So, this race report is a little different from it has been for the Pig the last two years. Why? Well, it’s a report on the half marathon. After the ankle injury last year, I’m actually lucky to be able to run the half with my team.
Going into the race yesterday, I was hoping to hit a PR on under 20 miles a week. But, once I saw the weather, I knew that there was no reason to even push for it. Read below to find out more.
On Sunday, May 2nd, my team and I reported to our team meeting place in downtown Cincinnati. Thanks to Dave Neyer for hosting us at his company’s location. It’s always nice to have an indoor location with restrooms, etc. Especially yesterday. The weather was miserable for a marathon. Rain, lightening, and hot. When I say hot, I mean it. It was 65 F at 5 AM. There were also thunderstorms in the area. It looked like it was going to be a fun day.
We all met up there, Catie and Ali (my two primary running partners over the season), Jamie W., Jamie I., Ralph, Victoria, Trish, Scott, Jeff, and of course Wayne. Unfortunately, Wayne injured his hamstring earlier in the season so he didn’t run with us this year. I know it absolutely killed him not to run, but you can’t run a marathon with a torn hammy.
We all waited around, for our friends to show up. We talked, worried about the weather, and joked around. I made sure to help Ali and her husband Dave with the details (baggage, safety pins, and nip guards for Dave). I also visited the mens room a good 5-6 times…just to be sure. As we moved closer to the time we needed to leave for the start line, I noticed that Amye and Erin had not arrived yet. Now, they are usually late, but not this late. Turns out, they couldn’t find the building, but they did make it to the start.
As we moved to the start line, I made sure to keep Jamie W., Catie, Jeff, Dave, and Ali with me. I didn’t want them getting lost and running alone. As it turns out, that’s exactly what Dave did and with great results. We made it to the start with plenty of time. I got my extra clothes, etc. onto my bus and waited for the start. Jamie had to make a “quick” pit stop, which took forever with the lines. It was raining the entire time. While waiting it appears that there was a nearby lightning strike, which took out a transformer. All of the street lights went out at once and we were plunged into near darkness. Luckily, near by Paul Brown Stadium still had power. Once that happened the sky really opened up into a downpour. We moved toward the start line, each holding onto the other’s garbage bag poncho.
We were trying to get to the 4:30 Pace group, as we thought starting with them would allow us to go out at a good pace, but not too fast. We didn’t make it. We were only able to make it to the 5:00 Pace group. Oh well. The gun sounded and, as usual, everyone pushed forward. Well, about four steps…then stopped. It took us almost 8 minutes to get across the start line.
We took the first mile slowly. It was difficult to go fast anyway, the street were packed with people. Jeff had to retie his shoe twice, but it wasn’t a big deal. We made it over the bridge into Kentucky without issue. I looked for my friend Mo around mile 1.5, but didn’t see her. We continued through Newport across into Covington and then back into Ohio. Two bridges in the first 4 miles is no fun, but it’s better than during the last four miles!
I could tell that Ali was excited. I kept having to pull her back. I was trying to control the pace so that she wouldn’t burn out too early. I also kept having to slow Jamie down. She appeared to be feeling good and the pace showed it. Unfortunately, my Garmin got bumped at the quarter-mile mark and didn’t work from there out. So, I kept asking Jamie for the pace.
We stopped for water around mile 4. We also almost lost Ali at that point. It’s hard to keep track of five people when you have 18k people running a race. Luckily, we found her fairly quickly. We proceeded down 7th Street in Cincinnati and proceeded to get pumped up by a great crowd. By this point, the rain had stopped and I had removed my hat. I was wet, but feeling really hot. My body doesn’t like heat, so I figured I’d rather get wet. At the end of 7th is the beginning of the climb. Near the end, there was a music group playing I love Rock and Roll. Catie and I got a little carried away with the music and the singing and opened up a 30 yard lead on Jamie, Jeff, and Ali.
We decided to slow down a bit and wait for them. The caught up within about a quarter-mile. Then we start the hills. The first hill is a long slow climb up past Channel 9 on Gilbert Avenue. About half way up this hill I looked back to find Ali, Jamie, and Jeff. I saw them walking about 500 feet behind us. Neither Catie nor I talked about it, but we continued to run. Sorry Ali, Jamie, and Jeff, but we felt good and it was too early to walk.
We continued up, past Channel 9, and turned right onto Eden Park drive. This is where the real hills start, and has been a breaking point for me during my past Pig’s. This year, for the first time, I made it up Eden, which is a short but steep hill, without stopping. We continued past the first relay point and hit the 6.8 mile mark. We’d made it there in 1:15. Not bad considering the easy early pace. We continued up the hills, past Krohn Conservatory, around my favorite part of the course. There is an overlook that allows you to see all of Northern KY and most of downtown Cincinnati. It’s a great view and a good place to see how far you’ve climbed.
We then continued up Victory Parkway and finished the hills just after mile 7. The split for the half is around mile 8 and I really felt energized when we got to it. In fact, Catie said something to the effect of “Alright, speedy, you’re pushing the pace.” Of course I was, it was a down hill. We continued on Martin Luther King, which is a rolling section of the course. Working up the hills and then pushing the pace down them. We followed MLK back to Gilbert and knew we were getting close to the big down hill. We hit mile 10 at 1:55 clock time, which was about 1:48 actual time.
Catie had wanted to break 2:15 and I knew that so I really picked up the pace as we went down the hill on Gilbert. It’s about .75 miles and a great place to pick up some time. We were really flying. I didn’t have my garmin, but I’m willing to bet we were doing an 8 minute mile flat, maybe even in the 7′s. We continued down the hills at a brisk pace, did the out and back on Central Parkway and headed down Eggleston. About half way down Eggleston, we saw another TFL runner. I didn’t have any idea who it was from the back. But, when we got next to her, I recognized her. It was long-lost Erin. Turns out they did make it to run. Catie and I passed her pretty easily (have I mentioned we felt good) and continued toward the finish. We had about half a mile to go and we knew it. We made the turn onto Pete Rose Way, which is where I usually run out of gas. Not today. We hit the marathon 26 mile marker, meaning we had .2 to go. Catie surged at that point and I worked really hard to reel here in. We then hit the half marathon 13 mile marker and she surged again. I couldn’t cover that one and let her go.
We crossed the finish line at 2:15 and change. Catie was about 10 seconds ahead of me. Overall it was a good race. We did the first 6.8 miles in 1:15 and change. The second half we did in about 1:01. Around a 12 or 13 minute negative split. Now, I realize that most of the second half is down hill, but I don’t care.
The one thing is does tell me is that I could have gone faster in the first half. If the weather had been better and cooler, I may have been able to PR. Think of that, a half marathon PR on under 20 miles per week. That would have been nice.
I think that the end of this race tells me one thing. I like the distance races and I think I’m built for them more than the shorter (say 5k) races. I really felt strong at the end and thing with proper training I could easily break 2 hours. My goal for the summer is to start working on improving my speed and endurance. I’d really like to break 2 hours this fall and then have a good marathon next year. I’m tired of working to “just finish.”