Continuing my tour of Marathon with funny names, I chose Flying Pig in Cincinnati as my big race this spring. It's a pretty hilly course, on par with the Baltimore Running Festival. It was a little late in the season that I would have like, but since i've already done Shamrock and have yet to run fast enough to do Boston, it seemed the most logical. I also considered Glass City. But, you know, Toledo...
Compared to Baltimore:
My sister decided to come along to watch me run, which was great. She brings big stuffed Elmo along to cheer and it's easy to spot her among the crowds. I was him high 5s early on in the race. She and her friend Cindy got into town the day before I did, and picked me up from the airport Friday night. It was a weird, long trip from BWI up to Philly to connect and then over. I boarded the plane at 6:30 and due to the nature of the flights I was flying over Baltimore 3 hours later. Both flights sat on the runway for a significant amounts of time. I don't know if that had anything to do with how I felt but when I finally arrived Friday, but my legs felt terrible.
I woke up and felt much better Saturday, and went out early for a shake out run around 20 minutes. It was very humid, which had been a concern all week. So I spent the rest of day concerned about the weather, needlessly. If it was anywhere as humid Sunday it didn't seem to affect me. It was very cloudy and felt cool for the early start (6:30). I tried to take it easy on Saturday, but we had to see some of the city, so we took the trolley, went to the botanical gardens, and hit the expo. We tried to grab dinner early and get to sleep early, but I think it was something like normal time. I didn't sleep much, when I woke at 3:45 that was it and I was sitting quietly in the dark waiting for race time.
Finally it was 5:30 and I was out the door catching the shuttle over the river. Got dropped right at the Bengals stadium and did a short 5 minutes to warm up. Found the A corral and the pace groups (3:10 and 3:05 were pretty much together). Something I noticed about the midwest is people line up properly. At Grandmas last year and again yesterday folks were really well ordered at the front. Wish it was more like that around here sometimes. I did another short jog and before long it was the anthem (O!) and the start.
The plan was to start with 3:10 pace group and wait a really long time to break away and get a sub 3:10 qualifying time. Spoiler alert: this did not happen. I kept 3:10 near for about 2 miles, but over the bridge into Covington I got ahead. They were rather close to 3:05 this whole time so I decided to just keep 3:05 in sight and run in space. I like to run in space. I think I was running a bit extra through this part and ended up .2 further than 26.2. Not a huge deal, of course, it's to be expected with full marathons.
Pace for first 5 miles - 7:07, 6:56, 7:05, 7:05, 7:13
It felt like I was walking. There were several bridges early, and to get to downtown it was a climb. I was relaxed and keeping 3:05 in sight. It was a group probably close to 30 people. I didn't want any part of that group. I was passing people, and it was crowded with the half folks mixed in. I had a preview of the hilly section from 6 onward on Saturday so I knew it needed respect. I subconsciously decided to be fairly aggressive up the hill section, as I like run up hills at a good pace and then 'rest' a little on the down parts. I started to reel in 3:05 through these miles.
6 - 10 6:59, 7:15, 7:06, 6:59, 6:53 (note, these are Garmin splits, I was at least one tenth ahead of the mile markers on the course at this point).
The hills were sorta fun, in a weird way. I was passing by people, feeling pretty good. Thanking folks for cheering. All that stuff. The half folks turned off somewhere in here and things got pretty spread out. The hills flatted off and went down a bit. Not to say there wasn't more climbing. I used a little surge to get closer to 3:05 through the down parts and this was as close as I got. Half split was 1:33:08. I was thinking it would have been better to be closer to 1:35, but in the end it was a well-run first half and indicated a really good finish if everything went ok from there.
11 - 15 6:57, 6:57, 6:51, 6:49, 6:56
Digging deeper into those splits, all but mile 13 had more elevation loss than gain. The 6:49 14th was 0 feet of gain, and 130 feet of loss, if you trust the garmin elevation charts. I guess I was picking it up a bit in addition to letting myself go on the down parts. Still feeling rather good with less than half to go. I had taken Gu at 3 and 10 and decided to take a 3rd around 15 in case I couldn't stomach one later.
16 -20 7:05, 6:56, 7:00, 6:53, 7:19
The end of the good feelings. Somewhere around 16 I started to feel off. The course went through an out-and-back section where you could see folks running in the other directions. There were sharp turns and I lost the 3:05 group completely there. At one point my thoughts were to pick up the pace at 17, since it was only 9 miles remaining. But I knew it was most important to hang on even at that point. I kept the effort even. There were a few short, steep hills in this section that were nasty. None were really breaking me, and I was picking off lots of folks dropping from the 3:05 group just ahead. Up to 20 I was only drinking water when I felt like I needed it. But starting at 20 I took gatorade. I stopped for a few steps at 20 to make sure I didn't just spill it all over myself. But I started up again and the rest of the way was that familiar battle against myself to keep from walking again.
21 - 25 7:24, 7:13, 7:23, 7:29, 7:36
A fade. But really nothing i'm that upset about. I watched the watch like a hawk and as long as it was still reading under 7:30 consistently I was not going to sweat it. And I felt like the difference between 3:10 and something better was simply up to walking versus running. Thinking in terms of 5ks instead of miles (thanks Joel!) was much easier mentally. The folks who dropped from 3:05 were keeping a consistent pace at this point and we mostly all shuffled along together. No one was walking, which I think helped keep me running. I was temped to turn around and look for the 3:10 group to see how close they were getting, but I resisted.
Cincinnati didn't really come into sight until very late. I think I preferred this versus at Grandma's where one could see Duluth forever and it never seemed to get closer. Somewhere after 23 I could see the buildings, and knew I was close, but not that close. Then after 25, you come around a bend and you're there. Really helps pull one towards the finish at that point.
26, .4 - 7:25, 3:05
Here's where the extra garmin distance catches up. Finished it out just as it started to rain steadily. I didn't mind that at all. The finisher's medal was the heaviest one i've ever lifted. I had to walk hunched over because of the weight. I headed over to the med tent, but mostly cause I need to sit down. I wasn't really feeling as bad as I had in the past. I found the beer shortly after and it continued to rain.
Garmin numbers - 3:08:00.9 (3:07:54.0 moving time). 26.42 distance translates to 7:07 pace for actual distance traveled.
Official results - 3:07:59, pace 7:11/mile. 103rd place out of 4135. 95th male, 15th male 35-39.
Since i'm 35 it is 2 mintues under my 3:10 BQ time. If I actually get in to the race still remains to be seen, but I have a good feeling about it.