Thursday, May 08, 2008

Oink Oink

I arrived in Illinois on Thursday evening and was met by my brother and my niece, Spencer, who seems to have grown about a foot since I saw her at Christmas. We grabbed some food and headed to their house to crash for the night before driving to Cincinnati on Friday. En route, "Tainted Love" came on Rob's iPod and we were singing and drumming along when my niece pipes up from the back "I'm so embarrassed by this." Uh, yeah, she's 4. Where does she get this stuff?!?! Despite several downpours en route to Cincinnati, we made it in time to check into the hotel and have some dinner. For dinner we had a group of about 12 people, including Aunts, Moms, Grandparents, cousins. It was really good to see everyone.

On Saturday we arose to cloudy skies and sprinkles. By 9:30 we were heading out to the expo and Spencer's race, The Flying Piglet. As we were walking along, it started raining a bit harder and it was a bit longer of a walk than expected. Eventually we arrived at the packet pickup area and realized it was only the packet pickup for the kids races. Argh. So, we had about an hour and a half to wait for Spencer's race to start. And it started raining even harder. We spied some folks hiding out under an awning and asked if we could join them. Turns out they were heading out in the mess to run the 5k. So we had 3 chairs and a lot of standing room out of the rain. Well, mostly out of the rain. I was having flashbacks to Surf City, but by about 11:30 the rain tapered off and the skies started to clear. Now we just needed to get rid of the wind!

Around 11:45 Spencer went over to the Piglet Pen and lined up for her race. Holy Cow there were a lot of kids! There must've been 4-5 waves of 2-3 year olds before Spencer's race even started. Corralling that many kids was pretty funny to watch and there was one false start by the 4-5 year olds when the announcer yelled out "go" for the 2-3 yr old race. A bunch of 4-5 year olds took off running and the parents took off running after them to herd them back to the start line. It was pretty funny to watch. Soon enough the 4-5 year old race was on. Spencer went off in the 3rd wave and gave it her all! Way to go Spence! The other cute thing was all the kids had bib number '1'. The take away point..... Everyone is a winner. Riiiiiight. Oh, I mean RIGHT! Another funny thing...inside her goodie bag was a plastic pig snout, which we all got a kick out of her wearing. :-)

After Spencer's race we headed back to the hotel to grab some lunch. Then we had to find the expo to pick up our packets and get any freebies that were around. The expo wasn't too great, with not that many good giveaways. The race freebie tho was pretty cool. We didn't get tech tees (like the full marathon folks did), but everybody got a nice black duffel with the Flying Pig logo on it. Not bad. :-)

Saturday night we ate at an Italian place and tried to get to bed early since we were taking off for the start line at 5:45. It was about a 15 minute walk and the start was 6:30. The night sure went by quickly, but I'm not sure how much I slept. I'm pretty sure I was still on California time and trying to go to bed by 10:00 (7:00 Pacific) didn't work out too well. So all the runners met in the lobby and we were off to the start line by 6:00. Jeff, my brother Rob and I were planning to stick together while my cousin Jenni was planning a faster pace. But we all started off together in the 2:15-2:30 half pace group.

6:30 came and went with no start. Finally around 6:45 the 'gun' went off and we were on our way. Turns out that there was a 3 alarm fire along the marathon course and it had to be rerouted at the last minute......adding a 1/4 mile to the course. Ugh, I feel for those folks. The route was really crowded for most of the first 4-5 miles. It didn't *really* thin out until the split of the marathon and 1/2 courses somewhere between mile 8 and 9.

The first few miles were kept interesting by running across the bridge into Kentucky and then over another bridge back into Ohio. The barges were even blowing their horns to root us all on. Well, that's my reason why they were blowing their horns anyway. There were several bands along the route and we were wondering if they had gotten up early or just stayed up all night. After hearing some of the raspy voices, I'd have to vote for an all-nighter. Around mile 2 some guy yelled out "you're almost there!" Maybe he thought it was a 5k!

Rob, Jeff and I were pretty close together except when Jeff would hit the water stops. Rob and I were carrying water bottles so didn't need to stop as often. Soon enough we hit the first set of hills, which I didn't think were too bad. Maybe The Relay hills had prepared me more than I thought.

When I looked back to find Jeff, I couldn't see him. As we approached the relay turnoff I stopped and waited for him to make sure he was alright. Turns out his knees started killing him on the hills and he was struggling. I ran with him until he had to turn off for the hand off of the chip and then took off to catch up with my brother. Luckily he was wearing a bright yellow top and was easy to spot. We had one more hill and at the top there were folks handing out hard candy. I have to say it really hit the spot. Especially since I had forgotten my Luna moons and felt like I was about to start running on empty.

Somewhere between mile 8 and 9 we split off from the marathoners and the crowd thinned out a little bit more. This is also where we heard someone behind us say "If you're feeling tired, just quit." It was actually pretty funny and we got a kick out of it. I kept asking my brother how he was doing and hoping I wasn't pushing too hard. He kept saying he was alright, so we chugged on. Altho, I don't think he would have said anything if he *wasn't* alright. Wow, we really are alike in some ways.

After mile 10 or so, the route is pretty much all downhill or at least flat. Folks along the road kept telling us "It really *is* all downhill from here." And unlike when bicyclists tell me that, it was pretty much true. We hit mile 12 and I looked down at my Garmin. Dang! I told my brother "If we do a 9 minute mile we can beat my PR." He told me to take off if I needed to, but I reminded him (and myself too) that this race wasn't about PRing for me. Lucky dog, he'd have a PR no matter what. :-)

About a 1/2 mile from the finish we saw Jeff walking back to the finish line! What the heck! There were supposed to be buses back to the finish for relay folks. Turns out he couldn't find a bus and thought he could easily walk back. Yeah, well, he didn't count on his bad knees getting a lot more painful. He looked miserable. Thankfully there was a well stocked first aid tent at the end of the race and he was able to get his knees wrapped with ice.

Rob and I made it to the finish in 2:17:40. Pretty dang good for his first 1/2 marathon. Sadly, we were so much ahead of schedule (2:30 projected) that we didn't get video of the finish. Ah well, there's always 'next' time. ;-)

I have to say that the pace felt pretty comfortable for me. So now I'm wondering if I've really improved that much since Surf City, when a 2:17 felt like death, or if it was just the nature of that particular course, with the last 3 or so miles being downhill. I'm considering doing another 1/2 marathon this summer, just to test it out. I need something to replace Nike anyway since I didn't get the lucky draw in the lottery. I think part of the easy feeling was that I was finally having fun again. :-) A big thanks to my bro for that. Even if he didn't fall down or wear a pig costume, I had a blast running with him.

2:23:10 clock time
2:17:40 chip time

When we got close to the finish line my brother says "Let's go!" and takes off for the finish line like a bat out of hell. What the heck!!?!? Turns out he didn't want this guy in the red shirt beating him. Ah, like brother, like sister. ;-)


Rob said...

I had tons of fun running with you, Sis. Thanks for sticking with me and keeping me going. I know that you could have PR'd but you stuck right there with me and means a lot that you did that.

Phil said...

great job! that's an awesome time! even better you both finished together!