Flying Pig Marathon …. A Pigcredible Race

The Flying Pig Marathon was my 32nd marathon.  Let it suffice to say that I know a good race from a bad one and I’d put Flying Pig at the top.  This was definitely one of the best races I’ve ran to date.  I’d go back to run the hills of Cincinnati anytime.  They did an amazing job with a lot of people, in very warm conditions.  Plus I’d like to shout out kudos to the communities, all of whom embraced this race as their own and were PROUD to showcase their town, their neighborhoods and they brought fun, food, music & games curbside for the runners to enjoy.  Incredible, Cincinnati, absolutely incredible.  Thanks for letting me run YOUR town.

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The theme this year was “Get Oinked for Life”.  As I understand it, they have a different piggy theme each year.  But the swag is always amazing.  This year they gave a gender specific tee, poster, gym bag (with yoga mat holder) & a buff at the finish line.  I’ve seen finisher hats in years previous but it was a buff this year.

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Nice sized expo with lots of Flying Pig logo’d merchandise.  I normally don’t buy much from the expo but I had a feeling this was going to be a great race so I grabbed a visor & an insolated water bottle, which was a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cincinnati.  

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Lots of piggy photo ops too.  If you didn’t get your pic with one of the many cool looking piggies, then really, can we even be friends?  Get excited, people!  Have some fun!  WhoooHoooo!  Me & Lindsay Glitter Girl on the Run leaving the expo on the right.  Pigs FLY in Cincinnati!  Yes, they do.  And thanks, Lindsay for being excited about all the cool piggies!  Smile

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This race was much larger than I anticipated so getting to the start & into the corrals on Sunday morning was a bigger process than I anticipated.  We had plenty of time but there were a lot of people (over 39,692 participants for the entire weekend)!  I said goodbye to Lindsay as she went into our corral.  Pre-race selfie with Lindsay below! 

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Her run plan was to crush the hills.  My run plan was to 1) not let the hills crush me, 2) have fun, 3) find some bacon, & 4) run with my friends!  So I went back a corral to be with friends and hope that they would walk up some of the hills with me!  Found Julie B at waiting for us at the entrance to Corral F!  Julie B, Tamyra & I walking up one of the bridge inclines around mile 3.  All smiles. 

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The sun was coming up.  The fog was lifting.  It was turning into a glorious day and we were all happy to be in Cincinnati to Fly with the Pigs!

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I found bacon immediately within the first couple miles (blurry pic but I was excited!!).  Then I found Elvis.  We ran in and out of Cincinnati several times.  Over 3 different bridges, past a few more. 

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Past Horseshoe Casino & into Eden Park.  The views in Eden Park were breathtaking.  It was hard not to linger and enjoy the view.  Most everyone was stopping for pics & I love to see that.  Runners ENJOYING the race vs zooming past all the cool stuff!

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We said goodbye to Eden’s park, passed under a cool footbridge & headed to the split for the half & full marathons.

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The split was huge.  There were 12,532 half marathoners (including walkers) and they split at an intersection with one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen (pic below).  Then the full marathon continued and had 3,861 finishers (including walkers).  I would like to note that the full initially had 4,737 registered runners.  Not sure how many bowed out or dropped to the half pre-race but the conditions got very tough and a lot of people were not able to finish.  I really hope that we didn’t lose 850+ people over that last half of the race.  That’s a big discrepancy in registered vs finished.

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After we dropped the half runners, we started to stretch out and head toward the neighborhoods.  There are a lot of races where I’d tell you to stick with the half.  So many races put all the sites & fun in the first half because the number of half runners always trumps the full marathoners by a lot.  They focus on those runners and then just stretch out the course for those of us who “have to” run the 26.2 distance.  Cincinnati was NOT like that.  There was plenty to see and fun to be had in the last half of the race.  Plus, I’ve honestly never seen as better proration of volunteers to runners.  Even the people who didn’t volunteer in an official capacity brought the party to the curb as we passed thru their neighborhood.

I’ve never ran a race with so much entertainment.  Live music.  Boom boxes.  Car radios.  Bubble Machines.  Mini Basketball stations.  Cheerleaders.  Singers.  Bands.  Children cheering and high fiving.  Mascots.  Fun, fun, FUN!

I’ve never ran a road race with so many food stations.  Bacon.  Need I say more?  Chocolate.  Hershey Kisses.  York Peppermint Patties (Pig Mints!!).  Graham Crackers.  Chocolate Graham Crackers.  Twizzlers.  Pretzels.  Oranges.  Watermelon.  Fruit cups.  Swedish Fish.  Pringles.  Trail Mix.  Candy.

