It’s been a week since the Pig, and I’m getting harassed by all three of my readers to post my race report. A marathon is a LOT to digest, and this one was so incredibly pig-tastic that I have a lot so share with the world. Look for a “Cincinnati Kicks Ass” post later, which will include our road trip down [featuring the world's worst fish tacos, the most annoying song ever created, and the excitement of test driving a foldable bicycle], our stay in Kentucky [sweetest accents EVA and a B&B run by a government agent], and the imperative need to repeat a marathon girls’ weekend ASAP. But for now…the RACE!!!!
That was SOME PIG!!!
This race went by way too quickly. I was blissfully happy and full of energy the entire 26.2 miles, fueled on by the runners around me, the amazing volunteers, literal hoards of spectators, and performers galore: DJs, bands, Elvis himself, a barbershop group, car radios, cowbells, and even a middle school band. The entire day felt like one big party. I’m not one to remember every technical detail of a race – inclines, routes, splits, and the like, but when it comes to the people I met, the conversations I had, the funny signs I read, and – most of all – the music I jammed to, my mind is like a trap.
I Used to Love Her
This was the very first song I heard after the start. I started in Pig Pen C (switched from E the night before at the Expo due to my newfound speediness), and we had just run across the Taylor Southgate Bridge into Kentucky (mile 2.5 or so). I leaped into the Bluegrass State, by the way, yelling “M-O-N mouth!” in my best KY accent (I know you don’t get it, but it was flipping hilarious). For the first couple miles I ran next to a man wearing these shorts in purple leopard fabric, and he sang along with me as a high school kid with an acoustic guitar busted out one of my favorite Guns ‘n Roses songs of all time. I also remember chatting up a kid in safety green and black Saucony’s and a matching tank top. See? I’m not the only one to agonize over matchy-matchy marathon outfits.
Welcome to the Jungle
GnR fuels me. I’m not sure what mile marker this was, but I was running next to a girl wearing the same shirt as me. How rude. Since we were running by a retirement home with wheelchair-bound grannies on the sidewalk cheering us on, I resisted the urge to trip her. So I passed her instead.
What Makes You Beautiful
I swear I am not 15, but the universe continues to remind me that my taste in music is perfectly aligned with the sophomore eye-rolling demographic. This song is the perfect tempo to run to AND I love me some good “na na na’s.”
(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)
Another member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012! This was around the halfway mark. I had just realized I was slipping too close to the 4:00 pace group so I fell in with a really tall guy for awhile to try to make up some ground. We talked about everything – our running history and goals, boxing, our jobs, his kids, and all that jazz. He was a super cool guy, so I was taken aback when he suddenly very sternly reprimanded me for “w00h00″ing at the 13 mile mark. He said all “w00h00″ing was to be reserved for the end of the race – that I “should know better” [which caused me to immediately break into an Andy Grammer song of the same title, btdubs]. After a couple of miles he forged ahead of me, so I was surprised to see him after I crossed the finish line , with a hug and a very loud and enthusiastic “w00h00!” (:
Weird choice! This was around mile 16 and one of my favorite neighborhoods of the entire race. It was a divided residential street lined with trees and packed with people. There were signs on all the telephone poles, and one house even had “Run Pigs” mowed into their treelawn! We ran past a DJ and then turned around at the end of the street and ran back up the other side, passing him again. Just as I was taking a Twizzler from a TNT volunteer (mmm…sugar), I heard “Barbie Girl” busting out from the other side of the road. It made me giggle.
Eye of the Tiger/Chariots of Fire
Both of these songs were along the [seemingly endless] stretch of road towards the finish. Cliché as they may be, your simply can’t slow down when you hear “risin’ up, back on the street” and all that talk about the “will to survive.” Tonight at boxing the Rocky anthem came on while we were finishing our last round of jump ropes. I immediately thought of the awesomeness that was last weekend, smiled, and then dug deep and kicked it up two notches. Motivation in musical form. As for “Chariots of Fire,” I will totally admit to tearing up a little when I heard it towards the end of the race, but then I started giggling because I couldn’t help but imagine myself running in slow-mo towards the finish line. Apparently I giggle a lot while running.
Guns ‘n Roses song numéro trois. Well played, Cincinnati.
Don’t Stop Believin’
This also seemed to be on that endless straight stretch towards the finish. We had listened to the Glee version of this song on the way down to Cinci, so I was ready to jam out…to the middle school marching band version. I cheered for them as I ran by, sang along [shocking], and performed some of the super sweet moves I learned for Mentor’s flash mob this fall. There was much fist pumping.
It’s My Life
This song makes me immediately think of freshman year of college. And more fist pumping. I heard Bon Jovi’s comeback hit after my race was over. I got my medal, hammed it up for the cameras (all 5 of them), grabbed some water and two bananas, and then made my way back to the finish line to wait for Kelly. I was exhausted and wobbly kneed, but I was still mentally and emotionally amped up. As I leaned on the fence watching the runners finish, I got ridiculously emotional. Runners of every shape and size crossed that finish line, some of them sprinting to the finish, some walking hand in hand, and others struggling to even stay upright. As Kelly crossed the finish line (under her goal!), I was overwhelmed with pride, love, and happiness. I cannot put into words the fullness of my heart at that moment at mile 26.2…somebody else’s 26.2.
We found our friend Kathryn, who had rocked out the half and come back to run with each of us in the last couple miles, and lounged on the grass next to the Ohio River talking about our individual races and thanking our virtual supporters in the social networking world. I did some hip openers in the shortest pair of shorts I own, and we shared a shaved ice before making the VERY HOT, VERY LONG walk back over the bridge to our car in Kentucky.
People have teased me all week for having too much fun on the course. They’ve said if I can jump at mile 20 I’m not running hard enough. That if I want to sing along to every song I’m not pushing hard enough. That I shouldn’t waste energy dancing or high-fiving the little kids along the route. They’ve said I shouldn’t spend time talking to the runners around me. Could I have run faster? Yes. Did I still have gas in the tank and miles in my legs at the end? Yes. Did I have to puke and rally? No. Should I have pushed harder? I don’t know. I ran a smart race. It was absolutely delightful from start to finish, and I am proud of my time and effort. I felt strong and comfortable the entire race and laughed at the hills everyone warned me about. I met my goal and sub-4’ed that dirty pig, earning yet another PR party (I beat last year by 56 minutes!) and a medal with a pig butt on the back. And I enjoyed every second.
For me this race was a stepping stone. I’m going to work my pig tail off on the trails to muscle through the Buckeye Trail 50K in July before heading back to the pavement to prepare for the Wineglass Marathon in late September. I’m still getting faster, and Boston is on the horizon. 3:35:00 or bust.
Pros: literally everything. Highlights not listed above include cold wet towels and garden hoses, a man dressed as Shamu, duffel bag and poster swag, water stops at every mile, no bottle neck at the finish, great race photography, beautiful scenery and omission of shady neighborhoods, organized race corrals, plenty of bathrooms, impromptu aid stations handing out beer, Vaseline, Jolly Ranchers, oranges, bananas, and more, plenty of first aid tents, an insane amount of entertainment, barefoot runner dude, girls in tutus, guys in spandex
Cons: the heat, a white race t-shirt, Gu only at 18 and 22 (cheap!?), Gu a good 1/2 mile before the water stop, funny tasting water at mile 18, and no naked runner this year.
Official Stats: 3:57:17. 907/4,097 overall, 224/1,701 females, 50/274 in my division. My last mile was 8:14!