Race Recap: Flying Pig Half Marathon 2015

When the alarm went off at 4:55 a.m., I was already awake. It was FLYING PIG MORNING, and I had been excited about it all week. The weather was shaping up to be absolutely beautiful, and as I slapped my running hat-turned-pig-head on my noggin, I was grinning from pig ear to pig ear.

I trained hard all winter in my quest to break the 2-hour half marathon barrier. My pace dropped, but the more I saw results, the less concerned I became with the actual number. I had begun to realize what I loved so much about running really had nothing to do with a specific finish time. So as I towed the line for my seventh Flying Pig Half Marathon, I was more concerned with having a good time than I was about running a good time.

WCPO_2015_Flying_Pig_2_1430671262368_17763431_ver1.0_640_480

FIRE POWER!

As we started the race with fireworks (a new and awesome addition to this year’s course), I couldn’t help but be pumped up. I just kept telling myself to rein it in, run my race and avoid reckless miles. I knew if I ran at my long run pace, I’d have a Pig PR, and I was thrilled at that prospect.

It had been a few years since I had run a big race like the Flying Pig, and I forgot just how much I enjoy the enormity and pomp of an event on a scale like this.

The first few miles of a half marathon are always exciting and shiny and new, and this year’s Pig was no exception. The city looked beautiful, the crowds cheered loudly, and I cruised comfortably through the first half of the race.

Then, I started up the Eden Park hill. Man, that thing is a beast. I knew going in that my pace would slow down during this two-mile climb, but I didn’t expect to slow down that much. Holy molasses.

As we came off the turn at the top of the hill, a pair of girls passed me. One girl said to the other, “Only four miles to go!” as she gave her partner a high-five. Well hey, when you put it THAT way … And just like that, the smile returned to my face and my feet found their rhythm again.

This lil' piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home.

This lil’ piggy went wee, wee, wee all the way home.

I flew down the hill at mile 10, and as I churned into the final 5K of the race, I was feeling pretty gassed. Instead of turning on the after-burners and pushing for what would have been a really painful 5K, I elected to keep a steady pace and finish the race conservatively. I had another half marathon coming up in a few weeks, and I cared more about enjoying both race experiences than I did about an arbitrary finish time.

So I shuffled it in to the finish line. That last mile hurt. Bad. I wanted to enjoy every minute of the Flying Pig, and I managed to do that for about 12 miles. That last mile was a blur, and when I looked up and saw the finish line within reach, I breathed a sigh of relief.

I crossed the finish and felt the elated swell of pride that comes with every hard-earned race’s end. I grabbed my space blanket and medal and looked around with salt-encrusted contacts — and a huge smile on my face.

This was the first big race I had run without my phone (another of my running resolutions for the year). The time I thought I would miss it most — at the finish line, trying to locate friends and family — was the time I missed it the least. Instead of burying my nose in congratulatory texts, logging my virtual miles or snapping post-race pics, I was able to enjoy the after party and really be present in it. I saw hugs, happy tears and throngs of exhausted, exhilarated runners.

Where pigs fly.

Where pigs fly.

So that’s what I’ll take away from this Flying Pig Half Marathon. Truly immersing myself in a race and embracing the experience. When people ask me how it was, I merely respond that it was awesome … because it was! Besides, most of my feelings about this race are deeply personal and hard to explain in a one-sentence answer.

While I don’t know how to translate this race experience into water cooler talk, I do know one thing: I love Cincinnati, and I love it in a way I never thought I would as a transplant from Iowa. And the city never shines as brightly as she does on Flying Pig Sunday. — Aidz

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7 thoughts on “Race Recap: Flying Pig Half Marathon 2015

  1. Pingback: Bad Angel Rules for Running | Dueling Race Recap: Madison Half Marathon 2015

  2. Pingback: Bad Angel Rules for Running | Bad Angel Rule #201

  3. Congrats! Love that you were able to write a recap without focusing on pace. Sometimes we all need that reminder that there’s more to running than finish times. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Sometimes the journey is just as good as the destination eh?

    Liked by 1 person

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