Running against the Clock (Flying Pig Race Report)

Today I ran the Flying Pig with my friends Jen and Doug. Jen was trying to qualify for Boston, and Doug was in contention for the Pump and Run. Jen has had a great training season, including an awesome PR in the half a few weeks ago. My Mom (and Doug’s son) were also running the half.

We met for dinner the night before, 15 of us at the Trattoria Roma. It was a good time, although we were split across two tables so conversation wasn’t as great as it could have been. Earlier that day, Doug had participated in the “pump” piece of the pump and run, and had scored 191. At the time, the previous #1 had 187, so we were at dinner thinking he may have won that portion of the event. As it was, only 50 reps were counted, with 2minutes per rep taken off his marathon time. As a result, he was eligible to have 1:40 taken off his time.

Although Jen’s qualifying time was 3:45:59, she had expressed desire to run sub-3:40. That was cool with Doug, as that would put him at sub-2 hrs. So that was what we aimed for.

Everyone met at 5:50ish in the morning and we walked down to the starting line. We runners (my Mom, Jen, Doug and Doug’s son Chris) headed for a portapotty break, and then said our goodbyes to our spectators and headed to the corrals. We dropped my Mom off, and moved up to our place. They made some announcements, including one where they said that due to a fire that happened at 5am on the route, there was a detour that would be lengthening the course. They told us that they would be recertifying the course, and that it would still be possible to qualify for Boston, since it was going to be longer than a marathon. They said they would publish paces based on the actual length of the course, not as 26.2.

We started out, and I felt like we were going a little fast at first. It took us a few miles before we caught up with the 3:40 pace group, but I felt like we were going too fast. At first, I wondered if perhaps I should have run the first half with my Mom, because I wasn’t sure how running with Jen and Doug would go.

M01: 8:34
M02: 8:06
M03: 8:06

Within a few miles, I started feeling decent. The weather was great – Saturday had been cold, windy and rainy, and Sunday was just gorgeous! I’d worn long-sleeves and while I could have done short sleeves, I wasn’t too warm.

M04: 7:51
M05: 8:09

At mile 5, we started looking for our spectators. Jen’s parents and husband, Doug’s wife and my Dad were all there to cheer us on. By this time we were feeling strong, and just in time — miles 5-8 are known not-so-affectionately as “the Climb”..

M06: 8:03 (ascent: 173ft)
M07: 8:32 (ascent: 170ft)
M08: 8:24 (ascent: 138ft)

It felt so great to be done with the Climb, the next few miles we marvelled at how pretty the course was, how great the spectators were. Soon enough, Chris was peeling off to complete his race, and we three were on our own.

M09: 8:06
M10: 7:56
M11: 7:48
M12: 8:00

At mile 12 I looked at my watch and we were sitting at 1:42. I remarked that if we were running the half, we’d be done. Maybe not the most encouraging thing to say 🙂

M13: 7:56
M14: 8:06

Around this point we entered Mariemont. I remembered in the course writeup that this was often considered the prettiest part of the course. There was an out and back, and at one point we looked over at the people ahead of us and saw a pace group: 3:20. Yikes! I hoped that the Mariemont section was long, otherwise we were VERY off our pace! This was also the point at which we were each starting to acknowledge that our legs were a bit sore. While the course was really scenic, it did have rolling hills, which were starting to wear on each of us.

M15: 8:20
M16: 8:28

I generally say that at mile 16 is where the race starts. I noticed that none of us were pushing quite so hard any more.

M17: 8:03

Or not 🙂

M18: 8:22
M19: 8:22
M20: 9:07

Whoops! The first dip below 9. Jen had met up with another runner from work and they’d been chatting. I turned and noticed they weren’t right behind me, so I drifted back to them. I don’t know if that scared Kevin away, because they stopped talking, and I never saw him again!

M21: 8:51

I believe at this point, the 3:40 pace group caught up and passed us. I chatted with the leader for awhile, asking if he knew the length of the detour. He had no idea, so he was just pushing through. He said they had a minute in the bank, which I reported back to Jen as what I hoped was a sign of encouragement.

M22: 8:18

Hm, interesting.. this was the point where we had a detour because of the fire. There were volunteers directing us, and telling us to watch out for the potholes. While the roads we’d been on through the race were in quite good condition, this detour led us through some rough spots. However, volunteers had already been out there spraypainting uneven spots, or standing there pointing out “speed bump!”. I was thinking that because they’d stated this part of the course would extend it, we wouldn’t really be able to use our elapsed time to determine our finish time. I’m surprised to see 8:18. For the fun time was over….

M23: 9:08
M24: 9:17

And the negotiation and math begin. “Ok, so just over three miles to go. If we can pull 9s, and then three min for the last .2, we can get in a half hour, which would be X:XX….” “Ok, well if we do THIS pace…”. At this point Doug’s desire to run 3:40 was eating away at him, so he took off to catch the pace group. I stuck with Jen. I knew what it was like to feel like crap when running, and how all that pain and suffering would be gone as the medal was placed around my neck. Jen had 14 marathons fewer experience than me, so I wanted to stick with her.

M25: 9:50

At this point, my watch said 3:35, so I asked Jen if she had 10 more minutes in her. She said she wasn’t sure, and I semi-joked, “yes. the correct answer is yes”. I knew Jen was about done, so I encouraged her just to keep jogging at least. We just had to bring it in.

M26: 9:32
last bit: 9:07pace

For some reason, there were three mats at the end. There was one maybe 200metres ahead of the others. I hit my watch as we hit that first mat, glancing down just as the numbers slid over to 3:46.
And then we kept running. The other two mats were a bit further away, and as the guy next to us pushed out his last bit of energy, I realized that maybe the race wasn’t done..

The official posted chip times we have are 3:46:16 and 3:46:17. Both of us registered 26.7 on our garmins, so I’m not sure how long the course really was, and if they will indeed be able to offer “pro-rated” times for the added distance. Doug made it in at 3:41:xx, so he scored an overall 2:01:xx.

I feel physically ok, near the end of the race I started to feel some tightness in my calves but certainly nothing compared to a few other races. I GUed at about 6 and 12, which seems to be working for me (rather than waiting until 8, as I used to). I just REALLY hope that they are planning on doing something about the times. Normally I wouldn’t expect them to (every course is bound to measure a little long unless you hug the absolute smallest path), but the way the RD talked about it before we started makes me hope. We were just so close to the time.. I find myself wondering if I should have done something differently, maybe tried to slow us all down earlier in the race. But I didn’t want to be over-bearing, I was there to accompany Jen, not be a bossy coach 🙂 I just hope it all works out. It was odd not REALLY to be racing against the course, as we weren’t 100% sure of the course, but just to be racing against the clock. I hope it all works out..

As it is, we really kicked butt! I just checked the results, and we placed well.

Overall: 829/831 out of 4725
Overall Women: 153/154 out of 2006
Our age group (F30-34): 20/21 out of 245

There is nothing shabby about those results!! Even if Boston doesn’t come out of it, that’s not a reflection on poor effort or poor performance. This simply isn’t an easy course..