Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Pigged Out!

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.

Goals accomplished!

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 Marathon

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.

Happy trails.

* No, this doesn’t mean that I stole the Pop Tarts.

Next post: Thoughts on running a marathon without a time goal.


tfh said...

Sounds kinda like how I felt running my last 5k for fun, right down to the person at mile 1.3 chanting "halway there" and the person at the foot of an uphill slope saying, "Enjoy the downhill!"

Oh, yeah, x 8.5 or so. Nice job! You could totally start a new marathon career pacing the marathons of the real-life people who read your blog!

tfh said...

(And she did say halway, not halfway, of course.)

Marlene said...

Congrats (?) on your PW! It must have been nice to run those last few miles without wishing you were dead.

What is with all those lying spectators? They're EVERYWHERE!

Aileen said...

Glad you had so much fun! I do love that race (although I've only done the half) and can't wait to do it again someday.

Spike said...

the Flying Pig was my first marathon, not the best idea in retrospect. at one point I began to curse the stupid city planning commissioner who decided to build a bunch of hills in a city. oh, and the spectators were liars back the as well; I got a "just around the corner" at mile 21.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on coming over to the Dark Side - running a marathon for fun!

Kristina said...

"I tried to balance 'gentle pushing' against 'felonious torture.'"

My pacing strategy exactly, with a bit more emphasis on the torture. Because what's the fun of pacing someone if you can't be sadistic?
(and yes, I'm enough of a punctuation geek that I changed the double quotes to single quotes above)

Unknown said...

It's amazing how much better your body feels after running a marathon for fun, isn't it? Great job!

Ian said...

Pacing someone slower than you is much more fun than actually running for a time goal. No doubt about it.

C said...

Sounds like fun. Well sorta. Okay, not really. Thankfully my only marathon was in Italy and I wasn't coherent enough to understand the Italian for 'almost there' at the 20 mile mark or I'm pretty sure I would have punched someone.

Thank god for language barriers.

B. Kramer said...

You can always say you let Mike win. In fact, it might almost make you seem a sympathetic self-aware byte.

Congrats on your fun finish.

Tammy said...

I loved the Flying Pig in 2008! The crowd support was fantastic.

And, my two friends BQ'ed there last year as well.

Nitmos said...

Just to be clear, I want to point out that I wasn't there to pace my buddy. He's a veteran marathoner and doesn't need me to pace him. Instead, we ran, chatted, laughed, and took in the sights together. It was only towards the end that I decided to try and push a little.

Running and living said...

Wow, I knew you were going to have a blas when I read that you left the kids home. Always the best move:) Congrats on running the marathon for fun. I think we miss so much for the "marathon experience" when focusing on a time goal. Ana-Maria

Irish Cream said...

Congrats on finishing, and even having some fun to boot! But wait, isn't the whole point of a marathon to suffer? ;)

Jessica said...

sounded like fun! And Kristina is right, she is good at Felonious torture, as she actually engaged in that for me at Boston :) Wasn't it fun to take the pressure off the whole time thing??

Jess said...

Nice job enjoying a marathon! I used to eat Pop Tarts before every high school track meet.

I hear the race packet had some good swag.

Velma said...

Run skinny bitch - you should make t-shirts - hillarious!!

Maybe you should change the name of the cheeto layer to the pop tart layer.

What is next?

Beth said...

I love that your "run and have a good time" strategy really worked! Makes me more determined to care less about my time and more about enjoying the moment. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts about it. Of course, kicking butt is fun, too!

Unknown said...

It sounds like you had a great time and really helped your friend out...

...and isn't that what it's all about? Great job!

Unknown said...

Awesome! You ran for fun - maybe more fun because you had a buddy to chit chat with along the way? Sounds like the kids of marathon experience I would like to have (if I ever decide to run one, that is!)

sRod said...

Geez, I wish I had relaxed and taken in the sights. It probably would have resulted in a far better experience than what actually happened. That elevation profile does not do justice to the race--it is rolling and hilly all over the place. Definitely not a place to attempt a PR.

It was great putting a face to the legend...especially if ever the need to identify you from a line-up arises. (However, I can vouch that you indeed did not steal the Pop-Tarts.)

Anonymous said...

Hold it right there, mister. Are you seriously implying that one can run a marathon for FUN?!?! And camaraderie?!?! I don't HAVE to stumble away battered and broken with chafed thighs and blackened toe nails? Hot damn.

And I'd like to commend sRod on his remarkable self control when meeting you. I'd exercise no such restraint...probably hump your leg or something, or at least swoon a bit.

Kevin said...

Sometimes I would like to walk up to those idiots that say youre half way there and show them my garmin and smack some sense into them

Marci said...

What, your name is not Nitmos??!! I feel oddly betrayed..

Congrats on your PW marathon. I wondered about that elevation chart for Cincinatti, every time I have visited there is nothing but elevation. Sounds like a fun race though!

joyRuN said...

You make the thought of running a marathon for fun very appealing, but the course would close before I was done if I do that!

Doesn't matter though. I'm a figment of your imagination, dontcha know?

Excellent race report. Congrats on a fun marathon :)

The Laminator said...

What's all this running marathons for fun? Next thing i know, you'll be running an ultra 'as a morning jog' or 'just for the scenery'... Hmmm...No! I need the crampin' Nitmos and the duel to the death with Beardsle...that's the ONLY way to run a marathon! 'Cause otherwise...if you make marathons so easy and fun, everybody's gonna be doin' it, and we really can't afford to have everybody! Haha!

Vava said...

Flying pigs and no Pink Floyd references?

Nice work on what seems to have been a fun race for you!

Aron said...

glad you were able to hit all your goals, sounds like it was a fun time :)

Melissa said...

Cincinnati is cute. I think the Procter & Gamble buildings look like Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Am I the only one who clicked on LSBG because I thought it meant something about homosexuality and hate crimes and wondered WTF?

Beth said...

Thanks for the advice to start behind the pacer. That is a great idea and I will for sure do that. Thanks so much!

Mike said...

Nice report....

Foamy beer hat guy....big liar

I'll start working on doing the next time at your pace.

maybe i'll let you place ahead of me then. ;)

Unknown said...

How cool is that to meet another blogger like sRod !!!! We should be forming RBF Convention ???


Reluctant Runner said...

Nice work! I hate lying spectators. Just shut up and hand me the orange slice.

Never had anyone call me "big guy" though. One small thing for which I can be grateful.

Viv said...

With a name like flying pig I thought for sure it would be the race for me. But you set that straight with saying it was the most challenging, that from Nit is as good for me to not even try it. Way to push through those muscle cramps and add another marathon notch to your race belt.