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    RENLA6991   52,487
50,000-59,999 SparkPoints

Flying Pig: My First Half-Marathon Race Report!

Friday, May 06, 2011

Sorry…it’s a long one! Last weekend, I was blessed to run my first half marathon with my sister, Lydia (BRIDGE1028) & one of best SparkBuddies, Mel (MGJARVI). It was their first half marathon too! Running a half marathon had been a dream of mine since late 2009. I had always heard such great things about the Flying Pig, so I knew that my first one would have to be my hometown race.

We started the weekend by meeting in the lobby of our hotel, The Millennium. Even though Mel & I have been SparkFriends for what seems like ages, we had never met until now. It was such a thrill to see her in person & finally give her a big hug! After the quick round of introductions, we headed over to the expo. Let me tell you, these people know how to put on an expo! You get your race packet, wind your way through countless vendors (grabbing lots of freebies along the way), pick up your T-shirt, backpack & poster, then activate your timing chip on the way out. Here’s some photos of some of the goodies that we picked up along the way:

My daughter Laura joined us at the hotel right after the expo & pasta dinner. The rest of the group went out to explore Cincinnati. I was tired, so I decided to stay in, put my feet up & relax.

Unfortunately, being alone gave me a chance to miss a few people, including my parents, who couldn’t come to the race, and to worry about all the things that could go wrong the next day. Lucky for me I have a couple wonderful friends that dried my tears & lifted my spirits. Before I knew it, it was time for bed.

The next morning I got up, took a quick shower & ate my normal pre-race breakfast. My daughter did a wonderful job keeping me focused & making sure I had everything before we met the group downstairs. After a couple quick photos (thanks to Mel’s DH Mark for being our photographer this weekend!), we set off.

It was about a half mile walk to the staging area line from the hotel. As we got closer, what struck us was the massive number of people everywhere: huddling in the stadium for protection from the rain, in line for the Port-a-Potties, runners trying to get to their starting corrals and spectators trying to find a good spot to watch the start of the race (we found out later that there were over 20,000 people running that day!) As much as we tried to get to Corral E before the race started, we finally gave up & snuck into the Corral D gate once they were gone. It took about 15 minutes to walk back to the starting line, and then we were off & running!

The course wound past Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ballpark, then over the Ohio River and through Newport & Covington, Kentucky. The first couple miles involved a lot of bobbing & weaving between slower runners & walkers, but once we crossed the bridge back into Cincinnati the crowd finally opened up. I was amazed how quickly the first six miles flew by.

And then started The Hill. I had been warned about the 3-mile incline by prior Pig racers, but that beast is just something you need to experience yourself to truly appreciate. My outer knee starting hurting from almost the beginning of the hill and didn’t stop until I started the descent at mile 10. I just knew then that I wouldn’t be meeting my goal time of 3:00.

The spectators got me through the most difficult points of the race. There were people all along the route, holding signs & cheering everyone along. I can’t tell you how many high fives I got along the way, including ones from Elvis, someone dressed as a beast holding a sign saying “run human run,” and from literally half of a local football team. They spoke wonderful words of encouragement when I briefly broke down from pain & frustration. Those amazing fans really helped me and other racers keep going.

The last 5K was fast & fun. My knee pain all but disappeared as I started back down the hill. At mile 12, I glanced down at my Garmin & realized I wasn’t going to finish the 15-30 minutes behind as I originally thought! I decided to push the pace & try to reach my goal. Before I knew it, I rounded the last corner and saw that finish line! I focused all my attention on that beautiful “Finish Swine” sign until I hit the mats (with an official time of 3:00:53!) I think I had a huge grin on my face as I crossed the finish line; I KNOW I had one as a volunteer placed my first medal around my neck. I shed a few more tears as the realization struck: I had just completed my first half marathon!

A few well-deserved words of appreciation:

Coach Nancy, you were the first one that made me believe I could run a half marathon. I was so touched and inspired by your story at the 2009 Cincinnati Convention. At that point, I could only run for about 30 seconds at a time. I just remember thinking that if you could work that hard and come so far, so could I. Thanks for helping me realize I can achieve ANYTHING I set my mind to.

Lydia, thanks for pulling the trigger and registering for the race first. You forced me to face my fear of failure and take the plunge. Once you made the commitment, I knew there was no backing out. You don’t realize how much I love running these races with you. I promise the next one I choose won’t be so hilly!

Mel, thanks for letting me talk you into running our first half marathon together! Being able to finally meet you was one of the ultimate highlights of this weekend. I promise to use my powers of persuasion only for good…no more talk of tattoos (for you anyway.) Let me know when you’re ready to sign up for Air Force!

