts which made me smile and keep going.  We passed Bob Roncker's, Cincinnati's BIGGEST running store, and virtual monopolizer of the expo the previous day and headed up the hill to Hyde Park.  I knew that there would be a HUGE crowd in Hyde Park Square (at least that is what I had heard from lots of others) and hopefully that would help me. 

We entered the square just before mile 11 and that did help reinvigorate me briefly.  But somehow I was just in a mood and I couldn't shake it.  I should have been thrilled to be running my first marathon, but instead I was all funked up for some reason.  We headed up a small but steep hill to where the Hyde Park Kroger is, and there was quite a crowd there.  I was HOT and the sun was beating down on me.  My forehead was already a salt lick, and I was starting to feel kind of gross.  As we ran past the Hyde Park Country Club, we crossed the mat for the half marathon.  It felt good knowing I was halfway there as we continued down Erie to Madisonville.

Mile 10 - 9:35
Mile 11 - 9:31
Mile 12 - 9:39
Mile 13 - 9:46

More to come...

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