Tag Archives: race

Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon

7 May

Hello! As I type this, it is now 72 hours since I’ve finished the Flying Pig Half Marathon, and my legs are still sore! If there is one thing I can tell you about the Flying Pig it’s this: It’s pretty hilly.

But let’s rewind a bit. On Saturday, Zach and I woke up bright and early and hit the road for the three hour drive to Cincinnati. Our plan was to get there early and hit the zoo before checking into the hotel.   The weather was sunny and warm with a slight chill to the wind, which made it perfect zoo weather. When we were waiting in line to pay for our tickets, I was regretting not bringing my jacket, but once we were walking around I was fine.

I love the Cincinnati Zoo! That was my first time there, and it was a lot better than some others I have been to. The animals seemed more relaxed. I know there is a bit of controversy about the Zoo in general, but I can’t help but love it. 10333426_10100900153826733_2115547184449372019_o The tulips were beautiful!

Pregnant gorilla!

Pregnant gorilla!

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Just getting a drink….

 

I think this may be my favorite picture. The female gorilla's face is the best. That baby gorilla is 1.5 years old.

I think this may be my favorite picture. The female gorilla’s face is the best. That baby gorilla is 1.5 years old.

My favorite part of the zoo was probably the gorillas, followed closely by the giraffes. Their was a baby giraffe, but the line to see her was very long and you couldn’t get a good glimpse of her because she was inside a building, but once you got beyond the line, you saw the male giraffe out in the yard.

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Alien!

At some points, he was so close that I felt like I could reach out and touch him! I had never seen a giraffe up close before and my friend said it best: They look like aliens! It’s so neat to see an animal that looks nothing like any other animal you’ve seen before. I also really liked the polar bear. He was a distinguished gentleman:

Well, hello good sir!

Well, hello good sir!

I was so sad when it was time to leave! But the clock was ticking. I had to head to the Expo to pick up my bib. That’s when the nerves started. I was feeling incredibly nervous about the race. This was my first “big” race. Overall for all the events, there were over 36,000 participants! Once I grabbed my bib, we headed over to the Expo. One thing I was very grateful for was having my friend Shannon by my side. As nervous as I was, I might have had a heart attack if I didn’t have a friend there that I knew would be with me every step of the way!

Both of our husbands were taking the same picture so we were laughing because we didn't know who to look at!

Both of our husbands were taking the same picture so we were laughing because we didn’t know who to look at!

After the expo, we had some dinner and then Shannon and Ben headed to the hotel while Zach and I met up with some other friends at a bar called Arnold’s. This bar was voted one of the top ten bars in the country by Esquire Magazine and I could definitely see why! It is over 150 years old and has the best patio I’ve ever seen.

Not the best photo...

Not the best photo…

It was almost like we were sitting in a little French bistro or something. There was a jug band playing called the Cincinnati Flying Pigs, which seemed appropriate. However, I wasn’t able to stay long — I had to get to bed because I had an early wake up time! _______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The race started at 6:30 AM, so Shannon and I set our alarms for 5. I had no trouble getting up (I never do on race day, the anticipation is too high), but my nerves were still going strong. I had my outfit out, so I put that on and proceeded to try to prep my IT band for the run. If I haven’t mentioned it, I have IT band pain on long runs for the past few years so I was trying everything I could to keep that at bay. I rolled out a bit, rubbed some topical pain relief on it and used an IT Band strap like this:

Spoiler alert: It didn’t really help at all. After that, we left the hotel and headed toward the starting line, which was a little less than a mile from our hotel. Our plan was to grab breakfast on our walk to the starting line, which was a huge rookie mistake. That would have been fine if the race had started at 8, but with a 6:30 start time there isn’t anything open to grab breakfast. We slowly made our way to the Millennium Hotel, where we had planned to meet up with a friend from Huntington who was doing the full marathon, so we just hoped they would have  something there –  I was thinking a vending machine with a soda and a granola bar would have worked for me! Luckily, when we got to the hotel, there was a makeshift breakfast bar in the lobby for race participants! Score!

