Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gettin' Jiggy with the Piggy

The big question on everyone's mind was how bad was the weather going to get? Rain was a given, but hopefully no thunderstorms and high winds to go along with it. The band of storms that had caused flooding and havoc in Tennessee looked like it might be heading our way.

We awoke about 4 am Sunday morning to a steady rain and about 62 degrees so being in no hurry to stand in it too long Karla , Frank, Jerry and I lingered a bit longer in the Millenium Hotel lobby before walking the 6/10ths of a mile to the start at Paul Brown Stadium on the riverfront. I had a disposable poncho just for the occasion and it was great to keep me warm as we finally headed down to find our places at the starting line. I had made the decision to race it after looking over the course so I wished my friends luck and made my way close to the front near the 3:20 pace group. I had no intention of running that fast but it seemed folks were reluctant to fill in the space and I didn't want to get trapped behind a lot of slower runners with a crowd of 18,000 in both races.

There was some lightning in the area but the race was in direct contact with the weather service and with assurances that the severe weather would stay well to the south of the city, the race began on time. Despite the large crowd, I was able to run without any problems early other than dodging a few idiots that were walking who had lined up at the front and one woman trying to avoid getting her feet wet ( in the pouring rain !) nearly bumped me off the course. My plan was to take it easy until things thinned out a little bit and soon enough I was stepping onto the bridge heading over to Kentucky and the one mile mark which I hit in 9:30. Not too bad with the congestion so far and now I was able to run at my on pace.

I guess I picked it up too much and passed mile 2 in 7:55 so I quickly backed off the pace and settled into a relaxed but steady run. Our visit into Kentucky was a short one and we hit the 3 mile point as we began climbing up the bridge back to Ohio. It was here that a runner from Raleigh named Jim came up and began talking to me. He was a lot younger and a bit faster but like me was planning to wait until we got over the HILL before pushing the pace so we stayed together for most of the next 8 miles.

By now I was settled into pace and was enjoying the sights around me and the large cheering crowds in town that had come out and braved the rain . By now the rain had slacked off quite a bit and would just be an off and on light rain for most of the remainder of the day. Actually the rain felt good and helped to keep the temperature down and allow for a faster pace than if the sun had come out.

A quick mile through downtown on 7th street and everything was going along perfectly. Now with the HILL looming just ahead I should get a real test of how the day was going. My plan was to just take it easy going up and pretend I was just on a training run in Umstead. Jim and I were taking about just that as he trains out there regularly too. The real climbing begins just at the 6 mile mark and my time was just :33 seconds off of my goal pace for a sub 3:45 for the day. The good thing about the climb is it is never very steep and every half mile or so it levels out a little bit and there are even a couple of very short downhills to break it up a little.

At mile 7 I felt fine and was satisfied with the time and at 9:27, the slowest mile since mile one. I high fived Elvis there at the Krohnn Observatory and then crested the first part of the hill and entered into the little park and overlook of the Ohio River below. This was one of the breaks and I felt great. The worst of the climb was already behind but it would still be an uphill for about 2 more miles. Mile 8 was 6:55 and although I forgot to hit a split at 9, my average for 9 and 10 was 8:30, so I was right back to goal pace now as we began running mostly downhill.

I was still holding back some even with the downhill and was planning to wait until halfway to pick it up some and see just how fast I could go. This course seems to be ready made for running a negative split and that's what I was intending to do. Then just before the 11 mile mark there is a slight incline and then the course makes a sharp left turn up a steep hill but it is only about half a block long. But that's when I knew something was wrong. Jim begin to pull away and I felt I had no strength to run up the little hill. Very strange. I had been drinking plenty and was well hydrated, the weather was cool and I had already had a couple of gels so where was my energy suddenly?

The next few miles are predominately downhill but the best I could do was about 8:50 pace. No matter how I tried to pick it up. I had no zip in the legs. I can usually run this fast or faster on my training runs at home and here I was just nearing the halfway point and I couldn''t run goal pace going down a hill !!!!

The half-marathon point is on a sweet gradual downhill and I passed it in 1:53:11, Just 41 seconds slow but I was already slowing more instead of picking up the pace. I wasn't too worried just yet. It is still mostly flat or downhill and the energy level does return sometimes in these things for me so I just tried to relax and keep going as fast as I could comfortably run. Several more miles passed by an still I could run no faster than 8:56 -8:57. I then accepted that there would be no fast time for me today but hopefully I would be able to maintain what I was doing and hang on for at least a 3:50 or so.

And then when I knew I had nothing but downhill for a few miles after the 18 mile mark the wheels started coming off quickly. A 9:55 mile and the race was over for me. Now I was wishing I had just run with Karla for fun after all. I tried to keep my spirits up but the miles were passing so slowly now and finally at mile 21 , feeling like I was doing the Ultraman shuffle, I began to take walk breaks. Now I was running a while then walking backwards looking to see if maybe Karla was going to have a great day and catch up to me so we could run it in together. The difference between this and OBX though was that on that day I had gone out at a suicidal pace and blew up big time. Today I was just slowly deflating so at least my finishing time would be a lot faster and would be much less painful than in November.

The last several miles are back close to the riverfront and with about 3 miles to go I could see the Baseball Stadium where the race finishes. Wow, it sure looked a long ways away. I continued to look back for Karla now not caring about the time as each mile continued to be slower and slower and now even a sub 4 was beyond my reach. There is one last climb just before the finish and after one last look back and no sign of the Marathon Princess I dug in to get it over with ,picking the pace back up a little bit. The rain had come back a little heavier too and I was relieved to finally see the Finish Swine ahead.

My time was 4:06:44 and after getting my medal I waited just over the line under an overpass to wait for Karla. She finally came in at 4:22, after not having a great day but with a smile on her face.

Jerry would have a miracle race considering he had surgery last December and didn't start running again until sometime in February and was as happy as ever after a marathon. Frank had run the half but the hills slowed him down a few minutes over his normal time.

Despite the disappointing time for me, it was a great event. The have a great organization, great volunteers and everything went very smoothly. Even with the rain the city came out in large numbers to cheer us on. I doubt I return since there are just too many other things I would like to do, especially in April and May but I would recommend that everyone put this on there bucket list and do it once just for the fun of it.

Here is the race website with the results and some photos that show just how wet it was.

I didn't run with my camera for two reasons: I was planning to race so taking pictures would not be very easy and it was raining but I did take some pictures touring the course and a few others around town. Here is the link to the pics

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