Flying Pig Half Marathon Recap – May 7, 2017

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It took a few posts, but we have finally come to a blog post that incorporates the second part of my blog title – running!

This past weekend I ran the Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati and it was incredible! The Flying Pig takes place the first weekend in May each year and they have a variety of races that happen throughout the weekend.

Some of the events they have include the following: full marathon, half marathon, 10K, 5K, 1 mile, corporate relay, a kid’s run, and a flying fur race for all the dog owners out there.

Additionally, Skyline Chili is one of the event sponsors so participants can add some major bling to their racing collection by doing the Skyline 3 Way or 4 Way Challenge. For those who choose this route, you do the 5K, 10K and then either the half or full marathon. You can even add “extra cheese” by doing the 1 mile race as well. That all adds up to some awesome swag!

The major sponsor for this event though is Procter and Gamble since they are based out of Cincinnati. Suffice it to say then that runners get to enjoy some awesome swag. At packet pick-up, we were given the usual shirt, but we also got a backpack that had a Flying Pig Marathon patch on the front and a commemorative poster. Additionally, at the expo, P&G was giving out other amenities like shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant, laundry detergent, and more! It was incredible.

Now, for the race itself!

The Pig is a hilly, challenging course that takes runners from Cincinnati into northern Kentucky and then back into Cinci. Check out the map below to see what hilly really means.

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Yeah, that elevation change is no joke. The good part though is that the top affords runners a great view of the river and Cincinnati as a whole.

The half and full marathons start at 6:30am which, for me, meant a 4am wake up call. That was brutal, but I actually got up pretty quickly. I ate half a bagel with peanut butter and drank some Gatorade while I got ready. I tried to use the bathroom a couple of times to no avail. I crossed my fingers that that would not be my doom later in the morning.

We left our hotel in northern Kentucky (shout out to the Country Inn and Suites in Wilder – definitely suggest staying there) and headed to the Covington/Newport area to park. We decided it would be better to park there and walk across the Roebling suspension bridge instead of parking in downtown Cinci. This paid off because we parked on the street for free and then had an easy 10 minute walk over to the corrals.

I lined up in Corral E which was the last one on Mehring Way. The beautiful part about being in this corral is that there are a lot of extra bathrooms at the end with short lines. I still did not need to use the bathroom, but it was nice knowing they were there in case I did.

Once in my corral, it was only about 10 minutes until Corral A would start their race. I ended up being around a guy from San Francisco and two girls from northern Ohio who were talking about the race. The SF guy was asking just how hilly the course would be. Once the girls found out he was from SF, they assured him these hills would be no trouble for him. I then began to worry. I had trained on hills, sure. But had I trained on hills comparable to the ones I would be facing in the race? Only time would tell.

We kept moving up in the corrals and I crossed the Start Line around 6:42 or so. My goal was to go under two hours and I knew I would need to run a smart race. The first 5-6 miles are pretty flat with a couple of rolling hills by the bridges. The largest ascent happens between miles 6-9 and then the rest of the race is downhill or flat.

With this in mind, I knew I had to take advantage of the miles at the beginning of the race. However, my first mile came in at about 9:55 because there were just so many people. I did my best to bob and weave, but it was still too slow. I knew I had to pick up the pace from that point forward.

I was rolling along pretty good and took my first shot block at mile 3. Shortly after mile 5 is when the climb began so I took another shot block at mile 6. I did not want my legs to die on me, so during this part of the race I paid careful attention to my running form, effort exerted, and pace. I expected to lose some time during these miles, but knew I could gain time on the descent. I hit the 6.8 mile mark at 1:04:53 – a 9:30 pace which was much too slow for a sub two hour finish.

I decided to shake things up at that point. I had been listening to podcasts up until that point, but decided I needed some music. That proved to be just the ticket! Starting around mile 8 I kicked into high gear and found my stride. I kept repeating, “Do what you can’t!” in my head. If you’re a Casey Neistat fan, you’ll understand the reference.

Starting around mile 10 (I think) there is a really, really nice downhill portion of the race which feels like it last for a long time. I passed a lot of people on this mile because I knew I had a sub two in me. I was just hoping that my legs wouldn’t give out!

During this part of the race, I got to pass a lot of people who had funny signs. “Run like you stole the Death Star plans” was probably my favorite one. It’s good to laugh during a race!

I was doing great until I got to mile 12. At that point, my legs were spent and they were very angry with me. I knew that I was on the line of a sub two so I needed to give it everything I had. But it was so painful. I remember coming around the corner with less than half a mile remaining. My stomach started to hurt and I kind of felt like I might throw up. But thankfully I could see the finish swine in the distance. I put my head down and kept churning my legs.

I crossed the finish line knowing I had given it my best shot and came in at 2:00:15!

I did not hit the sub two hour mark, but it was a PR! My husband told me I should be so proud of myself – especially considering how slow that first mile was because of all the people. I just kept thinking that I was 15 seconds shy of my goal. But, he’s right! I still got a PR on a super challenging course and that is something to be proud of! And hey, with that sub two goal still out there, that means I can sign up for another race, right? RIGHT.

I should also mention that the finisher’s medal for the Pig is gorgeous! This year’s theme was Pigmoji which I was not a fan of, but the medal is so pretty. Definitely my favorite one to date! After getting my medal, I continued down the chute. They had so much FOOD!

Let me try to list it out for you: water, gatorade, fruit cups, oranges, bananas, pizza, chips, pretzels, Starburst, Skittles, M&M’s, and cookies. There was probably more, but I was kind of in a daze.

I only wish that they gave finishers a bag to keep all that stuff in. I only grabbed a fruit cup, a banana, water, and an orange because that was all I could carry.

In conclusion, the Flying Pig was my favorite race to date! The expo was great, parking was easy, the course was challenging, and the medal was awesome. The organizers definitely thought through every little detail and it showed! This is the first race I’ve done that I would consider doing again!

I’ve also now officially checked two states off the list. 48 to go!

Have you run Flying Pig? Let me hear about your experience in the comments below.

Pigs really do fly,

Lauren