Laurie and WB, thank you for helping me through my many meltdowns over the past couple weeks. You do not realize how much I appreciated your tolerance & words of wisdom. You guys were my rock, and I love you both.

Thank you to my SparkFriends for your support & encouragement during this journey. You’re all simply amazing!

And thanks to SparkPeople for helping me lose 70 lbs and allowing me to go from this

to this!

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LAURAKINS 5/11/2011 1:54PM

    What a GREAT race report! How awesome that your daughter was able to come with you. I loved having my daughter with me too! You definitely picked a challenging race for 1st half . . . those hills were evil!!! The scenery & crowd support was amazing!!! I would recommend the Flying Pig to anyone just because of the crowd support!!!!!

emoticon on running your 1st HALF MARATHON!!!

emoticon on your weight loss success!!!

emoticon to signing up for your 2nd HALF!!! They can become addicting. I love running halfs! I'm running Chicago's in Sept.!

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BTLSMUM 5/10/2011 7:34AM

    Awesome!! I cannot read enough about other people's races. I can barely run 3 miles without stopping and I have no clue how to push myself to do better/more, but someday I'd love to be able to run a 1/2 marathon. You inspire me!!

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CALIMAN1 5/9/2011 11:30PM

    wow....what a special blog and what a special person! Look at you! A half-marathoner! Your blog took me through the course, through your emotions, through the pain and, ultimately, through the incredible tears shed over a MAJOR goal reached! YOU DID IT!!!!! I am so incredibly happy for and proud of you...I have told you before and I am telling you again now more than ever...YOU INSPIRE ME!!!!! emoticon

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WAMCVEY 5/9/2011 6:28PM

    Loved this writeup! Congrats!

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COACH_NICOLE 5/9/2011 10:48AM

    Great blog. Good job! I'm glad you had fun and reached your goal--amazing. It was a great race day. See you there next year, right?

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EUPHRATES 5/9/2011 12:47AM

    Oh lady, I am SO PROUD OF YOU!!

NEXT year is my year for the Pig, and I'm in it for the full. (I'm going to make that "full marathon before I turn 50" goal a bit early). Ya with me?


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HONORINGGOD 5/8/2011 10:09PM


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BAM0827 5/8/2011 9:33PM

    I forgot to write (since I read one day and commented the next - heck now it's day 3!) I smiled BIG when I saw the Spark patch!

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BILLALEX70 5/8/2011 7:44PM

    What a great review of your first race! There's nothing like your first; to lead to your 2nd, 3rd, 4th...

Keep chasing that eternal finish line!

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CHEF4RENT 5/8/2011 12:16AM

    Wow a totally awesome inspiring story!!! Great Job, you look GREAT!! What a smile, Happy looks good on you:)

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RUNMOMRUN2 5/7/2011 11:18PM

    Thank you so so much for posting this inspiring blog. sounds great and you did an amazing incredible job! Way to go!!!!!!!!!! Congratulations!!!!!!!!! Can't wait til I can join you and say the same :-)
emoticon emoticon

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BAM0827 5/7/2011 8:52PM

    I loved reading your recap! I can visualize you throughout the whole course. I'm so happy to read that you enjoyed the experience. I bet this is your first of many.

Congrats to you!!

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SHEENADEE 5/7/2011 7:35PM

    emoticon emoticon

Congratulations!!! Thanks for sharing your story. It's fabulous that you did this and had good company along the way too. WooHoo!

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BOBBYD31 5/7/2011 7:28PM

    awesome race renee! but how do you remember so much about the events, i remember starting finishing and nothing in between usually. anyhow congrats on your first HM

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JERIBERI1 5/7/2011 7:20PM

    Woo Hooooo!!!! You did it!!!! Have fun, show pictures to everyone and know that you are amazing!!

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SP_COACH_NANCY 5/7/2011 7:05PM

  Oh my goodness, my dear sweet friend! I am bawling like a baby reading your inspiring story. TRUST ME, you are paying it forward and you are inspiring others to take the leap to running his/her dream. I love you and am sending you the BIGGEST TEXAS-SIZED hug your way. I am sooo PROUD of you!!!


Coach Nicole thinks I should run this one next year, I just may have to do so! emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/7/2011 7:06:42 PM

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CRAFTSNUT 5/7/2011 4:17PM

    Congatulations!!! You're an inspiration! emoticon

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MEWIEGELE 5/7/2011 1:27PM

    I've done the pig twice now and your story brought tears to my eyes. I'm so proud of you and what an AMAZING finish time!!! I was about 27 minutes behind you lol. I hope you keep racing and we see you back at the swine again next year! Maybe by then I can keep up with you too! emoticon

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PHDMAMA06 5/6/2011 11:56PM

    Beautiful race report! Congratulations on your first half marathon, and everything you have accomplished so far! In spite of the three mile BEAST, it sounds like you had an awesome time!!


