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May 7, 2012

Flying Pig Marathon Race Review

Short Version

Overall, great race but very hot, humid and hilly.

Finish Time:  4:08:15
Overall Place:  1246 out of 4080
Division Place(M40-44):  147 out of 356
Gender Place:  929 out of 2397
Pace:  9:29 average

6.8 miles:  1:01:25
Half:  1:58:42
19.7 miles:  2:59:18
last mile:  10:21

Average time for all finishers:  4:40:38


Long Version

Marathon #3 is behind me.  We started off the marathon weekend on Saturday morning by leaving Michigan to head down to Cincinnati.  T was able to borrow a Cadillac from his work so we were able to go down in style and comfort.
The start of the day!
It's about a 5 hour drive from Detroit.  We saw TONS of police.  They were working hard in both Michigan and Ohio on Saturday!

My running buddy, T thought we should make a short stop in Dayton, Ohio in order to see the National Museum of the USAF.  Bonus was it was all free.  It was right off the freeway and we had time so why not.  The museum had three airplane hangers full of all kinds of planes.  I won't share the 100 pictures I took but here's a cool statue outside the museum:
National Museum of the USAF
We spent about and hour and half there.  I told T that if I didn't meet a 4 hour time in the marathon because of all the walking we did, I'd blame it all on him.  Thanks T!(kidding!)  It was actually a really cool place and if you have a chance to see it, it was worthwhile.

After that we were back on the road to Cincinnati to get to the expo before it closed.  We ended up getting downtown at around 4pm and the expo was open until 7pm.

We actually spend almost 2 hours looking around the expo - jeez!  They had all kinds of companies giving out free samples and there were also lots of races there promoting their race.  Before we actually looked around, I called Jim from 50after40 so we could grab a picture.  I also had a chance to meet his wife, Michael, from Slowly Tri-ing and Coy from First in Philly.  Coy and Michael were running the half and Jim was running the full.  He said he was going to probably walk the last 10 miles given the heat.  He must be a fast walker because he finished in 3:45:00 - haha!  It was great to finally meet all of them.  I love meeting other bloggers throughout the country at races.
Coy, Michael, Me and Jim
Entrance to the expo
Asics merchandise for the marathon
Sorry for the closed eyes but there was a run called the Mud Ninja run.  Haha!  Great theme.  Unfortunately, it was not close to Michigan but we got a picture with the Ninja there.  
Ninja Run?
As you can see, the expo had lots of merchandise you could buy!

T got a picture of me on the big toilet.  Haha!  P&G was a sponsor so they had this to take pictures.  We also got a free tooth brush, some dish washing soap and some free makeup for the ladies or for my daughter in this case.

I was lucky enough to get out of the expo for only about $20.  I wanted a mug but really could not find anything I liked so I did not buy one.  I did buy a massage ball called the Rubz made by Surefoot which I really like so far(only $6) 
I also purchased a Flying Pig finisher's hat.  I had mixed emotions when buying this hat since I had not run the marathon and yet I was buying something that said finisher on it.  It seemed like a bad omen but at least I finished:
Great hat by Headsweats
I felt the expo was really nicely organized and planned out.  You walked in and checked into the marathon to get your bib, then you walked through the merchandise area and the expo exhibitors, and finished with getting your poster, shirt and gym bag.  The gym bag is a really nice item to get as it's nice to get something different.   Also, the poster was different.  They do a poster every year and while I can understand why they do it, it seems like a lot of money to spend to give every runner a poster especially since most of them will probably be thrown away.  Here's the pictures of everything:
Packet with everything you needed to know - very organized!
Poster for 2012 race
Shirt - cool design - wish it was not white
Poster case - seems like a big expense
Gym Bag - cool!
Nice gym bag with Flying Pig logo
Back of shirt with pig tail - ha!
I took a couple pictures of all the posters that they have done for the last 14 years.  They had some really cool ones but again - worth it?

There was pig themed stuff everywhere including these cool balloons:

They also had a list of all the streakers.  These are the people that have run every single Flying Pig Marathon since it started.  Kind of cool to be on this list.  Seems like a lot of commitment to run every single year.

They also had a TV screen and you could watch the video of the course in about five minutes.  Given the hills we were going to encounter, I didn't even want to watch much of it.

The list of all the volunteer stations for water and the entertainment on course were listed as well so I took a quick picture of some of them:

They also had the finish line picture with the timer countdown until race time.  I though that was a really cool thing to have there.
You can see 3:53 in the picture - I would have liked that time.
Before we left, I got a picture by the expo exit too:
Me with the finisher medal picture
After the expo, we checked into the hotel which was right across the street from the expo.  We got all our stuff into the hotel room and by the time we were unpacked, it was pretty much time to go eat.  Here's a picture from our hotel room:
A room with a view
We ended up going to a place called the Rock Bottom Brewery a few blocks away.  It was good but it was also crowded with runners not to mention that there was a Cinco de Mayo celebration going on as well.

