I was agonizing over whether to do this race or do the Indy Mini in Indianapolis, and was pretty certain I couldn't do them both, certainly not in one trip. But the chips all fell into place to at least get me to Cincinnati for the Flying Pig race. I can make a decision about the Indy race later.
|Entrance to the expo|
I arrived in Cincinnati right on time, at 10:30 AM, caught a cab into town and arrived at my hotel plenty early and planning to leave my bag with the valet for check in later. But, surprise! My room was ready, I was able to check in and put my bag in my room before walking across the street to the convention center and the race expo. Perfect!
|No lines, yet, at packet pickup|
The expo didn't open until 12:00 noon so I enjoyed a Starbucks at the hotel, sitting in their very pleasant space just off the lobby and checking my email until the expo opened. The lines weren't yet too long and I easily claimed my packets for both the 5K on Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday.
|Flying Pig cake pops...oh my!|
Then it was on to the 3 Sweet Girls Bakery booth, the official bakery of the Flying Pig. Their official flying pig cookies and flying pig cake pops were high on my checklist. Cake pop safely tucked away in my purse, I moved onto the next must-do item on the list: snag some excellent Proctor & Gamble free stuff! The line was starting to snake its way through the roped-off zig-zag in front of the P&G booth. But the line moved quickly. I claimed a full-size package of Puffs (my favorite brand tissue), some Tide laundry pods, and a couple of packets of fabric softener beads. I don't use tampons or sanitary napkins, and Old Spice is not for me, so I passed on those items.
|Always these cute balloons at the Flying Pig expo every year|
I walked up and down the many aisles, visiting the many vendors. There were a few I wanted to make a point of visiting, one of which was the Running With The Amish Marathon booth. I'm registered for this race in late September and wanted to meet the organizers, check out the really cool finisher medals.
|Brilliant idea! Goodwill booth at the expo|
As I walked the aisles, I came upon a booth sponsored by Goodwill. Running wear, any item, $3 including tax. What a brilliant idea!! It's a common practice for many runners to go through their closets to find old clothing they can wear at the start line to keep warm and then discard once the race starts. But when they've exhausted their supply of discardable clothing they'll find a Walmart or Goodwill store and buy throwaway clothes. Usually Goodwill picks up all discarded clothing at races, launders all of it, and sells it in their stores. So there's no doubt that some of these items have been recycled more than once. And here is Goodwill, getting proactive and bringing the store to the expo! I browsed the racks just to check it out. It was all running clothes: shorts, shirts, long pants. Not too much in the way of long-sleeve shirts or jackets, which are the typical start-line throwaway items. But still...a very enterprising endeavor!
I went to the back of the hall, claimed my 5K and half marathon race shirts, my very nice Flying Pig gym bag, and then returned to my hotel room to drop off my items and have a late lunch at the hotel restaurant.
|It wouldn't be Flying Pig without Abby Girl cupcakes|
After lunch, I walked to Abby Sweets Cupcake shop to fulfill my tradition of buying post-race celebratory cupcakes. In past years I've taken them with me to Skyline Chili for a group lunch after the race. This year there will be no group lunch, but I will definitely deserve some post-race rewards.
Saturday morning 5K race went off without a hitch. It started and finished in the vicinity of the Cincinnati Reds Baseball stadium. Lots of runners and a lot of fun. I came in 13th out of 73 in my age group! Very happy with that!
|Crossing finish line in 5K race|
|5K finisher medal; smaller version of the half and full marathon medals|
Sunday morning half marathon race also went off without a hitch. I love this race so much! The excitement softens the 5:00 AM wake-up alarm to get out to the start line for a 6:30 AM race start. So much going on along the route that the miles just fly by!
|Flying Pig race route, data from my Garmin GPS watch|
It helps, too, that the course takes lots of turns, goes over a big bridge into KY, across another bridge, and then a third giant bridge back into OH. And tons of spectators the entire route! Elvis, Batman, singers, musicians, snacks, all in addition to the very well-managed fluid stations every mile.
|Crossing the finish line|
And then there's that long downhill stretch back into the downtown area, to the finish line, er, finish swine. My time wasn't the greatest - it was very warm and humid - but I'm happy with it.
|As always, a beautiful, 3D, two-sided medal|
I made a beeline back to the hotel, got showered, dressed, packed and grabbed a cab to the airport for my 3:00 PM flight. I was plenty early and had time to eat a Subway sandwich. It was already a long day, and I still had a 2.5 hour flight, a shuttle bus ride to my car, and then a 40 mile drive home.
Even as I traveled back home, my mind began to work on how I could pull off a similar solution for doing the Indy Mini race the next weekend. I think I can do it! I would know better once I got home and could get onto my computer.