Marathon Recap: 2014 Flying Pig

Hey everyone! Guess what? I ran a marathon yesterday and beat my previous time by more than 30 minutes! How awesome am I?! I really enjoyed myself–much more than my last marathon–and I am excited to share my experience! Apologies in advance if this is a long post 😉

Before the Race

Taste of Belgium

Deliciousness from Taste of Begium

We drove down to Cincinnati late morning on Saturday to get lunch and to pick up our race bibs and things from the expo. Our original plan was to eat at this delicious sounding taco place, but it turns out it doesn’t open for another couple of weeks! Fail. So instead, we ate at Taste of Belgium. Usually when we eat there we get beer, but this time we stuck to iced tea! I had an omelette and fries, and Ben had the McWaffle, which is a waffle sandwich with egg, bacon, and cheese. It was delicious.

After we’d eaten, we walked the few blocks to the expo. I needed to move up corrals since I expected my finish time to be faster than projected when I signed up. It was really easy–I picked up my bib and then went to the corral assignment booth, and they just stuck a sticker with my new corral over my old one. Done! We headed into the expo, which was super awesome as usual. There was a long line at the entrance of people waiting to get an autograph from Olympic marathoner Ryan Hall, who won the 10K in 30 minutes Saturday morning! Super impressive!

At the expo we grabbed as much free stuff as we could (and ended up waiting in line for free swag that ended up being tampons! Big disappointment). At the end of the expo, we got our t-shirts, posters, and bags, and headed out. The swag was awesome this year, as always! Love me some marathon swag.

We then headed across the river to our hotel in Covington, KY, and checked in. We hung out in the hotel room for a while, then headed to Dewey’s Pizza in Newport where we met my friend Steff and her dad for dinner. Pizza is the best. Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel and went to bed. It took a while to get to sleep because of the nerves and things, and I woke up a bunch of times during the night. Why is it that it’s always so difficult to sleep when you need it the most?

Flying Pig Marathon 2014

Race preparation

Race Day

The day of the race, we were up at 4:45. Ick! We had a PB&J and a banana each at the hotel, and I downed some coconut water. Then we walked across the bridge to the start line, which was about a mile away. It was much warmer than anticipated, so I ended up checking my long-sleeved shirt and just going with short sleeves from the beginning. I was so glad I made that decision!

I said goodbye to Ben, who was up in corral B, and made my way to corral E. Once there, I found the 4:20 pace group and introduced myself to my new best friends. I had made the decision a while back to at least start with a pace group, mainly because there are some crazy hills between miles 5 and 9 on the course, and I didn’t want to go out too fast and burn out  because of that. My long training runs had been around a 9:30 pace, so I knew I could do 9:55 and survive–and this race was more about finishing and not feeling like crap than it was about aiming for a specific time. The pace groups were organized by Bob Roncker’s Running Spot–a local chain of specialty running stores.

We set off at what felt like a pretty slow pace to me. I ran the first few miles with my new friends Josh and Cindy, who were also running with the pace group. It was Cindy’s first marathon, and Josh’s 19th. We chatted our way through Kentucky, then back over into Ohio and up the hills. We stayed close to the pace group but essentially ran together. Once we got the worst of the hills out of the way, the pace group was quite far ahead, and Josh had kept up with them, so Cindy and I raced to catch up with them. I stayed with the group from then on; Cindy fell back at one point and I didn’t see her again. I wish I knew her last name so I could check her time and make sure she was okay.

The course from mile 12 or so onward was up and down. I stuck with the pace group and chatted with the two leaders a little. One of them was a Flying Pig streaker, which means he has run every single Flying Pig marathon since its inception 16 years ago! They were so helpful and motivating–they would tell us what was coming up on the course, when we were approaching a mile marker, and would give us advice on how to keep going when we got tired. People came and went from the group, but myself and one other girl whose name I forget stuck with them the entire way.

The last six miles were probably the hardest, but running with the pacers really got me through. The unnamed girl and I sped up (very slightly) for the last mile, and finished just ahead of the pacers, who were right on target. My official time was 4:18:49! I beat last year’s time by about 24 minutes, and felt infinitely better crossing the finish line!

Flying Pig Marathon 2014

Exhausted but happy!

Afterwards

Well-deserved doughnut(s)

Well-deserved doughnut(s)

As I crossed the line and got my medal, I felt incredible. To compare, last year I crossed the line, burst into tears, and felt like a turd the rest of the day. I also swore I would never run a marathon again. This year, I crossed the line, gave high fives to everyone who had got me to that finish line, and had my picture taken with Bob the streaker/pacer. I texted friends and called Ben, then we met up and found some of our running group for a bit of a chat. Ben’s time was 3:27:47–he is a rockstar!

We decided to walk the mile back to the hotel to keep our legs moving, then had the best shower ever. We felt exhausted but happy, and headed back into town (driving this time!) to find some food. We ate at Lavomatic–I had French toast with apple butter, and Ben had a burger. After I finished eating I felt kind of blah, so we decided to head home (via Holtman’s Donut Shop where we got a doughnut each to go). I called my mum and we spoke for a bit, but then I started feeling like I was either going to throw up or pass out. Luckily, I did neither, but I did head straight to bed as soon as we got home and took a 1.5 hour nap. When I woke up I felt much better! I ended up eating oatmeal for dinner, followed by the doughnut (Ben go one with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles, and mine was with maple frosting). I was in bed by 8:30, and slept until 7 this morning!