Picture with the fountain in downtown
Got a picture with the pig!
May 5th celebration
Cinco de Mayo
After dinner, we headed back to the room.  It was probably already 9pm and we were waking up a 4:30am so we headed to bed early at 9:30pm.  I put out all my stuff for the next day so I was ready and did not forget anything:
Ready to go!!!
Both T and I ended up barely sleeping.  Well, ok, we slept but not very good.  The wake up call came and I had just gotten to sleep well!  Oh well.  I had my usual banana(2 actually) and granola bar, got ready to leave and we were off at about 5:45pm.  The start of the marathon was 6:30am so we got down there about 6:00am and got in our corral.  We were in corral C, hoping for a 4 hour time.  As you know, that didn't happen.

The race start was set up in corrals so everything was very organized.  If you did not have the correct corral, you could not change.  That's the one they would let you into.  You did have an opportunity to change if you wanted at the expo.  They had a few opening ceremonies and the race got started promptly at 6:30am.  We were off.  Of course, we were not the first corral so it took a little time to get to the starting line but went off well.

The race started right near the football stadium and finished right next to the baseball stadium.  The stadiums are literally right next to each other.  I started off a little fast and it seemed like almost immediately, there were some hills.  They were not big ones but hills nevertheless.  It was cool because we got to start off by running into Kentucky.  Here's the bridge we ran over:
Bridge to Kentucky
I actually took a picture of the bridge after the race.  We ran over one bridge into Kentucky and then back over another bridge.  It was a really great start to the race.  In fact, I would say that of the course, the first half was very scenic.  There were some other parts in not so great areas but one would expect that when running in a City downtown for 26.2 miles.  We also had an opportunity to see some of the skyline of the city while running as the sun was coming up.  Here's a couple pictures of the city:
Cincinnati Skyline
Baseball stadium
Football stadium
It seemed that before I ran the race, the only thing I was really worried about was running miles 5-8 because of the large hill involved.  Coy tried to warn us there were more hills but I had no idea!  This is not the only hill.  It might be the hill you can see on the elevation chart but the entire marathon was filled with hills all the way until mile 25.  As I said, the scenery was fantastic since we were climbing hills and you could see the water/city.  While the elevation looks like it starts going downhill, it's very deceiving with many, many more hills.  I'm sure it did not help that it was really hot and humid but probably more hot than humid.  At about mile 9, I could feel the tension in my IT band and started to worry about it.  I had a long way to go.

Fortunately, it went away after a few miles but then came right back.  My unofficial goal was to try and stay in front of the 4 hour pace group.  I thought I was doing a pretty good job of it until about mile 14 when they started to pass me.  Are you kidding me?  It completely threw me off.  I was not expecting to see them until at least mile 20-22.  I did what I could to keep pace with them and made it until about mile 18-19 and from there on, I just could not keep up and let them go on.  I made it to about 22 miles before I had to start a walk/run routine.  It was just so hot out.  I will say that the volunteers were awesome and there was plenty of water out on the course.  In addition, there was a stop for cold towels which gave me a boost of energy as well.  I even stopped at one of the medical tents and asked for some ice to put in my hat and they were very accommodating.  I filled my hat with ice and it lasted about 1 mile.  That's how hot I was!!!

About mile 23, there was also another guy running with a mp3 player that you could hear.  I was using that music as extra motivation to keep running.  Fortunately, he was also run/walking so we stayed together for several miles.  When I got to about 24.5, I ran the rest of the way to the finish.  I saw Ken from  Eastside Stony Creek TNT Coach at mile 25 and he gave me another boost to keep running strong. strong as I was at that moment at least.  It helped get me to the finish line running.  There was one last hill just past mile 25 and then the rest of the finish was downhill.  It was lined with thousands of people all the way to the finish so it helped having them there or I probably would have walked more.  Overall, the course had a pretty big support.  There were big pockets of people cheering on runners which helped keep you going throughout the race.  I know my time would have been even slower otherwise.  Here's a couple charts to show the elevation and also to show how my pacing was not too bad until I got to mile 22.  I was toast after that!
More hills than I've ever run
Little too fast at the start cost me as well
Pacing was going great up to mile 22 - ugh!
After the finish line, I got my medal and ate some food.  They had all kinds of things to eat including fruit cups, dried fruit, granola bars, orange slices, bananas, power bars, gogurt, apples, ho-hos, water and gatorade.  A very well stocked finish line with plenty to eat.  Here's a couple pictures of the medal we received:

Great medal!
Unique because back is different from the front
T was right behind me so I only need to wait a few minutes so I did my stretching and then he showed up!  After, we had to walk, or should I say stumble, back to the hotel.  It was probably 5-6 blocks from the finish line but was probably good to keep moving.  We got back to the hotel room and since we had late checkout, we were able to get a few pictures and take a shower.
Marathon finish #3 for both of us
We were able to get on the road heading back to Michigan right after the race.  It seemed many others were doing the same thing.  I'm actually glad we did it that way because I'm probably a little more sore today than I was yesterday.