I’ve never ran a race with the level of community support that I saw in Cincinnati.  Full on block parties.  Lots of drinking in the early a.m.  More piggy decorations than I knew to exist.  Beer shots.  Mimosas.  Margaritas.  Music.  Cheers.  Laughter.  Painted streets.  Encouragement galore.  And dogs.  If you love dogs as much as Cincinnati loves pigs, then you will be in heaven.  Big dogs.  Little dogs.  Old dogs.  Puppies!!  Fat dogs.  Skinny dogs.  Hairy dogs.  Friendly dogs.  Scared dogs.  LOL!  I loved the Cincy dogs as much as I loved the people!!   

The race stretched out.  Hill after hill.  Big hills.  Little hills.  But always hills. Hard race.  Don’t let all the fun deter from the hills cuz Cincinnati is know for hills more than fun.  There was over a 1000 feet of climbing and just as much descending (ironically not much  more climbing than in Olathe KS for the Garmin Marathon that we thought was flat & fast!).

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Our turnaround point was the Village of Mariemont.  Cute community!  By this time, I was soaked.  It was hot. Full sun.  I was dumping water on my head & I was drenched.  So, no pics by me but I grabbed this from the Mariemont Inn website because I wanted you to have a small taste of Mariemont.  The entire area was just this awesome. 

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By the time we got to Mariemont and were headed back to the City, the temps were soring and the runners were starting to suffer.  Some had been suffering for quite some time. I was hearing a lot of ambulance sirens.  I was worried about those around me. I was doing okay but going at a very pedestrian pace.  Lots of walking.  Lots of water intake.  Lots of electrolyte intake.  I hit every sprinkler and loved the Cintas station that set up with icy cold towels, dry towels and full water hoses with shower heads!  About the time things started to get really bad, race officials had gotten ice and were bringing it back to runners.  They had gators loaded with cases of water, huge bags of ice and were proactively headed from the finish back toward the runners still on course.  I was very impressed that although they had not planned for the higher temps, they were proactive and did what they could to help the suffering runners.  That’s a great race organization that is able to react quickly to a less than ideal situation. 

There were also about 30 bike support people on course who were watching the runners very closely.  They had supplies on their bike and would go get something a runner needed.  Med & aid stations toward the end were stocked with margarita shot blocks with extra salt, Coca Cola and things that we normally don’t see at road races.  I was very, VERY impressed with the Flying Pig Marathon.  I will definitely go back and run it again. 

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Registration for 2017 is now open.  You can register HERE for the May 7, 2017 marathon for $70 (or the half for $60) thru May 15, 2016.  Get Oinked for Life!

I’m headed into triathlon season now.  My next marathon will be on October 1st in Fort Wayne, IN.  The Fort4Fitness event that I’ve loved since its inception in 2008 is offering its first ever marathon and I can’t wait to run in my back yard and rock the run in Ft Wayne.  Flying Pig reminded me a lot of Fort4Ftiness in the way the communities come out to support the runners and that made me even more excited about the upcoming Fort4Ftiness Marathon.  I hope to see YOU in Ft Wayne on October 1st!

** Run Happy, All.  Have Fun & Enjoy ALL the Races.  ** Amanda – TooTallFritz

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Route 66 Marathon Race Review & Where NOT to Stay in Tulsa

The Route 66 Marathon is in the done column & so is the great state of Oklahoma!  This was my 25th marathon and the 15th state in my quest to run a marathon in every state.  In order to be totally honest, when Judy talked us into Rt 66 we signed up, I didn’t exactly know where Tulsa, OK was on the map.  So I think I asked a few questions before pulling the registration lever:  1)  Can we drive there?  2)  It’s the weekend before Thanksgiving, can Julie get time off from her retail J.O.B.?  3)  Is anyone else running?   Turns out EVERYONE was running, so it was a done deal.  We went to Tulsa, Oklahoma with 2000 other Marathon Maniacs, Half Fanatics & 50 States Club members.  I’m in the back.  Don’t worry, I can’t see me either.  Smile

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Tulsa was a 12 hour drive from Auburn, IN.  Takes longer when you have car trouble and have to stop every 2 seconds to turn off the car to reset the code and/or try to find a dealership with an open service department, in God’s Country, on a weekend.  Yeah, that happened but we finally rolled into Tulsa early Saturday afternoon.  Tulsa is in the north east corner of the Panhandle State.  Hello, Oklahoma!

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I was scheduled to be part of a Blogger Forum at the expo Saturday afternoon.  We made it in time for that and I got to meet some other bloggers and hear some great stories about running, blogging and life.  From left to right:  Esther, Jim, Joules, Angela & me.

