Since Ohio is where I call home, I have ran quite a few races here before deciding that I was going to tackle all 50 states. I have ran the Flying Pig Marathon twice, the Air Force Marathon, and also participate in the Possum Race Series 50k every year since it started in 2013. To pick just one for my Ohio race, I decided to share my experiences from my first marathon I completed that I mentioned in the introduction post.
Race: Flying Pig Marathon
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Finishing Time: 5:05:51
After training throughout the winter, I was pretty confident coming into the spring for my first marathon. I had been training for a sub 4 hour race but had in my head that the only real goal was crossing the finishing line still standing upright. I remember sitting in bed the night before the race second guessing every decision I made to that moment. Did I do the right training schedule? Should I have had the pasta with white sauce compared to red sauce? Did I bring the right socks to wear during the race? I think all the worrying helped me actually fall asleep.
I woke up early that morning and sat on our balcony overlooking the lobby of our hotel and ate my peanut butter sandwich and cliff bar, again second thinking about everything that I had done up to that point. We had stayed just a few blocks from the start, so had just a short walk to get to the starting corrals. While making the way up to the start, it started to do the only thing I was hoping it wouldn’t…rain! Because of the early start and cool wind from the river, I had my hat that was helping keep my head dry but my worry was with how my feet would hold up with the wet roads. As the starting gun went off, I took all those negative thoughts out of my head and focused on the task at hand, finishing 26.2 miles!
Now I don’t remember all the details of this race since its been over 4 years ago, but there are some parts that I just can’t forget. Crossing the bridges into Kentucky and back to Ohio early in race definitely had me thinking about my pace that I had set for myself. I was tackling the hills stronger that should have that early in the race. Just after the 5 mile marker I saw my wife and my mother. I apparently came up faster than they though because my wife had to run down the sidewalk ahead of me to try and capture this photo.
After I had seen them, came the first real challenge that I knew I had to overcome. The 3 miles of uphill to the park overlooking the Ohio River. I took this hill a little smarter, slowing down my pace and trying to keep even stride all the way up. By the time I got to the top I was spent, but still feeling in good spirits about my pace. This however, was not going to last long. Just after the half way point I started to have some foot pain. With all the rain and wet roads, huge blisters formed on the bottom of both of my feet. This caused me to go off of my normal stride to try and compensate for the pain. Well that started the dominos falling of me getting worn out by mile 15. My knees and hamstrings started to feel the strain with a new stride as I tried to keep feet from hurting. By mile 17 I was walking more than I was running.
I was so upset with myself. I had I had trained for months and had so many people supporting me on this journey that I am going to be coming in failing at the goals I had set. But I tried to keep my head high and know that there was no way I was not going to keep moving forward. This goes back to my life verse, Philippians 4:13, that with God giving me strength, there is nothing that I can not accomplish. I decided to try a different approach to get to the finish line, I would run as long as I could without pain and then walk it off, just to do it all over again. Around mile 24 I told myself that no matter how I felt when I hit that 25 mile marker, I was not stopping until the finish. And that is exactly what I did.
I will never forget the excitement that I felt when I crossed that finish line. I actually did it, I ran a marathon. Definitely had God pushing me along the way not to quit but I made it. Kaela and mom were up above starting line cheering me from both sides. Got a little teary eyed when the medal was placed around my neck but I couldn’t get that smile off my face. When I met up with Kaela and my mom, I said in some fashion “never again”, but we all see how that played out!
It’s hard to believe that it has been over 4 years since my first marathon and that for some reason I decided to keep going on. Thanks for reading about (one of) my Ohio marathon. Next stop on the list is Pennsylvania.