Wrap-Up

Overall, I absolutely loved running the Flying Pig this year! The difference between how I feel this year and how I felt last year is incredible. I really think that my decision to run with a pace group was the best one I could have made. And training with my running group helped me improve my speed and learn to enjoy the run more. Training with a group broke me of my dependence on music while running, and I was thankful for that yesterday. Deciding to run without music helped me appreciate and enjoy all the spectators who came out to support us runners, and I enjoyed the entire course. I ran it to enjoy myself, rather than to meet a goal. And the support along the course was incredible! Even though I was exhausted beyond belief, there was never a moment where I thought I wouldn’t make it. So yay!

Sorry for the super lengthy post! I hope you enjoyed reading about my experience. I always enjoy reading race recaps, so I’m excited to be writing one myself this time! 🙂 Also, here is a picture of my dogs after I picked them up from boarding at the vets. Love my pups 🙂

Dougal and Stumpy

Dougal the poser with Stumpy in the background.

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37 thoughts on “Marathon Recap: 2014 Flying Pig

  1. Congratulations on your time yesterday! 30 minutes?!? That is amazing! It’s posts like this that really make want to be a runner. When I used to read about running, it was about times and distances and it wasn’t really interesting. Lately I’ve been reading posts like yours today that talk about all the other things that lead up to and follow the race. That makes it so exciting!

    • Thanks, Rob! I love reading race recap posts, so this time it was great to be the one writing it! There is definitely more to being a runner than just running. The running community is so friendly and welcoming, it’s awesome to be part of that!

  2. Awesome!!!!! Way to go! And it sounds like you ate all the food! I’ve never run a whole race with a pace group – I have stuck with them for portions, but if things are going well, then I eventually pass them.
    Nausea – that usually happens when people don’t cool down after a long race by walking for 15-20 mins to allow the blood to get back around the body. But you walked a mile, so hopefully it was just you body needing some rest!

    • Thanks, Scott! I think, in my case, the nausea was from not eating enough (I know, right?!) and from lack of sleep the previous night. Once I napped and ate I felt awesome!

  3. Congrats on your race and awesome time! Sounds like a great experience. You make me want to run another marathon–I’ve only run 1 and know I can do so much better. I love that you also felt much better after this one and it’s super impressive you knocked off that much time from last year!!

  4. I REALLY enjoyed reading your post! I am training for my first marathon in Oct and I can never read enough of other people’s accounts and tips. I am hoping I can run it without music because I do love the crowds and excitement. I will try to run with my pacer aslo. It seems that it helped you. I am so worried that I won’t be able to do it. Reading your account makes me excitedly nervous! Congratulations!!!!

    • Thank you! You will do great, it’s so nerve-wracking leading up to a marathon but once you get out there it’s such an awesome experience! I did have music in one ear between mile 22 and 24 or so, but it was more out of habit than anything.

  5. GREAT recap and congratulations on the PR! That is such an excellent time! One of my really good friends ran the Flying Pig relay and I heard so much from her about the excellent crowd support. It sounds like such a fun race!

    Those donuts look delicious too. VERY well deserved!

    • Thank you! This was my second Flying Pig and I just love that so many people come out to support the runners! There were very few stretches where there was no one, and it’s wonderful to think of all the people who took time out of their days to cheer everyone on!

  6. Congratulations on a great race! I ran with pacers for the first time in the Pig half last year and they were amazing. It’s so nice to not check your watch all of the time and know that you are still running the right pace. You hit some great spots to eat while you were in town too!

    • Thank you! The pacers saved me for sure! And yes, the food was great, although we had planned to eat at Quan Hapa Sunday without realizing they were closed! Next time.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your fantastic race experience! I can’t wait to check this race off my bucket list! Good job on running a solid race and a new PR! A 30 minute improvement is unbelievable! You totally rock! 🙂

  9. Congratulations on the huge PR — it’s not every day that you get to completely obliterate your best time in such dominant fashion. I ran the Flying Pig Half back in 2011 and loved it. I’ve wanted to run the full marathon ever since, but May is such a clustered month for races, and I usually opt for something new. But it’s always been in the back of my mind …

    Pace groups can be tricky. Sticking with them takes patience and discipline, so I’m glad that you manged to harness their communal energy to get you to a speedy finish. And though I didn’t meet any streakers when I ran three years ago, there WAS a real streaker who ran and got arrested for it. Some people …

    • Haha, luckily I didn’t see any REAL streakers! That would have been terrifying.

      Thanks for the comment! I’d definitely recommend the Flying Pig full–the crowd support is just incredible!

  10. Congratulations and AMAZING finish time! I’m happy to hear you had a much more positive experience this time around! I personally train with music, but I don’t race with music-it really keeps you in the moment of the race. I’ve heard great things about the Flying Pig, and I hope to some day try it out myself. Plus, I just think pigs with wings are adorable 🙂

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