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ETTEZEUS 5/6/2011 10:54PM

    Yay Renee!! You did awesome!!! Congrats on a HM well done!
I'm so happy for you!

Hope I get to see you again in September....I'm really working on DH to do the Air Force HM....I'm about 90% there!!

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MOXIE-IN-MOTION 5/6/2011 7:43PM

    This was such a great race report! It sounds like you had so much fun, despite the hill and knee issues. And I love your huge smile with the medal around your neck....CONGRATS!

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69NURSE 5/6/2011 6:01PM

    Congrats on your first HM!! emoticon emoticon I did my first last Oct and was suppose to try another in March at the JASR, but a back injury kicked me back to the 5K. You did a great job w/your time too. As everyone has said, you look radiant and happy. I'm thinking of going to Dayton in Sept for the USAF race, but I'm not sure about time from work yet. Keep up the great work and have a wonderful summer. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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2WHEELER 5/6/2011 5:45PM

    Congratulations, Renee. Your smile says it all. I am so proud of you! Your blog brought tears to my eyes. Running it with Sparkers makes racing all the more special. I'm so glad you were able to share it with your friends and daughter. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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JENNSWIMS 5/6/2011 5:35PM


I plan to be there for the half next year, it is a big goal of mine and you just reinforced my feeling that I need to do this!

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JANC7223 5/6/2011 5:13PM

    emoticon Great Job!

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NURSESARAH03 5/6/2011 4:58PM

    Renee, that is soooo awesome :) You sure have come a long way. You are truly an inspiration AND a goddess! I'm very proud to call you my friend. Congrats on accomplishing yet another goal! You go, girl! emoticon

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LYNNANN43 5/6/2011 2:57PM

    I'm still crying! emoticon I'm so thrilled for you!!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

My first HM is next Sunday. The jitters are really setting in. emoticon

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    LOVED this blog!!! My first 1/2 will be over and done with in just 2 more days!!!
You look radiant-how can you look so gorgeous after finishing a 3 hr race??? don't know-but you sure did!! I am so proud of you!What great progress you've made-love the before/afters!!!

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DREBENEZER 5/6/2011 2:43PM

    AWESOME!!! Great job and proud of you. I bet you were beaming from ear to ear!!

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JESMOD 5/6/2011 2:38PM

    Woohoo!!! Awesome job! I ran the Pig this past weekend too, though I ran the full marathon. You should sign up for the Cincinnati Half marathon in October! I ran it this past year, it is a nice course, FLAT, unlike the Flying Pig. Haha. Again congrats!!! What an accomplishment!

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FITLIKENIC 5/6/2011 1:48PM

    WooHoo! Love the pictures and of course your blog! You look BEAUTIFUL after a Half, How is that possible?! lol... I see MANY more HMs in your future :-)

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BAILEYS7OF9 5/6/2011 1:02PM

    emoticon great blog!!! emoticon

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MGJARVI 5/6/2011 12:30PM

    No Renee, THANK YOU!! I never would have done this if it hadn't been for your "gentle" nudging ;-) Seriously, you inspire me and motivate me and hold me accountable, I love you for every bit of it!

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MJK0430 5/6/2011 12:20PM

    Awww Renee, you made me tear up.

Congratulations on your First Half Marathon!

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TIGGER622 5/6/2011 12:05PM

    OMG SOOOOO PROUD OF YOU!!!! Even when you thought it was out of reach you still saw 3:00!!! YAY!!!!!!! That takes a ton to be able to power through the last three miles, you are one tough cookie!!! I am usually so beat by then I can hardly run!!! WAY TO GO!!!! YAY!!!

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MACKANDME 5/6/2011 11:50AM

    Awesome Renee! And all three of ya! I would like to be in shape to run a marathon too someday. You guys are inspiring for sure!

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A-STRONGER-ME 5/6/2011 11:39AM

    How VERY COOL!!!! emoticon

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LAURIE5658 5/6/2011 11:36AM

    Sparktastic! What you need to do now is take all of the little (or big) lessons learned from HM #1 and write them down somewhere. These lessons will be a priceless tool in your HM toolbox as you move forward and run more HM's. Your confidence will also obviously increase with each HM. This first one however, will always be the most special one. Continue to savor this moment!! Love you, my friend!!


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ROOT4HOME 5/6/2011 11:34AM

    Congratulations Renee!!!!! Love, love, love your blog! I'm so proud of you - from rain to knee pain to fast, strong finish!! emoticon You're an inspiration! emoticon emoticon emoticon

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