Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Who knew swine flew...
**WARNING** you will notice a distinct lack of photos of anything except a few expo shots. After the 1,365,274 photos I took while running the Disney Marathon, I decided to use marathon number two as an opportunity to focus on the run and not stopping at every photo op as much as it pained me to leave the camera in the hotel room. :)
The Flying Pig Marathon in 3,000 words or less... It was a good one! I am glad I chose it as marathon number two. It wasn't particularly easy or flat but a well organized race with great crowd support. Lots of fun.
Marathon number two was more of a whirlwind trip as compared to my 40th birthday extravaganza at Disney. I went up on Saturday AM and came back Monday AM. I toyed with getting a flight Sunday afternoon but the idea of folding myself into an airline seat a couple hours post marathon was not too appealing. I was pretty sure I would need medical help to unfold me out of the seat at the end of the flight!
When I got to the departure gate to leave for Cincinnati, there were quite a few marathoners waiting to get on the flight. One lady was handing out surgical masks to those in her group. I saw several people walking around the airport with the masks around their neck. They weren't wearing them in the airport but I assume they were going to put them on when they got on the plane. Me? I took my chances. I do like to live dangerously! Well, not so much. Really, it is probably more my desire ot blend into the background and not draw attention to myself.
An hour after takeoff, we arrive in Cincinnati. I grabbed an airport shuttle to the hotel and was on my way. By this time it was only about 10:30 so I was hopeful that the hotel would let me go ahead and check in so I could ditch my suitcase in the room. Luckily the room was ready so I dropped everything off, and took a quick look at the view out my window. HA. Well, it isn't like I was at the beach so I didn't get the room for the view. It kind of reminded me of New York so it gave it some character.
Off to the expo! The expo was a quick 2-block walk down the street. It was packed with people. It occured to me that in the other races I have done, I always managed to get to the expo at an off-peak time when the crowd wasn't so bad. I picked up my number and chip and headed into the expo. Lots of flying pig sculptures and whatnot. They had some really cute race gear but was trying to limit myself. I did end up picking up a white zip up hoodie with the justification that I had been looking for one for tennis (which is true). The black long sleeve pullover that was as soft as anything you have ever felt? There was no justification for it. I just had to have it. Sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do :)
I wandered through the expo long enough to pick up anything free that they were handing out. What is it about free stuff? Even if you know you will never use it, it is the most exciting thing ever! WOW! You mean I can *have* this 6-inch plastic ruler? No way! Seriously, they did have some good freebies. The girls on the run group was there and they had Goody hairbands. Denise Austin was there with Smuckers and they were giving out tiny jars of a variety of reduced sugar jelly, jam and hot fudge topping. I stood in line for about 10 minutes for a pic with Denise but I got hungry and wanted to see what else there was to see. Sorry, Denise - love ya! The usual other samples, brown rice packets, biofreeze, bandanas, almonds, cereal and so on. Wal-Mart was there giving out the reuseable shopping bags which was pretty handy to tote all my freebies!
You have to wind your way through the expo to get your race shirt and goodie bag so I picked that up on the way out the door. The gave a really nice messenger bag with the race logo on it as the gift and also a large poster (maybe 24x36?) commemorating the race.
I mentioned the pump n run in an earlier post, right? I was kind of nervous about it. Mostly from the perspective of not being sure if I could actually bench press half my body weight. It turns out I can but not nearly as well as others. As I was standing there in the crowd scoping out the situation, one women was taking her turn and I think she pumped out 3. I had one of those "if she can do it, I can do it" moments. My goal was to do 10 (that would qualify me for a bronze medal and you know how I love my medals...) I get weighed in, stand in line and was pointed to the "ladies" bench. The two women before me both pressed out 30 reps. They didn't appear particularly popeye-ish. I would venture to say they looked normal. This should be NOTHING I tell myself. My brain heard it. My arms failed to get the message. I laid down on the bench, pulled the bar off and pumped out SIX before I decided that was plenty. (Two were not officially counted because I did not touch the bar to my chest). I would like an official do-over, I think I might have been under the stress of being watched by a crowd. Hanging my head in shame, I trot over to do my curls (after the alotted 15 seconds of rest of course). It turns out I have more biceps than whatever muscle would be required by a bench press. I managed twenty 40-pound curls so I gained some dignity back :)
So the deal with the pump n run is that you get 2 minutes off your race time for every bench press you complete. Your marathon time from Sunday minus your handicap from the bench press equals your pump n run time. I still haven't figured out why I did a bunch of curls as that didn't seem to be figured in anywhere but it did help save my self dignity :) As it turns out, there were only 2 people in my age group. One of us pumped 4, the other pumped 27. One of us ran a good marathon time, the other one was about an hour behind. Even though I only did FOUR bench presses, I managed to win my age group in the pump and run. The other lady had a 54 minute handicap on the run, I beat her by two minutes. So awesome and so unexpected at the same time. I am almost embarrassed that I won with 4 bench presses.... but I did .... WOO HOO! This aging up to the 40-44 age group is working out pretty good!