Overall, I thought it was a great marathon weekend and a great race.  It was a tough race though.  The hills really killed me.  If I had known it was going to be that hard, I would have trained much, much more on hills than we did.  Also, because it was so hot(about 66 at the start with 90% humidity and 75 with maybe 60% humidity at the end), it really took it's toll on me.  I had not run in anything over 55 degrees during training except when I went to Mexico on vacation.  The bottom line is the heat, humidity and hills took it's toll so I was not able to PR this time around.  Given the conditions though, I was really happy with the finishing time.

Now it's off to rest a few days.

Have a great day and....Keep Running!!!!


  1. Love the pic of you making the pig nose. Way to tough it out through a hard race!

  2. Sounds like a tough race but you posted a great finishing time. Congrats!!

  3. Congrats on the finish! I've heard Flying Pig is pretty tought!

  4. Congrats on the finish!! I do love all the flying pig stuff most marathon logo's are b.o.r.i.n.g!

    1. It is a fun theme Michelle - probably why it's so popular.

  5. i paced most of FP behind you (hence the URL is etched into my brain!). nice work... and you're spot on about the hills... I too was only worried about miles 5-8, but nobody told me about the other 23miles of hills!

    1. Coy cold us that it was hillly the whole way but you don't realize until you're out there.

  6. That kind of heat and humidy, esp at the start, would do that to anyone. That is a roller coaster of a route. I have been very curious about hilly marathons over the last few weeks, once I realized how hilly ann arbor is, and just now looked at the pig map on mapmyrun and it shows 577 feet of total ascents. A2 has 525, and Boston has either 295 or 344, depending on who's map you believe. In other words, your event was almost twice as hilly as Boston. Well done! Just think how flat your next one will be. Take some time off and eat a lot this week, and wear the race shirt until it stinks.

    1. I never thought of it that way Mark. Ann Arbor will be a challenge - that is for sure. Good luck - only 6 more weeks for you.

  7. Congrats on #3! Do you get a chance to train on hills often? Hills usually involve a drive so I get lazy and run mostly flat terrain. I almost died running Hines a few weeks ago...I am doing the Bayshore half and even those (seemingly) slight rollers have me nervous as I have some ankle tendinitis right now.

    Great time and great job battling the heat!

    1. I only trained on the weekend on hills and not every weekend. Bayshore is not bad at all; slight but nothing you can't handle.

  8. Great job with the heat! It makes it so tough! I enjoyed all your pics.

    Just signed up for the Air Force Half in Dayton (well, before it sold out), and will get to tour the museum after my race. I really can't wait!

    My kids love those bridges over the Ohio River. I bet those are tough. How do they compare to the ambassador? Probably hard to judge since there are so many hills in that race!

    1. The bridges are much easier than ambassador - not as long or steep. They are also at the beginning so you don't really notice them much.

    2. I too drove from Michigan to run this marathon. It was my 5th or 6th Pig. Your description of the whole event was accurate and made me remember how sore that I was Monday. The expo is great. The race is well organized with lots of spectators. Good job completing this marathon. It is tough and as you mentioned, "It does have hills".

  9. I'd say you did an amazing job with all of those conditions! hills and heat are a deathly combo. It looks like such a fun race and so cool that you got to meet up with other bloggers too! Sounds like a great race. Congrats!

  10. Congrats! That bag is a really cool take home gift!

  11. The log book doesn't lie, so as you said, heat and maybe the hill stole the sub 4. Yes if you are back next year, you will put in a couple more hilly runs and the heat, (this isn't coming from me) maybe run inside with the temp turned up, (on a treadmill) on, hope it's not to hot!

    maybe for the next marathon put in more hill no matter what!!! well done and nice write up. (I'm a week behind in my writeup of my race!)

    1. Yes on the hills; no on the treadmill. Will not be back next year only because there are many other races closer.

  12. Wow, nice run and super report! Good time for warm conditions! I hope I can meet more bloggers one day. I enjoyed seeing all the pics and pigs, thanks!

    1. Johann - just put me up and we'll run South Africa together! Ha!

  13. It was a tough race...the hills, heat, and humidity were rough and I only did the half!!

    Great job on the race. Looks like you managed to hold a really great pace until those last few miles - very impressive!

    It was great to meet you!!

  14. Jeff, great job, especially with all the things mother nature threw at you! #3 in the books!!!! Whats #4? :)

  15. Great marathon, great finishing time, great results. A lot of congrats.
    Beautiful report with beautiful pictures.

  16. As usual, great race recap and congratulations! It looks like a fun expo and I love that you shared so many photos. That gym bag is very cool. Cool shirt, but like you, I'm not too fond of the white ones. Even if you HAD been training for hills, that one stretch looks really nasty. Nice job surviving that, especially with the heat and humidity. Good job!!

  17. Awesome recap!! Loved all the pictures. You did very well in this marathon. Congrats!!

  18. Great job, Jeff! I am so happy for you. I love the gym bag you got. What an awesome gift!! The medal is pretty awesome as well. Way to go, especially with that heat!

  19. Congrats. As a Cincinnati runner, I got to train on those hills ALL THE TIME, and even trained in the park a few times. It doesn't matter. they still were SO HARD on race day!

    Congrats on marathon number 3! Someday I want to come and run your marathon (Detroit, I mean)!