Yum! Sugar!

Yum! Sugar!

Once we were fueled, we used the bathroom a couple of times (nerves!) and waited for Meghan to come down (she was staying at the Millennium).

Found her!

Found her! — Photo Courtesy of Meghan Elkins

Oh, and I should mention: Meghan wasn’t just running the full marathon, she also had done the 4-Way challenge, which means she ran a 5k AND a 10k on Saturday followed by the full marathon on Sunday — yeah, she’s pretty much a rock star. After parting ways with Meghan, Shannon and I headed toward the starting line.

Got a pretty sweet photo of the Cincy skyline on the way!

Got a pretty sweet photo of the Cincy skyline on the way!

Once we found the starting line, we walked and walked and walked trying to get to our corral (E). I have no idea what the proper way to get to your corral was, but people were climbing over the fences. I knew I would hurt myself trying that, so luckily somebody had opened up a gate at the E corral and we slipped in. There were so many people around us!

A sea of people!

A sea of people!

With that many people, I thought it would take us a long, long time to get to the starting line, but the race started really quickly once we were in our corral and once the sea of people started moving, before we knew it, we were at the starting line and started running.

One really cool thing about the Flying Pig is you get to run through two states.

That sign says Kentucky. I am not good at taking photos and running at the same time.

That sign says Kentucky. I am not good at taking photos and running at the same time.

 

Not long after crossing into Kentucky, we saw Meghan again! We thought that was pretty cool, so she took a photo. Then she told us that she was keeping a slow pace, so if she caught up with us again, she would make us run faster. I was glad not to see her again! Ha!

 

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Photo courtesy of Meghan Elkins

Shannon staying positive while crossing back into Ohio.

Shannon staying positive while crossing back into Ohio.

Ok, after getting back into Ohio, I kind of lost it. My IT band strap kept slipping (Pro tip: Don’t wear one of those on your bare skin. When you sweat, it slips right off). I could feel my IT band tightening up and I had to keep adjusting my strap. Plus, I could see those famous Flying Pig hills formulating in front of my face. I had to make Shannon stop to stretch a few times, and then we started the longest climb of my life.

Not kidding, you guys, I feel like we climbed a hill for 8 miles. I’m pretty sure it was 2.5-4 miles, but it was about 85% uphill. I was in tears and shouting curse words at one point. It was definitely not my best moment. Shannon kept me going, though! She’s amazing! I found myself being consumed by negative thoughts. I could feel the nagging pain in my IT band starting to bother me and the hills just didn’t end. It was rough. I could tell Shannon wasn’t struggling nearly as much as I was, and I knew it was the difference in our attitude, so basically I got myself through it by thinking about seeing my husband after the race, getting that medal, and drinking a beer. I just kept repeating “You can do this” in my head and thinking of putting that medal around my neck. It definitely helped!

Our friend Sarah told us to stop and take a photo at the highest point in the race, and the best way to express the never-ending hills is to show you these two photos, taken 30  minutes apart. The first one is where I thought the highest point was and the second one is actually the highest point.

I was so happy! Then, I realized that there was more of a climb to come....

I was so happy! Then, I realized that there was more of a climb to come….

The actual highest point!

The actual highest point!

After all the hills, all of the sudden there was an amazing downhill portion. It was about half a mile downhill, and although I normally don’t enjoy running downhill, I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to just let gravity pull me for a while. My IT band stopped hurting and I felt exhilarated!

Once we got on flat ground again, we ran through town and I was struggling a little again. We were at mile 11 or so, and I was just ready to be done. My knee started hurting again and I was just tired, but I wouldn’t let myself stop running. Shannon and I stopped talking and I just kept saying, “I can do this” over and over again. Finally, I ripped off my IT Band strap and miraculously, my knee stopped hurting. I just ran. We were on a straight away at this point, and there were spectators everywhere so I knew we were close. I just kept my eyes peeled for the “Finish Swine” as they call it and we finally saw it! It was glorious! We held hands at the finish and raised our hands above our head and just smiled! It felt so awesome to be done!

