Cinci Flying Pig Half Marathon {Race Review from a Cleveland Native}

Miscellaneous

Best. Race. Ever.

That’s how I would describe the 2015 Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon.
From an awesome expo, to an awesome swag bag, to an awesome starting line, to an awesome course – this race was incredible!

flying-pig-logoWe spent the night in downtown Cinci on Saturday and I woke up on Sunday at 5AM for a 6:30AM start time (the earliest I’ve ever seen, usually it’s 7AM.) I was pretty tired from spending the day and most of the night before in Downtown Louisville for the derby, but a light breakfast and an energy gel did me well.

I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to find my way to the starting line since I was in an unfamiliar city, but as soon as I hit the hotel lobby it was like an explosion of runners in neon colors had hit. I followed a few large groups of people to the starting line and after accidentally getting stuck in the wrong corral (I couldn’t find the exit!) I found where I was supposed to be with about 6 minutes to spare.

Music blasted over the speakers and the crowd was dancing as our corral’s turn got closer to the start. We counted down from 10 and suddenly fireworks and fire flew over the starting line as a buzzer sounded. It was awesome! I beamed as we ran through and the crowd cheered us on. (Another cool thing – they broadcast the race live on TV!)

Photo courtesy of Flying Pig Marathon Instagram.

– Photo courtesy of Flying Pig Marathon Instagram.

The course was fantastic. There were a good gathering of hills around miles 6 to 8, but nothing too crazy. One of my favorite moments was a man at the bottom of one of the hills holding a giant letter “F” who kept shouting “Get the F up this hill!!” Another favorite moment was hearing a runner next to me say to his friend “Mile 5 is the fastest mile on the course, you’ll see why in just a second…” and we suddenly turned a corner and entered a one mile straight away lined with hundreds (maybe even thousands) of people cheering on the runners. (I ran an 8:30 that mile.)

Another favorite moment was early on in the race, crossing the bridge over into Kentucky and looking out across the Ohio River and seeing the sunrise. You could see a hot air balloon shadow in the distance too. It was so beautiful and I heard another runner say “Take a mental picture in your head.” And I sure did.

Photo courtesy of Flying Pig Marathon Instagram.

– Photo courtesy of Flying Pig Marathon Instagram.

I was laughing out loud when I saw the finish line with a giant sign reading “The Finish Swine” across the top. The pig related signs and costumes were hilarious to see out on the course and I really enjoyed the theme, oppose to just another “So-and-So City Marathon.”

The finisher’s party was fantastic too with tons of good (free) food for the runners and lots of tents and booths with local groups and restaurants. It was also great to be able to walk back to the hotel afterwards and see the hordes of other runners all around the city enjoying the day and the beautiful weather.

finisherThe only complaint I have about the event is that there was no post-race free beer ticket! (I’ve never ran a race of this size before without a free drink at the end! It’s still not enough to spoil it for me though.) Also a bag at the finish line would have been nice instead of juggling all the free food items you got. (Hey they were free though so I’m not complaining that much!)

After the race we went over to Newport Kentucky and had drinks and lunch out on the deck overlooking the Ohio River. We were feeling so crazy we each got out own pitcher of margaritas in honor of Cinco De Mayo. It was so wonderful to relax with my family in the sunshine after a wonderful race. I saw other runners out walking around too with their families, the Flying Pig metal hanging proudly around their neck.

margsOverall I would give this race 9 out of 10. The marathon is also named a top 10 “Most Fun Runs” and ”best named” Marathon by Runner’s World Magazine and it sure lives up to both!

Here are a few more pictures from this weekend. (Also – the race already has race pictures up! Another reason the Cincinnati Flying Pig Marathon rocks!)

fly-pig-1derby1derby2flyingpigcheetahexpowalkin

A New Year — Race 1 of 12.

Miscellaneous

Happy New Year! I am super excited for 2014. I’ve got big plans for racing, running and beginning to plan a wedding. I also plan on rocking my career even more and continuing to be an awesome auntie to my four little ones – actually soon to be five come June!

