This was a good race. By all accounts. The Pig People organized a great race and the people of Cincinnati put on a good show. I'd recommend the Flying Pig Marathon to anyone. As mentioned in a previous post, the Expo was fantastic. (and I normally don't care for Expos) Afterwards Joy and I went to Noodles and enjoyed a pre-race meal of pasta. We found a Target too since I had already consumed an entire six pack of large bottled waters that day. Hydration!
Not wanting to tire myself out too much, we headed back to the hotel to rest up. I barely even remember Saturday night. I'm sure we watched tv. I'm sure I read blogs. I'm sure I fussed with my race stuff. I went with the impeccable taste of my readers and wore the hot pink and teal for the race. I securely fastened what had to the largest timing chip I've ever seen to my shoe.And then attempted to get a good night's rest. When my alarm went off I shot out of bed and sprang into action. Mostly I coated my entire body in Body Glide. I knew the rain was going to be my biggest obstacle of the day. I met Joy outside her hotel at 5:30 and we headed over in the pouring rain to the start. Fortch we had purchased pig ponchos at the Expo. There were so many ponchos and trash bags that morning! Lightening lit up the night sky and thunder shook the stadium. Thankfully, I follow The Flying Pig on Twitter, so I was getting updates that the race was still on schedule. The lightening was 20 miles away and moving Southward.We lined up in our respective pace groups and then we were off! Sweet Bahama Mama had offered to me her Garmin for the race. I eagerly accepted the loan. I've never run with a Garmin before, and since I was alone, I really wanted to stay on top of my pace. And boy howdy was it hard to keep a decent pace! I felt so good I just wanted to take off! Plus, I think there is something about rain that makes you want to hurry. Glancing down I'd see a sub 11 mile and I would remind myself to save it for later. I'd sure need it.
Around mile 6 my kinesio tape just plum fell off. Too wet for too long. I had prepared for this so I pulled over under a tree, dried off my leg best I could and re-applied my back up tape. This took me about 5 minutes or so. I rejoined the group just in time for the steepest hill of the race. Whew.
Let's talk about hills, shall we? The race promotes as mostly downhill. If you peek at the elevation chart, you'll find a steep hill from miles 5-8, but then it indeed IS downhill from there.
Lies, lies I tell you! After the steep hill there are many more smaller hills. This was a tough course. Call them rolling all you want, but you still have to go UP them to do DOWN them. Ugh. Laura concurs, she should know, she ran it too!
Anyway, my new kinesio tape fell off again right before mile 10. This was not good. If my knee was going to make it all 26.2 miles, I needed that extra support.
I tried not to let it get to me mentally. I reminded myself that I'd been strengthening my knee, working on it for months. The tape was just a crutch. But I haven't done a long run without that magical tape since October. It was just unknown. Plus, my hip was seizing up causing me to change my gait. I had to focus on keeping my stride consistent.
Around mile 11 I saw a bright spot of pink duct tape on a bridge. It read "JOY" in black marker. This was the tape I made for my friend Joy who was running the Pig too. It made me smile to know that Joy had already been there before me so I kept on trucking. (my pink tape fell off before mile 1...wet + tape = apparent mess)
I didn't take photos along the course - too much rain for my phone. I tried to pick my head up and take in my surroundings. Mostly I kept my eyes on the road trying to avoid the really big puddles. We ran by a lot of churches and I did manage to see a precious little girl dressed for her First Communion. Oh she was so pretty! That was a blessing to me at that moment.
Mentally, it was a rough time. I'm used to running with friends and this time I had no one. I tried to strike up conversations on several occasions, but no one was having it. The rain was pretty much constant the entire race and they were all focused on the task ahead. Thankfully, it only rained supa hard a few times. Mostly it was just a constant rain.
I worried about my hip. I worried about my knee. I worried about the huge blister I could feel forming on the bottom on my foot.
And then it hit me. My hip wasn't hurting. My knee wasn't hurting. I could feel what I thought was a blister, but it wasn't hurting. I was feeling so strong! I had set 3 goals before the race. 1. To beat my last marathon time of 5:46, 2. To come in under 5:30 and 3. To come in under 5 hrs. I did the math and realized that I was certainly going to beat my first 2 goals. I was pumped! I was still a little worried about hitting "The Wall" either physically or mentally, but I had no valid reason to think that I would.
I had this.
The crowd support was amazing! I can't believe how many people came out in that awful weather to play music, beat drums, blow horns, holler and yell. What a GREAT CITY! Around mile 22 one lady handed me water and looked me right in the eyes. She said, "You can do this. I know you can do this."
Her firm words shook me to my core. At a time when most of us are doubting our own abilities, how could she be so sure? She'll never know how much I needed to hear that right at that moment. I am so thankful for her confidence in me. If I were a crier, I would have cried. Further down the road an older man with a drum kit sat under and awning and beat out a cadence. I thanked him. A church group handed out sliced, peeled oranges. Normally I'm oogie about food prep. Honestly, I would have picked up an orange off the ground at this point!
I had been neck and neck with a race walker in a dress the entire race. I was determined not to let her cross that finish line before me. And you know what? That race walker (in a DRESS) sprinted towards the finish line! I let her go. I just enjoyed this finish. All those months, all those miles, all for this. I finally crossed that finish line on my terms. Strong and smiling. (note, I went further than 26.2 miles!) I didn't care that I didn't come in under 5 hours. I still PR'd and I was still pretty pleased with my time.
I accepted my medal, got some Gatorade and water then stumbled around looking for someone to remove my chip.
There was plenty of food post race. Bag of Fritos firmly grasped in my claw, it was over. Just like that. And I was so pleased.
All smiles post race.
This is what a marathon finish is supposed to be. The definition of elation. There are many theories as to what causes the Runner's High. Up to this point, I've never experienced it. And while I didn't during the race, I sure did after. For me it might have been prolonged lack of sufficient oxygen to the brain. I was so excited post race, I was ready to sign up for another marathon! I wanted to feel this feeling again! This is why we run. No matter the distance, it's that feeling of accomplishment. That sense of knowing that your own two legs got you there.
I'm ready to do it again!