Tag Archives: flying pig

I Came, I Saw — Marathon, Part One

Standard

It’s almost 1:00 a.m. and I should’ve been in bed hours ago.  I also have work to finish and a camping trip to pack for.  But I tonight I saw the premiere of “Spirit of the Marathon II” and after seeing those great stories I’m determined to finally sit down to write my own!

Rest assured that I’m not going to write a full recap, complete with 26 miles of splits and a breakdown of exactly what I ate and when.  (I couldn’t even if I wanted to because the GPS for my RunKeeper app went nutso during the race … Pretty sure I did NOT run 29 miles!)  But even writing just the highlights will take some time and probably two posts.  So if you want the short version — spoiler alert — here it is:  I finished a marathon.  It was awesome.

If you want the longer version, read on!

"Before" Photo - Looking happy and a little scared!

“Before” Photo – Looking happy and a little scared!

As I think back on my Flying Pig marathon experience, it’s not the black-and-white numerical data that I remember.  I can’t recall what happened at each individual mile.  There are even some pretty large chunks of time that are a total blur.  But sprinkled throughout the race are several key moments, so clear in my memory, kind of like my own personal highlight real.

THE START – I had been so preoccupied with race preparations and the frenzy of getting to my starting corral that my brain was too busy to comprehend what was happening.  Suddenly I found myself standing there, surrounded by a sea of runners, facing a beautiful sunrise over the start line and it hit me like a ton of bricks:  This is IT.  After all of the work and sacrifice, joy and grief, I am finally HERE … And I started to cry.

Seriously?  Already?  Sheesh.  But as we moved forward, I snapped out of it.  I wiped the tears from my face and held my head high.  I had a monumental task to accomplish and I needed to focus.  So it began!

Gorgeous Sunrise

Gorgeous Sunrise

MEL 118

Ready to go … Plus my two memory bracelets

THE SIGN – I loved reading all of the signs along the course.  Some were funny, some were encouraging, some were even a little suggestive.  But the one that stuck with me the most was held by a woman I saw around mile 2.  She was sitting on the curb with a poster propped up in front of her that said something like, ‘I fractured my hip training for this race.  Finish for me.’  For a few seconds I actually thought about trying to turn around to go back and give her a hug, but it was so crowded I would’ve gotten trampled.  Sign-lady, if you’re out there, please know that I thought about you repeatedly whenever things started to get tough.  Thanks for the extra motivation.

THE VIEW – I had studied the course enough to know that I should anticipate an uphill first half, but since I’m not from Cincinnati, I didn’t know exactly what to expect.  I tried to focus only on the road that I could see immediately in front of me, not worrying about what still might be ahead.  As I rounded a bend around mile 7, I was practically smacked in the face by an amazing view down over the park and back onto the city we had just left.  It was astounding to see just how far I already climbed, especially compared to how good I felt, and I knew that after only another mile or so the toughest hills would be done.  I was flying high, literally and mentally!

THE EXCHANGE – At some point, I decided to calculate whether I had brought along enough fuel for the duration of the race.  I am normally pretty good at math, but something about running turns my brain into scrambled eggs and I started to worry that I hadn’t put enough energy food in my belt after all.  And the jacket I had tied around my waist was annoying the snot out of me.  Mentally, I was just at the point of starting to slip a little.

In the meantime, my poor husband was doing his best to navigate the bus system to try to find me at some point along the course.  I was relieved when he texted to say he was waiting at mile 12, and I sent him a desperate reply, requesting that he be ready to hand over all of the extra Honey Stinger waffles and Sport Beans in his backpack.  I must’ve looked like a woman possessed as I made a beeline to the sidewalk, while flinging my jacket at him and greedily stuffing a bag of jellybeans in the waistband of my shorts.  For some odd reason, just having these extra provisions brought back the mental confidence that I was now prepared to endure the second half of the race.  (Side note:  I did not end up using ANY of the extra food he handed off to me.  Too funny.)

Heading Straight to my “Pit Crew”

THE HIGHWAY – After winding through some scenic, fun, lively neighborhoods, it was time for a reality check at mile 18.  The course takes you back toward downtown along the shoulder of a highway, so you are combining mind-numbing scenery, little crowd support, and mileage that is starting to add up quickly.

Thankfully the Flying Pig organizers very strategically plan a water stop at this point, manned by none other than the local chapter of Parrotheads.  It’s hard to be down when people in coconut bras and flowered shirts are cheering for you and dancing to Jimmy Buffett music.  Seriously, these people were having a blast while hanging out in the rain on the side of a highway.  Awesome.  I enjoyed my brief trip through Margaritaville, and soldiered on …

(To Be Continued)

What Do We Do Now?

Standard

Over the past three months, as the training has gotten tougher and the runs have gotten longer, I’ve spent a lot of time visualizing what it will feel like as I approach the finish line of my first marathon.  Will I feel strong and proud, with my arms raised in victory formation?  Will I feel tired and sore, limping my way across in grim determination?  Will I smile?  Will I cry?

Never once in those moments of dreaming could I have imagined something like the nightmare that occurred at yesterday’s Boston Marathon.