2013 was an amazing year for me. I’m almost even tempted to call it “adult” like, which is funny because I am the farthest thing from being an adult. I mean I still laugh at poop jokes and I’m 24 years old. Anyways, in 2013: I got a new car, landed my first big kid job, ran my first marathon and got engaged. 2014 has BIG shoes to fill, but the possibilities are there and I’m excited for it all.

It’s one of my resolutions to run a race every month of the year in 2014. I’m glad January’s race is already said and done, because I am not a fan of cold weather running. I’m already dreading the February and March races, plus sometimes April is cold around here too. I’m also dreading the race fees, so hopefully that doesn’t stop me either.

So to start off the New Year and to cross 1 of 12 races off my list, I set off to run a 5K on New Years Day. I ran the race with Nicole (one of my best friends, future bridesmaids and marathon running partner). It was the Cleveland Commitment 5K on New Year’s Day in Beachwood. It’s a free race dedicated to starting a national conversation about living a healthy way of life. This race was one of 35 that took place all over the U.S. on January 1st and of course I loved that it was free entry.

Snowy 5K route

Snowy 5K route

Despite having a good amount of champagne the night before and staying up pretty late with friends, Nicole and I braved the cold 17 degree weather to run a quick 3.1 miles on New Years Day. The course was a little boring as we ran through a neighborhood and down snowy sidewalks. I was pretty much miserable the entire run and joked that the 5K was the worse thing to ever happen to me. I was tired, freezing and a tiny bit hung over, PLUS I’ll be honest – I’m a little out of shape considering I haven’t ran in about 3 weeks. I’m too embarrassed to even post my time, but let’s just say I ran a full 10 minutes faster in the 5K I ran in June when I was training. I wasn’t happy with my time nor running the actual race itself, but let me tell you  how happy I am that my January race is over.

I look happy, but I'm not. [Nicole and I post-race]

I look happy, but I’m not. [Nicole and I post-race]

Here’s my list of other 2014 race possibilities:
JanuaryCheck!
FebruaryDirty Run 10K in Willoughby Hills, $30 OR Chili Bowl Classic 5K in Cleveland, $20, plus the fiance would love to be able to taste all the different chili offered post race with the fee.
MarchLifetime Fitness Indoor Triathlon in Beachwood, $35. (It would be my DREAM to be able to do this.) OR Strides of March 5K in Kirtland, $18. (It’ll also be important to run lower cost races now since we have a wedding to start planning for!)
April – Chardon hosts a Maple Sap 5K every year in April for an annual festival. It’s two streets over from my house and probably no more than $20, so this will probably be my April run. No information is currently posted about it.
May – My wonderful fiance registered me for the 2014 Cleveland Half Marathon for this month. He’ll run it with me too. (Guys – take note of this gift idea if your woman is a runner. I was seriously SO excited when I opened the envelope!)
JuneMentor Flag Day 5K, $20.  I ran it last year and placed in my age group. Plus there was an awesome post-race picnic after.
July – Painesville Johnny Cake Jog Five Miler, $20/$25. I loved this race when I ran it last year. It’s a fast, flat course and just an all around good event with great food and activities post-race.
August – I’d love to be able to do the Bellefaire JCB Biathlon again. It’s a 5K race followed by a 13.1 bike ride. It was an awesome event and I placed in my age group.
September – Hands down I’m running the 2014 Akron Marathon again.
October – Not sure about this month’s race yet. Not many races for this late in 2014 are posted yet. I know there’s a half and full marathon somewhere up by the lake (maybe in Fairport). I’m also not sure if the Rock and Roll Half Marathon will be back either, but I don’t particularly want to run that again. I’m not even sure if I’d want to run another full or half marathon if I’m running Akron the month before though. Stay tuned.
November – This past Thanksgiving the fiance and I were traveling the day of, so we didn’t put much of an effort in to find a Turkey Trot to run even though we both said we wanted to. 2014 will have to be different or else I’ll need to find another November race.
December – More than likely I’ll run the Legacy Village Jingle Bell 5K again. I’ve run this race the past two years and have enjoyed it. I love the holiday themed races since they are always so fun and festive.