We grabbed our medals and headed through the recovery area to the finish line party. There was all kinds of food available for us for free, but nothing looked good to me. I saw Swiss Cake Rolls, which I thought looked good but I took one bite and threw it away. At this point, my knee was hurting so badly that I was limping so we made a bee line for the medical tent and I texted Zach that we were there. A very nice medic gave me a huge bag of ice and wrapped it tightly around my knee and we met up with our husbands.

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After we got to the Finish Line party, I bought a chili dog and a beer. Two things have never tasted so delicious!

Beer at 9:30 am!

Beer at 9:30 am!

After that, we had to walk to our hotel. I can’t tell you how much that hurt! My knee was throbbing and it was a long walk. But, I really think that helped cut down on my soreness (although I was pretty sore for the past couple of days).

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On the way home, I checked my email for our finish time. It’s definitely the slowest half marathon that I’ve done, but with all the hills, I’m pretty proud of that time. I can’t wait to run the (flat!) Marshall Half this November!

 

 

That Time I Did Two Races in One Weekend

25 Feb

Last week, I did something crazy.

Every winter, there is a local “Winter Series” of races held in Barboursville Park: a 3 mile, 4 mile and a 5 mile race. I’ve never signed up for the full series (but I’d like to next year), but one of the races always seems to catch my eye. Last week, I noticed that the weather was supposed to be perfect over the weekend, the 5 mile race was happening on Sunday and it just so happened that my long run in half-marathon training was 5 miles exactly. After hitting up my fellow trainees on Facebook, I got a partner and paid the $15 for the race registration.

5 miler

 

It may seem crazy to pay $15 to run a scheduled training run, but I find the race atmosphere to be considerably motivating. I knew if I paid money, I would run and I would try hard!

Then, something kind of crazy happened. My friend Sarah posted on Facebook about signing up for the Marshall Recreation Center’s Indoor Triathlon, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, and despite the fact that I hadn’t been in a pool or on a bike in over a year, I immediately signed up. Pretty much right after doing so, I had a bit of a panic attack — a triathlon one day and a five mile race the next, on top of the fact that we had planned a surprise party (at my house!) for my sister-in-law’s boyfriend and I had a few other things on my to-do list!? I knew it was a lot, but after I paid good money I wasn’t about to back out. I pretty much put it out of my mind until later in the week. On the days leading up to the race(s), I took a couple of back-to-back rest days and just tried to relax. Then, on Friday I realized that I had no idea where my goggles were and I didn’t know if my TYR swimsuit even would still fit, considering I purchased it when I was twenty pounds lighter. I went to pick up my packet for the tri, and realized that the little equipment shop at the gym didn’t sell goggles. Uh oh.

I woke up bright and early on Saturday on a mission to get everything ready. I went to Wal Mart and found goggles, a swim cap and some fuel (energy jelly beans!), pulled out my old TYR suit (still fit, sort of) and packed my bag as best as I could.

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The triathlon, luckily, was a very short distance: 300 m swim, 8 mile bike (on the spin bike) and 2 mile run (on the treadmill) and the transitions would not be timed. I knew I would be able to finish everything, so I went into it just wanting to finish and have fun. When I signed up for the race, they asked me to estimate my swim time in order to set up heats. Since I hadn’t been in the pool for ages, I had no idea what to estimate, so I over-estimated — by a lot. That meant that everybody I knew was in a lower heat than me. I waited around for nearly two hours to get in the pool. Luckily, that meant I got to watch everybody else and got some good pointers.

Sarah rocking the 300 m swim.

Sarah rocking the 300 m swim.