Runners are used to experiencing discomfort, and even sometimes pain.  We embrace it willingly in our quest to run faster or longer or to prove that we can overcome the voice in our head telling us to stop.  But our type of hurt is self-inflicted and temporary, a stark contrast to the events of yesterday.  It is hard to wrap your head around the fact that someone intentionally turned an area of celebration into a crime scene.

My heart, of course, goes out first and foremost to the individuals that were injured and the families that lost loved ones.  Their loss is by far the greatest.   But I am also sad for the runners.  There are those that spent so much time and effort training to qualify for, and then actually run, one of the world’s most prestigious marathons, only to be stopped short of the finish line.  And there are those that did finish, but who will forever have a shadow of grief cast over their Boston Marathon experience.

As a human being, I am affected by the stories of suffering and loss in Boston.  As a runner, it resonates even more deeply.  I feel a connection to it, and with my own marathon less than three weeks away, it has been far too easy for my mind to swirl with “what if” thoughts.

The question lies before us:  What do we do now?  We could allow ourselves to get weighed down by the pain and suffering, until we give up and quit.  Or we could reach inside and find the determination to continue.  I choose to rely on the support of my friends and family, to cling to my faith, and to finish what I’ve started.

Please join with the rest of the running community as we keep moving forward, just like we always do … One foot in front of the other.

Boston Logo

———-

The author is a wife, mother, and solidly average “middle of the pack” runner from Northeast Ohio.  Find her on Twitter, @MileageMama:  https://twitter.com/MileageMama

When Pigs Fly

Standard

Three years ago the thought of myself running a marathon was laughable.  The only running I’d done in the past involved forced laps during gym class, which I viewed as torture.  When I started training for my first 5K, I could only jog continuously for about a minute before I stopped to walk.  Completing that 3.1 mile race at a slow jog felt like an epic accomplishment, which made the idea of 26.2 miles seem about as probable as climbing Mount Everest.  If I had to sum up my marathon hopes with three words, “When Pigs Fly” would’ve been quite appropriate.

Well guess what?  Last week I started training for my first marathon and, ironically enough, it’s called the Flying Pig!

Flying Pig Logo

I’m not sure exactly when the thought of running a marathon started rattling around in my brain.  Perhaps when I finished a half marathon and realized it wasn’t SO bad after all?  Plenty of running books and documentaries have added to the inspiration.  (Check out “Spirit of the Marathon” on Hulu or Netflix, one of my faves!)  I would walk around running expos eyeing up the booths from various big-city marathons.  But it was never a solid plan, just a vague idea.

Looking at my 2013 race schedule, I decided to aim for a half marathon in April, and MAYBE (huge MAYBE) run a full marathon in the fall … Until I went to register for the April race and realized that I had a scheduling conflict for that date.  Doh!  Back to the drawing board.

So I started looking for a different half marathon and found a couple of options in early May.  One of them was the Flying Pig weekend in Cincinnati, which I’d always heard great things about.  Like a lot of larger races, it offered the choice of a half or a full marathon.  And that’s when the crazy ideas started to creep in …

What if I run a FULL marathon in May instead?  I’ve already built up a solid two months of base mileage, which would put me at exactly the starting point I need to begin a 16-week marathon training plan.

But it’s January in Cleveland, is this such a good idea?  On the other hand, it’s JANUARY in CLEVELAND and I’ve already done a great job of sticking to my schedule, including running through blizzards and frigid windchills.  It can’t really get a whole lot worse.  Plus if I was training for a fall marathon, I’d be starting in the July heat and humidity instead.  And I really hate running in hot weather.

But do I really want to travel that far for a race, and will I even be able to find somewhere to stay?  A quick check showed that it’s only a four-hour drive, totally doable for a weekend.  And after a little more searching I found a super price on a hotel less than a mile from the expo and the starting line.  And come to think of it, wouldn’t it actually be more worth it to make the trip if I was running a longer race?

And then came the clincher:  As I scrolled through the list of charity groups participating in the Flying Pig,  I came across Team In Training.  Team in Training is a group that supports endurance athletes as they raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  This is a cause that has recently become very personal to me, and I knew it would be great to have that extra motivation pulling me along.  To top it all off, they were running a special with a reduced entry fee.  And everyone knows I love a bargain!Team In Training

The last of my excuses had melted away.  All signs were pointing in the direction of the marathon.  There would always be a million reasons NOT to try it.  If I didn’t take the chance I had in front of me right now, would I ever be willing to make that leap?

So before I could think about it too long, I jumped on the Team In Training website and signed up.  Yes, I’m scared.  Will I be able to put in the mileage?  Can I avoid getting hurt?  Is it possible to raise the money to meet my fundraising requirement?

Time will tell.  It’s going to be an interesting few months.  But if there’s one thing running has taught me, it’s to never say “never” … So watch out for flying pigs!

 

———-

Updated on 3/17/13 … I’m still training for the Flying Pig on my own, but fundraising issues caused me to switch to running the Rock ‘N’ Roll Cleveland Half Marathon with Team In Training.  If you’d like to help me with my goal, please visit my personal page:  http://pages.teamintraining.org/noh/rnrclevh13/MileageMama

—–

The author is a wife, mother, and solidly average “middle of the pack” runner from Northeast Ohio.  Check her out on Twitter @MileageMama:  https://twitter.com/MileageMama