Sunday, May 1, 2011

2011 Flying Pig Marathon Race Recap

Marathons are hard.

But before we get to the actual marathon, let's rewind a bit to Saturday afternoon. We arrived in Cincy around 2pm, and hit up marathon expo. Goodness sakes, I had never seen a room so large filled with so many runners. Everyone was so excited, you could almost feel the energy.

We weaved our way through the exhibitors and what they had to offer. (Think free dark chocolate almond granola samples! Yum! I also might have snagged some info on the Disney Half & Marathon in January... we shall see.)

We also stopped for a few fun photo ops.

Posing with a balloon flying pig.

These were everywhere! Flying pigs with all sorts of themes. They were so cute!

After the expo, we headed to our early-bird dinner.

We had the luxury of dining at Maggiano's Little Italy (major carb-loading!), and it was a fantastic dining experience.

The service was great, and the food was delicious as well. None of us had ever eaten there, before, so the waitress took her time explaining the menu and anything we needed to know. I ordered the Baked Ziti, and also filled up on 5 million slices of fresh baked bread. So good.

We were so stuffed and had no room for dessert. However, our waitress brought us a plate of complimentary cookies from the kitchen. They always give complimentary cookies to 1st-time visitors! How sweet! (Literally... sweet sugar cookies with a lemon icing. So good!)

Also, speaking of complimentary food, because I had ordered off the "Italian Traditions" section of the menu, I got to choose another pasta dish to take home for free! I guess in the old Italian tradition, the chef would also send patrons home with an extra pasta dish to heat up the next day. Sweet! 2 dinners for the price of 1!

I would definitely recommend Maggiano's. And definitely order off the section of the menu where you get to bring home an extra pasta. And now I have been talking about food for much too long of this 'marathon recap.'

After dinner, we moseyed around the mall a bit and I picked up a new shirt to race in, because I had only brought a cotton t-shirt to run in, and the forecast was RAIN! 

Naturally when we got back to the hotel I had to model it for everyone.

Not quite sure what's going on here. Trying to show off my guns? that do not exist?

There, much cuter.
Then we tucked ourselves into bed nice and early for our 4:45 am wake-up call. (Major props to my parents who are on CST and woke up at what really felt like 3:45am to them. Wowza.)

We got downtown with about 45 minutes until the race start, so my cheering crew dropped me off so I could make it down to the start line on time. I wasn't sure if I'd see them again until afterward. At this point it wasn't raining yet, but it was definitely coming.

I made use of one of these:

There were probably over 1000 port-a-pots at various places throughout the day. No joke.

And lined up in my corral. And waited for the rain to come. 

And then my Business Man showed up! They found me!

After a few more good luck wishes, they let me go stand in the rain and wait for the race to start. And it rained. It came down pretty hard for awhile.

And a few minutes later, we were off!

The START line!
Now, I don't remember each and every mile; in fact, much of it is a blur now that I think back on it. I will divide the race into chunks.

Miles 1-4: I felt really good. I wanted to start out at 8:00-pace and just stay there as long as possible. My first mile was 8:01, and I thought "Excellent!" However, miles 2-4 were a bit faster, in the 7:40s.

Miles 5-8: Still feelin' good. Here is where the massive hill climb starts. Literally for about 4 miles you just keep going up and up and up. With no downhills. I maintained 7:45-50 pace through here. I should have slowed down. And I tried! At the beginning of each mile I would back off when I saw I was running too fast, but by the time I made it to the next mile marker, I would have sped up again. Maybe I need a Garmin? 

Check out that climb from mile 5-8!

I got to see my cheering section at mile 5! It was most definitely raining at this point, as you can probably tell by the janky pic.

Miles 9-13: I recovered from the hilly section pretty well. (Or so I thought. Mua haha. Just wait.) I kept trucking along, hitting miles in the 7:40-range. Somehow mile 11 was a 7:07. I have no idea how that happened. The rain had also let up at this point, but I was still soaking wet.

I crossed the half-marathon point in 1:42:30. I was flying!

[Side note: As we were running, there was an old(er) man who darted off the course behind some port-a-pots. I didn't think anything of it until he came dashing back onto the course in the nude. Yes, butt-naked. Everything hanging out. Kinda crazy.

And then, about 2 miles later, we saw him lying on the ground, hands cuffed behind his back surrounded by policeman. Arrested on the marathon course. Still naked. Rumor has it he was tasered, too. Crazy!]