Here are a few pictures from our New Year’s Eve festivities. Since I worked basically the entire holiday and the fiance (still weird to say since our engagement is so new) has been off work for the past two weeks, he did the NYE planning coordination. He arranged dinner with 20 friends and family at a local winery a few streets over from the house. The place is called Your Vine or Mine in Painesville and it was fantastic. I’d recommend it to anyone local and looking to support a family owned business. We had awesome wine and a light dinner, then everyone came back to the house to drink, be merry and watch the ball drop. The fiance’s sister did an awesome job with decorations and food. We all had a great time and still avoided the overly-crowded-too-loud-no seats-available-can’t-get-a-drink bar scene. I was a happy girl.

Our large group of 20

Our large group of 20

The fiance and I being overly festive and cute for NYE.

The fiance and I being overly festive and cute for NYE

New Year’s Day we followed our normal tradition of getting sushi and then seeing a movie. We saw American Hustle, which kept my attention, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it “good” by any means.

Delicious way to start the new year

A delicious way to start the new year

What are you looking forward to in 2014? I’m excited for the possibilities of the New Year ahead and I hope you all are too.

I’m ready to work hard, run hard and play even harder.

Happy New Year!  

Look in the mirror — there’s your competition.

Miscellaneous

Well…it happened…

I signed up and am officially running the Akron Marathon on Saturday, September 28. marathon

It still seems unreal. I’ve dreamed about running a marathon for years — even when I thought 4 miles was soooo long during my early college years of running. Now, I finally feel ready enough to attempt it.

All summer I went back and forth with the decision to run it or not. I had planned to do it and then suddenly prices dramatically increased. Then I was out of commission for three weeks because I got my wisdom teeth out and developed a terrible infection. Then people I spoke to warned me “Oh no you don’t want to run Akron as your first marathon.” Or “It’s stupid, don’t ever run a marathon.” Etc. Etc. Etc.

I got so inside my own head that I shut out the idea for a little bit. Then suddenly something just clicked inside of me. I trained all summer (well minus three weeks) and I knew that the Akron half marathon would be too easy. I wanted to challenge myself. I wanted to feel proud of myself. I wanted to be the person I had watched at the Cleveland Marathon finishing strong and crossing mile 26.2.

Suddenly I felt a huge surge of inspiration and motivation. I would never be more ready then I would be right now. Of course I would (and am) continuing to train up until the race, but if I didn’t take advantage of this right now, I would spend all winter wondering what if?

Of course I’m still terribly afraid. I’m petrified I’ll get to mile 18 and just be done, but I’m also so excited that it keeps me awake at night. The past two weekends I woke up with a giant smile at 7 a.m. because it was the day for my long run.

I’m also nervous because I’ll be running it alone. Of course there will be the other 2,000 runners, but in general, none of my friends will be there running next to me. The BF just could not do it with his bad knee and of course he feels awful about it, but I’m not holding it against him. This is more of my dream now and I’m finally going to make it happen. I’m scared out of my mind, but I was even more scared to have to wait a whole year to get this opportunity again.

Stay tuned, because this race happens in three weeks!

The BF and I at this weekend's home opener.

The BF and I at this weekend’s home opener.

In other races and life news, I’m a happy gal because my Cleveland Browns are back at it! I’m sad that summer is ending (actually borderline depressed), however I love football season!

I also ran the South River Winery Vineyard Run two weekends ago and it was awesome, but undoubtedly the toughest course I’ve ever ran before. It was all grass trails in and around the grapevines of the winery. Of course it was cool and very scenic, but after almost twisting my ankle 28 times and missing my 10K PR time by two minutes, I was happy to see the finish line.

Friends, myself and the BF post race.

Friends, myself and the BF post winery race.

That’s it for now. I am so focused and excited that I’m practically giddy about it being 91 degrees today, because I plan to get in at least five miles tonight after work. I’ve got to keep this motivation and fire lite!

clearurmindpic

My Cleveland Experience.

Miscellaneous

I did it! I did it! I ran my first half marathon this past Sunday! Words cannot describe how amazing it was. The Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon is such an amazing experience. I have already considered myself there running this race for the next 85 years.

