Monday, May 18, 2009

Flying Pig Marathon Experience

The Flying Pig was an experience. The race was well-organized, and there were many people cheering along the course. There was water/gatorade every mile, and with the half marathon folks splitting off around mile seven, the course was not crowded. But let me back up a bit. The race and trip were an experience.

I got to Cincinnati later than I should, found my motel, then went to the expo to get my race packet. Arriving at the expo, I got my packet and then embarked on my quest for schwag (I love free stuff), of which I quickly realized was not going to go well. As I approached the GU booth, they were giving away GU (which I wanted), and the person in front of me got the last one. The people manning the booth then proceed to start tearing the booth down as quickly as they could, as the expo was over for them. Continuing through the expo, there were plenty of things I could buy, none of which I wanted, needed, or even cared to look at. The booths that would have had the good stuff had cleared out. Oh well, walking around an expo the day before an endurance event is really not a good thing to do.

As I walked back to my truck, I started thinking about dinner, and realized I had a problem. Actually, multiple problems, since my motel was not exactly a nice place. It was a little worn out. Okay, it was a three star dump. I stopped at a CVS I found next to the convention center to get a gallon of distilled water. Now, I'll drink tap water from most any tap in the USA, but the tap in my motel was not one of them. I did not want any GI issues on Sunday, and with my water consumption being 1.5gal/day, I didn't want to shock my system with some parasite or condition from the motel. I realize my worries were likely unfounded, but you'd have to see the motel to understand.

The Motel

I expected the room to be a little worn... I wanted to spend as little as possible, since I just needed a place to sleep and shower; my alternative was to return home Saturday (there was no race-day packet pickup available), and then get up around 2am Sunday to drive to the race. So, checking in was uneventful. The clerk was watching some Asian video that had women/kids screaming and crying, and it was turned up a bit loud. No matter. On my way to the room, I noticed the dozen Harleys parked in the lot… Huh. So, I go to the second floor and opened the door to my room. It was interesting. The carpet was a little worn. And maybe a little dirty. The bathroom light, a single exposed mini-fluorescent tube, flickered a bit, then died. Huh. Okay, the towels look clean, and there is toilet paper. And a couple of wrapped soap mini-bars. Too bad they don't know what Tilex can do for a shower. Michele would never stay here, nor would I subject her to it. Okay, pull the bedspread, as I'm not touching it again. Damn, I forgot to bring Clorox wipes. Remote control in plastic bag - damn, someone stole one of the batteries from this thing. Oh well. So, I head to the expo.

Returning from the expo, I stopped at the front desk to inquire about the bathroom light, and some extra towels (so I can lay them on the floor for a path). "The light's out? We don't have a key for that. You should just know where your stuff is. Ha ha ha. I can get you some towels." Fine. Now it's time to find dinner. I don't know what I was thinking, but I thought dinner would be an easy affair. The only thing nearby was White Castle, Big Boy, and a host of Soul Food places. With a marathon twelve hours away, I was not going to try anything new, unusual, or high residue (ruffage). started driving north, and after fifteen minutes, settled for Cracker Barrel. It wasn't my first choice, but I needed to eat something and get ready for bed. I opted for pancakes, hash browns, and biscuits, which is a tasty meal, but later learned to be a critical flaw in my pre-race strategy. Shoveling my dinner and a pitcher of water (I later learned the server was not supposed to leave a pitcher with me, as another server kept trying to confiscate it), I returned to the room and took a shower.

I set my phone alarm for 3:30am, and though I wanted to get a wake-up call as well, I didn't want to touch the phone. I went to bed around 9:30, and starting around 10:30, was woken up pretty much every forty-five minutes by noises outside. Most of the noise was from the people next door, either talking loudly, or from their television. I would wake up, look at the time, laugh, then fade out once again. Many times I thought about calling my voice mail to record what I was hearing, but I would doze off again. I heard the lady next door talking about how "You have to add 1/2 lb of lamb, 1/3 lb beef, and 1/3 lb pork"; I never learned what it was for. There were many noises from the parking lot, like yelling, but the 2am Harley engine check was a priceless aid for slumber.

Alas it was finally time to get up. I took a shower, had a bagel and oatmeal (made with instant oatmeal in a cup of cold distilled water). I brought my stuff down to my truck, and while I can't be positive, I'm pretty sure the night clerk was watching porn. It was raining and cool. Well, I expected it might rain. I guess I'll need my hat.

The Race

I parked downtown, and made my way towards the start, stopping at a major hotel (The Hyatt, I think) to hang out in a dry place with many others who were waiting to go to the starting area about a mile away. This was also an opportune and important time to use the facilities. Leaving with the throng of people, we headed to the starting area. As we got close, I realized I was cutting things closer than I should, and barely made it to where I wanted to be for the start (the 3:30 finish time group). So, the race starts, and with the rain gone, I stashed my hat inside my shirt - another lesson in abrasion…). I realize people want to start towards the front, but walkers? Come on, if you are going to clog things up, at least have the decency to walk in single file for awhile. The pack quickly steadied, and I felt good. Then came the long climb starting around mile 5. I decided not to push too hard, and let the 3:30 group pull ahead. Jeez, when does this climb end? Around mile 8, I started feeling a pain in the ball of my right foot. Huh. Then there were more hills. Where were these things on the course profile??? How did I not see this? These short hills are steep! Push on. By mile 16, I was really hungry, and thinking of a big, heavy meal (damn those useless pancakes!). It was getting hard to maintain a high cadence (170-180 steps/minute). By mile 20, my foot was really hurting, and my pace tanked. I ended up walking parts of miles 23-25. I lost around twenty minutes in the last six miles (I was 2:45 at mile 20).

It felt really good to finish, and I learned a few critical lessons. Where you sleep the night before a race does matter. Consider dinner options before you go. Pancakes are not a good pre-race dinner. My foot make have clobbered me, but energy was also a major factor. When parking, find a spot closer to the finish, instead of the start - walking two additional miles after poor marathon finish is not much fun, especially when you are starving.

Oh, my finish? 4:03:04


mile time HR
1 7:50 155
2 7:51 159
3 8:00 164
4 7:55 164
5 7:59 165
6 8:16 164
7 9:09 163
8 8:39 162
9 8:23 161
10 8:20 160
11 7:25 160
12 8:44 160
13 8:21 158
14 8:34 157
15 8:28 160
16 8:41 159
17 8:44 157
18 9:16 157
19 9:12 154
20 10:30 148
21 10:41 142
22 10:08 145
23 11:24 134
24 14:53 119
25 13:14 123
26 10:40 140
0.2 1:52 155