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For years I’ve heard great things about the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, OH, and in the back of my mind I knew I wanted to run this race.
So I signed up because . . . life is short and you regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do, as they say.
The Flying Pig Marathon
The marathon was on May 7th, 2017 but they have multiple events during the entire race weekend. You will find (appropriately) that everything is pig themed.
- The staff at the information booth are called “info pigs.”
- The volunteers on the course called “grunts.”
- Corrals are called “pig pens.”
- The kids divisions called . . . “Piglet”, you guessed it!
- The finish line is called the “finish swine.”
This year they had participants from all 50 states and 20 countries.
At The Race Expo
The race expo was in downtown Cincinnati but the parking was easy. From the moment you entered the building you are greeted with pig culture such as a pink car with a pig noise, pig sculptures, pig inflatables, volunteers in pink shirts, and huge pig balloon archways.
They gave me a technical t-shirt, back pack, and poster. They do a great job merchandising (the best I’ve seen yet). You could buy Flying Pig gear as well as drinking glasses and stuffed animals. I posted a picture of this on Facebook and Angie (ever the hater of clutter) said, “Please tell me that you’re not bringing home lots of pig related knick knacks!”
Race Start at the Flying Pig Marathon
A wise man once said, “A journey of 26.2 miles begins with a 10 minute walk from your car”.
I was wearing racing shorts, short sleeve t-shirt, and compression socks. I also had a long sleeve throw-a-way shirt but it didn’t provide any warmth. But once you get into the corral the body heat makes it noticeably warmer.
Excitement was in the air. A barbershop quartet sang the National Anthem and the race got under way.
I was in a corral (pigpen) towards the back so I didn’t cross the start line until 30 minutes after the official race start. The bad part about staring in a later corral is having to weave through people for the first 3 miles or so.
The Course at the Flying Pig Marathon
I’ve divided the course into five main sections: (The Kentucky Loop, The Killer Climb, The Neighborhoods, The Highway Miles, and The Home Stretch)
1. The Kentucky Loop (Mile 1-5)
We started by the Cincinnati Bengals Stadium down by the River then ran past the Cincinnati Reds Stadium -which is the most exposure to professional sports I’ve had in a while. The riverfront was beautiful.
Soon you cross a bridge into Newport Kentucky and it was here that I remember shedding my long sleeves. The course was still very congested and I couldn’t help notice how over-dressed some people seemed to be.
We ran through the City of Newport for a bit then crossed another long bridge back into Ohio. At this point I had weaved past many people and was starting to feel like I was hitting my stride. A train was crossing the river at the same time and was close enough I could have reached over and touched it.
I made a game out of racing the train (it was going about 11 minutes per mile). It’s fun to gamify your run, especially in the later miles. At mile 3-4 when you’re feeling like superman/superwoman be sure to pay attention to your pace and don’t run too fast.
I brought some new songs for my running playlist (songs that Angie won’t let me play in the car when she’s riding with me). The German band Rammstein has a song Ich Tut Dir Weh which translates to “I hurt you”. It’s a great song to run to although you might not care for the lyrics -which have something to do with sticking sharp medals in your face. I look at the chorus which says, “I hurt you, I’m not sorry, It’s good for you”, as a good metaphor for the marathon.
We finished out this section by running through some industrial looking areas of town like a boss hog.
2. The Killer Climb (Mile 6-8)
For the next ten miles we ran through various residential and commercial sections of town which are all a blur now. The half marathoners split off around mile 9. I remember seeing the 13 mile mark come and go and I didn’t feel discouraged! My time at this point was 2:21:59 (10:51 pace).
One thing I can say for the Flying Pig Marathon is they do a great job keeping it fun. And it looks like the community really gets behind the races as well. I was struggling the remember some of the funny signs people were holding so luckily I got some actual quotes sent over from MTA Fan Cari Masek,
“Make America Chafe Again”
“Go PIG or go home”
“I like PIG butts and I cannot lie”
“Marathons are a pre-existing condition”
“You get to keep your medal forever, all I get is this poster”
“Pain is temporary, online race results are forever”
“This little piggy cried all the way home!”
The Aid Stations
- Just about every mile you came to an aid station with either water or Gatorade.