Lucky #7106

Lucky #7106

I have never been a part of something so awesome and positive! From the very start people were so friendly and the atmosphere was so exciting. From standing in a 30 minute line to use a porta potty before the race, to the total strangers I ran along side with, to the volunteers and announcers and especially the cheering fans. Basically — this race was AWESOME on every level.

The boyfriend and I left my house at 4:45 a.m. Sunday. We reached downtown Cleveland at about 5:20 a.m. The traffic was a little stressful and slow moving, but eventually we found our way to the $5 parking area, which had plenty of spots still available. (I will plan to get there just as early every year, especially because this lot is located so close to the starting line.) The boyfriend and I decided to use the porta potties before the race since it was only about 6:10 a.m. at this point. We stood in front of a group of hilarious women who had us laughing the entire time.

The starting line.

The starting line.

Around 6:40 a.m. we began to make our way over to the starting line. We had no idea where we were going, so we spotted a couple of other runners with the red half marathon bib and followed them at a good distance. Thankfully they didn’t lead us astray because we found the starting line. Well, it wasn’t the official starting line, but it was the line to the starting line. There were signs here and there with pace times so we picked a spot around an 11 minute mile. I read a couple of blogs before the race about being honest about your start times, so the boyfriend and I decided this was a good pace to try since it was our first official half. (It turned out that we could have been up around 9 or so because we ended up passing almost our entire section, but that’s OK.)

I was getting really anxious and nervous in the last remaining minutes before we started. I knew from my other 5K races that I always felt a panic as I started, especially if I saw other runners start to pass me. I reminded myself not to be intimidated and that I belonged there with everyone else.

"Strong" was my power word.

“Strong” was my power word.

Pretty soon we were off (well we started and stopped a few times) but we officially passed the starting line at 7:07 a.m. “Cleveland Rocks” blasted over the loud speakers as the announcers and fans cheered us on. I got goose bumps for the first two miles just because I had never experienced something like this before. I kept looking behind me and up ahead in the distance to see the giant sea of runners bobbing up and down.

The course was smooth with about three or four rolling hills, nothing too insane at all. I would even go so far to say that it’s a pretty easy course. We ran through a few of Lakewood’s beautiful neighborhoods and then into the streets of Ohio City and Tremont. People were sitting out in chairs on their front lawns drinking mimosas and cheering for us. Some people were grilling out on balconys waving and screaming at the runners below. A few little kids and a mother were handing out clementines to runners as they passed. I had a smile on my face the entire run. The boyfriend and I kept nodging each other and pointing to signs that people were holding up. The signs may have been one the best parts of the race, here are a few I remember:

“You trained longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage lasted — keep running.”
“Smile if you’re not wearing underwear.”
“Beer in two miles!”
“I am so proud of you total stranger!”
“Wall? What wall? Keep going!”
“I’m so proud of you – Drake.”

And then of course there was this one:

Only in Cleveland.

Only in Cleveland.

We ran past local churches passing out water, a house that was passing out beer (we passed on this surprisingly) and houses that had hoses spraying water that we could run through. We also passed a guy playing electric guitar, a marching band and a singing sign language choir. There were also two live bands playing at two spots throughout the course.

We started out running with the same group of people. There was a group of three woman, a guy with a giant black afro wig and a few others. After mile 3 we started branching off to run faster and from there the only consistent people we ran with was a guy in a full karate outfit and two girls running with him. One of the girls and the karate guy kissed every mile. The boyfriend and I just opted for high fives.

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

Mile 11 and some change. Mini fist pump and feeling good!

I didn’t even start listening to my music until mile 11 and even then I had one headphone out to listen to the crowd and the people cheering. Houses were blasting their own music that we could easily hear from the road too. After mile 12 I really picked it up and sprinted the last part pretty good. I was surprised by how many people weren’t sprinting the last straight before the finish line. I was dodging people left and right to get past. I crossed the line at 2 hours 21 minutes and 5 seconds. I wanted to be under 2:30 so I was happy with my time.

