The Connection Runners + [training]

Finshed #7! Flying Pig race recap

The Flying Pig!

What a great race. Cincinnati really embraces this marathon, and it was incredible fun. Here is a quick recap:

Flew into CVG on the 6:00am flight from Boston on Saturday morning with Mrs. 12 marathons 12 months, rented the car, and then sat in traffic for 1 hour on I-71 due to construction and the lanes went from 3 to 1. Ugh, a less than auspicious start to the weekend. We went 4 miles in that time - a 15:00 pace. Could have walked faster!

Anyway, I love the view of Cincinnati when you arrive from the south, you come over the crest of a hill and see it rise right in front of you, a great sight. We headed to a friends home in Mt. Lookout, and she was a very gracious host (thank you so much !!!!)

We settled in a bit, then had lunch in Newport, KY just across the Ohio river where we met up with my running buddy, Steve 'Silverado' Silverman. As I mentioned last post, this was his 1st full 26.2 and I agreed to run alongside him, and my role was essentially to provide support and encouragement as he attempted to do something he's never done before.

We then headed to the expo at the Duke Energy Center downtown, picked up our bibs and swag, and then met up for a pre-race meal at Nicola's. Fueled and ready to run, I couldn't sleep because I was simply too excited.

Woke up on Sunday to rain, but temps were mild enough not to bother me. I met up with Silverado at 'Pig Pen C' along with his neighbor who he trained with over the past four months, and his neighbors brother and wife, who both did the race the day earlier in Lexington, KY at Churchill Downs.

We hit the ground running just after 6:30am, rain pelting us, but no matter - Marathon #7 here we go!

This race was different for many reasons, first being that I was Silverado's 'wing man' if you will - I told him all along that this was his race, and I would not so much pace him for a certain time as I would shadow him, and run with him to provide company/advice/support.
Time wasn't too much of a concern for Silverado - he kept a steady pace of around 9:45-10:00 for the early miles, a few touched 10:15 - this was really about crossing the finish.

The race began next to Paul Brown Stadium where the Bengals play, and we swooped beneath some underpasses before crossing the Taylor-Southgate bridge and into Newport, KY, and ran along the river for a stretch before crossing back into Ohio on the Clay Wade Bailey bridge.

We cruised through downtown, taking some lefts and rights, up a highway on ramp - the elevation began to increase after the mile 5 mark, but it was gradual and very manageable. Silverado was feeling great.

9:45 -10:00 min miles are what I ran my ultramarathon at, so I approached this as a long training run for Vermont City, marathon #8 which is coming up the end of May. It was a nice change of pace to run with someone, catch up with a friend and talk about old times and how our lives have changed over the years now that we have started families.

We then curled up Eden Park Drive around Mirror Lake, and ran past the Krohn Conservatory in Eden Park, which is a beautiful spot. The hilliest part of the race was miles 5-8, and he handled them like a champ ("You eat these hills up like popcorn!" I told him) so it was a good boost to know that he conquered the most challenging part of the course without much difficulty.

Now, his biggest challenge wouldn't be the course so much as the distance itself - 26.2 is a distance to be respected. But knowing that he trained according to the Hal Higdon novice 1 program, he had the confidence in the fact that he put in the miles, the hours, and sweat and dedication. It takes a lot of guts and commitment just to make it to the start - 18 weeks of solid training and proper nutrition - and in a few more hours he was about to become a marathon finisher. I told him the training was the hard part, the race was simply following through, like striking a golf ball and watching it sail into the fairway.

Around the 11.5 mark he saw his wife and two children, and we stopped for a minute or two to chat - those sort of moments, although brief, can carry you a long way afterwards, and it undoubtedly lifted his spirits and was a very welcome break.

"This is your race, and it is your race for the taking," I remember saying to him at the halfway point, which we hit in 2:17:33, which was very close to his Air Force 1/2 marathon time.

I also was keeping a lookout for Mrs. 12 marathons, as she was running the 3rd leg of the corporate relay and figured we'd bump into one another on the course but apparently we just missed one another.

Silverado chose to walk through the water/gatorade stops to collect himself, and other than a brief stop to get a rock out of his shoe (which turned out to be a burgeoning blister on account of the puddle-laden course) we kept making positive forward progress. It wasn't until mile 18 that I detected even a slight bit of fatigue - his stride was steady and consistent, running in a clean north/south fashion and never dragged or scuffed his shoes, picking up his feet and landing smoothly - testament to his preparation and fitness.

After crossing mile 20, he was in overtime - he'd now found himself in uncharted waters as like most 1st time marathoners, they have never gone beyond the long run distance of 20 miles. He began to pepper his running, which was now in the 11:00 min/mile ballpark, with short walking breaks. The blister was a factor, and simply the fact that 20+ miles is a long, long way.

Around the 22 mark he stopped to stretch out his achilles/calves, a good 2-3 minute break in an attempt to get loose. His cardio was still strong, but the miles were unquestionably taking their toll.

Mile 23, and no doubt about it - Silverado was tired. Not a slamming into the wall episode, but an overall weariness that overtakes you and your legs. "Let's get this damn thing over with," he said, and I cracked up because I've said those very same words, and more than once I might add.

With a 5k to go, Steve agreed to stop the walking breaks and go whole-hog (to use a Pig expression) the rest of the way. He showed enormous grit, and even at this stage his stride was shorter but still fluid and his posture was excellent - when I tire in the later stages I tend to hunch and lean way forward, but he kept a strong vertical posture.

The last two miles or so I would shout out to the crowd something like: "Hey, it's Steve's first marathon! Let's give it up for Steve!" and a roar would erupt from the crowd. Hilarious, and he seemed to love it.

When we hit Pete Rose Way we could see the 'FINISH SWINE' sign and he turned it on. He saw a good buddy and childhood friend with about a 1/4 mile to go and that inspired him, and with a gutsy kick he charged forward to cross the tape, arms extended high in jubilation, in 4:53:01.

Way to go, Silverado!!!!!!!! Steve Silverman, marathon finisher.

They hung the Flying Pig medals around our necks, and the pride that he felt was palpable. Nothing quite like the feeling of crossing the finish of your first - you feel more than confident, you feel invincible, like from this point on you can do absolutely anything. I know the feeling, one that I will never forget. A massive personal victory that is seared into your psyche, your very core, and one that can never be taken away. It was a truly wonderful moment, and I was happy to be able to be a part of his first marathon.

After some chocolate milk, banana and Smartfood, I met up wtih the Mrs. and we headed back to Mt. Lookout for a nice brunch and some rest before meeting up again at Tony's of Cincinnati for a big silly 22oz bone-in Ribeye and a bottle of Justin Cabernet Sauvignon.

The day he signed up for the Pig he told me "We have to get a photo kissing the medal!" A little tradition I began when the 12 marathon 12 month challenge first began..

Next up: Marathon #8, Vermont City 5/29!
... and Steve is running the Chicago Marathon in October!!!!!!