Sunday was it, the day I had been training months and months for. The Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The day before the race, I headed downtown to pick up my packet, running chip, race number and check out the Expo for all the runners. I guess I was not aware of how many people were running this race with me and I was a bit overwhelmed as I parked my car. Downtown was swarmed with fellow Cincinnati-an's and other runners in from out of town. Luckily, I ran into two friends and we went around checking out all the booths and stocking up on last minute things. I got a wonderful long sleeve running shirt and some GU's (those little gel packs that give you some energy on long runs). We even got a bag, shirt and poster at the end.
I stopped by my friends Derby Party for a bit that evening before hitting the sack at 9pm.
Sunday I was up at 4am for my pre- run ritual. A cup of coffee, shower and then half a power bar with a lot of water. For some reason this seems to work. I had the excited jitters as I got ready and Geoff drove me downtown to park. (He got the day off to come and cheer me on! How awesome, right!?!)
I had made plans to attempt to meet some friends before the race but there were so many people there I finally headed on down to the start. It was chilly with a light rain that pretty much stopped as the race started. I thought it was the perfect weather to run in!
We started right by Paul Brown Stadium (where the Bengal's play!) and headed down across the bridge into Northern Kentucky.
Getting down in the crowd of runners took a few minutes. I said bye to Geoff and pushed my way through all the crowd of supporters onto the street.
When the cannon went off, it took about 6 minutes before I made it to the start line. They gave us these cool little chips that you wear on your shoe. They have huge mats at the start, half way point and finish and the chip registers your own time- pretty neat! Finally we made it to the start and took off running!
The first mile I concentrated on finding my pace. All these people were blowing past me and my body wanted to run fast and catch up with them. It is really hard to not overdo it in the first half of the race, so I had to forget all the people running around me. Each mile, they had toilets (most had long lines), gatorade and water stops and a mile marker with the time since the start of the race. Around mile two I saw that I was right on pace with what I had been training for so I was happy.
Despite the rain, there were so many people out cheering for us all. Noise makers, bands, singing groups, apartment complexes with music blasting, it was so fun. It made me smile almost the whole time because of the amount of support that people were showing for us. Not only did people have signs, "Go Mom" but also "We love Runners". How cool!
I knew Geoff was going to be waiting around Mile 5 for me when I passed. We were running through downtown Cincinnati and people were on both sides of the street. I guessed he was going to be on the right and I was correct! I saw him half a block away.
(Geoff saw my two friends Kathryn and Cassandra in matching shirts)
I saw Kathryn's dad a few blocks down and then we turned off to the hard part of the run- the big hills up into Eden Park. I was running right by a pacer and her whole group. She was pacing this team at 10:43 min mile to run the Whole marathon! She was giving everyone tips on tackling the hill which was really helpful. There were a lot of people at this part which we all really needed. Miles 8-10 were pretty exhausting but I knew that I had more people cheering for me at miles 11 and 12.
Mile 11 started downhill and by the time I ran by Laura's condo I was super happy getting past all the hills. We also broke off from the marathoners and I wished them all good luck!
Laura and Val were waiting on the front steps and I ran right to them and gave them a huge hug. Then back onto the race. Around mile 12 Geoff and my parents were waiting for me. I gave them a hug and some high fives and I had 1.1 miles to go...
The last part of the race was the hardest. Even part of my legs and feet were feeling it but I knew I couldn't give up now!
I had set a small goal of finishing the race in 2 hrs and 30 minutes and as I turned the corner and saw the end in sight I realized that I was going to make my goal. As I crossed the finish line and heard my name announced, I felt so good! I had finished 13.1 miles in 2 hrs and 22mins. We got covered in a Mylar blanket and awarded a medal for finishing!!!
Then they sent us onto the Recovery area with water, gatorade and lots of food. I was in a daze and ate a banana and some chips and tried to figure out where I was going to find my family. Finally I saw them as I headed to all the toilets by the after party area.
All in all, it was HARD work, training for the race but I had such a good time running in it and after it was all over I got treated to breakfast at Price Hill Chili! Yum. :)