After the race we got our medals and a few snacks (chocolate milk, bananas, popsicles). We got our picture taken and I met up with two of my girlfriends who also ran the race. We also got a ticket for a free beer at the 26.3 post race party, but I wasn’t too crazy about a Miller Lite at the time.

It’s crazy because I remember getting sick after running only six miles during my training. I felt like I was near death if I ran over five miles and it would take me the whole day to recover. But after the half marathon I felt great, I wasn’t even sore. My how 16 weeks can change a lot!

As we were leaving, I glanced over to the finish line and saw some of the full marathoners still running and trying to finish. I couldn’t help but feel something inside of me wishing to do that, wishing to run the full 26.2…

When we got home, the boyfriend and I couldn’t stop looking up other races for the summer. We talked all day about how awesome the race was and how much fun we had. We told everyone “Consider us there every year from now on.” And I think it just might happen…

Celebrating our 13.1!

Celebrating our 13.1!

First race down!

First race down!

Death by Lack of Motivation…and NE Ohio Winters.

Miscellaneous

Ugh. I have not been feeling running lately. Does anyone else ever get like this? I love running, usually. But these past two weeks I have been burnt out both mentally and physically when it comes to running.

I got to week 10 of 18 of my training schedule for my half marathon and suddenly hit a wall. I have not ran in TWO weeks to the day today. Eeeek. Of course I’ve continued cross training with spinning classes and elliptical sessions, even a few cross country skiing workouts, but for real…14 days since my last run?!

Cross Country Skiing Workout

Cross Country Skiing Workout

But the truth is that I just cannot get myself back out there to run. On week nine I ran 11 miles in 21 degree weather. It was awful by every definition. At one point during the 11 miles I think I started crying, but it could have been the sleeting snow whipping at my face for over two hours. The following weekend I set out to do 12 miles (it was about 40 degrees) and then my watch decided to stop working without me knowing, so I had no idea how far I actually ran. At that point I was so annoyed I kind of just threw in the towel right then and there. Then the following weekend was filled with non-stop St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and the next weekend we got four inches of snow and ice in wonderful Chardon, Ohio. With my moral and spirits sinking, I didn’t even put up a fight to skipping my long weekend runs the past two weeks. Of course I felt guilty, but deep down I was kinda relieved.

Even today at 37 degrees, I wanted to get out there and go for a quick four miles, however here I am blogging and finding every other excuse on the planet not to go. Then I beat myself up over it when I don’t run and just settle for spinning instead. And at this point setting foot on a treadmill at the gym makes me want to die.

Hmm...not so much lately.

Hmm…not so much lately.

Is this battle going on with any other runners? What do you do when you’ve just lost it? I cannot even get myself to run four miles, let alone 13. I went strong for ten weeks and now I cannot find that same inspiration and motivation to save my life!

I think the snow and the cold weather have a lot to do with it. I’ve been hanging out at the gym since November and I’m starting to get cabin fever. I need fresh air, sun, pavement, shorts and any weather over 60 degrees would be fabulous.

What is everyone’s secret to keeping inspiration and motivation alive? How do you not give up on your dreams or goals even when you are burnt out and tired?

I’ll leave you with this picture. I seriously laughed out loud when I saw it on Pinterest yesterday.

Seriously LOL

Seriously LOL

“Dreadmill” Season

Miscellaneous
A little cold, but still braving the run!

A little cold, but still braving the run!

I’ve ran outside twice in the past week! Yes, twice In Chardon, Ohio – the snow belt of Northeast Ohio. This is AMAZING! I have been going crazy running on the treadmill lately, or as I like to call it, “The Dreadmill.”