Miles 13-17: I kept trucking along. I don't remember much from here. I was a little bored, but whatevs.

Miles 18-22: This is where the fun began. The rain had stopped, but my whole body was wet. My feet were starting to feel heavy, my socks were all wet and bunched up in my shoes, and I think the speedy hills at the beginning of the race were beginning to catch up with me. I did not feel good.

I seriously considered quitting multiple times, but knew I couldn't do that. I finally bargained with myself and let myself walk for 1 minute. (I never thought I would walk! At that point I was so frustrated with myself. But after a long conversation with myself, I decided walking does not equal failure.) I would walk for 1 minute and run for 5 minutes. Repeat. I still maintained a pretty good pace doing this. I went through the 20 mile mark in 2:40, which is a dead-on 8:00-pace.

Miles 23-26.2: And then I got really tired. I hit the wall. My walk-run ratios turned into walk 1 minute, run 1 minute. It was all I could do. I was disappointed in myself, but still determined to finish. And finish I did!

The Finish "Swine"!
I crossed the line in 3:42:30, 8:30 avg pace. Yes, I was slightly disappointed in myself, but I finished! There was a good 4-mile section earlier in the race where I was convinced I was going to quit. But I didn't!

The first 20 miles I averaged an 8:00-pace, and the last 6.2, I averaged 10:04-pace. Looks like I need to work on my endurance for the next time. (Next time??)

Lessons learned:

  • Don't go out too fast. 
  • Don't go too fast on hills; it takes more energy.
  • Walking is not the end of the world. 
  • Marathons are not all butterflies and rainbows. They are hard.
After the finish, they made us walk what felt like foreeeeever to get out of the finish area. And then I found out we still had probably a 1-mile walk to the car. So I decided I would wait on the curb with my momma while the men went to get the car. Best idea of the day.

Don't be fooled by the smiling face. I was hurtin' for certain.

And about 'next time'? 

Yes, there will probably be a next time. I know I can run a 3:30 marathon. The next one might not be for several months or a year, but I will attempt again.

Next race on the horizon is my favorite race ever! Steamboat Classic. I'll be running the 15km. Anybody want to join me?

Now I am off to watch my favorite TV show (America's Next Greatest Restaurant) and try to convince my Business Man to go get me DQ. I don't think I'll have too much trouble... ;-)

P.S. Thanks for all the well wishes! They were certainly appreciated!!


SbMac said...

Awesome Job!! Way to hang in there!! You are an amazing runner:)

Liz said...

congrats for finishing your first marathon!! you did a great job, I'm proud of you!

Running Girl said...

Congratulations! You did it. That is so exciting & you made it.

Sarah said...

Sara! Awesome job! I finished my first 5k in six months tonight; my next goal is to run a half. Anyway, your blog is really encouraging :) Thanks!

pea said...

Hey Sara- I thought I'd drop by and see how your marathon went... I had a lot of the same feelings in my first! that feeling of wanting to quit so badly in the 20-26.2 range, of walking and being so surprised that I had to walk, hating myself, but then deciding that its not the end of the world and then in the end just realizing how amazingly hard marathons are. Anyway, great job! your pace was amazing, of course. my best time is 4:25. I hope to get to 4 hours some day... but we'll see. :) wonderful job again. your time is very inspiring!

pea said...

oh! its Kristin T btw :)

Sara said...

Thanks everybody!

@Kristin-- I know! The walking part really surprised me... I thought I would never walk. But it's like there was no choice! Thanks for stopping by!

Blue said...

Just a random reader from Cinci here. I want you to know that the miles 21-25 are the most boring miles of the Pig. Bad scenerey and sparser spectators. I tell my family to be down there when they come (which is never) so I have something to look forward to. It stinks that when everyone is hitting their wall in that range, that no one is there to urge you along :) other than the fact that you are faster than me overall, your first marathon sounded a lot like pace, ahead of pace, at pace, ahead of pace...holy crap, not at pace, let's please just finish :) Sounds like you did awesome to me. Congrats.

Anonymous said...

Random reader, Asheville NC-

Nice recap, fun to read, great finish time. I finished at 3:45, did the backward experience as far as speed. It is very difficult to intentionally run slow through the first half,

Simply Yours Designs: Cute Blog Designs