Monday, May 05, 2008

This Little Piggy

First thought... I wonder how many blogging runners or running bloggers titled their post-Flying Pig race report "This Little Piggy."

Before I launch into my Flying Pig race report, I want to congratulate my friend Lindy who ran her first marathon this weekend in Cincinnati. Lindy is BY FAR one of the most dedicated distance runners I know. She has a full-time job, two adorable little girls, a husband, and various other commitments, and yet she is able and willing to make training an important part of her life. She never makes excuses to slack (despite what she’ll tell you) and honestly, she has a lot of good excuses. She works incredibly hard, and I am so happy for her. I think her two girls are very lucky to have a mom who is a marathoner.Anyway, back to me. ME ME ME.

In case you haven’t heard, I went to Cincinnati this weekend to run the Flying Pig Half Marathon with MM, Meg, and MM’s running buddy D. Initially, we planned to have six of us travel together from Chicago to Cincinnati, but do to illness and injury, two of our party didn’t make the journey. Worse yet, Meg, the week before the race, had some issues with her shin and after a visit to a physical therapist decided it would be prudent to skip the half marathon in order to heal quickly and be healthy for marathon training. However, because she is the best running buddy ever, she came to Cincinnati to morally support both Lindy and me in our respective races. Finally, midway through the race, D dropped out due to back pain. So, that’s all the bad news.

Regardless, I don’t think I can say enough good things about this race. Sure, there was a fire on the marathon course early in the morning (according to my mom, she talked to some firemen or police officers and it was a meth lab that exploded?!?!?!), and it was so packed at the start line that we couldn’t even get into corral until the gun went off, but overall, the race organizers did just about everything but hold your hand on the course. Well done Cincy.

In addition to top-notch organization, it was a beautiful day to run. I would guess that it was in the 40s at the start of the race, and probably in the 60s when we finished mid-morning. The course was spectacular – the rolling hills provided excellent views of the city and the Ohio River Valley. There were approximately 13,000 half marathon and marathon participants, which I now believe is just about the perfect number for this type of race. You certainly didn’t feel alone on the course, but this was no packed-in-like-sardines Chicago Marathon.

I started the race with MM and D (Lindy and I attempted to find each other, but we were unable to due to the crowd at the start). As soon as we began, MM turned around, said, “Good luck,” and took off. It hit me, “Holy shit. I’m alone.” For the first time ever, I would run an entire race by myself. In that moment, I was a bit freaked out about my chances of running 13.1 miles solo, but I turned on my iPod and somehow quickly found a groove.

One of the reasons I am super proud of myself in this race is that I paced myself incredibly well. My goal was to keep at least a steady 12 minute mile pace, speeding up slightly when the course was flat, which allowed me to slow down on the hills (and there were a good number of ‘em). I knew that a straight 12 minute pace would mean setting a personal record. I ended up pacing myself at about 11:00 to 11:15 on flat or downhill portions of the course, and 12:00 to 12:15 on the uphill portions. For the first time ever, I ran through every single water station, except for one. I’d grab a cup of water, take approximately 2-3 sips while jogging along, and toss it. Around mile 9 I noticed I was a little chilled and that the hair on my arms was standing on end. I decided that I would walk through the next aid station and drink an entire cupful of Gatorade. Behold, within 2 minutes an aid station – fully stocked – appeared. I walked through it, drank my Gatorade, and took off again.

Meg met me around mile 12, and I was going strong and still able to chat, but my legs felt like rocks due to the hilly course for which I had not trained. Truly, it was uplifting to have her jump in with me and see me through to the end.

So the good news… both MM and I finished, and both of us finished with new personal records. MM blew through the course in 1:43:06. I, as I mentioned in my previous post, came in roughly 45 minutes later at 2:31:58.

That's Meg, her good friend from college, me, and MM, wearing our shiny half marathon medals...

It was an incredible race for me. I’m very proud of my time (and of course convinced that I can do a flat course at least 10 minutes faster at the Chicago Distance Classic this summer), but I’m also very excited that I’m truly starting to understand how to hydrate and fuel my body appropriately for distance races.

As for the hills, I am shocked that I fared as well as I did, but once I was done, I was D-O-N-E. My legs were on fire when I finally crossed the finish line. There is no way I would have been able to run all of the hills in the marathon course.

Also, I poked some fun at the amount of emails the Flying Pig organizers sent prior to the race, and while it was annoying, the effort that went into this race being well-organized, well-stocked, and well-run cannot be underestimated particularly by those of us who experienced the Chicago Marathon fiasco last fall. That said, I am beyond pumped for marathon training, for my first triathlon, possibly my first trail run (more on that later), (hopefully) another PR this summer at the Distance Classic, and my first real marathon.

Good times!


L Sass said...

What an awesome race! (Doesn't running a race in excellent running weather make you a little sad about the weather debacle that was October 7, 2007?)

I wish I was going to be in Chicago in time for the Chicago Distance Classic! Maybe 2009!

Lindy said...

WOO HOO!!!!! YOU ROCK!!! Can I be you?! We should see what damage we can do at the CDC this year!!!

Roisin said...

NICELY DONE!!!! Didn't I tell you it was a good one? I'm very proud of you :) AND...can't wait to run the Soldier Field 10 miler and the CDC with you (CDC's in August, right?)!

Yay for you!!!!

Lindy said...

By the way...THANK YOU for the wonderful comments about me. :)