I’m on week 3 of 18 of training for my half marathon in May. I’ve liked the shorter runs during the week (2, 3, 4 miles) and the longest run on Sundays. I know it will not stay this quick and easy for long though. I got week 1’s long run in outside (4 miles), but last week’s five miler was on the treadmill at the gym, and it was terrible. I was going crazy. I was so bored and restless. How do people run huge distances on treadmills? I had to put a towel over the distance number because I was driving myself crazy looking at it and hoping and praying my five miles was almost up. That’s not the way I want to run though. When I run outside I very rarely glance down at my watch to check the distance. A couple weeks ago I ran 6.5 miles outside easily because I was enjoying myself. I don’t enjoy myself AT ALL on the treadmill and I’m afraid that’s really going to hurt me later on down the road when there’s six inches of snow and ice outside and I’ll have no choice but to use the treadmill.

running puddlesBy the end of both runs outside this week my feet were cold and my shoes were heavy because they were so wet from all the melting snow. It was terribly uncomfortable. I just wish it was warm outside. It would make training so much easier and not seem so much like a chore  somedays. Oh and to make matters worse, the only time I can get some runs in during the week is by going to the gym after work around 6 p.m. It’s so packed it’s unreal, plus there’s about 800 people from high school I try to avoid there. I’ve even gone out the side exit to avoid seeing some people. (It’s OK, you can make fun of me for that, I laughed when I did it too and so did my best friend when I texted her right after “You won’t believe who I saw tonight…” I guess that’s a girl thing.)

Somedays it’s a nightmare and a struggle to get on that treadmill. It’s probably going to be like that for a while. It’s going to get harder too, but then again it’s going to get easier at some point too. I try to remind myself that I’ve wanted to do this for so long and when I am running that route on May 19, I’ll be able to enjoy it and I’ll be so proud of myself.

Does anyone have any tips for treadmill running? Is there a secret to not going crazy while running long distances indoors? Please share!

if you wait...

New year, first half. Literately.

Miscellaneous

January 1st is such a motivating day. I love the fresh start to a new year and the excited buzz around it. I’ve always been a sucker for New Year’s resolutions, too. I think I love the promise of trying to better yourself, making a change, doing something different. (This love for resolutions probably has something to do with the fact that I love Mondays too.) *Pause for astonishment here* I can’t help it, I just love a fresh new start and reinventing yourself.

For the past few weeks or so I’ve been thinking about my intentions for 2013. Now I’ve been working out about four days a week and I feel good. I feel strong both physically and mentally. I’ve always thrown around the idea in my head about the Cleveland Marathon. Now I’m no where near marathon ready, but they also offer a 5K, 10K and half.

I’ve ran five 5Ks, which are always a fun little workout, but in my book it’s just not that big of an accomplishment anymore. After a while I have begun to expect more out of myself. So I threw around the 10K idea. Hmm 6.2 seems legit. The most I’ve ever ran at one time was eight miles, which was during the peek of a really good summer of running two years ago. (I had also just broken up with a really terrible, very bad, no-good guy though, so that fueled a lot of my fire!) So to prove a point to myself, and to basically just be a smart ass, I ran almost 6.5 miles at the gym last week.

workout6Not so smart on my body, but it did a wonder on my head. I was so ecstatic and thrilled at the end of my workout that for a brief moment I had tears in my eyes. It was truly so, so, SO tough. But I wanted to prove to myself that if I could whip out a 10K distance out of no where, than it wouldn’t be that hard on race day….and so, I would HAVE to sign up for the half marathon if I wanted to challenge myself.

So with Christmas money burning a whole in my pocket, I signed up for my first half marathon on May 19th in downtown Cleveland.

regishalfI am a combination of terrified, excited, nervous, worried and thrilled. I have wanted to be a part of a marathon for as long as I can remember, and finally I am making this happen! No more “maybe someday” or “well I’ve always wanted to but…” excuses. My cool $70. 68 will also add as a little reminder that it’s a done deal! And what’s even more exciting, I’ve talked the boyfriend into running it with me! He still has yet to register, but he’s the kinda swell guy that would pretty much do anything I ask him to do. *Pause for eye roll*

I’ve been researching like crazy the past few days. Training schedules, tips, anything. I’ve decided on this 18-week schedule that I found on the marathon’s home page, which puts me for the week of January 13th to get this baby started.

So what do I need to know? What are the best half marathon/training tips? How do you guys stay motivated? What do you do to train/get ready for a half? Any and all advice is welcome!