One thing I noticed was that a lot of people went out very fast and ended up having to switch to breast stroke or back stroke to catch their breath. I knew I would have to do this eventually (breathing while swimming isn’t a strength), but I knew to rein it in a little at the start to not wear myself out too quickly. When it came time for my swim, I had just downed my energy jelly beans (those things are great!) and I was ready to go! I ended up swimming a lot faster than I expected with a finish time of 6:09! I was very happy with that time.

Next up was the bike. Since transitions weren’t timed, I should have taken a bit more time between skills. I was so amped up that I rushed up to the bike and hopped on immediately. I ended up finishing the bike in a decent time — 14:26, but when I got off the bike I had a side stitch. Again, I should have taken some time to breathe, but I was in a hurry to finish so I hopped right on the treadmill.

tri finish

I ended up running the two miles slightly slower than I had hoped, and ended with a total time of 40:53. I was very proud of this because I didn’t train at all, and this is my very first time attempting a three-sport race, or even doing three different sports in one workout! I definitely want to do this again. I’m hesitant to say that I’ll try a triathlon, because the gear needed is pricey, but I will definitely sign up for the indoor event again. It was very fun!

After the triathlon, I was busy, busy. Zach and I had to run some errands, I had a workshop to attend, and I had to do some straightening up since we were hosting a party that evening. Needless to say, I didn’t make through much of the party before heading to bed — I was so tired! Not to mention, I had  a five mile race the next day….

I woke up on Sunday not feeling so hot. So, I made waffles and vegged on the couch. I could see out my big front window that the weather was getting nicer and nicer, so I texted my friend Shannon to make sure she was still in for the race. She was, and though I thought of backing out, I pulled on some running clothes and headed out the door. The weather was perfect. It was like we were meant to run that day, because about an hour after we finished the rain started and then it turned to snow.

I won’t go into much detail about the race, just that Shannon and I both just treated it as a training race. We both ran with our music on low and talked the whole time, running just under an 11 minute mile pretty much the whole time. The course was great, and it was a change of pace from our usual long run courses, so that was helpful. We ended up finishing in just over 55 minutes, which was confusing to us because our GPS was telling us we were running under an 11 minute mile the whole time. Then, when we both looked at our devices after the race, they both said that we ran about 5 and a quarter miles. So I don’t know if our GPS devices were off or if the race course was long. At any rate, we finished and felt great. Plus, pizza!

5 mile run

 

I think all races should have pizza at the finish line!

So, I finished two races in two days and I lived to tell the tale. I’m glad I did it, but by Sunday night I had trouble keeping my eyes open.

Question of the Day:
Have you ever done a triathlon? Did you love it? 

The Night is Right….for Running

29 May

When I last spoke to you, I had made the hasty decision to run a trail race — in the dark — and was waiting on a confirmation of the results of my Diet Bet. I learned on Friday that I had indeed won my Diet Bet and the total amount I won was $57.11! The original buy in was $35, so I’d say that was definitely a worthwhile experiment. Shortly after claiming my winnings, a friend from High School invited me on Facebook to play another game for a $25 buy in. Since Diet Bet credits your account for your winnings, you can use them to play other games or request a Pay Pal payout. After I joined her bet and requested a pay out on Pay Pal, I ended up only being down $3 total. I’m pretty determined to win this next game too!

On to the night race! I’m sort of embarrassed about how naive I was about this race. When I heard “trail race” and “moonlight”, I assumed that we would be running on maybe gravel roads, but that ended up not being the case. This was a full-on trail race, with fallen trees that we had to climb over and duck under, narrow trails, steep uphill climbs and everything! I’ll attempt to recap the race without getting to rambly. Please note, most of the following photos were borrowed from the Kanawha Trace Trail Running Club‘s Facebook group, due to the fact it was PITCH BLACK and I couldn’t get many photos:

boy scout camp The race was held at Camp Arrowhead, which is  a local Boy Scout camp. I’d never been out there, but it’s just a lovely area. glow stick   The trail was marked by these orange flags and glow sticks. Leading up to the race, my thought was, “Well, it won’t be TOO dark, because it’s a full moon and there will be glow sticks!” — you guys, glow sticks aren’t that bright. I was straining my eyes to see them, mainly because once darkness fell and I was running, I was deathly afraid of getting lost. My worst fear was ending up away from the pack, which inevitably happened — at one point everyone who was in front of me was WAY in front of me and there was nobody behind me. That’s when I took this Vine video:

Click on the picture to go to the video!

