The nice thing about running the Flying Pig was my home-field advantage. I'm fortunate to live so close to downtown because I was totally familiar with the marathon course. Plus, I was able to see my family twice without too much work for them. Nothing necessarily surprised me during the run, except the totally different sensation of running with thousands of people in the road as opposed to solitary runs on the sidewalk. As I left the fam and proceeded up the second half of the killer hill, I began to have some conversations with other runners. I continually heard people mention how beautiful park and the area was. I'd respond by bragging that I live here and see it everyday. The irony of the conversations was that these same people lusting after our park could probably live her themselves if they really wanted. So in those brief conversations burning up the hill, I felt it was my duty to work public relations for Walnut Hills.
At the top of the hill, I was about 7 miles in so I decided I would get my first drink at the water station. I had absolutely no desire for Gatorade so I tried to avoid it all-together. Of course, unbeknownst to me, I ended up getting some Gatorade and drank it without realizing it. This killed me because, although usually enjoying the beverage, I wasn't used to drinking that stuff while running.
Then came the split were the half-marathoners departed from the full-marathoners at DeSales Corner. That's where the race began to open up and I felt I could actually breathe. Unfortunately, as there were fewer runners, I never found a good pace person to track down. I think I actually ended up slowing down a little on this stretch. I probably lost some time there.
But then I started the descent down Gilbert Avenue. It was here that my knee started acting up a little, but at least I knew that I'd be passing in front of our condo soon. I saw Kaelyn at the distance. She was having fun running up and down the sidewalk [something we don't let her do regularly because of the traffic flying by on the street]. I picked her up, got a kiss, said a few words and went down the hill for the last couple miles.
As I hit Central Parkway I finally started to feel a little tired. There's a section of Central were you basically have to backtrack, meaning that you run past the turn you'll eventually have to take. And, my knee started to throb, but I knew I only had about a mile to go so I sucked it up.
Running down Eggleston I decided I would push it as hard as I could. I started passing people pretty well. The last turn onto Pete Rose Way [I was doing it all for him] I knew the end was near so I was chugging it pretty hard. As I approached the finish line I could've passed this father and his college-age daughter, but they were having a touching moment so I figured it was well enough and finished a tad slower than I wanted.
As I walked through the masses of finishers I got my free junk and felt pretty good about what I had done. I finished in 2 hours, 6 minutes. I would've like to finish under 2 hours, but I really hadn't set it as a goal or anything. I just wanted to finish and not suck. There were about 350 men in my age group [age 30-34] that ran the half-marathon. I finished at around 200 among them. All-in-all, pretty average. And that was cool.
As I started to walk back to my car, I realized that my day didn't quite work out like I had planned. When I parked the car in the early morning, I had locked my keys and wallet in the car so I wouldn't have to worry about keeping them with me. At that stop in front of our condo, Kelly was going to hand me the key on a rubberband and I would keep it on my wrist to the finish. Of course, the exchange never took place, so I was stuck down by the river with no car key. I happened to see an old college buddy down there who lent me his cellphone. I called Kelly and told her I would just walk the 2.5 miles home.
It was weird to pass people still running the course. I was going the other way, having already finished, and they had a few more miles to go. And for the second time that morning, I was climbing up the hill at Gilbert. I made it to the front door about forty minutes later, went in, and sat down, knowing that I had traversed around almost 17 miles this morning. Another 9 miles, and I would've gone a full marathon.
Oh, and we had church tonight, but I wussed out and decided to sit while I was preaching. My knee is really hurting, but it'll be fine by tomorrow.
Ending thoughts here:
First, I love my city. Cincinnati is awesome. The crowds of people who came out and shout encouragement to people for hours just speaks to the kind of people in our town. That, plus the beauty it possesses, [both natural and man-made structures] are among many things that make me proud to call this place home.
And finally, sitting here typing up these thoughts, I can't help but think if I'll do this again. I'm just not sure. As I admitted before, I really don't like running too much. The accompishment will be fun to reflect on, but I'm still not convinced it's worth the boredom of training.
I mean, if I run the half-marathon again, it would just be to shave off minutes. And, for me, running the full-marathon is still a major time commitment, one I'm not sure I can do while pastoring a church, finishing grad school, and still trying to have some kind of family time. I imagine that I'll wait about ten years, hit a point in my 40's where I'm looking for a new challenge, and give it a go then.
But at the end of the day, I had a blast. And even if I don't run, I'm already looking forward to the Flying Pig next year.