"If you’ve raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in thickets by the Jordan?" (Jeremiah 12:5). Our journey is intended to be more than simply "stumbling" through the days while the world "wears us out.” We are made to experience the thrill of "running with horses” and to navigate life amongst the "thickets." The RWH blog focuses on both the spiritual race of which Jeremiah speaks, and the physical act of running that I absolutely love. In short, it's where "the miles meet the Message" to provide insight, perspective & encouragement that might enable you & I to successfully run either of the races set before us. May our course be purposeful and may we be passionate in our pursuit of the abundant life He desires for us.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Running to the Finish Swine

The only way the Flying Pig Marathon could have been any more 'Cincinnati' would have been if the gang from WKRP were personally handing out the medals. Yet despite the absence of Dr. Johnny Fever, Les Nessman, and Venus Flytrap (kudos to anyone in flashback mode), the FPM was definitely one of the better themed, organized, and most fun-filled races yet; a personal top 5 for certain.
Heading out of downtown - already ‘steamy’
Starting outside of an illuminated Paul Brown Stadium (Bengals), racing down Pete Rose Way besides Great American Ballpark (Reds) to the finish, crossing the Ohio River into Kentucky and back, discovering at least two or three of the seven hills for which Cincinnati is said to sit upon, visiting many of the quint main streets northeast of the city, and all the while being reminded that Cincinnati was once very much a pork empire. From raising pigs to processing them to bbq-ribbing, Cincinnati’s Flying Pig gets at the roots of this great city (and having lived in nearby Springboro a few moves back, I can testify to this city’s appeal). Click Here: Great Photos - TFP

Elevation Chart (Note Spikes and Drops Throughout)
Now, don’t mistake the ‘fun’ of this review, as meaning May 1st was a picnic ... hardly. This course is a challenge (see the elevation map and know that the gain is near 1,100 feet). I’ve said it’s one of those courses that should be described by that word, if one exists, that means more than hilly, but less than mountainous. Throw in some warm temperatures (70-75), a little post-rain humidity, and it really is quite amazing that I didn’t b-oink! It must have been that cup of bacon near mile 15 that kept me going.
Start with back and forth into Kentucky then Northeast and back along river
Actually, the FPM was my best spring marathon ever. Training the past few months has gone well and I'm in better shape than usual for this time of year (keep in mind, ’shape’ is all relative). Fortunately, I’ve been running hills in Winston-Salem, and that certainly paid off big time.

So, I got exactly what I wanted. I held a 8:50 +/- 12 seconds for the first 16 miles, even pushed a couple of 8:30’s near the halfway point, and felt like on a flat course with a cool day, I was in 3:45 shape. However, I took my 16, pulled back to 10 and 11 minute miles the rest of the way, stayed in control, taste-tested several other interesting offerings, enjoyed the view and ran -- with a smile -- through the finish for a 4:24 time and state number 17 in the record books.

Then it was through the runner’s feeding pen, quickly back to the hotel, shower, and hit the road for home. An easy drive, although not exactly the optimal way to spend post-race recovery time (I’m paying for it even as I type). But I’ve learned that sometimes, check that, many times, you do what you have to do. I would gladly drive 8 hours to participate in a marathon, to catch up with old friends along the way (so good to see the Rogers and Knoths), and to enjoy new friends in the company of other runners, volunteers, and spectators. Besides, without this drive, how else would I confirm that West Virginia is still the only place I know that you are guaranteed a radio station playlist that includes John Denver, Charley Pride, James Taylor, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Statler Brothers, in that order! Awesome.

It’s either the ‘Walken’ sign or more bacon!
I’ll conclude with a few of the signs. If you’ve read previous race reports you know that I am always on the lookout for new signs. Most of them are repeats, so I really appreciate it when someone brings their ‘A-game’ to the spectator position. I’m looking for originality and wit.  My sign winners from this past weekend include: “If Trump Can Run - You Can Too!” /  “No Time for Walken” (with big picture of Christopher Walken)  /  “Just Chafing the Dream, Man, Chafing the Dream.”

Hope to see you out there somewhere. I’ll have a post soon of what’s next and I’d love to have you join the journey. A journey full of community, encouragement, discipline, kindness, unity, and perseverance. A journey in which I have experienced the same spirit across seventeen states, one that is unfortunately unlike most ‘places’ in our lives. Where competition is with yourself, and the most random of strangers are in it together. If we could just bottle that up .....

'Hustling' down Pete Rose Way, considering a head-first slide at the finish :) The smile this time was a reminder that crossing the line never gets old (maybe painful on occasion, but it never gets old). 

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