Click on the picture to go to the video!

Oh, and the headlamp? Well, see, here’s where they naivete really comes into play. I didn’t even think of taking a light source with me until my friend Sarah tweeted that she was worried her headlamp would fall off. I immediately texted her and asked, “Should I get a headlamp!?” and she said, “DUH! of COURSE you should you big dummy!!!” — I”m totally kidding, she did not say that at all, but she really should have. Thank goodness I was headed to my friend Mandee’s house to do some wedding related things, and I’ve been camping with her enough to know she owns a headlamp, so I snagged that. Sarah never would have let me run without one, but thinking of running that race without one kind of cracks me up. It was SO dark! In fact, despite the headlamp, I downloaded a flashlight app for my phone while we were lined up waiting for the gun, just in case.

So, back to the race. I mentioned before that I’ve never run trails. The start of the race was on a gravel road much like the one I run on in the park so just after we started I was thinking “Oh, this isn’t bad. I can do this!” — and then we made a sharp left into the woods and immediately starting climbing a mountain! No joke. There was no choice at times but to walk (although I’m sure the 14 year old cross-country racers who won the race sprinted up the hill), but for those of us who are of normal fitness levels, walking was the only option. Not only were we running through uneven terrain, up steep hills and under giant fallen trees:

Imagine coming up on this guy in the dark!

Imagine coming up on this guy in the dark!

…..but there were also giant mud puddles, creeks, slick rocks and all the normal trail obstacles — with the added challenge of complete darkness. I fell twice — once was very minor, but the second time was right at the end of the race while we were running around that giant pond you see in the first photo on this post, and I swear I came pretty close to falling in. I was holding my phone at this point because I was checking our mileage (running in the dark was so disorienting, I wanted to see how close we were to finishing), and I fell directly on my thumb. It still really hurts! Once the finish line was in sight, I couldn’t imagine taking the 7 mile option (I did 3.5, so it would be like doing the whole thing again!) — I was wiped out!

I ended up finishing in 46:25 — about a 13 minute pace, and only about 4 minutes behind Sarah, who had just run a trail race the previous weekend, so I felt pretty good about that. I was the 8th female and 22nd overall, which is probably the first time I’ve ever been in the top ten (females) in a race, so there’s that! It was very cool after I finished watching the runners come down the trail — all you could see was headlamps and flashlights bobbing in the trees.

The overall verdict is: If you ever have a chance to run a trail race it the dark — DO IT! It was seriously scary, really, really hard, but one of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve had! Also, the organizers of the race did an amazing job setting everything up. For only a $5 entry fee ($20 if you wanted a t-shirt), we had a very well organized race. Furthermore, at the finish line we had music, a bonfire (complete with s’mores!):

The only decent photo I managed to take!

The only decent photo I managed to take!

…vegetarian chili, water, coffee, hot dogs and some pretty great prizes (although I didn’t win any!)

In fact, I was so inspired after the race that I woke up the next morning and was raring to go for a long run, so I did just that:

long run

I can’t tell you what a great time I had on Saturday night. I’ll definitely be participating in the moonlight race again in November, and I’m considering signing up for a 10k trail race that’s coming up. I’m even browsing trail running shoes in my spare time 🙂

For no reason at all, here’s a picture of Frank:

This is post-dog park, his favorite place on Earth.

This is post-dog park, his favorite place on Earth.

Question of the Day:
Would you ever run a race at night time?

I’m Running a Trail Race…In Two Days!!

23 May

Well, good afternoon! How is your day going? Despite some work stress, mine is going pretty well.