- There were also people handing out Orange slices at times.
- A few times I saw crackers, salt, candy and Fig Newtons (pig newtons).
- They had a greased pig stop for getting Vaseline.
- Hog wash station with a dude who would spray you with water.
However, the moment that filled me with the will to strive on was when I came to the famous bacon stop (mile 15). They handed me a small dixie cup with three strips of bacon. I hesitated for less than a second. I’ve never eaten bacon half way in a marathon so didn’t know how it would go down. Let me tell you, it goes down mighty fine! And you can take it twice because it’s an out and back section.
4. The Highway Miles (18-19)
This section was kind of a drag because you are running along a highway (with half marked off with cones) as cars are going by. There is not much to look at and no shade. But apparently it is the only reasonable way to get back downtown.
This was the most boring part of the course but there were motivational signs (Shoat Quotes) to keep your mind occupied.
“What I’m looking for is not out there, it is in me.” -Hellen Keller
“Don’t fear moving slowly forward . . . fear standing still. -Kathleen Harris.
5. The Home Stretch (20-26)I felt pretty tired by the time I reached mile 20 (as one does) and I started taking more frequent walk breaks, especially on all the uphill sections. I knew I still had an hour to go, which can seem like a long time. A mantra that popped into my head was “hang on for the ride.”
I ran through a cheering section where all of a sudden people were handing out mini basket balls. I took two and then a coupe of yards away you run past some portable basket ball hoops they had set up. It’s hard to shoot on the run and most people were missing. I kid you not, I made the sweetest one-handed drive by bank-shot and then followed it up with a left-handed nothing-but-net to the delight of the crowd. It was my only 2 seconds of glory in the marathon!
At mile 23 my Apple Watch died though I left the hotel with a full charge. My pace was very slow and walk breaks frequent. “I just wanted to finish feeling good and happy” I thought. “No pretenses. Enjoy the journey”. It’s natural to obsess over your finish time.
At mile 24 I was translating everything I could into German to keep my mind occupied. “Hallo aus dem Fliegende Schweine Marathon. Ich laufe sehr langsam und mein Deutsch is sehr schlecht”.
At mile 25 this dude with a sincere face said “you’re almost to 12” I was like TWELVE!!??? The lady next to him tried to help the guy recover by saying “He’s seeing if you’re with it, so good job!”
At mile 26 I saw the white fence keeping the crowds off the road. And of course there was one final hill before the end. I told myself “ok, no stopping now!”. About this point I saw a sign that said, “the first person that ran a marathon died.” Which is true, sort of.
With just a little bit further to go my body was begging me to stop but I thought “Too much pride to walk now.”
The “Finish Swine”
There’s nothing like crossing the finish line of a marathon and knowing that you just did something epic! Amazingly, I still felt strong and wasn’t looking for a place to sit down. I also had my appetite. They had pretzels, chips, cups of fruit, bananas, and HOT CHEESE PIZZA.
They handed me a beautiful Flying Pig Marathon medal, a heat sheet, and I headed toward the post race party. In thinking about this marathon I’m glad I ran it in under 5 hours (I finished in 4:56:51) and I’m glad I felt strong at the end. This was marathon number 13 for me.
Hogging Out At The MTA Meet-Up
I drove back to the Drury hotel and got a nice shower and some rest but the day was not done! Later I met some wonderful MTA fans for dinner and drinks at the Hofbrauhaus Brewery. It was fun to hear how each person got into long distance running.
I definitely recommend the Flying Pig Marathon and want to give a big thank you to all the race organizers and volunteers who do an amazing job! Next year is the 20th anniversary and they predict that the race will sell out.
Also Mentioned In This Episode
Generation Ucan – our preferred source for fueling goodness. You will go hog wild for the Ucan Snack Bar! Use the code UCANFLY to save 15%.
The Drury Hotel Company. They have 140 hotels in 21 states (we have stayed at dozens of their locations). Exceptional service, great treadmills, free wifi, huge breakfast and free evening food and drinks! Use our link and get 15% off your stay and a free gift from us.
The Resilient Runner Program for Preventing and Self-Treating Running Injury
I love these recaps, inspires me to keep dreaming about doing a full marathon.
Thanks for the feedback Mike!