The Flying Pig Marathon Race Report
For me, this is an interesting race to report. Typically, the crux of my race reports are based around whether or not I was able to achieve my time goal and the obstacles that posed an impediment. In this case, I was not going for any particular time goal. I had decided long ago to run this one out along with a fellow marathoner friend. In short, I had decided to relax, run, and have some fun.
And that is exactly what I did.
Based on time, this would be the slowest marathon of my seven so far. However, would it be too syrupy sweet to suggest that this one might have led the way in smiles and enjoyment? A regular sugar glazed ham event, if you will? I’m awaiting visual confirmation from the event photographers but I believe I’ll see one of those goofy Yes-I-Do-See-You-With-A-Camera smiles (tee hee) in every photo.
But let’s back up just a bit…
Mrs. Nitmos and I rolled into town sans kids early Saturday afternoon. The non-threatening 1980’s soft pop/jazz of Steve Winwood was playing on the radio at the time. Cincinnati is about a five hour drive for us. Just far enough to wish you had XM radio but not far enough to actually consider buying it. After hotel check-in and expoing, we wandered the near empty Cincy streets for about 45 minutes to confirm our suspicions that this was yet another city-in-transition - like Detroit - caught between it’s industrial past and industrial-less future. Then, we kicked back in the lobby bar for a tall one (I told you I wasn’t taking this one too seriously) as my running partner, Mike, would be arriving shortly.
After a dinner of the most pesto green soaked chicken pasta dinner you could imagine, it was time to head back and rest up for the race. First, though, a quick trip into Walgreen’s for the official Nitmos pre-race Breakfast of Champions: Pop Tarts. As I step to the counter, I hear “Mike?” (Believe it or not, Nitmos isn’t my real name. And, yes, the same name as my fellow marathoner.) There is a person standing next to the counter waiting for a response. My brain is furiously flipping through my internal voice-face Rolodex for a match. No hit. I get slightly panicked. Normally, if an unknown person approaches me and calls me by name, they are either (a) looking to serve (another) summons/restraining order or (b) punch me in the gut.
“It’s S_____.” Pause, Rolodex still flipping.
“sRod.” He says finally. Bingo.
I know sRod. He’s commented here on F.M.S. for many moons. I doubt he wants to punch me. I tense my abdomen muscles just in case however.
And then I have a flash of enlightenment. You people are real! Real live flesh and blood. You aren’t figments of my imagination…nameless, non-existent bits and bytes that have gained self-awareness and, instead of trying to take over the human world ala The Terminator, are content with leaving snarky little comments on my blog. It was nice to meet a fellow running blogger in person.
After brief well wishes, Mrs. Nitmos and I and our partners in crime* are off to the hotel for some shut eye.
The Flying Pig is billed as a hilly course. However, the elevation map deceptively implies that there is just one big hill to crest between miles 6-8 and then it is “all down hill from there.” (A phrase we would be told countless times by a bunch of lying spectators. The Flying Pig leads all marathons in pure, unadulterated liars. Also, one guy, wearing a foamy beer hat, kept promising us “beer just up ahead”. We saw him three times. He promised us that beer every time. Guess what? No beer. Liar.) Truth is, after you ascend the big hill, there is a series of undulating slopes and minor hills over the next 18 miles to the finish.
Mike wanted to keep to 9:10 miles or so for the first half and come in around 2 hours. We didn’t quite keep the pace and managed the half in 2:06. Unofficially, we were shooting for 4 hours. But the elevation map (liars!) promised a gentle downhill slope after the 8 mile mark all the way to the finish (liars!)
The cool, drizzly morning gave way to a little post rain humidity and warmth. And more slopes. Oh, and more liars. Did you know that the “half way there” spot of a marathon isn’t 13.1 miles? No, according to the spectators, it apparently exists between miles 11-16. For over 45 minutes, we continually heard people shout “half way there” at us. Really? Where? In hell?! Liars! Sorry, when I’ve gone 16 and there is only 10 to go, shouting “half way there” is not exactly motivating. Is it too much for a little math? “38.85% - rounded - to go!” would have been more encouraging.
Neither Mike nor I took this marathon as seriously training-wise as the others. Physically, I did all of the scheduled training and, despite my 4 lb Cheeto Layer, was in pretty good shape. Mentally, however, I was never focused on pushing hard for this race.
Still, 16-17 miles in, I was feeling great. We were traveling at a slower rate than I normally run and I could feel this sub layer of energy bubbling and ready to burst. (Or maybe that last Gu didn’t sit right. Either way, something was inside of me that needed to come out.) The Flying Pig features a final timed mile to encourage finish line sprints. With 8 to go, I was toying with the idea of busting out a 6:30 minute mile or so for the end just for kicks.
Around the 17 mile mark, it was clear we weren’t going to hit 4 hours. But press on we did sprinkled with a few walking breaks. It was near mile 19 that I saw my favorite sign, propped up by an apparently catty and bitter woman. In big, bold, mean-spirited letters, it said “Run Faster Skinny Bitch.”
At 20 miles, my quads were starting to tighten from the non-stop rolling slopes but I still felt pretty fresh. I decided to run out in front of Mike a bit to see if I could pace him over the final 10k. He was battling hard and alternating between moments of darkness and bursts of energy. I tried to balance “gentle pushing” against “felonious torture.” He kept telling me to Go Ahead and Take Off. He probably wanted to be rid of his tormentor.
Things got a little bleak in the 23-24 mile range (including the only LSBG comment for the entire race from a water station worker!) but, as usual, we came out the other side. After one more lie (yet another race official telling us “last hill then it is all down hill to the finish” only to see one more hill after that), we spotted the Finish Swine at the bottom of the final slope.
We both finished in 4:26:32. Officially, he finished in 2156th and I in 2157th (of 4014). I like to think that, if the clock went to hundredths of a second, I might have beaten him by a hundredth or so. Just sayin’. We’ll never know.
The LSBG meter finished at an acceptable ‘1’.
Overall, this was a fun event. The course is pretty challenging. It’s probably the hardest one I’ve done. I would not recommend going for a PR or BQ on this course.
Most importantly, I had a great time running this race! I’ll have some thoughts later this week about how throwing away a time goal changed the entire complexion of the event. I was clapping my hands and pumping my fist all the way to the finish. A total blast! In fact, I think I did manage to wee wee wee all the way home (and I don't mean urine soaking my shorts!)
My recommendation for the Flying Pig? Run it for fun. Run it for a challenge. Run it to bathe yourself in every imaginable mildly humorous pig reference you could desire (Can I hear a “snout rocket” from anyone? No?) Run it purely to be astounded at the out and out liars that reside in the Cincinnati area.
Just don’t believe a word anyone tells you.
* No, this doesn’t mean that I stole the Pop Tarts.
Next post: Thoughts on running a marathon without a time goal.