Last night, I went out to dinner with some girlfriends for a friend’s birthday. Let’s just say I indulged in a few beers! I knew my Diet Bet was ending today, but I threw caution to the wind — I’ve been so good — and just went for it. When I woke up this morning (with quite the headache), I got a message that it was time for the final weigh in. Uh oh!

But, I did it!

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I wish I had taken the pictures from the same perspective, but it was early. Anyway, I lost a total of 6.8 lbs, and it feels great to have won! I don’t know if you can really tell that I lost weight, but I can tell. 5-7 lbs is the perfect amount of loss to really note a difference in how your clothes fit. I’m not sure how much I won yet, but I know I’ll get my $35 back at least, and that’s all that I was shooting for.  A side note — do you like my tank top? Old Navy active wear strikes again!

My weigh in this morning was actually quite dramatic. I stepped on the scale, noticed I had won and was so excited!! I immediately weighed in on Diet Bet and got my secret word to take my final weigh in pictures. Then, I moved my scale to the kitchen for the photos and stepped on — somehow I had gained half a pound, putting me over my final weigh in. WHAT!? So, I decided to go for a run before I took my photos, but even after sweating through 3.1 miles, it was still showing that number when I stepped on. Finally, I moved the scale back to the bathroom and I was back to the original weight. I quickly snapped my photo before I gained other pound, haha. I think I might need a new scale!

Now, to the title of this post. I was browsing Facebook on my phone this morning when I ran across this:

trail race

 

…which immediately sparked my interest! A moonlight trail run? On the night of a full moon!? Sign. Me. Up.

full moon

I immediately shared the event, and my friend Sarah mentioned that she was running the 3.5 mile and asked if I wanted to tag along. Yes, yes, I do! I’m super pumped about this and hopefully I’ll do ok despite the fact that I haven’t ever run trails really. Haha, I’ll just take it easy 🙂

I’m debating joining another Diet Bet to keep my momentum going. I’ll let you know what I decide!

Question of the Day:
What motivates you to stick to your healthy lifestyle? 

I’m a Puppy

10 Nov

All of the images in this post were borrowed from Run, Puppy, Run! 

I’ve been very down on myself about the race tomorrow. I haven’t run more than 9 miles in 2 years, yet tomorrow I plan to run 13.1.

I haven’t trained enough. I’m not ready. Why did I sign up for this race anyway?

All of these thoughts have been racing through my mind, and it’s been bringing me down.

Then, something amazing happened.

 

My friend and neighbor, Ashley, hosted a yoga class for some friends this morning. She did a “hip opening” class, and explained that the hip chakra is where we store our emotions. She warned us that this class may release some emotion.

As we moved through our first poses, she told us to pick something that had been holding us back, and let. it. go.

 

I thought about my negativity towards this race. I thought about all the times I told myself, “You’ll never run this in under 2 hours.” — and I decided to let it go.

As we stretched our hips, balanced and sweated through some pretty intense poses, I told myself that it was a privilege to have my strength and I thought about all the people who couldn’t do what I’m doing tomorrow.

 

As we lay in our final relaxation pose, Let It Be played while Ashley read us a passage from a book called “The Little Book of Letting Go” by Hugh Prather.

Underwear on the floor can break up a marriage. But the eyes of a puppy light up when they see boxers or briefs. To them, dirty socks are not a reason for fights, but a reason for play. Obviously, most little animals are hooked on something quite divine. Something within them releases enormous freedom. I suggest that something is simplicity and purity, and that we can experience the possibilities of this natural state as well. 

As she read that, tears popped out from behind my closed eyes. I can blame it on the opening of my hip chakra, but really I was feeling the release of my negative attitude.

 

So now I’m approaching tomorrow with a new attitude: With that of a puppy. How exciting to get to do something as awesome as lining up outside of my Alma Mater, and running 13.1 miles with a thousand other people. How amazing that we will run on a balmy November morning. How lovely that I get to see friends and acquaintances lining the streets of my hometown.

Tomorrow, I am a puppy.