OK, so I thought I'd let you know about my day running the Flying Pig Half Marathon. It's a little lengthy [so much so that I made it a two-parter], but I want to get it all down so I can remember how it went. So if you wade through all of this, you must really like me. I went to bed early last night. Fearing that I might sleep through my alarm, I set the alarm on my cellphone. Good thing, since the volume on my clock radio was muted. If I didn't have my back-up, I'd probably would have slept right through. Fortunately, I had all my stuff laid out and was out the door in five minutes.
I parked on the eastern side of downtown, since the race ended over there by the Reds stadium. I found a nice space right in front of P&G and proceeded to walk almost three-quarters of a mile over towards Paul Brown Stadium. I had planned on meeting my friend John who was running the full marathon, but just couldn't find him. I practically walked all around the stadium looking for him. I finally gave up, which was probably a good thing since Kelly said he was smoking me. So I ended up navigating the course solo.
The scene at the starting line was hilarious. Some people were loose, some people were incredibly serious. The lines at the port-o-lets were insane. You were supposed to stand near the area where you projected you would finish. I figured it would take me 2 hours, 15 minutes, but didn't bother pushing to get that close, so I hung out at the 2 hour, 30 minute starting group. The closer it got to the actual start time, the more people surged forward. As it started getting past 6:30 and we were still standing around, an anxious tension worked through the crowd. Then the word came through about a fire down on Eastern Avenue. It not only delayed the beginning of the race but proceeded to add some extra length to the full-marathon course [lucky them].
Almost fifteen minutes later, the race finally started. It took me 7 minutes just to get to the starting line. Once I hit it, I started a slow, somewhat annoying jog. I was just trying to find space to work through the crowd. What really ticked me off was the large number of walkers who were consuming space. Don't get me wrong: I don't mind that people wanted to walk the course, but they shouldn't be ahead of people trying to run. It was all I could do not to run into people.
Before I knew it, I was in Northern Kentucky. In my training runs, I never drank water before six miles in so I avoided the early water stations all together, which helped save me some time. I spent the first four miles weaving in and out of people, using other people to keep a good pace, and making decent time. As I headed down Seventh Street, I found a guy I used to play soccer with; I hung with him for about a mile. Unfortunately, the late start gave the sun more time to come up so the straightaway through downtown, while very awesome, was blinding. The end of seventh began Gilbert Avenue [my home turf] and I was more than ready for the big hill. Plus, I knew that Kelly and Kaelyn would be waiting for me halfway up at the entrance to Eden Park.
As I reached the intersection there were my girls with our friends Paul and Carol. They had made some signs for me. This is what greeted me:
Yeah, that #11018 was my marathon number. I stopped and chatted for a little more than a minute with them and began my trek through the park.
I'll come back with part two to let you know how the race ended up.