On to the run...
Sunday morning, I strolled out of the hotel about 5:15 to walk to the stadium which was maybe a half mile or so from the hotel. It was drizzling slightly. I had watched the weather and it was calling for clearing right around race time of 6:30. On my walk, I bumped into a lady who was a little turned around and we ended up heading out together to the stadium. It turned out she was in the 4:00 pace group. At the expo on Saturday, I talked to the pace group people and made a decision to try the 4 hour pace group. I figured, just go for it. Ironic that my new friend, Carina, that I met on the way was also in the 4 hour group. She was there by herself from Long Island so we hung out until the race started which worked out great.
When we got to the start line, I ditched my bag at the bag drop and we started looking for our pace group leader, Brett. This was the first big race that I had been in where you were not assigned a corral. Basically, it was just like a regular 10k. You line up wherever you think you should be. The only downside is the start was packed so it was hard to maneuver to stay with a group. Particularly hard to stay with the pace group. The gun goes off and our fearless race leader takes off like he was shot from a cannon. I was literally 2 people behind him and somehow within a few seconds of the start was having to sprint and weave through the crowd to keep up. All I could think was "don't lose sight of his sign" and "never start a marathon sprinting". Back to Brett in a second...
The only negative I can say about the PIG is that there were several places n the first mile where the road split and was divided by a curbed island. The islands were not marked in any way. There was no volunteer with a flag, there were no cones. At the point where you come up on them, it is still fairly dark out and the crowds haven't broken free so you can't see the road ahead at all. You only hear the sounds of people falling and tripping. I was behind one lady who tripped and fell flat on her face. They need to work on that for next year.
OK, Brett, Brett, where are you. Oh, pace leader, you are supposed to be running a 9:10ish pace why does everyone's GPS read 8:30? Lots of gurmbling from the crowd of 4 hour groupies who can't keep up. I finally decided that sprinting after Brett was not in my best interest in the long run. I was content to keep him somewhat in sight if possible but that there was no way I could maintain his pace for 4 more hours. Maybe if the the crowd was a little more broken up but to still be zipping and dashing around people in a mad chase to keep up with Brett didn't seem like a good plan. Luckily, all the others who had planned on running with the 4 hour pace groups had their names pinned on their back so throughout the race, I would spot Rhoda, Mary, Mike 1 and Mike 2 and have some bit of solace that I was not the only one who couldn't keep up with Brett.
Overall, I enjoyed the route of the PIG. It was hilly, no doubt. Not ING Atlanta hilly but hilly nonetheless. Miles 6 through 8 were a steady climb. After that it was a gradual downhill. There were hills after mile 8 but they were shorter and farther between. The scenery was great. I love small town America so it was my thing. We ran all through the cutest town, Maremount, OH. So lovely. Plenty of cheering spectators, plenty of bands and music and water stops. Like any race, there were stretches where there weren't spectators but there weren't many of those spots.
I did pretty well managing my pace. I generally don't look at my watch so Lord only knows how I maintain a steady pace but I seem to do a decent job at it. I guess I just go as fast as I feel comfortable and put it on cruise control. I had slight knee pain around mile 18 but kept running through it instead of stopping to walk and that seemed to help. At Disney, I stopped to walk and had trouble getting moving again. There was so much distraction in this race that the miles just ticked away. Before I knew it, I was at mile 23 at which point I over heard a girl tell her boyfriend that this was the stupidest thing she had ever done and if she EVER told him she was wanted to do this again that he should tell her no. He just said "OK" and they kept moving. LOL.
Mile 24 leading into 25 was probably the longest of my life. This happened to be one of those stretches where there was not a lot of action so it is just you and your thoughts. I trudged along and once I hit mile 25 I just kept thinking, you only have 10 minutes left and you are done! I caught the sweet sight of the finish line about a quarter mile out and picked up the pace. Finish strong, right? Ok, maybe I just realllllly wanted to be done. Flying down towards the clock, hear my name called out - WOO HOO I AM DONE! 4:12:25. So awesome. I am pretty sure pace guyt Brett finished around 3:50. Had I stuck with him I would have been Boston Qualified. Or in an ambulance. I think I made the better choice to pace it out on my own.
I loved the PIG. They had great race support, lots of spectators and volunteers, plenty of water, drink, they handed out swiss cake rolls as one of the post race food items. Hello? How much better can it get? You should give the PIG a try.