Friday, July 1, 2016

State #29 Flying Pig Half Marathon, Cincinnati, OH, May 1, 2016: Part 2

Race morning arrived pretty much the same as it usually does. I woke up at my standard early time (before Andrew) and made my way to the first floor of the hotel to heat up my coffee and oatmeal. The coffee shop lobby was filled with runners getting their coffees and breakfasts, and spirits and nerves were high. Back upstairs I went through my warm up exercises and other morning rituals. In short, it was an ordinary race morning.
The streets were wet from overnight rain, but mostly the rain had passed by the time we headed out to find the starting line. The start was right along the road next to the football stadium, right near the Ohio River area. It was a nice walk, not too far, with lots of nervous runner energy all around. We were cutting it close to starting gun time, but got to our starting corral just in time for the start of the race. 
Traditional pre-race selfie.
The race kicked off with the blasting of 1999 by Prince. An excellent choice to get everyone pumped up, and a nice tribute to the artist in light of his recent death. We were off!
View from our place in the starting line up.
I lost Andrew almost immediately. He passed me by while I did my best to just keep up with the crowd as we weaved in and out around corners and up and down small hills in the road.  It was a muggy morning despite the post-rain cloudiness that was still lingering. It was sweaty right away. The first part of the race brought us over the river and in to Kentucky! I was thinking this race could actually count as a dual state achievement, but then figured it would be cheating. Next time, Kentucky, I'll have you all to myself! I ran on through a mix of retail, industrial and residential areas in this first loop of the race. It was an interesting jaunt with just enough of a variety of scenery that things didn't get too dull. My favorite part of this loop was just before we crossed back over the river in to Cincinnati. We ran past a senior citizen retirement community called Panorama Apartments. Many resident ladies were sitting out front holding signs that said things like "Hurry up, it's almost time for my nap," and "Hurry, this sign is heavy." They were hysterical, and I wished that I had known they were going to be at that point, as I would've had my phone out and ready to snap a few shots. By the time I saw them, it was already too late and I would've slowed myself down too much.
Once we got back across the bridge, we ran through the downtown Cincinnati area where the crowds were lively and plentiful. As we progressed, the crowds thinned out a bit, and we headed out in the direction of the art museum. I knew what that meant. HILLS. The climb up the first hill was steep but manageable, and I had a chat with a man as we ran up. He had run the Hartford Marathon previously, so we traded a couple of stories of our running travels. He wished me well and advised that I save some strength for the coming hills. Oh boy!
At the top of the first hill, we took a right turn and ran through the gorgeous Eden Park area near the art museum. It was a good reprieve for the legs, as it was flat for a bit, but then the road began to angle upward again. We were still on the road through the park, and for me it was slow going. It was hot and muggy and hilly. Not my favorite combination. Near a conservatory along the way, I had to slow and walk the last part of the hill. Thinking back to my lessons learned in the Oregon half (Fueled by Fine Wines), I decided this would not cost me too much time but would help with my energy level further on in the race. I probably only walked about 100 yards or so, but it helped give my legs (and lungs!) a little break. Once at the top of the hill, I was off again. There was one more flat part before another climb...would these hills ever end???!!! Finally, we reached the highest point on the course and began to come back down.
The last few miles were mostly downhill which was delightful. There was one very steep downhill stretch heading back in to the downtown area that I actually had to slow myself down on for fear of tripping over my feet and falling on my face, but the decline was a welcome change. There were some neat historical looking apartment fronts along the way. That's one thing that is hard about running around a new city. You get to see all these cool things along the way, but you don't really have time to stop and learn about them. I knew I was only a couple of miles from the finish at this point, so I just tried my best to keep a decent pace and keep going.
The finish line was back near the stadium area (this time the baseball stadium), and as we neared I could feel my tiredness taking over. Around a couple more corners we went, and there was the finish line! It is actually referred to as the Finish Swine by race organizers. Oink oink! I made it! The finishing chute was quite long for this race, and full of all kinds of recovery foods, both healthy and junky. I grabbed some healthy stuff for myself and some ring dings to sneak in to my suitcase for my kids.
It took Andrew and I a little while to find each other. I waited near a concrete wall by the river to stretch while he found me. I was pretty beat and my legs were exhausted from all those hills. My psoas was screaming! I knew I would be sore, but I just hoped I wasn't too uncomfortable on my flight later that afternoon.
We hobbled back to the hotel, discussing our favorite and least favorite parts of the run. My official time was 2:00:57, barely over my two-hour time goal. With all those hills, I felt pretty good about that. And the medal was really cute, featuring a flying pig on it, of course.
Race poster, medal and bib.
Andrew and I got back to the hotel, showered, rested a bit and headed down to get our car and navigate back to the airport. We made it in plenty of time for our flight, thankfully, as I got flagged in security and had to go get a pat-down search. Sheesh! There's a first for everything! We settled, past-security, in Vino Volo with a celebratory glass of wine and plate of cheese. Yum! A perfect way to end our cousin trip.
Ohio card.
We conquered the flying pig! It was a great trip to Cincinnati for a difficult but spirited race. I even managed to find my husband a WKRP magnet. State #29 officially done!
Magnet souvenir.


  1. Flying Pig is on my slop bucket list

  2. Right on, Riley! I knew it was on your bucket list, hence the shout out on Facebook. You will love all the pig-ness around this race when you get to it. Be sure to work in some hill repeats ahead of time.