Thursday, May 19, 2011

Flying Pig Weekend Recap

So our most recent exercise challenge took place the first weekend in May here in Cincinnati at the Flying Pig. Back in 2010, Mom and I watched the marathon on local news and generally walked away feeling guilty and humble that we weren't there tackling the races. So we both decided that next year would be different - for Mom it was going to be the Pump and Run, a combination weight lifting and 10k challenge that requires the participant to run a 10k race and bench press and curl (weight depending on age and body weight). For me it was the full marathon, all 26.2 miles of what turned out to be something close to torture.

Beginning in January we both created training plans for ourselves based on our separate goals. Mom's included trips to the weight room in the gym, crossfit sessions with our trainer, and runs. Mine included a plan of steadily increasing miles and cross training days (mostly stuck to cycling and some strength training). As race day approached, however, it became evident that we both overtrained for this event. I had IT-band issues that I struggled with and then pulled a groin muscle 3 weeks before the marathon that forced me to back way off my miles. Mom pulled her shoulder about a week before the event and also found herself forced to take a rest. Needless to say we were both a little concerned as the weekend of event began.

This day was packet pickup and the weight lifting portion of mom's Pump and Run. We arrived downtown at the convention center, made our way through the tables of race promoters pushing their own races, picked up our t-shirts, posters, and bibs and then headed over to the weight lifting area. Man was this a gun show with pumped up guys everywhere! I give mom A LOT of credit for signing up for this event and I could tell she was a little intimidated stepping up to the bench press with all these men watching her. However, she did GREAT - her goal had been to get 10 reps out, but with her shoulder injury she was convinced that one was going to be too many. Yet when she laid down on that bench she managed to get out 3 really good pumps and walked away feeling good about her performance.

We woke up to beautiful weather and mom was feeling fresh and ready for her race. We drove back downtown (starting to feel like deja vu) and she lined up with thousands of other participants. Her goal was to run it in under 1:15. I took my place at mile 4 and waited for her to pass, cheering the other runners and enjoying the great weather. Soon mom cruised by and was looking really good, yelling that she felt great and was obviously enjoying herself. She crossed the finish line not long after and was well underneath her goal at 1:09:21 looking strong and focused. I think at this point she was just excited to be finished!
Now it was my turn. Woke up at 5:00 in the morning to light rain and chilly temps - where was the sunshine from the previous day! Ate my breakfast, got dressed and got back in the car to take our third and final trip downtown. As I left mom at the car I could tell my stomach was a little upset and my nerves only increased as I made my way to the starting line. The race coordinators had decided to do corrals this year and unfortunately this caused a lot of confusion and pushing as people struggled to funnel themselves down one flight of stairs and line up according to their "appropriate" race time. I finally got to my corral and did some light stretching. Before I knew it the race gun had gone off and the crush of people started pushing forward. I passed the start line and began running feeling okay at this point. The race course is extremely hilly, but the early miles are pretty flat as we ran across the bridge into Newport and then back into downtown Cincinnati. At mile 6, however, the hills really kick in and my stomachache turned from slight discomfort to full on knots. I missed mom at mile 5, but finally saw her around 10 and she could tell I was in trouble. At this point I was nearly in tears as the miles seemed impossible and my body just felt beaten. She ran with me for about half a mile and then promised to find me again and left. I continued run/walking for the next couple of miles with my half marathon time being 2:39, not too far off my goal of 2:30. Yet at the half way point is where things went from bad to worse. Leg cramps and hip cramps followed my stomach issues and it was only with mom pushing me and talking me through at mile 15 and 18 that I honestly stayed on the course and didn't admit defeat. The last 6 miles were the most difficult thing I have ever attempted as it was a slow journey back into town and the buildings just looked SO far away. However 6 hours later, a full hour over my goal time, I finally hobbled across the finish line and got my marathon medal.
I look a lot happier in this photo than I honestly felt, as I know that this marathon wasn't my best performance. However, for that race on that day it was enough for me to just finish. Once my legs stopped screaming, and I was able to eat a few pretzels and relax, I could take the marathon experience in more fully and walked away knowing that I was going to have to try this marathon thing again. Definitely NOT at the Flying Pig, which I believe is not a beginner friendly marathon (even though its billed this way) but at a smaller and flatter course.

Lessons Learned:
  1. Mom and I need to come up with a better training plan for the next time around. More cross training, more listening to our bodies needs. Less trying to be superwomen and push ourselves to extremes.
  2. Choose a race that is less crowded/crazy so that starting line is less stressful and I am less likely to begin race too quickly.
  3. Better hydration/eating especially the day before. Looking back I made a classic rookie mistake and did not watch my water intake as closely as I should have and I think this definitely was the source of my early stomach issues.
  4. Include more flexibility/yoga in my training routine as this will hopefully teach me breathing techniques and relaxation that will help with my pre-race jitters.

In a few weeks we will begin training for our next challenge, but right now mom and I are just enjoying taking some time off from all the routines and wearing our medals to the grocery store.

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