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The expo was a decent size but packet pick up was crowded and the computers went down causing long lines and some crabby runners.  Sad smile  Fortunately, we were in and out of the expo pretty quickly. 

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We hit some key booths:  Garmin & Gypsy Runner (cuz Amy runs a lot of the same races that we do, so we are totally BFFs, right?), then on to the hotel and dinner.

Normally, I try to keep things positive and upbeat but from runner to runner, I feel the need to share.  If you are planning to run this race next year, I’ll tell you where NOT to stay.  The Holiday Inn Express & Suites Tulsa WEST – Sand Springs, 101 West Marrow Road, Sand Springs, OK.  Although we had called BEFORE we booked a reservation and were guaranteed late checkout, the manager did not honor that request when we checked in on race weekend.  And she was rude.  We were told to get our stuff out of the room on race morning, then come back after the marathon and she would check to see if they had a DIRTY room they had not yet cleaned.  IF she could find a dirty room, then maybe she would let us shower there.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  I don’t want to shower in a dirty room where I don’t even know the former occupants.  This was a very unpleasant experience and now I’ve removed the Holiday Inn & Holiday Inn Express from my list of acceptable hotels.  I run a lot of races.  I travel for running, work and leisure and I have to admit that most places we stay are very accommodating.  Nobody has ever rudely sent me on my way, without a shower, for a 12+ hour drive, after running for 4-5 hours.  And hopefully this will never happen again.  We had multiple friends who had a great experience at the Double Tree, 616 W. Seventh Street, Tulsa, OK.  Do yourself a favor and stay there instead.  

Onto the race itself.  Very cold morning.  Race start and finish were in two separate locations but there were shuttles between those spots.  Win!!  We were underdressed and froze our bums off awaiting the race start.  But once the race started it was worth the wait.  There were starting corrals with very strict watchers making sure everyone was in their correct place.  5 minutes between corral starts.  Each corral was sent off in a flurry of confetti. 

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As always the first 3-4+ miles were super crowded, although for once, I didn’t have to run around a lot of walkers who started ahead of me.  But the streets were narrow and I wouldn’t so much see the hills we were running but rather feel the momentum going up or down.  It was a strange feeling but a cool one.  The course was beautiful and a perfect highlight reel of Tulsa:  Cascia Hall, Woodward Park, Rt 66 Pedestrian Bridge, University of Tulsa & amazing neighborhoods that were both pet & kid friendly.  It looked like an awesome place to live with so many houses showcasing lots of unique character.

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Bands.  Lots of bands.  The Rock N Roll series has NOTHING on The Rt 66 Marathon.  Nothing.  I heard more live music in this race than I’ve heard in all of my combined races this year.  Everything from Folk to Gospel to Rock to Bongo drums (we saw that guy 5x, he was committed to us in a HUGE way).  Great show, Tulsa, really great. 

Community support!  Wow.  Marathons take a long time.  This one took me personally FOREVER to run.  The community was out in full force, even in the chilly temps, with kids, dogs, food, drinks, jello shots, mimosas, beer shots, and even offering therapeutic rollers for those of us who had gotten a “little” stiff from the hills.

Hills?  Did I say hills?  Yes.  Lots of hills.  More than I had expected and I didn’t fare very well on them either.  Without going into all the bloody gory details, I fell last week while running and managed to mess myself up pretty good.  Well, I didn’t really know how messed up I was til I started hitting those hills.  Apparently I did more than bloody myself in the fall.  My hips are WAY out of line now and I stretched some of the muscles around my right hip and left knee.  So I was a hurting momma in Tulsa on Sunday and to be honest, had it not been for my BRF, Julie, I would have quit.  I almost quit anyhow.  But she “carried” me thru and stayed with me even though she could have ran so much faster. 

So, did we take the detour?  Heck yeah!.  The Rt 66 Marathon offers a Center of the Universe detour.  It adds 0.3 miles to your marathon and you get a cool looking coin for taking the challenge.  DONE!

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And we finished.  Cool medal.  Cool after party.  The Marathon Maniacs had their own special Maniac Corner where we traded in our medals for special Marathon Maniac medals.  Super cool.  This really is a must do marathon if you are a Maniac.  It’s a GREAT race with lots of support from the race volunteers, the local law enforcement and the community.  And THAT’s what makes for a  great marathon.  Julie, Judy & Me in Maniac Corner cuz we are definitely some sort of maniacs. 

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Thumbs up for Tulsa & the Route 66 Marathon!

** Rock the Route at Rt 66** Amanda – TooTallFritz